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Kansas Senate

Kansas Public Radio

One of the hallmarks of Kris Kobach's time as Kansas Secretary of State was his power to investigate and prosecute voter fraud. Kobach, who is now running for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate, was the only secretary of state in America with such power.

Battles over a Republican tax cut proposal and Medicaid expansion persisted through the last day of the Kansas Legislature's 2019 session … and remain unresolved. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning says he plans to address healthcare and tax policy next session, when maybe he'll be Senate President. 


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.

Eddie Lowery

Eddie Lowery was a soldier stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1982, when he was sentenced to 11-years to-life in prison after being convicted of aggravated rape, assault and burglary.

He had not committed the crime.

"You’re just wondering why this happens to you. Why?" Lowery says. "Why didn't the system protect you when you’re in the interrogation room telling them you’re innocent?"

Segment 1: A Kansas bill aims to make the state the nation's first to check new-case DNA evidence with connection to closed cases.  

Currently, biological evidence from current crimes is not investigated when it produces a hit in the DNA database on a case that already has a conviction. Kansas lawmakers want to audit what's happening when those hits arise and the potential to help exonerate innocent people. 

Segment 1: Journalists discuss the Kansas City mayor's race, legislative sessions in Jefferson City and Topeka, and politics in Washington. 

In one week, Kansas City voters will narrow the field of mayoral candidates from 11 to two. Today, our political panel discusses issues on the April 2 ballot in Kansas City, Missouri, and the latest happenings in Missouri, Kansas and Washington politics.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated to include Sen. Jim Denning's comments.

The Kansas City Star came out swinging Friday in response to a defamation lawsuit filed last month by Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning.

The newspaper asked a Johnson County court judge to strike the lawsuit and penalize Denning, his attorney and the attorney’s law firm for violating the Kansas Public Speech Protection Act.

With Republican Senate President Susan Wagle leading the charge, the Kansas Senate sent a massive tax relief measure on to the House. Wagle says Kansas has to do something to make sure individuals and businesses don't get stuck with a bigger state tax bill after President Trump and Congress overhauled federal tax rules in 2017. 


Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Segment 1: The state senator says she felt increasingly at odds with Republican Party stances on LGBTQ issues and supporting President Trump.

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.

An older white haired man in a black suit and blue shirt sits in front of a microphone.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Former Kansas Senate President Dick Bond on his time in office and Kansas politics today.

Sharon Liese seated in front of a radio microphone in the KCUR studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: A last look at candidates and issues before Tuesday's elections.

Kansas and Missouri primaries are just days away and the political climate on both sides of the state line is heating up. Our political pundits gave a rundown of the major races and issues going into the primaries, including controversial ballot measure Proposition A, and contests affecting Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Kansas Historical Society

Segment 1: Former Kansas Democratic governor on the approaching midterm elections.

In 1979 John Carlin began the first of two terms as Kansas governor. He went on to work as the Eighth Archivist of  the United States by appointment of President Bill Clinton. Today, as a Kansas State University professor and leading figure in local civic engagement, he's still heavily involved in state and the state of politics. We got his take on the race for his former office.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: State Sen. Laura Kelly makes her case in the race for Kansas governor.

In Kansas' crowded field of candidates for governor, there is a lone woman running. Today, we met Laura Kelly, the Senate Minority Whip whose district stretches along Highway 24 from Wamego to Topeka. She discussed her multi-continental childhood, her passion for education and her plans to bring the state back from the financial brink.  

Flickr

Kansas lawmakers approved an updated $16 billion budget Saturday on a 92-24 vote as they worked through part of the weekend.

The bill amends the spending plans lawmakers approved last year, and includes some targeted increases in state government funding.

It partially restores cuts to higher education from 2016, at a cost of $12 million. It also allocates $8 million to provide raises to workers in the judicial branch.

