Stephen Koranda

Statehouse Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

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Just a day before the Kansas primary election, President Donald Trump waded into the race for governor while an independent candidate staked out a space in the general election.

Trump endorsed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his bid to oust incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer. The two are frontrunners in the Republican primary race, which also includes Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Sen. Jim Barnett.

It helps, the latest Kansas campaign money tallies show, to be rich or have wealthy friends.

Next best thing, run as an incumbent.

Campaign finance reports for the first half of this year show dollars spent nearly as quickly as candidates could corral them — filling airwaves, plastering billboards and stuffing mailboxes with flyers.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ decision not to seek re-election drew seven fellow Republicans eager to take over the seat from the Kansas 2nd Congressional District.

That’s left them elbowing for ways to stand out in the crowded field — and face a politically formidable Democrat in one of the few dozen districts across the country where oddsmakers see at least a plausible chance of a seat flipping from red to blue in the mid-term election.

A new report finds legalizing sports gambling could boost revenue for states like Kansas, but any windfall is likely to be brief.

Sports gambling began to tempt lawmakers after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized it earlier this year. The report released Thursday from the Pew Charitable Trusts said sports book likely won’t be a magic pill to cure state budget issues.

Vice President Mike Pence came to Kansas City Wednesday, where he touted Republicans running for office on both sides of the state line and tried to ease concerns about the Trump administration’s expanding trade war.

Kansas Attorney General's office

A new awareness campaign in Kansas is aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight human trafficking.

The campaign involves state agencies and local advocacy groups teaming up to push the Demand an End initiative. It involves education and announcements warning people that buyers of sex face charges.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday that the campaign wants to create a culture where buying sex is not acceptable. He said it’s not a victimless crime.

“The money goes somewhere,” he said. “It fuels a marketplace.

Kansas tax collections in June beat estimates — projections that already factored in tax hikes — by $144 million. That capped off a fiscal year where the state topped projections every month, which is a sharp departure from some recent years.

Lawmakers use the projections when they craft the budget, so the boost in revenue means the state’s bank account ends the fiscal year with $318 million more than state officials anticipated.

A deal, hatched in secret, to build a massive chicken processing plant on the outskirts of Tonganoxie, Kansas, caused a huge uproar last September. The Tyson project was promptly canceled. Despite that, all the incumbent city council members on the ballot were voted out of office in November.

The political consequences could continue with upcoming elections for the Kansas House.

File/Reno County Fire District #6

A legislative audit released Tuesday concluded that while wildfires in Kansas are becoming more frequent, a lack of resources and coordination are hampering the state’s ability to fight them.

Firefighting duties and resources are spread across three separate agencies, which auditors said is complicating wildfire response and communication between state and local officials.

Courtesy KDOC

The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Justin Thurber. Yet the justices delayed a decision on his death sentence and said a lower court must reconsider whether he has a developmental disability.

A jury sentenced Thurber to death for the 2007 killing of 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm, a college student in Cowley County.

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