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Statehouse

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.

Bill Would Allow Liquor Sales in Grocery Stores

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 Committee has scheduled two more days of hearings on the issue this week.

Senate Passes Bill Cutting Spending

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).

Kansas Could Lose Federal Money for Special Ed

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.

House Gives Approval to "Health Care Freedom Amendment"

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 Senate before being put to a statewide vote.

Arts Commission Supporters Rally in Topeka

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.



Brownback Pushing New Economic Development Proposal

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 counties that are shrinking. The governor will also head a Council of Economic Advisors. Brownback says the group will coordinate economic growth efforts and hold economic development agencies accountable.

Governor Unveils Economic Growth Plan

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 development agencies accountable. The announcements come 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.

Hundreds Rally to Protest Cuts to Arts Commission

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 non-profit Arts Foundation with the goal of raising money to replace the lost state dollars. The Arts Commission will cease to exist on July 1st, unless the Legislature rejects the executive order.

Supporters Rail Against Cutting Arts Commission

Governor Sam Brownback this week signed an executive order to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission. It would be replaced with a new non-profit organization, known as the Kansas Arts Foundation. This has arts supporters warning that the state could lose more than a million dollars in federal matching funds. Henry Schwaller is the chairman of the Kansas Arts Commission. He says the new organization won’t be eligible for federal dollars the Arts Commission currently receives.



The order to eliminate the Arts Commission will take effect July 1st, unless it's rejected by the Legislature. We’ll have more on the elimination of the Arts Commission later this hour.

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