The bill funnels more money into the state’s pension plan, KPERS, to make up for a missed $194 million payment.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas senators will return Monday to find a school finance fix waiting on their desks, hammered out in the House over the weekend.

The bill undoes an $80 million error inserted last-minute into this year’s school funding bill.

“The overwhelming majority of our body wanted to make sure those funds were allowed to be given to the districts,” House Speaker Ron Ryckman said after the measure passed 92 to 27.  “It’s in the Senate’s hands now.”

Statewide criminal registries took off in the 1990s, fueled by crimes against children and a desire to alert people to the presence of sex offenders in their neighborhoods. But some are saying that Kansas’ database has gotten out of hand, that it’s expanded to include too many different types of offenders. So, a debate is beginning about how it might be streamlined.

During his State of the State address, exiting Gov. Sam Brownback said his budget recommendations included an additional $600 million in funding over the next five years. That left many lawmakers stunned, and Senator Jim Denning, a Republican representing the 8th District, angry. We sit down with Denning to talk about what he's expecting as Lt. Governor Colyer takes on a new role as governor, and discuss why an attempted ousting of a legendary state employee ignited a major backlash.

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

The race for Mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas was quietly moving toward the August primary.

That was until Tuesday, when veteran state Sen. David Haley filed to take on incumbent Mark Holland, who filed for re-election back in February.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Kansas lawmakers still need to come up with a tax plan, budget and school funding formula before the end of this legislative session. These two senators say they're tired of waiting to vote on it all, but say they'll work as long as needed to pass legislation they think is best for Kansas.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Sen. John Skubal, R-Overland Park, and Ed DeSoignie, Executive Director of the Heavy Contractors Association, discuss where Kansas could find funding for infrastructure projects as the legislature continues to talk about borrowing more money from KDOT's budget.

Morgan Said / KCUR 89.3

As a source says that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback could be leaving the statehouse, Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) talks about how a new Governor could change this legislative session.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning (R-Overland Park) lays out why a veto override of major tax legislation failed in the Senate and how he expects the Supreme Court's Gannon ruling to affect the rest of the session.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's Statehouse Blend Kansas, Sen. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) talks about the various tax plans making their way through the Kansas Senate, KanCare, and the possibility of getting primaried in the future.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Sen. Vicki Schmidt is regaining the chairmanship of the state Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee for next year.

“I’m certainly excited to chair public health and welfare again and excited for the opportunities to explore issues that are very important to Kansans,” Schmidt said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Schmidt, a Republican pharmacist from Topeka, last chaired the committee during the 2012 legislative session, when the chamber was led by moderate Republicans.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

It’s a campaign without ads. There are no TV spots or mailers. The only people voting are the 165 Kansas lawmakers choosing their new leaders.

“Leadership races are the most inside of inside baseball,” says University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis.

Loomis says you almost have to be a legislative nerd to have heard of the candidates for Kansas House speaker or Senate president, but they get to make committee assignments and control the chamber.

It happens every year — in fact, maybe more often than not: people run for office with almost no shot at winning. With the 2016 Election fast approaching, we reign in a few local candidates running with "no chance in hell." Why are they still in the race? 

Guests:

Meet Democrats Bill Hutton and Don Terrien competing to oust incumbent Republican Senator Steve Fitzgerald to represent Kansas Senate District 5.

Lawmakers and the state Supreme Court face off over school funding, every single seat in the state legislature is up for grabs, and the budget is millions of dollars in the red. It may sound like the plot of a political thriller but the battle for control of the Kansas Statehouse is real, and things are heating up.

Guests:

Kansas Legislature

The vice chairman of the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee says he's been told by Gov. Sam Brownback that the governor might consider rolling back a major portion of his signature 2012 tax cut bill.

Sen. Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, joined KCUR's Statehouse Blend Podcast this weekend and told host Sam Zeff that Brownback might not veto a bill that would close the loophole that allows more then 300,000 small businesses in Kansas to avoid state income tax.

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