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KPR opened its first full-time Statehouse Bureau in Topeka in January of 1978. Ever since, KPR's Statehouse Bureau, which is often called the KPR-Network, has provided gavel-to-gavel coverage of the legislature, executive and judicial branches of Kansas government and other stories of statewide interest. KPR is the only broadcast outlet in the state that maintains a full-time, year-round bureau at the Capitol.

House Advances Budget Cut Bill

The Kansas House has given first approval to a bill that would cut 35 million dollars out of the current budget. Supporters of the bill say that’s needed to help with a projected budget deficit for the coming fiscal year. The legislation would also mean around 20 million dollars less for K through 12 education in Kansas. Representative Ed Trimmer, a Winfield Democrat, said that move would mean school districts would have to cut staff.

The 20 million dollars taken from education would be put into special education funding. The move would stop Kansas from losing federal matching dollars that help pay for special education. The House could take a final vote on the bill as soon as tomorrow (WED), before sending the proposal to the Senate.

House Cuts Short Debate on Budget Cuts

Kansas House leaders have cut short debate on a bill that would trim spending out of the current state budget. Lawmakers sent the measure back to the Appropriations Committee for more discussion. Representative Eber (EE-burr) Phelps, a Hays Democrat, supported the move. The measure started as a two page bill, but more than 30 pages of amendments were added. Phelps believes lawmakers didn’t have enough time to study all the changes.

Last week, Governor Sam Brownback cut 56 million dollars to balance the budget that ends June 30th. Lawmakers are looking to slice about 35 million dollars more in state spending.

Lawmakers Mulling New Scrap Metal Regulations

Kansas lawmakers are considering new regulations aimed at combating metal theft. High prices for scrap metal have led to an increase in metal thefts in some areas. The bill would require all metal recycling facilities to get a permit to operate. Bud Burke is a lobbyist working on behalf of Advantage Metals Recycling, based in Kansas City. He says some companies might not want to come to Kansas, over fears that they would not be able to get permits to operate in the future.

A law passed in 2007 requires metal dealers to keep records of people turning in scrap metal. Supporters of the bill say it would help root out scrap metal recyclers who aren’t following the current law.

Civil Rights Groups Oppose Moving Human Rights Commission

Civil rights groups are opposing a plan to change the Kansas Human Rights Commission. The organization investigates claims of discrimination in areas such as housing and employment. Governor Sam Brownback has proposed moving the commission into the attorney general’s office. Reverend Ben Scott is president of the Topeka NAACP. He has concerns about moving the commission, because attorney general's office is a partisan office run by an elected official.

Brownback says the move will save the state around 200 thousand dollars. Brownback’s office has said the commission will be more effective after the move, because it will have access to the resources in the attorney general’s office. Opponents of the change will rally in Topeka on Saturday.

Lawmakers Call For End to Kline Hearings

A group of lawmakers is calling for an end to ethics hearings focused on a former Kansas attorney general. Phill Kline is accused of misleading judges and mishandling evidence during his investigations of abortion providers. Kline, a Republican, was attorney general from 2003 to 2007. He then served as Johnson County district attorney. Around 25 lawmakers today (THUR) said the hearings should end. Representative Steve Brunk is a Republican from Wichita.

The top Democrat in the Kansas House, Paul Davis of Lawrence, says lawmakers should not interfere with the ethics hearings. He believes legislators have more important issues to focus on, such as the Kansas economy. The first round of hearings ended earlier this month. They’re scheduled to continue in July.


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