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Bryan Thompson Friday, February 18th

Agents of the Food and Drug Administration and the Salina Police Department have arrested the owner of a Salina business for selling aromatic potpourri allegedly treated with a synthetic form of the drug THC. As Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson reports, regulating these designer drugs is a complicated business.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 17th

Workers compensation laws are likely headed for a rewrite in Kansas. The House has given first-round approval to a bill increasing certain protections for both employers and employees. The measure was crafted by an unlikely alliance between business and labor groups. But a group of Democrats - including Representative Mike Slattery of Mission - says the bill has been marred by changes that were made in a legislative committee. Slattery says that changes will no longer require companies to pay for translators for workers who don't speak English, but need to see a physician. Slattery also...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 17th

The Kansas House has given preliminary approval to a major rewrite of the state's workers compensation laws. The bill's advance is being attributed to an alliance between the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. Republican Representative Charlie Roth of Salina acknowleged that the two groups working together is unusual. Among the changes, the measure increases certain lifetime maximum benefits and gives workers more time to report injuries. For businesses, it works to ensure that a worker's pre-existing injuries are not held against employers. The bill would also limit lengthy workers...

KPR Web Operations Thursday, February 17th

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which interviews prospective nominees for vacancies on the state Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court, began its interviews of candidates yesterday (THUR) for a vacancy on the Appeals Court. The interviews will continue today (FRI). Judicial Administration Spokesperson Ron Keefover says that for the first time in Kansas history, the interviews are open to the public. The Nominating Commission will select three candidates from the nineteen-candidate pool, and forward those selections to Governor Sam Brownback, who will make the final choice....

KPR Web Operations Wednesday, February 16th

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says he wants to put some "teeth" into an executive order issued by President Barack Obama. The order directed federal agencies to review regulations, to be sure that they aren't harming the U-S economy. On Tuesday, Roberts introduced a bill that he says will codify the president's executive order of January 18th, when the president said that some regulations are necessary to protect the public from threats...and to protect businesses from abuse.Roberts says he is concerned about what appear to be loopholes in the executive order's language. These exempt certain...

KPR Web Operations Wednesday, February 16th

Kansas has been awarded a $31 million grant to develop the information systems it will need to operate a health insurance purchasing exchange. Establishment of the exchange is a requirement for compliance with the federal health reform law. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the announcement today (WED). Linda Sheppard of the Kansas Insurance Department says the state got the so-called “early innovator” grant because of work already being done to modernize the Medicaid eligibility system. That system will be adapted to also operate the Web-based purchasing exchange....

Bryan Thompson Wednesday, February 16th

Kansas is getting a $31 million grant to help it develop the information technology for the insurance purchasing exchange it is planning to comply with the federal health reform law. We get more from the KHI News Service’s Jim McLean.

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, February 15th

Grocery and convenience store owners are urging lawmakers to expand the sale of liquor in Kansas. A bill in the legislature would allow grocery stores to sell spirits and wine. Currently, they can only sell beer and other drinks with less than 3.2 percent alcohol. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has 3 days of hearings on the issue scheduled for this week. KPR’s Stephen Koranda was at the first day of hearings yesterday (TUE)

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, February 15th

Grocery and convenience store owners today (TUE) urged a Senate committee to allow them to sell liquor and wine. Currently, only liquor stores can sell spirits and wine, while grocery stores are limited to beer and other drinks with less than 3.2 percent alcohol. Jim Puff owns the Alma Food Mart. He says rising utility and business costs are hurting small grocery stores and selling more alcohol could help increase sales.Opponents of the change say allowing more alcohol sales in grocery stores would drive locally-owned liquor stores out of business. The Senate Federal and State Affairs...

KPR Web Operations Tuesday, February 15th

Kansas State didn't allow the Kansas Jayhawks to enjoy their new number-1 ranking very long. The Wildcats upset KU, 84-68, the same day the Jayhawks were voted number-1 in the A-P weekly college basketball poll. Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin has the story.

