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.

Standing near the corner of his property in southeastern Reno County, Nick Egli looked east and pointed to the proposed locations for several 500-feet-tall wind turbines.

Egli is standing on a grass airstrip he’s spent the last 10 years building. He pictures a few more homes, some hangars and, eventually, a residential community for pilots of small planes.

“If there’s turbines there, you’ve completely killed everything I’ve been working on the last 10 years,” he said.

FILE PHOTO / Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

Rethink those planned tuition hikes. That’s the word from the Kansas Board of Regents, which is considering tuition proposals from universities not long after lawmakers approved a state funding boost meant to hold down student costs.

 

Regent Mark Hutton, a former state representative himself, said lawmakers won’t be happy to see tuition rise after adding around $30 million for higher education in the state budget.

 

The Atkins-Ingram family

Garden City Community College Trustees voted Tuesday to spend $100,000 on an independent investigation into the exertional heatstroke death of a football player last August.

The family and friends of 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth from Neptune, New Jersey, have been calling for an independent probe since the teen died after a conditioning practice.

GARDEN CITY — In the 1940s and ’50s, people of color couldn’t use the public swimming pool here. If they went to the movie theater in Garden City, Hispanic patrons could only sit in the balcony.

A few generations later, Garden City School Board member Tim Cruz served on the city commission and as mayor. He played a role in dealing with leaks in the city’s swimming pool, known as The Big Pool.

The new reality of smoking at Kansas high schools is visible in the parking lots, where used-up Juul pods have taken the place of cigarette butts.

“You can pick up the discarded Juul cartridges all over the concrete,” Andover High School school resource officer Heath Kintzel said of the popular vaping brand. “It’s everywhere.”

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Kansas senators met Tuesday to formally vote down Gov. Laura Kelly’s nomination for a Court of Appeals seat. In a strange twist, even Kelly wanted her nominee rejected.

The outcome was already known before lawmakers returned to Topeka for the single vote.

Solar panel users in Kansas continue to pay higher electricity bills as they wait for utility company Evergy to keep a promise made during this year’s legislative session to remove a recently added fee.

Evergy says it will follow through on the promise by the end of May. But state regulators ultimately hold the power to decide whether or not to approve the request to change some solar customers’ rates.

A slight drizzle had begun in the gray December sky outside Community Christian Church as Reta Baker, president of the local hospital, stepped through the doors to join a weekly morning coffee organized by the Fort Scott, Kan., chamber of commerce.

The town manager was there, along with the franchisee of the local McDonald's, an insurance agency owner and the receptionist from the big auto sales lot. Baker, who grew up on a farm south of town, knew them all.

Still, she paused in the doorway with her chin up to take in the scene.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

When it comes to marijuana, Kansas is a red state in an increasingly green country.

Three of its neighbors — Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri — have legalized some form of the drug in recent years. Yet Kansas remains one of four states in the country without a comprehensive medical or recreational marijuana program.

Bigstock

Missouri and Kansas have joined 41 other states and Puerto Rico in a lawsuit accusing generic drug makers of conspiring to manipulate and drive up prices for more than 100 generic drugs.

The 510-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in Connecticut, names 20 drug companies and 15 executives as defendants, alleging they participated in a conspiracy led by generic drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

A deal to clear the way for Medicaid expansion next year that some Kansas lawmakers thought they had brokered in the waning hours of their just-finished legislative session appears to be unraveling.

Instead, the conservative leaders and moderate rank-and-file Republicans find themselves splitting in an intra-party fight.

Bigstock

Kansas is one of just a handful of states that doesn’t allow a person injured by a drunk driver to sue the retailer who furnished the alcohol.

On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld that 34-year-old rule, saying it was up to the Legislature to change it.

On March 10, 2015, Jeff Kudlacik was driving down 135th  Street and Quivira Road in Overland Park around 11 p.m. when a Ford Fusion going 70 miles an hour ran a red light and slammed into his Mitsubishi 3000 sedan, slicing it in half.

Charlie Riedel / Associated Press pool photo

A fresh push by school districts to get Kansas to pony up more money for public education met with skepticism Thursday from the Kansas Supreme Court.

Justices had pointed questions for both sides in the lawsuit that began in 2010 and has already gone through multiple rounds of oral arguments and rulings.

The justices, who so far have consistently ruled in favor of the districts, may be ready for it to be over.

Justice Eric Rosen called it frustrating that the funding goal that school districts argue for seems to be a moving target.

All Kansas lawmakers really had to do to end the 2019 legislative session was pass a budget. They did that, with gusto. But also without passing Medicaid expansion. That's one of the items left on freshman Rep. Brandon Woodard's to-do list for next year. 


For nine weeks, Zyrie Berry-Henricks has been meeting with four other University of Kansas students to try to answer the question: What does it mean to be a man?

