January 26, 2018 •

Governor of Kansas Resigns

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback resigned yesterday after the U.S. Senate confirmed him to be the ambassador at-large for international religious freedom. The vote was 49-49 along party lines, with two senators absent, and Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie […]

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback resigned yesterday after the U.S. Senate confirmed him to be the ambassador at-large for international religious freedom.

The vote was 49-49 along party lines, with two senators absent, and Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie in favor of Gov. Brownback.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will take over as governor when the resignation becomes official on January 31.

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June 12, 2017 •

Kansas Legislature Adjourns Regular Session

The Kansas Legislature adjourned the 2017 regular session on June 10, 2017. The session went 13 days beyond the scheduled 100 days, but lawmakers finally approved a two-year budget. Lead by a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats, a $1.2 […]

The Kansas Legislature adjourned the 2017 regular session on June 10, 2017. The session went 13 days beyond the scheduled 100 days, but lawmakers finally approved a two-year budget.

Lead by a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats, a $1.2 billion tax increase will reverse spending cuts spearheaded by Gov. Sam Brownback in 2012. Many on both sides of the aisle believe these cuts failed to kick-start the state’s economy as promised.

Lawmakers could be called into a special session in July, however, if a funding formula for public schools does not satisfy the state’s supreme court.

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May 2, 2017 •

Head of Kansas Ethics Commission Stepping Down

Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, announced her retirement from the commission. She will step down from her post in September, staying on to assist with primary elections for school boards and first class cities. Williams […]

Kansas ethicsCarol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, announced her retirement from the commission.

She will step down from her post in September, staying on to assist with primary elections for school boards and first class cities.

Williams has worked for the Ethics Commission since 1977 and has been the executive director since 1981.

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October 14, 2016 •

Kansas Lawmakers Already Planning for Extended 2017 Session

Before it begins, Kansas lawmakers are planning for an extended regular legislative session in 2017. Usually set at 90 days, additional money has been earmarked for a 100-day session. Continuing school finance issues and an expected revenue shortfall have been […]

Seal of KansasBefore it begins, Kansas lawmakers are planning for an extended regular legislative session in 2017. Usually set at 90 days, additional money has been earmarked for a 100-day session.

Continuing school finance issues and an expected revenue shortfall have been cited as reasons for the planned extension. While many lawmakers thought it was prudent to plan now rather than find the money later, others felt it sets a bad precedent going into a session not expecting to complete the Legislature’s work on time.

The session in 2018 will be budgeted at 80 days to compensate.

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August 9, 2016 •

GoFundMe Contributions to Kansas Lawmaker Subject to Gift Limit

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has issued guidance relating to gifts to public officials following the tragic death of a state lawmaker’s son. State Rep. Scott Schwab’s son, Caleb, died Sunday from injuries sustained while on a waterslide at a […]

rep_schwab_scott_1The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has issued guidance relating to gifts to public officials following the tragic death of a state lawmaker’s son.

State Rep. Scott Schwab’s son, Caleb, died Sunday from injuries sustained while on a waterslide at a Kansas City waterpark.

The commission announced any contributions from lobbyists to a GoFundMe campaign set up for the family would be subject to the state’s $40-per-year limit on gifts. Lobbyists must also report their contributions to the state.

Photo of Rep. Scott Schwab courtesy of the Kansas State Legislature website

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July 19, 2016 •

ACLU Sues Kansas Secretary of State Over Voter Registration Rule

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, over a temporary regulation tossing votes from individuals who registered at a state motor vehicle office. The ACLU claims the regulation violates both Kansas law and […]

KrisKobach
Kris Kobach

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, over a temporary regulation tossing votes from individuals who registered at a state motor vehicle office.

The ACLU claims the regulation violates both Kansas law and the state constitution. The rule allows those who did not show proof of citizenship to cast ballots in federal, but not state, elections.

Federal law allows people to register to vote at local motor vehicle offices. The rule was approved by the State Rules and Regulations Board after providing less than a day’s notice for the meeting. Members of the secretary of state’s office stated they believe they were following state law requiring new voters to show proof of citizenship.

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June 28, 2016 •

Kansas Special Session Comes to a Close

The Legislature’s special session has come to an end after lawmakers reached an agreement on school finance. After meeting for only two days, the House and Senate approved a compromise on Friday, June 24, to prevent the state’s public schools […]

Seal of KansasThe Legislature’s special session has come to an end after lawmakers reached an agreement on school finance. After meeting for only two days, the House and Senate approved a compromise on Friday, June 24, to prevent the state’s public schools from closing on July 1.

The measure will use funds from the sale of Kansas Bioscience Authority. It now heads to Gov. Sam Brownback, who has indicated he will sign it.

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June 9, 2016 •

Kansas Governor Sets Special Session Date

Gov. Sam Brownback has set the date for the Legislature to return for a special session. Lawmakers will return on June 23, 2016, giving them one week to pass new school funding legislation. The state Supreme Court deemed the current […]

Flag_of_KansasGov. Sam Brownback has set the date for the Legislature to return for a special session.

