The Week In News: And We're Back Edition
We’re back from an unintended elections-induced hiatus to start bringing you a roundup of the week’s happenings. (We hope you didn’t miss us too much.)
Speaking of elections, our Statehouse reporter Stephen Koranda attended a meeting of political “watchers”—lawmakers, reporters and party officials—who sat down at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas to talk about the fall election and what effect the results might have on Kansas. The election brought in more moderate Republicans and even Democrats to the Legislature, which some say is a rebuke of not just Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies, but of the status quo in general.
(Still speaking of elections, they weren’t exactly over on Nov. 8: Kansas’ new group of lawmakers met Monday to select their own leadership.)
The Wichita City Council took its first look a proposed food truck ordinance that would replace the current decades-old policy. One of the biggest changes: Under the new measure, food trucks would be allowed to operate on city streets in downtown Wichita.
An artist has been selected for a planned Statehouse mural that will honor the significance of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case that ended legal segregation in public schools. It may be the most well-known desegregation case in Kansas, but it wasn’t the first, says Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of plaintiff Rev. Oliver Brown: “What’s unique about Kansas, unlike any other state in the union, is there were 11 school desegregation cases argued in state Supreme Court before Brown v. Board. And it’s important to know because African Americans did this on their own even before there was an NAACP. African Americans recognized the importance of education.”
Back to speaking about elections: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed to as the next CIA director yet, but interest is already growing around the 4th Congressional District seat he currently holds. Former Congressman Todd Tiahrt (who once ran against Pompeo for the seat), state Treasurer Ron Estes, former radio host Joseph Ashby and former Trump campaign worker Alan Cobb have all expressed interest in running should a special election be called.
Groups representing Kansas teachers, state workers, contractors and other brought forth a tax overhaul they say would solve the state’s budget problems. The plan would undo some tax cuts made in recent years, reinstate income taxes on hundreds of thousands of businesses, raise the gas tax and cut the sales tax rate on food. But a spokeswoman for the government calls the changes “tax-and-spend proposals and says the plan would hurt middle-class Kansans.