Kansas News Service

The Kansas News Service produces essential enterprise reporting, diving deep and connecting the dots regarding the policies, issues and and events that affect the health of Kansans and their communities. The team is based at KCUR and collaborates with KMUW and public media stations across Kansas.

The Kansas News Service is made possible by a group of funding organizations, led by the Kansas Health Foundation. Other funders include United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Sunflower Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Additional support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital say a change in the distribution of livers across the country could result in Kansans waiting longer for life-saving transplants.

So they’re backing a bill in the Kansas Legislature that would allow residents who donate their organs to specify whether they want them used to benefit Kansas transplant patients.

“The purpose of the Kansas Donor Rights act is to bring the conversation to the forefront,” said Sean Kumer, a liver transplant surgeon at KU.

Bills on drug sentencing, probation and marijuana possession stalled in the Kansas Legislature this year. Instead, lawmakers continue to consider appointing a task force to address the criminal justice system as a whole.

Kansas Democrats scored critical wins in the last election. Now they’re struggling to transform those victories into Democratic-minded policies, and to hold on to the corners of power they’ve captured.

They meet in their annual convention this weekend to pick party leaders and search for consensus on strategies for governing and see if they can repeat last year’s election wins next year.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly wanted a quick solution to the on-going school funding lawsuit, but lawmakers are leaving for a mid-session break without having approved a plan.

They have until April 15 to agree on how much they want to spend on education and submit arguments for their plan to the Kansas Supreme Court.

The top Democrat in the House, Rep. Tom Sawyer, is frustrated with the pace of progress.

“We’ve got a lawsuit sitting there,” he said. “We’ve got to solve funding for our schools and we haven’t even started working on that.”

LIBERAL — Hefty college debt won’t saddle Bryan Medina.

He’s on a fast track to an energy career that he hopes will pave the road to family dreams: Buying his own cattle and going in on the purchase of 300 acres of land with his dad.

“We could grow and eventually own our own feedyard,” said Medina, who finished high school last May in the small southwest Kansas town of Sublette. “If things go great, if we put all the work into it, we’ll definitely get there.”

The company hired to provide health care in Kansas prisons is getting paid millions less than its contracted amount after failing to meet the agreement’s terms.

State officials reduced payments to Corizon Health because the company failed to hire enough nurses and other health workers. Corizon lost additional money after audits found it fell short of performance standards for a range of medical services.

Now, the Kansas Department of Corrections says the contractor has one more year to look after the health of 10,000 people in its prisons.

Hutchinson building official Trent Maxwell recalls the city, years back, inspecting the home of a woman whose gas had been shut off for nearly a year.

“She was using one burner on the electric stove to heat water to bathe her little kids,” he said.

The woman finally got fed up and called city officials. She’d held off, she said, because her landlord threatened to land her in jail if she summoned inspectors. That wasn’t true. But she believed the threat.

“No one,” Maxwell said, “should have to live like that.”

Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service

Student Matthew Fitch wanted a low-cost, quick entry into the workforce. That’s all he wanted.

So he transferred from a community college to WSU Tech — a place that felt quieter and more focused on his dash to the working world.

“There’s no parties all the time,” Fitch said. “Everybody’s kind of focused on learning a lot so that they can get a nice job.”

Rep. Don Hineman got a new assignment this session to figure out how to sustain rural Kansas. The three things the chairman of the Rural Revitalization Committee says rural communities need most: broadband, housing, and, of course, health care.


The Kansas Legislature is in the meat of its 2019 session. Not quite halfway through, but well into the “getting down to business” part.

As such, there are consequential conversations happening throughout the Statehouse. Some occur in hearing rooms. But far more take place out of public view — in offices, hallways and the many convenient alcoves tucked into the building’s less-trafficked spaces.

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