Stephen Koranda

Statehouse Reporter, Kansas News Service

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.

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LAWRENCE, Kansas — This week’s election set the stage for partisan fights in the Kansas Statehouse over things like redistricting, abortion, Medicaid expansion and pandemic-related aid.

Democrats had hoped to crack the Republican supermajority in both chambers — thus taking away the GOP’s power to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes — but that didn’t happen.

Democrats and Republicans in Kansas will keep their seats in the U.S. House, as Tuesday’s election favored the incumbents plus the Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District.

STILWELL, Kansas — After Doug Reed put his elderly father’s Johnson County home up for sale, the mailbox started to fill up with letters from the Kansas Department of Labor, sometimes 25 or 30 at a time.

“We had two or three big batches of them, and they’ve been dribbling in ever since,” Reed said.

Within a couple weeks, about 130 letters had arrived, all bearing his father’s street address but addressed to different names.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Kansas could see record-breaking turnout in the Nov. 3 general election, even during a pandemic.

Candidates' campaigns/Crysta Henthorne

The 2nd Congressional District seat is wide open after current Rep. Steve Watkins lost in the primary. The Republican candidate is state Treasurer Jake LaTurner, who previously was a state senator. The Democrats have Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla. Here’s where the two stand on major topics facing the state.

Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Republican lawmakers agreed to extend Kansas’ coronavirus disaster declaration Friday by a month after demanding assurances that Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly won’t shutter businesses across the state a second time.

The contentious approval by the State Finance Council is just the beginning of a cycle: By law, the declaration can be extended only up to 30 days at a time.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Cottonwood Incorporated in Lawrence helps about 75 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with jobs, assembling things like cargo straps for the federal government and medical kits.

When the day is done, Cottonwood takes them back to their homes in the community. Ettie Brightwell stood outside the building in August, telling people goodbye. Brightwell, Cottonwood’s community relations and development director, even stopped one man to tie his shoe before he boarded a van.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Labor has struggled to handle an explosion of unemployment filings.

That’s left 25,000 claims waiting for approval — and thousands of Kansans standing by for the checks that could help them stay afloat through a jobless stretch in an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Getting married and having your first child is stressful enough. Try making those life changes during a pandemic. As a teacher.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas’ biggest primary race was one of the first to be decided Tuesday: U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall secured the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and will face Democratic nominee Barbara Bollier in the November general election.

Officials had cautioned that the record numbers of mail-in advanced ballots — a sign of the times in a pandemic — could lead to delayed results. But by 10:30 p.m., all of the major contests were over.

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