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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

Senator Pat Roberts Weighs In On Continuing Resolution Issue

Will members of the U-S Congress be able to resolve their budget differences in time to prevent a shutdown of the government by the March 4 deadline? Opinions vary, but Kansas Senator Pat Roberts doesn't think a shutdown will happen.

There's been talk of a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels, if the House and Senate cannot come to an agreement on funding for the rest of the year. But tough talk is coming from both sides of the aisle. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said last week that he would not consider a short-term continuing resolution if the two bodies can't come to an agreement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says a government shutdown would be the fault of House Republicans.

Lawrence Food Pantry "Just Food" Needs "Just Cash"

Just Food -- the local food bank in Lawrence -- is running out of money. As the largest emergency food provider in Douglas County, the agency helped serve 2000 people last month. But now, Just Food is strapped for cash and is facing closure if it can't raise $100,000 in the next 60 days. Carolyn Ward is raising money for the food pantry. She says Just Food can do a lot with just a little.

If you'd like to help the food pantry, donations can be made online at www.JustFoodFund.org.

Nomination Committee Holding Open Interviews

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. The Commission says the move to open interviews is designed to instill further confidence in how judges are chosen.

Senator Roberts Introduces Regulations Reform Bill

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 regulations in the new federal health care law and financial reform laws. Roberts says his bill will be called the "Regulatory Responsibility for Our Economy Act."

Sebelius Awards $31 Million Reform Grant to Kansas

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.

Beginning in 2014, millions of Americans will be able to purchase health insurance through state-based exchanges. Many will be eligible for federal subsidies.

Lawrence High Students Get National Attention w/ Music Video

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.

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