Kansas News Service | KCUR

Kansas News Service

The Kansas News Service produces essential enterprise reporting, diving deep and connecting the dots regarding the policies, issues and events that affect the health of Kansans and their communities. The team is based at KCUR and collaborates with public media stations and other news outlets across Kansas. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Bookmark our homepage at ksnewsservice.org

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

The Kansas News Service is made possible by a group of funding organizations, led by the Kansas Health Foundation. Other funders include United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Sunflower Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Additional support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A former federal prosecutor listened to multiple recorded calls between an inmate at Leavenworth Detention Center and her attorneys, documents disclosed at an evidentiary hearing on Thursday showed.

The explosive revelations prompted the Federal Public Defender to file a motion on Friday asking for court permission to disclose the evidence “to the appropriate disciplinary authorities.”

A Hutchinson company helped set the scene in the new movie “First Man.”

The film tells the story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.

Scenes from the mission control room feature consoles from the Cosmosphere museum in Hutchinson. A team with the museum’s SpaceWorks division refurbished 13 consoles for the movie.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Take a look at the Kansas budget and one item looms large, eating up more state spending than anything else.

Schools swallow about $4.5 billion. That spending rose after an infusion of cash by lawmakers earlier this year in response to a court ruling in a long-running fight over whether state government does enough to support public education.

Bigstock

Kansas City and St. Louis have some of the worst-rated nursing homes in the country, while Topeka, Overland Park and Wichita have some of the best.

That’s according to rankings published by FamilyAssets, a New York-based company that offers assessments and planning for people seeking home health care services.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

You’re rubber ...

Democrat Laura Kelly called baloney on Republican Kris Kobach when he said Kansas can save $377 million a year by denying services and benefits to immigrants in the country illegally. Kobach said there’s no reason an 18-year-old should be forced to get a permit for a concealed weapon. Independent Greg Orman said the state actually needs to impose tighter control on guns. And Libertarian Jeff Caldwell and independent Rick Kloos were happy to be on stage with the frontrunners.

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

The five candidates for Kansas governor faced off at a forum Tuesday night in Wichita.

It was a rare opportunity for independent Rick Kloos and Libertarian Jeff Caldwell to share a stage with the three major candidates — Republican Kris Kobach, Democrat Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Before he was governor, Sam Brownback had been state agriculture secretary, congressman, and U.S. senator. But when he captured the state’s top office in 2010 he had even bigger plans: to transform Kansas into a red-state model for the nation.

That’s not the way things panned out.

Kansas Historical Society

The federal government recently tore up Debbie and Tony Morrison’s front yard in the small southeast Kansas town of Caney.

And the two are happy about it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came in, scraped away contaminated dirt, replaced it with clean soil and spread sod on top.

“It actually looks very good,” Morrison said. “After they put the new grass in, they came down and they faithfully watered and cared for it continually until they felt like it had taken hold.”

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Fresh off a victory that cemented his latest, controversial, pick for the nation’s high court, President Donald Trump came to Kansas Saturday night hoping to transfer his popularity in the state to two fellow Republicans.

Trump arrived just hours after Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — the most controversial appointment to the court in generations. He was in regular rally form, playing to an adoring crowd of some 10,000 thrilled supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

President Donald Trump is coming to Kansas this weekend, and some Republican candidates are hoping that will provide them a boost. That includes the Republican newcomer running for Congress in the 2nd District, who’s fending off more questions about his background, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Meanwhile, Kobach's Democratic opponent in the governor's race, state Sen. Laura Kelly, is trying to tie him to former Gov. Sam Brownback.  

Jim McLean, Stephen Koranda, and Madeline Fox of the Kansas News Service discuss whether any of it will sway voters.


About two decades ago the Wichita School Board, disturbed by an increasing number of guns, knives and other weapons being brought to schools, decided to take a hard-line approach:

Zero tolerance.

The board, prompted by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, passed a policy mandating that any student caught with a gun — or a realistic-looking replica — on school property or at a school-sponsored event would be expelled for a full year.

No weapons — no questions, no excuses.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Rep. Kevin Yoder acknowledged Wednesday that he may lose his campaign for a fifth term in Congress. “Well, I think we may be the underdog in this race," he said before addressing the Johnson County Bar Association.

However, Yoder suggested his Democratic opponent Sharice Davids is taking the campaign for granted.