It’s part of KU’s Men’s Action Project, a 10-week program where male students discuss masculinity — both healthy and toxic.

Bethany Wood / For the Kansas News Service

Stephanneth Adams plans to leave Kansas.

The nurse practitioner landed in the state’s rural southwest — where she saw patients in Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal — through a federal program aimed at stubborn health care shortages in urban and rural America.

But why stay? Adams has her eyes on Nevada, a state that lets its most educated nurses roll up their sleeves and work without permanently needing, as they do in Kansas, permission from a physician.

Jobs For Felons Hub / CC BY 2.0

Kansas may soon turn to private contractors to take the overflow from its crowded prisons, raising questions about growing costs and the reliability of for-profit jails.

That plan ran into complications over the weekend when lawmakers insisted on a closer review from a state commission to OK some of the line-by-line spending. But taxpayers could soon be spending almost $36 million more to deal with a range of problems in the prison system.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

In the waning days of the 2019 session, the conservative Republicans controlling the Kansas Legislature made one thing clear to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and her allies: They were ready for a fight against Medicaid expansion.  

The issue commanded the four-month session, which ended in the wee hours Sunday. The session was the first with the new Democratic governor in office, which gave people who wanted to expand health coverage for thousands of low-income Kansans the energy to push hard in the final days. Their efforts ultimately failed.
 


Long-running frustration about Amtrak’s willingness to keep a rail passenger line running through remote parts of the country has politicians threatening to block new directors to the agency.

A handful of U.S. senators demanded specifics by this week about how Amtrak plans to spend an added $50 million to keep the Southwest Chief line running from Chicago, through Kansas, to Los Angeles.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Supporters of expanding Medicaid in Kansas proved Wednesday they’ve got the votes in the Legislature — if they can get a vote.

But they lacked enough lawmakers on their side to bypass Republican leadership and force that vote.

file photo / KCUR 89.3

Legalizing sports gambling in Kansas seemed like a safe bet earlier this year. It’s a new source of tax dollars and enjoys bipartisan support.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

(This story was updated at 4:45 p.m.)
 

Kansas women have a fundamental right to abortion, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday — a decision that has conservatives vowing to amend the state constitution.

B. Jamie / Public domain

Almost half the people locked up in Kansas prisons admit they have a history of domestic violence — getting the cops called after an argument with a partner, having a restraining order against them or serving time for beating or threatening a family member or partner.

Some of those people end up in batterer intervention programs — sometimes while they’re behind bars, other times during probation or parole. The weekly workshops stretch over months, aiming to pinpoint what drives someone to violence, and searching for ways to break those cycles.

AdventHealth

AdventHealth will take over operation of Ransom Memorial Health, a 44-bed acute-care hospital in Ottawa, Kansas, the Florida-based health system announced on Wednesday.

Ransom Memorial will be renamed AdventHealth Ottawa. It joins other members of the AdventHealth network, including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Merriam, Kansas, formerly known as Shawnee Mission Medical Center.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Henry W. Bloch died Tuesday at the age of 96. A notable philanthropist, Bloch and his brother, Richard, co-founded the tax preparation business H&R Block Inc. more than six decades ago.

The University of Kansas Health System

Two Kansas City area hospitals joined 12 other transplant centers this week in a lawsuit over a new liver allocation policy that they say will result in “hundreds of liver transplant candidates needlessly dying.”

The University of Kansas Hospital and Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed in Atlanta against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, the private organization that contracts with the government to manage the nation’s organ transplant system.

Drive on any major highway in Kansas and you’ll likely see some roadkill.

For decades, biologists at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism have found a treasure trove in their counts of flattened animals. It’s a way to create a population index of raccoons and beavers.

In 1986, the scientists also started counting armadillos.

David Kaup / For The Hechinger Report

EFFINGHAM, Kansas — In 2014, a cash-strapped school district in rural northeast Kansas turned to its residents with a plea: Pay a little more in taxes annually so we can renovate classrooms, update the wiring and give students better spaces to learn.

Branch Rickey III is part of a legendary baseball family that has been entwined with the sport for more than 100 years.

His grandfather, Branch Rickey, is best remembered as the man who signed Jackie Robinson and broke baseball’s unwritten rule against using black players. His father, Branch Rickey Jr., spent more than 25 years working in baseball before dying at the age of 47 in 1961.

Branch Rickey III, 73, is president of the Pacific Coast League, which Wichita will join next year when the New Orleans Baby Cakes move to town.

Many Kansas families may not be following safe sleep practices meant to cut down the risk that infants could die in their sleep.

The first survey of its kind in the state found four in five new mothers said their babies sleep primarily on their backs.

Rachel Sisson, the director of the Bureau of Family Health at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, wants to make it five out of five.

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