Archive for the ‘Kansas Politics’ Category

Kansas Budget Director Urges Lawmakers to Pass Budget Quickly
January 28, 2015

(AP) – Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director and top Republicans say Kansas needs to balance its current budget by mid-February to ensure that the state can keep paying all of its bills on time.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said Wednesday that the GOP-dominated Legislature should pass a bill by Feb. 13 to close a projected $279 million shortfall in the current budget to head off any potential delays.

The Republican governor’s proposals include diverting money from highway projects to general government programs and making selected spending cuts.

The House Appropriations Committee had a hearing Wednesday on his proposals and plans to approve a bill by Monday. Chairman Ron Ryckman Jr. said lawmakers are pressed for time.

The state also faces a projected $436 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Kansas Legislators Look at State School Aid
January 28, 2015

(AP) – Some Republican legislators are questioning whether Kansas should cover unanticipated increases in costs associated with aid to the state’s public schools as they wrestle with a projected budget shortfall.

House Appropriations Committee member and Overland Park Republican Jerry Lunn said Wednesday that the idea ought to be on the table. Lawmakers are working on measures to close a projected $279 million shortfall in the current state budget.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget staff says the costs of fulfilling promises on aid to public schools are almost $64 million higher than anticipated than when legislators set the current budget last year.

He is proposing to cover the extra costs and then reduce school aid from that peak level for the next fiscal year beginning in July.

April Vote in Wichita on Reducing Pot Penalties
January 27, 2015

(AP) – Wichita voters will get the opportunity to vote on easing marijuana penalties for first-time offenders.

The Wichita City Council agreed 6-1 to place the measure to amend the city’s ordinance on the April 7 ballot. But it remains unclear what will happen even if the issue passes because state law still makes marijuana possession illegal.

Action came in the wake of a petition for it containing thousands of signatures.

The proposal makes first-offense marijuana possession a criminal infraction with a $50 fine. It would be enforced with a summons or citation rather than an arrest. A conviction could be expunged after 12 months if the offender stays out of legal trouble.

It would apply only to those 21 or older carrying 32 grams or less of marijuana.

Kansas Senate Panel Considers Tougher Burglary Laws
January 27, 2015

(AP) – Kansas would increase penalties for home burglaries under a bill being considered in the state Senate.

The Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the measure. The bill would increases penalties for any home burglary and sentences for the intent to steal a firearm. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson testified that burglary victims are frustrated that perpetrators often get off with probation.

The bill would make the potential prison sentence for any home burglary six months longer for a first-time offender, for a maximum of 19 months.

Thompson said it’s not clear how much the measure would increase prison populations but a proposed amendment hopes to alleviate that issue. The amendment would lessen penalties for repeat shoplifters, downgrading such offenses to a misdemeanor.

Kansas Panel Considers Expanding Medicaid
January 26, 2015

(AP) – A Kansas House committee is working on a proposal to expand the state’s Medicaid program to capture additional federal dollars promised by the federal health care overhaul.

The Vision 2020 Committee heard testimony Monday in favor of expanding Medicaid from the Kansas Hospital Association and the state’s largest health system, Via Christi.

Committee Chairman and Lawrence Republican Tom Sloan said a bill should be drafted within a few weeks.

The state’s $3 billion-a-year Medicaid program provides health coverage for the needy and disabled, but it doesn’t cover childless adults without disabilities.

The 2010 federal health care law promises to pay all of the cost of expanding Medicaid through 2016 and at least 90 percent after that. But many Kansas Republicans remain skeptical the federal government will keep its promises

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