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.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly insists the state budget she’s preparing can fully fund the state’s schools, expand Medicaid coverage to another 150,000 people and begin to repair a troubled child welfare system — without a tax hike.

The Democrat said Wednesday night she’ll lean on experience and relationships built over 14 years in the Kansas Senate to carve out compromises with lawmakers on those priorities.

Yet she described her job as daunting and state government as broken in several key areas.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Powers of McGruff

If a police officer in Kansas thinks they smell weed — even an unlit bud in a plastic bag six paces away — the state’s high court says that’s reason enough to launch a search.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled recently that an officer’s belief she smelled marijuana from 30 feet away was probable cause to sweep an apartment in Douglas County and ask for a search warrant.

KHI

In a post-election bombshell, a moderate Republican from Mission Hills, Kansas, has defected to the Democrats just ahead of the 2019 legislative session.

Sen. Barbara Bollier tells KCUR the party of Donald Trump frightens her and the last election proves the Kansas GOP belongs to the president.

One morning after the next, semi-trailer trucks get off Interstate 70 near Colby in west-central Kansas.

They haul parts of giant wind turbines in 150-foot-long sections, the pieces to the Solomon Forks wind farm and the next monumental phase of the Kansas bet on wind energy. The farm will plant 105 turbines in the prairie, each towering 250 feet high.

The project is one of a wave of wind farms under construction in Kansas that will add 20 percent more electrical generation to the state’s output.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

President Donald Trump visited Kansas City, Missouri, Friday to speak at a national conference for Project Safe Neighborhoods, a Justice Department initiative that aims to partner local and federal officials in order to reduce violent crime.

At the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, a crowd of hundreds of law enforcement officials and prosecutors from around the country greeted the president with warm applause, dozens of cell phones popping up in the air to capture his entrance.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Legislature showed its tendency to be both more conservative and more liberal on Monday.

The selection of House leaders took the Republican and Democratic factions a bit more to the right and left, respectively, while creating a more polarized Legislature facing Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly.

Kansans can expect rising temperatures and more extreme flooding in the future, according to the latest National Climate Assessment.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Turmoil marks the troubled norm for foster care in Kansas.

Now political, financial and legal forces look poised to slam the system into a new level of chaos that makes seasoned child welfare professionals worried about a barrage of change.

Bigstock

This story was updated at 5:02 pm to include comments from a representative of Hooper Holmes.

Hooper Holmes Inc., an Olathe, Kansas, provider of health and wellness services, is laying off 99 employees in that city. The publicly traded company earlier this year sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sold its assets to Quest Diagnostics.

Screenshot / Leavenworth County

Long-time city planner Triveece Penelton always thought if she ever made national news, it would be because of a great project.

But last week, the attention came instead when a Leavenworth County commissioner — a white man addressing a black woman — made a comment about the "master race" to her after she gave a presentation.

Bigstock

Kansas has agreed to cover the cost of drugs to treat Medicaid patients with chronic hepatitis C without subjecting them to a lengthy list of requirements.

A legal settlement, which awaits final court approval, resolves a class action lawsuit alleging the state made it too difficult for hepatitis C patients to receive the potentially life-saving treatments.

Facebook

They say it takes one to know one. As Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly soon will be, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was a Democrat leading the state while Republicans controlled the Legislature. 

Jim McLean of the Kansas News Service spoke with Sebelius about the support from Republicans that helped Kelly overcome competition from Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and independent Greg Orman in the governor's race and what will make her successful in office. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Well, fellow Kansans, it’s over.

Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly, running as the “fix-it” candidate on the premise that Kansas had gone off the rails, beat “full-throttle conservative” Kris Kobach in the race for governor.

Her win signaled Kansans’ desire to, if not reverse the state’s turn to the right, at least turn down the political rhetoric and focus on the basics.

File photo / Kansas News Service

This story was updated to include comments from the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

A lawsuit filed Friday contends Kansas violates foster children’s civil rights by moving them too often, adding to their trauma and restricting their access to necessary mental health treatment.

The National Center for Youth Law, Children’s Rights and Kansas Appleseed filed the suit against Gov. Jeff Colyer and the heads of the Department for Children and Families, the Department for Aging and Disability Services and the Department of Health and Environment.

File photo / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Legislature agreed to pay education nonprofit Teach For America more than $500,000 this year for a pilot program to recruit 12 teachers to the state.

But the national organization only recruited three teachers for the state in 2018.  All of them were placed in Kansas City, Kansas, where the local school district pays their salaries and benefits on top of another $3,000 per teacher per year to Teach For America.

Seven Kansas school districts freed from some state rules now say getting that special status isn’t worth the effort.

