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Segment 1: Almost 35,000 Missourians have received medical marijuana ID cards but have nowhere to buy legally.

Despite being approved by voters in late 2018, state officials estimate that the earliest medical cannabis will be available for purchase will be this June or July. It could be a year for all 192 state-certified dispensaries to be up and running. Once open the price of products will be determined by market forces and competing with marijuana sold on the street.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Negotiators for the Shawnee Mission School District and the teachers union are at an impasse and will now present their cases to a neutral party.

On one side are teachers who feel overworked and underpaid. On the other side are school administrators who say the union’s demands will ultimately put the district in the red. It’s a dispute with deep roots in the Great Recession and all the years Kansas seriously underfunded schools, happening amidst a national conversation on teacher pay.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For the first time, Missouri is reporting how much is spent per child at every school in the state.

It’s a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that’s supposed to help ensure equitable access and opportunity for all children.

There are many reasons why per-pupil spending levels vary within a district, though.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA― Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss announced Friday he’ll retire in mid-December after serving on the state’s highest court since 2002, when Republican Gov. Bill Graves tapped him for the role.

That makes the second retirement announcement from the court in less than a month. Justice Lee Johnson will retire in September. He was appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007.

Kansas News Service / Kansas News Service

One might think the end of her first legislative session as Kansas governor would give Laura Kelly some relief.

"Oh, not much," she said. "We've been extraordinarily busy."

Charlie Riedel / Associated Press pool photo

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday effectively ended a nearly decade-long lawsuit by ruling that state lawmakers finally sent enough money to local school districts.

Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

Education officials in Kansas are taking a two-pronged approach to reducing teacher shortages: raising pay and fast-tracking teaching assistants and other professionals to the front of the classroom.

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. 


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.
 


Things got a little chippy during the final week of the regular legislative session, but Kansas lawmakers came away with a school funding plan and a permanent commerce secretary. And now Sec. David Toland is ready to move on to reinvigorating the state's economic development efforts. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

UPDATE: Saturday, with a crowd of teachers looking on, Gov. Kelly signed a school funding bill she hopes will end years of court battles between the state and local school districts.  

It took a fight, but the Kansas House and Senate have agreed to the school funding hikes Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly called for. Now, lawmakers will wait to see if it’s enough to satisfy the state’s highest court.

The Kansas Senate has agreed to give school districts raises. The House has not. Instead, negotiators are headed to the bargaining table with a stack of new requirements for reporting how schools spend their money. Rep. Kristey Williams is the one leading the charge for more accountability from districts. 


Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

The clock is ticking for Kansas lawmakers to figure out a school funding solution. Briefs making the case for a plan are due to the state Supreme Court April 15.

With only one week of the regular legislative session to go, there’s still significant division over how to satisfy the court that funding is adequate and end the nearly decade-old Gannon lawsuit.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Republicans in the Kansas Senate seem ready to end a long-running lawsuit by complying with a court ruling that said the state sends too little money to local school districts.

The Kansas House? Not just yet. It’s advancing a plan that would continue adding school spending for another year, and only another year.

Just after approving the school funding Gov. Laura Kelly asked for, the Kansas Senate turned around and gave the final okay to a tax relief package she opposes, daring the new governor to issue her first veto. 


Segment 1: Kansas governor and lawmakers don't see eye to eye.

Political reporters described a hostile environment  between Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and the Republican-led legislature. They explained what each side is looking for on the issues of Medicaid expansion, school funding, protecting vulenerable children and the food tax.

Segment 1: "The state was funding 60 percent of the cost of education, the students and families were doing 40 percent. We've now seen an inversion of those ratios," according to KU chancellor.

More than 700,000 working-age adults in Kansas are operating in the labor force with no relevant postsecondary credentials, while the demand for highly skilled workers continues to rise. The Chancellor Doug Girod spoke to what universities, government and businesses can do to produce the workforce the future Kansas City metro will need.

FILE PHOTO / Kansas News Service

Gov. Laura Kelly has said she has an easy solution for funding schools: Just renew the finance plan the Kansas Legislature agreed to last year and fold in an adjustment for inflation. But over in the Senate, lawmakers are picking that proposal apart.

