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Kansas Reflector Podcast
The Kansas Reflector Podcast, hosted by senior reporter Tim Carpenter, presents voices from the people and politics of Kansas.
4 days ago
Millennials in Kansas Legislature unite with counterparts in business
The DC-based Millennial Action Project is working to engage young policymakers across the country — including members of the bipartisan Future Caucus in the Kansas Legislature. The organization recently gathered Kansas lawmakers, along with young entrepreneurs in the state, for a discussion at Iron Rail Brewery in Topeka. The voices in this week's Reflector Podcast include Rep. Tory Arnberger-Blew, a Republican from Great Bend, Rep. Rui Xu, a Democrat from Westwood, Del-Metrius Herron, a realtor from Topeka, and Rebecca Appelgren, who runs a cosmetics company in Olathe. Former state Rep. Patty Markley leads the conversation.
Jan 18, 2022
Kansas Chamber 2022 legislative agenda
One of the loudest lobbying voices in the Capitol is the Kansas Chamber. The statewide business organization strives to influence public policy, and its political action committee works to influence outcome of elections. The state chamber of commerce annually issues a legislative agenda that touches on taxation, health care, workforce development, the legal system, government spending, and much more. Alan Cobb, president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber, and Eric Stafford, the principal Statehouse lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber, join the Kansas Reflector podcast to discuss the 2022 agenda.
Jan 10, 2022
Kansas Interfaith Action identifies priorities for 2022 legislative session
The Kansas Legislature returns Monday to the statehouse for the start of a new session where lawmakers will entertain a variety of policy ideas and the weeks and months ahead. Kansas Interfaith action, a multifaith advocacy organization, is among the groups hoping to influence those debates. On the Kansas Reflector podcast, editor in chief Sherman Smith sits down with pastor Robert Johnson, the lead servant of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita and a Kansas Interfaith Action board member, and Rabbi Moti Rieber, who serves as executive director of Kansas Interfaith Action.
Jan 3, 2022
Kansas Reflector staff on top issues from 2021 news
Kansas Reflector editor in chief Sherman Smith, senior reporter Tim Carpenter and opinion editor Clay Wirestone talk about six topics — taxes, COVID-19, abortion, foster care, marijuana and critical race theory — that dominated the news in 2021 and implications for 2022.
Dec 27, 2021
Gov. Laura Kelly on reelection, 2022 legislative session
Gov. Laura Kelly is entering the fourth year of her governorship of Kansas, and faces a reelection challenge in 2022. The Democrat vowed, when sworn into office after the 2018 election, to stabilize the state government's budget, bring coherence to K-12 public school funding, restore credibility to the state's transportation program after years of broken promises and to get a grip on the troubled foster care system. Since early 2020 she's been absorbed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed 6,900 Kansans, with more than 4,000 of those fatalities occurring in 2021. On this Reflector Podcast episode, Tim Carpenter sits down with Kelly in her office at the Capitol to talk about her work as the state's chief executive and her thoughts entering the 2022 legislative session.
Dec 20, 2021
Name Change Project
For transgender Kansans, changing their names and identity documents to reflect their true selves can be an arduous and expensive process. A new program from Kansas Legal Services aims to change that for moderate and low income Kansans. Tori Gleason, a healthcare provider in Western Kansas and Ellen Bertels, founder of the Kansas Name Change Project at Kansas Legal Services detail the effort and its importance on this episode of the Reflector Podcast.
Dec 13, 2021
Lee Norman on managing the pandemic and being fired
Lee Norman was prepared for the possibility that a new and deadly virus could induce a global pandemic long before many people were familiar with the threat that became known as COVID-19. But he was caught off-guard by the governor's decision to fire him as secretary of the Kansas Department for Health and Environment after managing the state's response to the pandemic for nearly two years. Editor in chief Sherman Smith sat down with Norman in his Kansas City, Missouri, loft to talk about his leadership of the health agency, attacks on science, his departure from state government, and what he plans to do next.
