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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.

Topeka High Schools to Offer Robotics Training

Economic development officials in Topeka say the city’s high schools will be the first in the nation to certify students in operating and servicing robots. Japanese company Yaskawa (yahs-COW-uh) will supply the robots needed for the training, which starts this school year. Doug Schenher (SHEN-er), with Yaskawa, says the company wants to increase the number of people prepared for a career in robotics.

The students will be able to earn certifications on the types of robots found in factories and medical facilities. They’ll be able to continue training in a program at Washburn University.

Federal Health Care Lawsuit Could Soon Go to Supreme Court

A lawsuit challenging the federal health care legislation could now be headed to the U-S Supreme Court. Kansas is one of more than 20 states taking part in that case. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the suit will almost certainly go to the Supreme Court, but he's not sure when.

Last week, an appeals court ruled against the law’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance. The federal government can now take the case before a panel of appellate court judges or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

KU Efficiency Study Entering Second Phase

The University of Kansas is entering the second phase of a cost-cutting study, which is looking for ways to improve efficiency without sacrificing quality. The study is designed to streamline areas like information technology, human resources and maintenance. KU Provost Jeff Vitter says staff cuts are an option, but they’re looking for alternatives

A consulting firm hired by KU has targeted more than 10 areas where the school can save money. The firm will also suggest ways to increase enrollment.

Fed Budget Talks Could Impact KS Emergency Response Funding

Federal budget negotiations could affect the state’s ability to respond to tornadoes and other disasters. Congress has formed a so-called “super committee” to look for ways to reduce the federal deficit by more than one-trillion dollars. But if they fail to reach an agreement, there will be billions of dollars in federal cuts. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, those cuts would impact Kansas.

Federal Budget Negotiations Affect KS Emergency Response

Federal budget negotiations could affect the state’s ability to respond to tornadoes and other disasters. Congress has formed a committee to look for ways to reduce the deficit by more than one-trillion dollars. If the committee fails to reach an agreement, there will be billions of dollars in automatic cuts to defense and homeland security. Kansas Senator Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, also works in the Adjutant General’s Department. He says homeland security cuts would likely mean millions of dollars less in federal funding for Kansas. Emler says the reductions would probably include grants and other funding used for disaster response.

The so-called “super committee” is made up of 12 members of Congress. They have a deadline later this year to come up with a budget-cutting compromise.

Federal Credit Rating Could Affect Kansas Governments

The lower federal credit rating probably won't impact Kansas's credit score. That's according to Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes. Late last week, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the federal government’s credit score. Speaking before the downgrade, Estes said lowering the federal rating probably won’t have a significant impact on the state’s own credit rating. A lower credit rating makes it more expensive for a government to borrow money. He says the Kansas score focuses more on how the state spends money.

But the federal credit downgrade could still have an impact in Kansas. The federal rating can impact local governments that rely on federal funds or have a significant banking industry. The company Moody’s recently warned more than 160 local governments that the federal rating could affect their credit score. That included governments in Kansas – like Johnson County, Overland Park and Leawood. Last week, Moody’s decided to let all the local governments currently holding AAA ratings keep them -- for now. Local governments across the nation are now watching to see if S&P will lower ratings for states or communities.

Legislative Committee to Question SRS Office Closures

A decision by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to close nine offices will be questioned by a legislative committee. This week, the State Building Construction Committee requested that top SRS officials appear before lawmakers to explain the plan. KPR Statehouse Reporter Stephen Koranda has more.

State Employee Union Wants Retirement Program Delayed

A state employee union is asking a judge to temporarily block a retirement incentive program. Governor Sam Brownback's administration unveiled to plan this week. The state will offer certain employees cash or health insurance if they agree to retire. The Kansas Organization of State Employees claims the administration violated state law by starting the program before meeting with union officials. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more.

State Employee Union Takes Action Against Retirement Program

A state employee union is trying to temporarily block a retirement incentives package unveiled earlier this week. The state will offer certain employees cash or health insurance if they agree to retire. Governor Sam Brownback’s administration hopes the program can save money by reducing the number of state employees. The Kansas Organization of State Employees alleges the Brownback administration violated state law. The union says Kansas law requires the administration to meet with the union before starting the program. Director Jane Carter says they aren’t necessarily opposed to the retirement incentives.

Governor Brownback’s administration says the law only requires them to meet with the union, but it doesn’t require them to meet before starting the program. The union has filed a lawsuit to temporarily block the incentives package.


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