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Stephen Koranda Tuesday, March 22nd

The House Appropriations Committee today (TUE) approved a budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1st. The legislation mirrors much of Governor Sam Brownback’s budget plan, including a 230-dollar-per-student cut to education funding. But the committee decided to trim more spending. They also reduced funding for social services and cut pay for state employees who make more than 40 thousand dollars per year. Elected officials and other state officers would see a 7.5 percent pay cut. The legislation was criticized by members of both parties, but passed on a 12-10 vote. Representative...

Bryan Thompson Tuesday, March 22nd

Efforts to repeal or weaken the state’s new ban on smoking in public places don’t appear to have much momentum in the Legislature. More from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service.

KPR Web Operations Tuesday, March 22nd

Tournament basketball in downtown Kansas City comes to a close tonight (TUE). Marking its conclusion is the title game of the N-A-I-A tournament. As Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin reports, not only did tournament interest stir up business in downtown Kansas City, a basketball-related exhibit captured attention at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

Stephen Koranda Monday, March 21st

The House Appropriations Committee will continue work today (TUE) on a budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1st. Yesterday (MON), work on the budget stalled when the bill failed to get enough votes to move on to the full House. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more.

Stephen Koranda Monday, March 21st

The House Appropriations Committee today (MON) failed to approve a budget for next fiscal year, after the bill was criticized by members of both parties. The committee added a pay cut for state employees making over 40 thousand dollars per year and cut funding for Washburn University by 5 million dollars. The bill was criticized by Democrats for cutting state services. Some Republicans said it did not do enough to cut spending. The legislation failed to get enough votes to move to the full House. Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades ("roads"), a Newton Republican, says the process has taken...

KPR Web Operations Monday, March 21st

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KPR Web Operations Monday, March 21st

There will be another push to locally televise more Topeka City Council meetings. This time, the pressure is coming from one council member who had been opposed to a similar move last year. But with the ongoing investigation THIS YEAR of theft and sales of scrap metal from a city job site, council member Bob Archer says he's now backing the move: Currently, Topeka's city cable channel offers live coverage of regular council meetings...but it cuts off the cameras when members go into an informal work session either before or after the formal meetings. Archer's resolution asking for the...

KPR Web Operations Monday, March 21st

The Topeka Zoo has gotten back into the good graces of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Zoo learned Sunday that the AZA found enough "forward progress" being made at the troubled facility to reinstate the zoo to full accreditation. Zoo director Brendan Wiley says the news from the AZA meeting in Tennessee this past weekend is a boost for the Topeka Zoo, which had come under fire for animal deaths, sloppy recordkeeping and unsanitary conditions in recent years.A loss of accreditation would have prevented the Topeka Zoo from sharing animals with other facilities that are approved...

KPR Web Operations Monday, March 21st

While the Kansas Jayhawks were on the verge of advancing to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA basketball tournament, Gary Woodland was busy excelling at another sport. He's a Topeka native now playing professional golf on the PGA Tour. Yesterday (SUN), he won his first event. Woodland collected a check for 990-thousand dollars for winning the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.Woodland played basketball at Washburn University before transferring to KU to play golf. He has now qualified to play in the Masters Tournament next month in Augusta, Georgia.

Stephen Koranda Friday, March 18th

A bill in the Kansas Senate would take away civil service protections for some state employees. The legislation would affect more than 300 workers at the Department of Labor. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more.

Stephen Koranda Friday, March 18th

Democrats in the Kansas House today (FRI) called for Representative Virgil Peck to resign over a statement he made about illegal immigration. On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee was discussing programs that use sharpshooters in helicopters to hunt feral hogs. Peck said that approach could be used to solve the illegal immigration problem. Kansas City Representative Louis ("lewis") Ruiz ("roo-EES") is the sole Democratic Latino lawmaker in the Statehouse. He said Peck’s comments have no place in the legislature.Peck, a Republican from Tyro, has apologized for the statement. Here he...

