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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

KS Dept of Corrections to Take Another Budget Hit

Another big budget reduction has been scheduled for the Kansas Department of Corrections...an agency that's already been targeted for budget cuts in recent years. Department spokesperson Jan Lunsford says that jobs are likely to be lost in this round of cutting.

One of three deputy secretary positions that is currently vacant will not be filled. Lunsford says the exact number of reductions has yet to be determined, as officials weigh how the cuts could affect public safety. Lunsford says that contrary to cuts in previous years, no operating correctional facilities are currently slated to be shut down.

Push Developing to Preserve Kansas Arts Commission

A behind-the-scenes effort to retain the Kansas Arts Commission is being led by a Republican lawmaker at the Statehouse. State Senator Roger Reitz of Manhattan says Governor Sam Brownback's decision to privatize the Arts Commission is bad for the state...and he says there is enough support to override the move.

Brownback is moving to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission as part of a series of budget cuts. He says creating a privately-run foundation will mean that the arts will continue to have financial support in the state, and that allowing donors to contribute could mean more money for arts programs in the long run.

Emergency Responders Want Pension Plan Changes

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.

Burroughs Documentary to Air on PBS

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.

Burroughs Documentary Emphasizes Writing, Iconoclasm

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 tonight (TUE) on PBS -- for more information, visit pbs.org/independentlens/burroughs.

Senator Pat Roberts Weighs In On Continuing Resolution Issue

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't come to an agreement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says a government shutdown would be the fault of House Republicans.

Lawrence Food Pantry "Just Food" Needs "Just Cash"

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.

Nomination Committee Holding Open Interviews

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. The Commission says the move to open interviews is designed to instill further confidence in how judges are chosen.

Senator Roberts Introduces Regulations Reform Bill

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 regulations in the new federal health care law and financial reform laws. Roberts says his bill will be called the "Regulatory Responsibility for Our Economy Act."

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