KPR Web Operations Monday, February 14th

President Obama has included 150-million dollars in his budget for the next fiscal year to proceed with construction of the nation’s premier bio-defense lab. As Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson reports, the question is whether Congress will follow through on that commitment.

Stephen Koranda Monday, February 14th

The Kansas Senate has given first round approval to a bill that cuts state spending in the current fiscal year. The bill would leave the state with a balance of around 3 million dollars when the fiscal year ends in June. That’s less than Governor Sam Brownback’s proposal, which would have left the state with a 35 million dollar ending balance. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more on the differences between the proposals.Final approval of the Senate budget bill could come today (TUE).

Stephen Koranda Friday, February 11th

The state of Kansas could be in danger of losing millions of dollars in federal aid that helps pay for special education. A bill that has passed the House would trim state spending for the current fiscal year. The goal is to leave the state with an ending balance to help cover a shortfall next fiscal year. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda tells us, the House bill includes a cut to education funding, putting the federal dollars at risk.Tag out- A spokesperson for Governor Sam Brownback says he is willing to work with lawmakers on the issue.

KPR Web Operations Friday, February 11th

A music video produced by students at Lawrence High School is getting some national attention. The Kansas-themed video caught the attention of a producer at MSNBC, who then wrote an online article about it for the Rachel Maddow Show. As KPR's J. Schafer reports, the music video puts a new twist on an old tune familiar to many Kansans. Again, if you'd like to check out the "Sunflower" video created by Lawrence High School students, just log on to: www.Room125productions.org.

Stephen Koranda Friday, February 11th

The Kansas House today (FRI) gave approval to the so-called “Health Care Freedom Amendment” to the state constitution. The amendment is aimed at exempting Kansans from any federal requirement to purchase health insurance. It passed the House with a 91-27 vote but will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate. Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, is president of the Senate. He generally doesn’t favor constitutional amendments.Opponents of the amendment say any federal law requiring health insurance would take precedence over Kansas law. The measure would have to be approved by the Kansas...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 10th

Several hundred supporters of the arts in Kansas rallied near the Statehouse yesterday (THUR) to protest against cutting the Arts Commission. Governor Sam Brownback has signed an executive order to eliminate the state agency. Brownback says the move will save around 600 thousand dollars at a time when the state faces a budget crunch. But as KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that move has many arts supporters up in arms.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 10th

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has unveiled his comprehensive plan for growing the state’s economy. The announcement comes one month to the day since Brownback took office. During the campaign, he pledged to have an economic plan on the table in his first 30 days. Brownback says growing the state’s economy will help solve the state’s budget woes.Brownback has already taken some of the actions, including reorganizing economic development agencies. The governor is proposing two tax changes. He wants new tax breaks for business investments and income tax rebates to attract people to rural...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 10th

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today (THUR) unveiled his comprehensive plan for growing the state’s economy. Brownback has already taken some of the actions, including reorganizing economic development agencies. The governor is proposing two tax changes. He wants new tax breaks for business investments. Brownback is also proposing a 5-year income tax rebate for people moving to rural counties that have seen significant population decline.12 sec......The governor will also head a Council of Economic Advisors. Brownback says the group will coordinate economic growth efforts and hold economic...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 10th

Several hundred supporters of the arts in Kansas gathered near the Statehouse today (THUR) to protest against cutting the Arts Commission. Governor Sam Brownback has signed an executive order to eliminate the agency. K.T. Walsh, of Lawrence, came to the rally armed with a 7-foot-tall sign shaped like the iconic figure of John Brown painted in the Capitol. She believes the Arts Commission does a lot of good in the state for a small amount of tax dollars.Governor Brownback has said cutting the Arts Commission would save the state around 600 thousand dollars next fiscal year. He’s created the...

KPR Web Operations Thursday, February 10th

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