After months of wrangling last year, lawmakers approved a $500 million multi-year boost for schools in response to a state Supreme Court ruling in the long-running Gannon case.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: This is the bank manager's third time running for Kansas City mayor. 

Could this time be the charm for Henry Klein? Though he has never served in public office, Klein says his current job allows him to help people everyday. Today, he discussed how he would continue to lend that helping hand as mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, including his ideas to improve public schools and eliminate earning taxes on small business.

The Lines In The Sand

Jan 26, 2019

Now that the ceremonial parts of the 2019 legislation are over, it's back to politics as usual. Republicans and Democrats are digging in on tax cuts, Medicaid expansion, and school funding. House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer talks about the starting points for negotiations that will determine whether the new Democratic governor's agenda can get passed. 


Kansas' high school graduation rate continued to trend upward with the class of 2018 as schools put a growing emphasis on preventing students from dropping out.

Of the students who started at both public and private high schools in 2014, 87.5 percent graduated within four years, an increase from the 86.9 percent rate of the previous freshman class, according to newly published state data.

A diploma is paramount.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Windfall or tax hike?

Last year, Congress and President Donald Trump delivered sweeping federal tax cuts. Because the changes in tax law meant fewer people had to itemize their tax returns, the changes actually upped the (smaller) state tax bill for some filers.

In some corners, that’s seen as a windfall of revenue for state governments, including Kansas. Seen another way, it’s a de facto tax increase in state taxes for a minority of people.

Portraits of George and Martha Washington as they appeared on a early 20th century postcard.
Boston Public Library

Segment 1: Kansas Supreme Court rules new school funding plan lacks sufficient money but gives legislature another year to eliminate shortfall.

In order to avoid school shutdowns, the Kansas Legislature recently added $522 million to the education budget over the next five years. Still, critics argue this will not be enough and more needs to be added for inflation. Today, we looked at this latest development in the longstanding Gannon case and its implications for the future of public education in the state.

A picture of a women with gray hair in KCUR studio. Subject visable from chest up.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas City Police Department shootings raise questions about when it's acceptable for police to use lethal force.

In the course of one afternoon last week, Kansas City police officers shot and killed three people in two separate incidents. The first involved the shooting of a woman in the Northland who was armed with a decorative sword. In the first part of today's program, we heard an eyewitness account of the killing, and discussed when police can and should use deadly force.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane attributes her three decade career in education to a frog.

Lane went to college to be a clinical psychologist but a required biology class asked her to insert a needle into a frog’s brain.

“It was a live animal that we were going to do an experiment on to see reactions,” Lane says. “I could not do that. So I left class, went down the hall and said, ‘I need to change my major.’”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas governor discusses his transition to power, his election campaign, and the challenges facing his state.

Four months ago, then-Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stepped into the position vacated by then-Gov. Sam Brownback. Today, he sat down for a wide-ranging conversation that covered school funding, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, a newly-enacted adoption statute, and his campaign to win the governorship without aggressively challenging rival Republican Kris Kobach.

Orlin Wagner / Associated Press

If districts suing the state get their way, the Kansas Legislature could be back in Topeka within weeks to add another half a billion dollars to school budgets in time for the coming academic year.

The districts hope the Kansas Supreme Court will also tell the state to phase in hundreds of millions beyond that in the years to come.

Fred Fletcher-Fierro / KRPS

Gov. Jeff Colyer signed the Kansas budget into law Tuesday, but in the process he knocked out a provision aimed at curbing his administration’s revamp of the state’s privatized Medicaid program, KanCare.

Colyer and his predecessor, former-Gov. Sam Brownback, have been working to overhaul KanCare and get federal permission to extend the program for several more years.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated)  

The ink is barely dry on a deal to increase school spending by more than half a billion dollars, but Kansas is already headed for a fresh round of legal arguments.

School districts suing the state say the plan falls short in part because it will happen gradually over five years. They want the Kansas Supreme Court to make the state pay out $506 million more this fiscal year — on top of the $190 million boost the Legislature had already promised.

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