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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.

Brownback Signs Order to Abolish Kansas Arts Commission

Governor Sam Brownback today (MON) signed an executive order to abolish the Kansas Arts Commission and replace it with the Kansas Arts Foundation. The Arts Commission is a state agency, while the Arts Foundation would be a non-profit organization responsible for raising most of its funding through private donations. Brownback says the move would save the state around 600 thousand dollars next fiscal year. He believes the arts in Kansas will continue to grow under the new organization.



Opponents of the move say the state will lose more than one million dollars in federal matching funds if the Arts Commission is abolished. They say the new Arts Foundation won’t be eligible for much of the federal funding the Arts Commission currently receives. The executive order will take effect July 1st, unless it's rejected by the Legislature.

House Gives Preliminary Approval to Major Rule Changes

The Kansas House has given first approval to a rules change that would make it more difficult to amend budget bills. Under the new rules, amendments that increase spending could only be made on the House floor if an equal spending cut is proposed. The measure is known as “pay as you go.” Supporters of the change argue it’s needed to get the state’s finances in order. Opponents say it means a majority of the Appropriations Committee, 12 members, will be able to set the size of the entire state budget. Here’s House Minority Leader, Lawrence Democrat Paul Davis, speaking on the House Floor.



The rule change has the support of Republican House leadership and Republicans hold a majority on the Appropriations Committee. The rule changes would also allow Democrats and Republicans to have their party meetings in private. Currently, caucus meetings are open to the public and media.

Brownback Applauds Reaction to Blizzard

Governor Sam Brownback is commending Kansans over how they handled the storm this week. State offices were closed for two days and officials urged Kansans to stay off the roads. Brownback says there was a total of 3 fatalities in Kansas from the storm, but the situation could have been worse.



Brownback says state workers are trying to total the amount of damage to crops and cattle from the blizzard. If the damage from the storm reaches 3 million dollars, Brownback says the state could be eligible for federal assistance though a federal disaster declaration.

New Rules Could Help Bring Dentists to Kansas

A group of Kansas dentists is hoping the Legislature will take steps to keep more dentists in the state. Kansas and Missouri have an agreement, in which some students who are Kansas residents can attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City dental school and pay in-state tuition. Brett Roufs (roofs) is a dentist from Newton and the past president of the Kansas Dental Association. He says Kansas can send around 20 students per year to UMKC through the program. He hopes the legislature will require some of those students to come back and work in the state.



Roufs says they’d also like to see some programs that will offer incentives to attract dentists to rural areas and parts of Kansas where dentists aren’t available.

Supporters of Voter ID Testify before House Committee

Supporters of a bill that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls lined up today (MON) before the House Elections Committee. The legislation would also require first-time voters to prove their citizenship when they register to vote. Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the bill’s author, has been pushing the legislation as a way to prevent voter fraud. Kobach says around 220 incidents of possible voter fraud have been reported since 1997. He told lawmakers that because voter fraud is so hard to track, he believes the actual number is higher.



Opponents of the bill believe the changes would make it too difficult to register and vote in Kansas. The House Elections Committee will hear from opponents of the bill on Wednesday.

Reagan on Mount Rushmore?

If you could build a Mount Rushmore for the 20th century, which four presidents would you choose to commemorate? Historian Richard Norton Smith gave the first of a four-part series at the University of Kansas Dole Institute of Politics yesterday (SUN). He says Ronald Reagan deserves a spot in history as a leader who transformed the presidency:



Richard Norton Smith was the first director of the Dole Institute of Politics and served as director of the Reagan Presidential Library. You can hear Smith's talk in its entirety on KPR Presents, this Sunday evening, at 8:00 p.m. Sunday would mark the 100th birthday of President Reagan, who died in 2004.

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