Dec 6, 2021
Kansas advocates talk Build Back Better bill
There's a messy debate raging in Washington, D.C., around the Build Back Better bill, which is President Joe Biden's economic growth package. It's a profound investment in America's future, Democrats argue. Republicans, on the other hand, generally view it as a budgetary albatross. On this Kansas Reflector Podcast, David Jordan, president of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Suzanne Wikle, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, and Kelly Davydov, executive director of Child Care Aware of Kansas, share why they support this legislation.
Nov 29, 2021
Kansas Special Session 2021: What should have been the focus?
The Kansas special legislative session last week only lasted one day but still elicited many strong responses and wild speeches. The new law provides moral, religious and medical exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine requirements and ensure unemployment compensation for anyone who is fired because of their vaccine status. Any business that refuses to accept an exemption faces up to $50,000 in fines. Considerations of such action were criticized by Democratic legislators who called the legislation a waste of taxpayer money, instead pointing to issues they said are in need of more immediate attention, like the food sales tax and the criminal justice system. On this week’s Reflector podcast we hear some of the speeches that defined the special session, followed by a short conversation with Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, to debrief on the events.
Nov 22, 2021
Rick Serrano: Buried Truths and the Hyatt Skywalks
People living in the Kansas City area in the summer of 1981 can recall the harrowing collapse of two overhead walkways inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Those platforms were full of partygoers attending an evening dance in the lobby below. The tragedy killed 114 people and injured more than 200. On the 40th anniversary of the collapse, Rick Serrano, who shares a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the disaster, chronicles in a new book the suffering of people touched by the event and brings new focus to what went wrong, how it could have been avoided, and what lessons carry forward.
Nov 15, 2021
Cutting the food sales tax
If you go to the grocery store in Kansas, you will see the total cost of your shopping being a little larger than in many other states. That’s because Kansas is one of seven states with a full tax on groceries and at a rate of 6.5%, has the second highest tax in the nation. But in recent days, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced a plan to introduce legislation in January to exempt food from the state sales tax, joining Attorney General Derek Schmidt in urging GOP leaders to take action on the issue. On the Reflector Podcast to discuss this proposal and the implications the exemption could have is Karen Siebert, the public policy and advocacy advisor for Harvesters.
Nov 8, 2021
Hunger in southeast Kansas
According to Kansas Appleseed, one in six residents of southeast Kansas is food insecure and a stunning one in four children in the region is food insecure. That's the topic of the advocacy groups new report, "Hunger in Southeast Kansas." Kansas Reflector opinion editor Clay Wirestone is joined by two members of the Kansas Appleseed team — Hailey Kottler, thriving campaign director, and Caleb Smith, inclusive campaign director — to discuss the new report.
Nov 1, 2021
Sedgwick County commissioner Lacey Cruse on homelessness
Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruz lives in the poorest zip code in the state of Kansas. Immense challenges of homelessness as well as mental illness and substance abuse are visible from her front porch. Cruse joins host Tim Carpenter to discuss how she believes Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita can do a better job marshaling resources to take on these complex problems, especially with the availability of federal COVID-19 recovery funding.
Oct 25, 2021
Seaman High School name controversy
Students at Seaman High School just north of Topeka ignited intense community conversation last year when their research revealed the school districts namesake had been an exalted cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan. Now, animosity over critical race theory has inflamed debate about whether to change the district's name. Joining host Sherman Smith on the Kansas Reflector podcasts to talk about the school name and community response are Seaman High School seniors Kevinh Nguyen and Emma Simpson.
Oct 18, 2021
Education at Fort Hays State University
Leading a public university during a devastating pandemic and demographic shifts slashing the number of college aged people is a mind boggling challenge. In addition to the evolving economy, emerging technology and politicization of government spending on higher education, the challenges are great. One of the six people entrusted to manage a state university in the Kansas Board of Regents is Tisa Mason, president of Fort Hays State University. Mason has a grip on all these challenges and joins senior reporter Tim Carpenter to discuss the business of operating Fort Hays and broader questions facing colleges and universities nationwide.
