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KPR Web Operations Monday, February 21st, 2011

Emergency responders in Kansas are asking state lawmakers to make changes to their pension plans. Under current law, police and firefighters reach their maximum retirement benefits after 32 years on the job. Kansas City, Kan., firefighter Bob Wing says the cap encourages healthy workers to retire earlier than they otherwise might. The cap has been in place for decades. Similar caps exist for Kansas judges, but there is no limit for most other public workers.

KPR Web Operations Monday, February 21st, 2011

Legendary author William S Burroughs, a longtime resident of Lawrence, is the subject of a documentary that will be shown tonight (TUE) on the PBS program "Independent Lens." Filmmaker Yony Leyser (YO-nee LYE-zur) says that there is quite a bit of never-before-seen archival footage of Burroughs in the film: "William S Burroughs: A Man Within" will premiere on the PBS series "Independent Lens" tonight (TUE). For more information, visit the companion website at pbs.org/independentlens/burroughs.

KPR Web Operations Monday, February 21st, 2011

William S Burroughs, former Lawrence resident and one of the iconic authors of the so-called "Beat Generation," is the subject of a new documentary that will air tonight (TUE) on the PBS series "Independent Lens." Yony Leyser (YO-nee LYE-zur) is the filmmaker. He says Burroughs's work is still compelling and countercultural, even decades after it was originally written. "William S Burroughs: A Man Within" features interviews with musicians Patti Smith and Iggy Pop, filmmakers Gus Van Sant and John Waters, and many of Burroughs's friends and acquaintances from Lawrence. It will be shown...

KPR Web Operations Monday, February 21st, 2011

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Stephen Koranda Friday, February 18th, 2011

A legislative bill to halt social promotion for 3rd graders is drawing opposition from education officials. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would hold back third-graders who cannot pass a statewide reading test. Kansas City, Kansas School District lobbyist Bill Reardon says the proposal isn't as effective as it would seem. School districts can already hold back students, but this bill would make it mandatory for kids who can't pass a reading test. Education officials say decisions on promoting third-graders should stay in local hands.

KPR Web Operations Friday, February 18th, 2011

Will members of the U-S Congress be able to resolve their budget differences in time to prevent a shutdown of the government by the March 4 deadline? Opinions vary, but Kansas Senator Pat Roberts doesn't think a shutdown will happen. There's been talk of a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels, if the House and Senate cannot come to an agreement on funding for the rest of the year. But tough talk is coming from both sides of the aisle. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said last week that he would not consider a short-term continuing resolution if the two bodies can...

KPR Web Operations Friday, February 18th, 2011

Just Food -- the local food bank in Lawrence -- is running out of money. As the largest emergency food provider in Douglas County, the agency helped serve 2000 people last month. But now, Just Food is strapped for cash and is facing closure if it can't raise $100,000 in the next 60 days. Carolyn Ward is raising money for the food pantry. She says Just Food can do a lot with just a little. If you'd like to help the food pantry, donations can be made online at www.JustFoodFund.org.

Bryan Thompson Friday, February 18th, 2011

Agents of the Food and Drug Administration and the Salina Police Department have arrested the owner of a Salina business for selling aromatic potpourri allegedly treated with a synthetic form of the drug THC. As Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson reports, regulating these designer drugs is a complicated business.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Workers compensation laws are likely headed for a rewrite in Kansas. The House has given first-round approval to a bill increasing certain protections for both employers and employees. The measure was crafted by an unlikely alliance between business and labor groups. But a group of Democrats - including Representative Mike Slattery of Mission - says the bill has been marred by changes that were made in a legislative committee. Slattery says that changes will no longer require companies to pay for translators for workers who don't speak English, but need to see a physician. Slattery also...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Kansas House has given preliminary approval to a major rewrite of the state's workers compensation laws. The bill's advance is being attributed to an alliance between the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. Republican Representative Charlie Roth of Salina acknowleged that the two groups working together is unusual. Among the changes, the measure increases certain lifetime maximum benefits and gives workers more time to report injuries. For businesses, it works to ensure that a worker's pre-existing injuries are not held against employers. The bill would also limit lengthy workers...

KPR Web Operations Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which interviews prospective nominees for vacancies on the state Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court, began its interviews of candidates yesterday (THUR) for a vacancy on the Appeals Court. The interviews will continue today (FRI). Judicial Administration Spokesperson Ron Keefover says that for the first time in Kansas history, the interviews are open to the public. The Nominating Commission will select three candidates from the nineteen-candidate pool, and forward those selections to Governor Sam Brownback, who will make the final choice....

KPR Web Operations Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says he wants to put some "teeth" into an executive order issued by President Barack Obama. The order directed federal agencies to review regulations, to be sure that they aren't harming the U-S economy. On Tuesday, Roberts introduced a bill that he says will codify the president's executive order of January 18th, when the president said that some regulations are necessary to protect the public from threats...and to protect businesses from abuse.Roberts says he is concerned about what appear to be loopholes in the executive order's language. These exempt certain...

KPR Web Operations Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Kansas has been awarded a $31 million grant to develop the information systems it will need to operate a health insurance purchasing exchange. Establishment of the exchange is a requirement for compliance with the federal health reform law. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the announcement today (WED). Linda Sheppard of the Kansas Insurance Department says the state got the so-called “early innovator” grant because of work already being done to modernize the Medicaid eligibility system. That system will be adapted to also operate the Web-based purchasing exchange....

Bryan Thompson Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Kansas is getting a $31 million grant to help it develop the information technology for the insurance purchasing exchange it is planning to comply with the federal health reform law. We get more from the KHI News Service’s Jim McLean.

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Grocery and convenience store owners are urging lawmakers to expand the sale of liquor in Kansas. A bill in the legislature would allow grocery stores to sell spirits and wine. Currently, they can only sell beer and other drinks with less than 3.2 percent alcohol. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has 3 days of hearings on the issue scheduled for this week. KPR’s Stephen Koranda was at the first day of hearings yesterday (TUE)

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

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...

KPR Web Operations Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Kansas State didn't allow the Kansas Jayhawks to enjoy their new number-1 ranking very long. The Wildcats upset KU, 84-68, the same day the Jayhawks were voted number-1 in the A-P weekly college basketball poll. Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin has the story.

KPR Web Operations Monday, February 14th, 2011

President Obama has included 150-million dollars in his budget for the next fiscal year to proceed with construction of the nation’s premier bio-defense lab. As Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson reports, the question is whether Congress will follow through on that commitment.

Stephen Koranda Monday, February 14th, 2011

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).

Stephen Koranda Friday, February 11th, 2011

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.

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