Lawmakers will return on June 23, 2016, giving them one week to pass new school funding legislation. The state Supreme Court deemed the current system unconstitutional and, according to the ruling, the Legislature needs to redistribute state funding before June 30.

The changes will likely involve shifting $38 million, but Brownback has yet to endorse a particular plan.

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June 7, 2016 •

Amid Mounting Pressure, Kansas Governor to Call Special Session

Gov. Sam Brownback announced a special session of the Legislature will take place to avoid closure of the state’s public schools. The Kansas Supreme Court recently rejected the state’s school funding system and set a deadline of June 30 to […]

Flag_of_KansasGov. Sam Brownback announced a special session of the Legislature will take place to avoid closure of the state’s public schools.

The Kansas Supreme Court recently rejected the state’s school funding system and set a deadline of June 30 to fix the funding system’s shortcomings.

No official date has been set for the session, but Brownback indicated it will be next month.

The announcement comes after Democratic lawmakers began a petition to force a special session, as provided for in the Kansas Constitution. Republican lawmakers, however, have been staunchly against a special session; instead, they advocated fighting the ruling in federal court.

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June 2, 2016 •

Kansas Lawmakers Punt on School Funding; Adjourn Session Sine Die

The Kansas Legislature has adjourned its 2016 session sine die today, June 1, 2016. Following a decision by the state’s Supreme Court disapproving of how funding is distributed among public schools, many were expecting lawmakers to take action during its […]

Topeka_DomeThe Kansas Legislature has adjourned its 2016 session sine die today, June 1, 2016.

Following a decision by the state’s Supreme Court disapproving of how funding is distributed among public schools, many were expecting lawmakers to take action during its typically ceremonial session. Senate leaders, however, blocked any consideration of a school funding bill, causing both houses to adjourn the session.

Gov. Sam Brownback will now have to call a special session if any changes will be made prior to a court-imposed deadline of June 30. Many Republican senators, however, are pledging to defy the court’s ruling.

Photo of the dome of the Kansas State Capitol by Aviper2k7 on Wikimedia Commons.

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May 2, 2016 •

Kansas Legislature Completes Business for the Year; Adjourns Until June 1

The Kansas Legislature adjourned after passing a budget in the early hours of May 2, 2016. Lawmakers have been in session only 73 of the scheduled 90 days and will return to the state capitol on June 1 for a […]

Topeka domeThe Kansas Legislature adjourned after passing a budget in the early hours of May 2, 2016. Lawmakers have been in session only 73 of the scheduled 90 days and will return to the state capitol on June 1 for a brief adjournment ceremony.

Leadership is hopeful business has been completed for the year; however, more work may be ahead as the state’s supreme court reviews changes to how more than $4 billion is distributed to school districts. Justices will hear arguments on May 10.

Photo of the Kansas State Capital dome by Aviper2k7 on Wikimedia Commons.

 

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December 10, 2015 •

Wichita City Council Votes to Allow Contributions by Corporations

The Wichita, Kansas City Council approved a measure removing the prohibition on corporations, unions, and political action committees donating to local campaigns. Such groups are still limited to contributions of $500 per election, matching the limit on individual contributions and […]

Flag of WichitaThe Wichita, Kansas City Council approved a measure removing the prohibition on corporations, unions, and political action committees donating to local campaigns. Such groups are still limited to contributions of $500 per election, matching the limit on individual contributions and mirroring the state’s restrictions.

Proponents of the change believe with the limit so low, the risk of corporations or PACs swaying an election is minimal.

The council also voted unanimously to move city elections from the spring to the fall beginning in 2017.

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June 15, 2015 •

Marathon Session in Kansas Comes to an End

The Kansas Legislature adjourned Friday, June 12, 2015. The 113-day session was the longest in state history after lawmakers struggled to fix a deficit in the budget. A typical session only lasts 90 days and each additional day costs taxpayers […]

Seal of KansasThe Kansas Legislature adjourned Friday, June 12, 2015.

The 113-day session was the longest in state history after lawmakers struggled to fix a deficit in the budget.

A typical session only lasts 90 days and each additional day costs taxpayers an estimated $40,000.

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February 3, 2015 •

Kansas Legislature Mulls Raising Registration Threshold for Lobbyists

A new bill could increase the expenditure threshold for lobbyist registration. House Bill 2082, attempting to account for inflation, would increase the current $100 threshold to $1,000. The current law has been in place since 1975. Proponents of the bill […]

Seal of KansasA new bill could increase the expenditure threshold for lobbyist registration. House Bill 2082, attempting to account for inflation, would increase the current $100 threshold to $1,000.

The current law has been in place since 1975.

Proponents of the bill believe it will only serve to protect private citizens from inadvertently breaking the law, while having no effect on industry lobbyists, who typically expend much larger sums.

Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Government Ethics Commission, presented the proposal to the House Elections Committee and was the only person to testify on the matter.

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