Abigail Censky

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas lawmakers abruptly decided to end the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration Tuesday.

Republicans on the Legislative Coordinating Council canceled a meeting where they’d been set to consider Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s request for another extension.

That left the declaration to expire at midnight Tuesday more than 450 days after it was first issued, and further limited the governor’s waning powers to impose mask orders and take a range of other emergency actions.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described whether U.S. Reps. Jake LaTurner and Rep. Ron Estes had used earmarks. Estes opposed the return to using earmarks, and a spokesman for LaTurner previously said he did not participate, but both have made multiple earmark requests to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

Republicans are pushing Gov. Kelly to eliminate the $300 additional weekly unemployment payments because they say the money makes it harder to fill open jobs.

TOPEKA, Kansas — After ousting moderates and electing more conservatives in the 2020 elections, Kansas Republicans road-tested their brawny supermajority at the end of the 2021 legislative session.

That political muscle allowed the conservatives who control the Legislature to override several of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas lawmakers return to the Statehouse next week for a showdown with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly over issues at the heart of both culture wars and taxes.

While legislators took a break, Kelly vetoed a range of high-profile bills. Now the conservative Republicans who control the Legislature face the challenge of overrides with slim margins to pull that off.

Republican Senate President Ty Masterson blasted the governor for striking down bills ranging from tax cuts to restrictions on transgender athletes.

Even as Kansas remains far from reaching the coveted public health standard of herd immunity against COVID-19 — essentially starving off the virus because it runs out of vulnerable bodies — more than 60 counties just turned down their weekly allotment of vaccine doses.

A nameplate that reads "Mom Boss" sits on the desk of Michigan state Sen. Stephanie Chang's basement office in the capitol building in Lansing. Around it sit framed photos of her daughters.

When Chang began her term in the Michigan House in 2015, she was pregnant, and then again when she started her term in the Michigan Senate in 2018. In her official role, she's the Minority Floor Leader for the Democrats. Unofficially, she's branded herself a #mommylegislator.

Black residents in Michigan account for roughly 21% of the state's COVID-19 deaths despite being just 14% of the state's population. State officials want to decrease the number of deaths, so Michigan is relying on a formula recommended by the Centers for Disease Control called the Social Vulnerability Index to help guide its vaccine distribution.

After an election that saw record voter turnout, with many of those voters casting their ballots early and by mail, some Republican state lawmakers are proposing a wave of new voting laws that would effectively make it more difficult to vote in future elections.

The proposals come in the aftermath of the unprecedented onslaught of disinformation about the conduct of the 2020 election by former President Donald Trump and some of his allies in the Republican Party.

The day Michigan's electors gathered in the state Capitol, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer paused briefly on the checkered marble floor before entering the state Senate chamber.

"Obviously [we] never could've imagined..." she paused to laugh, emphasizing her next word, "anything... about this year. But it's an honor to play a role here in finalizing this vote, respecting the will of the people and making sure Michigan's voice is heard."

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