Those districts are part of the Kansas Department of Education's "Coalition of Innovative School Districts" program that started in 2013. Districts that join have the freedom to ignore state oversight on some of the ways they run their schools in exchange for pursuing novel approaches for improving student achievement.

file photo / Kansas News Service

If elections have consequences, the top-of-the-ticket win for Democrats in Kansas likely carries no more obvious upshot than the probable expansion of Medicaid in the state.

After years of unyielding opposition from former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his successor — Gov. Jeff Colyer — Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly looks positioned to broaden public health insurance coverage to tens of thousands more Kansans.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

A race that looked to be oh-so-close turned out to be a clear victory for Democrat Laura Kelly, the new governor-elect of Kansas.

On this mini episode of “My Fellow Kansans” we hear what Kelly had to say on election night and her explanation of what vaulted her to victory over Republican Secretary of State and conservative firebrand Kris Kobach. 

Big Stock

A Kansas law prohibiting drug-induced abortions via telemedicine is being challenged by a women’s health clinic in Wichita that provides abortions.

Trust Women Wichita on Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking to block the law from taking effect on Jan. 1.

“Our mission as an organization is to provide reproductive health care to people in the state of Kansas and elsewhere, and to provide that care to underserved communities,” said Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women Wichita.

HCA Midwest Health

Seven of 20 Kansas City area hospitals got A’s in patient safety, according to a new report, while nine got B’s and four got C’s.

The grades were assigned by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that twice a year rates 2,600 general acute-care hospitals across the country on patient safety measures.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Six months ago, very few people in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District even knew Sharice Davids’ name. Now she has made history. Davids is the first openly gay representative in Kansas history. She joins Deb Haaland from New Mexico as the first Native American women in the House.

"We have a chance to reset expectations when people look at Kansas," Davids said to a room full of cheering supporters. "I knew we could do better and we just did."

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Kansas, a state that went for President Donald Trump by 20 points two years ago, on Tuesday turned one of its four Republican seats in Congress to Democrat.

Democratic newcomer Sharice Davids topped incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder in his quest for a fifth term. She beat the Kansas City-area 3rd Congressional District by roughly 9 percentage points.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Democrat Laura Kelly fended off perhaps the most energizing and divisive figure in Kansas politics on Tuesday to become the next governor of Kansas.

Kelly beat out self-described “full-throttled” conservative GOP nominee Kris Kobach, the secretary of state who’d forged a kinship with President Donald Trump while dabbling in anti-immigration and voter fraud crusades across the country.

Kansas Midterm Election Results 2018

Nov 6, 2018
Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

The general election in Kansas will determine who is governor, who holds the other statewide offices, the control of the Kansas House and who the state sends to the U.S. House.

The results below for contested statewide, legislative and congressional races are unofficial.  Keep checking throughout the evening and Wednesday morning for updates.

Campaign spending is super high. Voter registration in Kansas is hitting records. And it's not just the governor's race that's going down to the wire. 

The Kansas News Service team looks at last-minute ads, considers candidates' closing arguments, and what voters might be excited about going into Election Day. 


Creative Commons

Nearly six months after ordering a cult leader and his group to pay almost $8 million in damages to a woman they’d effectively enslaved for 10 years, a federal judge has ordered the cult leader's arrest.

Royall Jenkins was the founder and leader of The Value Creators Inc., formerly known as The United Nation of Islam. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a bench warrant for his arrest after finding that Jenkins had ignored numerous court orders.

Kansas News Service/FILE PHOTO

We’ve nearly arrived at a pivotal moment — the election that will determine whether Kansas continues rightward, returns to its traditional center, or starts down a new path. My Fellow Kansans, a podcast from the Kansas News Service, has been charting how we got here and what’s at stake in Tuesday’s voting. 

Nearly 30 years ago, the anti-abortion protests of the 1991 Summer of Mercy in Wichita energized conservatives and paved the way for the rise of Sam Brownback. As a U.S. senator, Brownback embodied the Christian right. But as governor, tax cuts headlined his red state agenda.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

On a recent Thursday morning, there was non-stop foot traffic at the Johnson County Election Office in Olathe. The usually barren parking lot was full, and the poll worker at the door barely had seconds to spare between greetings as he ushered people inside.

Creative Commons

A University of Kansas study linked tighter welfare rules to a growing foster care load.

The state agency overseeing those programs backed those same new rules. Now, it’s hired a research team to question the findings of the KU study.

screengrab / ACLU

Millions of dollars have been spent on the governor's race in Kansas. Money has poured in from all over the country.

But a new player has entered the fray — the American Civil Liberties Union.

An ACLU TV spot went up on cable and broadcast this week. Titled "The Rule of Law," it starts out like any other opposition ad.

Pages