Stephen Koranda Friday, March 18th

Democrats in the Kansas House today (FRI) called for Representative Virgil Peck to resign over a statement he made about illegal immigration. On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee was discussing programs that use sharpshooters in helicopters to hunt feral hogs. Peck said that approach could be used to solve the illegal immigration problem. House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, called Peck's comments “reprehensible.”Peck, a Republican from Tyro, has apologized for the statement. Here he is speaking to CNN Español yesterday(THUR).Peck has said he won’t step down. House...

KPR Web Operations Friday, March 18th

By the time the Kansas Jayhawks tip off tonight (FRI), the field in the NCAA tournament will be drastically reduced. Last (THUR) night, Kansas State was among the teams advancing to weekend play. Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin has the story.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 17th

The Kansas House has rejected a bill that would have made a temporary sales tax increase permanent. Last session, the Legislature increased the state sales tax from 5.3 to 6.3 percent, for a 3-year period. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the House bill was aimed at cutting other taxes.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 17th

The 10 University of Kansas students currently participating in the school's study abroad program in Japan are being required to return home. KU spokeswoman Jill Jess says that rules governing the program are clear:The State Department's travel warning was issued Wednesday, prompted by growing concern about health risks that might be posed by radiation leaking from a complex of Japanese nuclear power plants. Kansas State University has two students currently participating in its study abroad program in Japan. Karli (CARL-ee) Webster, director of the K-State Study Abroad Program, says the...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 17th

The 10 University of Kansas students currently participating in the school's study abroad program in Japan are being required to return home. KU spokeswoman Jill Jess says that rules governing the program are clear:The State Department's travel warning was prompted by growing concern about health risks that might be posed by radiation leaking from a complex of Japanese nuclear power plants. Kansas State University has two students currently studying in Japan. Karli (CARL-ee) Webster, director of K-State's Study Abroad program, says the school is NOT requiring its students to return home at...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 17th

The Kansas House today (THUR) rejected a bill that would have made permanent last year’s sales tax increase. Last session, the Legislature increased the state sales tax from 5.3 to 6.3 percent, for a period of three years. The bill in the House would have kept the higher sales tax rate and lowered personal and corporate income tax rates. Income taxes would have eventually been eliminated. Representative Richard Carlson, a St. Marys Republican, said lowering income tax rates would help spur economic growth in Kansas.Opponents of the legislation said lawmakers would be going back on a promise...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 17th

The Kansas House today (THUR) rejected a bill that would have made permanent last year’s sales tax increase. Last session, the Legislature increased the state sales tax from 5.3 to 6.3 percent, for a period of three years. The bill in the House would have kept the higher sales tax rate and lowered personal and corporate income tax rates. Representative Ann Mah (“maw”), a Topeka Democrat, said the sales tax increase should stay temporary.Supporters of the legislation said lowering the income tax rates would help spur economic growth in Kansas. The House also rejected a bill that would have...

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, March 16th

The state Senate has voted to save the Kansas Arts Commission. The 24 to 13 vote overturns an executive order, signed by Governor Sam Brownback, which would have replaced the Arts Commission with a private foundation. Senator Roger Reitz ("rights"), a Manhattan Republican, lead the effort in the Senate to preserve the state-supported Commission.Supporters of the Arts Commission say eliminating the state agency would cost Kansas more than one million dollars in federal matching funds. The governor’s office said eliminating the Arts Commission would have saved the state around 600 thousand...

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, March 16th

Governor Sam Brownback has dropped his proposal to have the state attorney general’s office oversee the Kansas Human Rights Commission. Brownback has said the move would save around 230 thousand dollars. The commission offered a compromise - the organization would stay independent, but find ways to trim the 230 thousand dollars Brownback wanted from its 1.8 million dollar budget. Sherriene Jones-Sontag is the governor’s spokesperson.Critics were concerned that the commission would not be independent if it were part of a partisan office run by an elected official.

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