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Stephen Koranda Thursday, April 28th, 2011

House and Senate negotiators are butting heads over ways to help reduce a deficit in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS. A conference committee is working to smooth out differences between House and Senate proposals. KPR Statehouse reporter Stephen Koranda has more.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The Kansas House has rejected an attempt to challenge a proposed state-owned casino south of Wichita. The resolution would have directed the attorney general to file a lawsuit against the Racing and Gaming Commission over the group’s decision to allow a casino near Mulvane. Opponents of the lawsuit said it would send a negative message to companies looking to locate in Kansas. Representative Judith Loganbill is a Democrat from Wichita.Some critics of the casino plan say the commission jumped the gun by awarding the contract to Iowa-based Peninsula Gaming. That company is under investigation...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, April 28th, 2011

A northeast Kansas state lawmaker has died. Republican Representative Rocky Fund of Hoyt passed away today (THUR) at a hospice facility. Speaker Mike O'Neal of Hutchinson informed his colleagues on the House floor.Fund represented Jackson County and part of northeast Shawnee County. He was first elected to the House in 2006.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The Kansas House has rejected an attempt to challenge a proposed state-owned casino south of Wichita. The resolution would have directed the attorney general to file a lawsuit against the Racing and Gaming Commission over the group’s decision to allow a casino near Mulvane. Opponents of the lawsuit said it would send a negative message to companies looking to locate in Kansas. Judith Loganbill is a Democrat from Wichita. Some critics of the casino plan say the commission jumped the gun by awarding the contract to Iowa-based Peninsula Gaming. That company is under investigation for allegedly...

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that will put new regulations on abortion clinics in the state. The legislation would also require inspections two times per year for the clinics. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more on the debate.

KPR Web Operations Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

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Stephen Koranda Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Hundreds of advocates rallied at the Statehouse today (WED) to urge lawmakers to increase funding for programs for the developmentally disabled. Tom Laing (lang) is the executive director of InterHab, a group that advocates on behalf of disabled Kansans. He's hoping the rally will encourage legislators to restore funding cut from social service programs in recent years.Laing says budget proposals in the Statehouse would add funding to reduce waiting lists for some services, but cut state dollars from other programs for the disabled.

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The House Appropriations Committee today (WED) opened hearings on a bill to increase the number of engineering graduates in Kansas. The legislation would provide state funding to help universities grow their engineering programs. The bill has passed the Senate but previously stalled in the House. Ed McKechnie (muh-KECK-nee) is vice chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. He told the committee that engineering firms in the state have trouble finding qualified workers. The goal is to boost the state economy by growing engineering firms and attracting new firms to the state. Some lawmakers...

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Lawmakers are retuning to Topeka today, (WED) to start wrapping up the 2011 legislative session. There are several high-profile issues still on the table. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, lawmakers hope to finalize legislation aimed at fixing problems in the public employee retirement plan.

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Kansans will be rallying at the Statehouse today (WED) to raise awareness of issues facing the developmentally disabled. Matt Fletcher is the associate director at InterHab, a group that advocates on behalf of the disabled. He says since 1996, waiting lists for services have grown, to the point where 4500 Kansans are now on waiting lists for services.Fletcher says the rally is aimed at getting the attention of lawmakers and reversing funding cuts from recent years.

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Lawmakers are set to return to the Statehouse tomorrow (WED) to start wrapping up the 2011 legislative session. Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, is the top Democrat in the Senate. He believes one of the biggest issues lawmakers need to tackle is a deficit in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS. Hensley says there are thousands of working and retired Kansans who rely on KPERS.The system faces a multibillion dollar deficit over the coming decades. A Senate plan would have employers and workers paying more into KPERS. A House proposal would focus on moving workers out of the...

KPR Web Operations Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service is reporting a mixed bag of news about the overall condition of the Kansas wheat crop. Dry weather has taken a toll on wheat, but the dry conditions meant more farmers could get out in their fields to work. Bob White is with the USDA office in Topeka:Meanwhile, Kansas farmers have planted 29 percent of their projected corn crop. Sorghum growers have just begun to seed their crop, with 1 percent planted statewide.

KPR Web Operations Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A new report from the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service says persistent dry weather took a toll on the Kansas wheat crop over the past week. The USDA's Bob White says that soil moisture levels are widely varied across the state.Yesterday's (MON) report showed 44 percent of the state wheat crop rated in poor to very poor shape. 21 percent was rated good and just 2 percent was in excellent condition.

Bryan Thompson Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Cuba is not a land of plenty. The average worker in the still communist nation makes only about $20 a month. Yet, a baby born there has a greater chance of surviving past its first birthday than a baby born in Kansas. And the gap is even wider for black infants in Kansas. Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports that efforts underway to change that have recently been set back.

Stephen Koranda Monday, April 25th, 2011

Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins is touting her party’s budget proposal passed by the U-S House earlier this month. Supporters believe it will help reduce the federal deficit, but opponents say it cuts too deep and some steps are too drastic. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, Jenkins was in Topeka yesterday (MON) as part of a 3-day tour of her district.

Stephen Koranda Monday, April 25th, 2011

Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins is supporting her party's budget plan that passed earlier this month in the U-S House. Proponents believe that plan would help control the federal deficit. It has drawn criticism for proposals to cut spending and revamp social programs including Medicare. But Jenkins believes those criticisms are overblown. While meeting with some of her 2nd District constituents in Topeka today (MON), Jenkins said any Medicare changes would not affect Americans age 55 or older.Jenkins’s appearance in Topeka today (MON) was the first of four scheduled during her current...

Stephen Koranda Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Kansas lawmakers will meet today (MON) to work on legislation aimed at fixing a deficit in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS. The system is projected to face an 8 billion dollar deficit over the coming decades. That means in the future, there won’t be enough money to pay promised retirement benefits. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, lawmakers are considering different ways of fixing the problem.

Stephen Koranda Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Lawmakers are finalizing a state spending plan, and state university officials hope balancing the budget won’t require them to make more cuts. A report released by the Board of Regents last month says Kansas higher education has a big economic impact in the state. University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little realizes times are tough, but believes higher ed funding is worth it.The report claims every state tax dollar spent returns around twelve dollars into the economy. That economic impact includes salaries and tax collections generated by universities. Legislators are trying to...

KPR Web Operations Friday, April 22nd, 2011

After two days of competition that included downtown Lawrence venues, the 84th running of the Kansas Relays will continue for the remaining two days in the area of Memorial Stadium at KU. Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin has more on the most prestigious track and field event in the state of Kansas.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, April 21st, 2011

A bill in the Kansas Legislature would mean a bigger engineering school at the Univeristy of Kansas. The legislation is aimed at increasing the number of engineers graduating from Kansas universities by 60 percent. The bill would provide 4 million dollars to state universities for the first year, and 7 million dollars per year after that. The schools would have to raise matching funds to get the money. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more on the legislation.

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