New research out of Stanford University shows that limiting wastewater injection is helping to prevent man-made earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The researchers have created a new physics-based model that can better predict where man-made earthquakes will occur by looking at increases in pressure. The model shows that the number of earthquakes is driven by how much wastewater is being injected into the ground.

Susie Fagan / KCUR 89.3

A former emergency room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has lost her whistleblower suit alleging the hospital falsified patient records to obtain higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Megen Duffy failed to prove an essential element of her claims, namely that the allegedly false data had an effect on how much the government paid the hospital.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Democrat Sharice Davids walloped incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in fundraising last quarter.

The Davids campaign says the first-time candidate raised $2.7 million between July and September. In that same period Yoder, running for a fifth term in the Kansas 3rd District, raised almost $1.3 million.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Leavenworth Detention Center sits about 35 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, just off the town’s main drag – a nondescript stretch of fast-food shops, strip shopping malls and mom-and-pop businesses.

The prison is a sprawling complex of squat white buildings ringed by chain-link fencing topped by razor wire. People charged with federal crimes who can’t make bail are held here.

The Kansas economy has been sluggish the past few years, but the candidates running for governor each have a plan to jumpstart things.

Will any of them actually work?

file photo / KCUR

The National Republican Congressional Committee has pulled more than $1 million in advertising support from Rep. Kevin Yoder's re-election campaign in the Kansas 3rd District, according to The Hill newspaper.

The Hill broke the story late Sunday and quotes an unnamed source "familiar with the NRCC's strategic thinking."

This week, the Democrat, state Sen. Laura Kelly, and the Republican, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, clashed over school funding with the Kansas governor’s race still neck-and-neck.

The race for the 2nd Congressional District in the eastern part of the state is a dead heat too – though new revelations that Steve Watkins only worked as a consultant for a company he said he built from scratch could be trouble for the Republican newcomer.

Jim McLean, Stephen Koranda, and Madeline Fox of the Kansas News Service are watching for what could start to separate the candidates.


www.HealthCare.gov

Kansans seeking health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federally run exchange will have the choice of three insurers in 2019.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said in a statement that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Medica Insurance Co. and Ambetter from Sunflower Health Plan will offer 23 separate plans for individuals through HealthCare.gov, the federal government exchange.

The USDA has released a list of retail chains that received E.coli-infected ground beef.

Tons of ground beef recalled from a Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado, have been blamed for one death and 17 illnesses.

Olathe Health

Olathe Health, parent of Olathe Medical Center and other medical groups, has named an Arizona health care executive as its new president and CEO.

Stan Holm, currently CEO of Abrazo West in Goodyear, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, will replace Frank Devocelle, who is retiring after 47 years with Olathe Health, 43 of them as its CEO.

Devocelle is one of the longest-tenured hospital CEOs in the country. He made more than $1 million in 2016.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

Angie Schreiber sees it time and again: dyslexic students failing to learn to read through traditional teaching techniques.

But she says she knows how they can flourish.

Schreiber’s private teaching service in Emporia uses an approach known as structured literacy. The method drills students on myriad rules of English sound and spelling that most of us never learned consciously.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

Attorneys alleging their meetings and phone calls with clients at the Leavenworth Detention Center were unlawfully recorded can move forward with a class-action lawsuit, a federal judge ruled last week.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Bough found that a class action was the best way to proceed because “(i)t would be judicially uneconomical for the Court to entertain hundreds if not thousands of individualized claims” over the same issue.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Who’s in 1st in the 3rd?

The New York Times’ “live” poll of Kansas 3rd Congressional District shows incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder possibly trailing Democrat and lawyer Sharice Davids by eight points. The sample is relatively small -- fewer than 500 respondents.

File photo

If there’s been one constant in Kansas politics for the last 30 years, it’s that Republicans seeking statewide office must be unequivocally against abortion, and for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Screenshot

Kansas could end up handing out fewer felonies — and more misdemeanors —  for certain property crimes.

That could mean sending fewer people to state prison, though some might end up in county jail instead.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Bacon hunting

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is making a pitch to bring more federal paychecks to Kansas. The state already scored a win in landing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, for Manhattan (presuming you’re confident that the nasty germs studied and stored inside that bunker will stay inside that bunker).

Another Republican broke ranks this week to endorse the Democrat in the Kansas governor’s race. And an attack from the 2014 governor’s race resurfaced, this time in the battle for a 2nd Congressional District seat. Jim McLean, Madeline Fox, and Stephen Koranda of the Kansas News Service catch up on the latest from the campaign trail. 


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