Oct 11, 2021
Improving broadband in Kansas
The difference between the haves and have nots in the world of broadband services — think of it as a digital divide and high speed internet — can be felt in business education, health care and at home. Without it of course you might have difficulty listening to this podcast. Joining senior reporter Tim Carpenter to connect Kansas reflector listeners to challenges and opportunities of spreading the broadband wealth are Stanley Adams of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Daniel Friesen of IdeaTek, a company in Buehler, Kansas working to extend fiber in across the state.
Oct 4, 2021
Kansas Cannabis Chamber of Commerce pushes for marijuana policy reform
When entrepreneurs wanted to convince politicians to be more pro-business, they formed a chamber of commerce to champion their ideas. Now, advocates of the nation's growing marijuana industry have done the same. Heather Steppe, is president of the new Kansas Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, talks with Kansas Reflector senior reporter Tim Carpenter about efforts to reform government policy on marijuana.
Sep 27, 2021
Kansas unemployment modernization, fraud update
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Kansas Department of Labor has been overwhelmed by unemployment claims, both real and fraudulent. The beleaguered unemployment insurance computer system and the record volume of activity created drastic delays and invited criminal actors to submit false claims. A recent audit estimated the state paid out $700 million dollars in fraudulent benefits, about half from federal and half from state funds. This episode of the Kansas Reflector Podcast examines an early September meeting of the Kansas Unemployment Compensation, Modernization and Improvement Council to see where progress is being made and what questions are still being asked.
Sep 20, 2021
Economic fallout of 2021 deep freeze
In February the Midwest was gripped by a deep freeze from winter storm Yuri, resulting in electrical outages for many. The cost of the storm are still being sorted out. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector podcast, Allison Kite looks into the economic fallout from this winter's deep freeze for Kansas residents who could be paying for just a few days of natural gas usage for years to come. Jim Zakoura, an attorney representing wholesale customers to talk about proceedings at the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Sep 13, 2021
Homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked economic upheaval that places more Americans at risk of being homeless, exacerbating the issue existing long before the current health crisis. A surge in evictions during 2020 prompted a federal order to temporarily halt such ousters, enabling many Americans to stay in their home, but the pandemic created poignant challenges for those already without a fixed residence. Resources for the homeless were strained as that population expanded, some shelters had to close, and basic housing costs soared. On this week’s Kansas Reflector podcast, Tim Carpenter is joined by Joseph Reitz, who helped start Family Promise of Lawrence more than a decade ago to help families with kids with shelter, food and counseling with the goal of getting those people permanently housed with jobs.
Sep 6, 2021
Renters, advocates on Kansas housing issues
Lack of affordable or permanent housing is not a new issue to Kansas, but amid the pandemic thousands of Kansas have come face to face with the threat of eviction. Estimates indicate 27,000 Kansas renters are currently behind on their rent and about 14,600 renters are at risk of eviction. COVID-19-related moratoriums and relief programs have provided temporary relief for some, housing advocates warn a crisis could be bubbling without adequate policies. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector podcast, freelance reporter Shelton Brown shares the voices of those impacted.
Aug 30, 2021
Urban heat islands in the Kansas City metro
When extreme heat descends on the Kansas City metro, you can feel it radiate off of buildings and dark pavement. Built-up areas, like downtown, become nearly unbearable — superheating well beyond the outlying areas. It’s called the urban heat island effect, and Kansas City, dominated by highways and parking lots, gets hit hard. On this week’s Kansas Reflector podcast, reporter Allison Kite dives into extreme heat in Kansas City, which can be devastating for the city’s most vulnerable residents and is expected to become more frequent over the coming decades.
Aug 23, 2021
Retired assistant U.S. attorney Tony Mattivi campaigns for Kansas attorney general
Tony Mattivi, a retired assistant U.S. attorney, is the latest entrant in the quest to find a replacement for Attorney General Derek Schmidt. He joins a GOP field that already includes Kris Kobach, the former secretary of state, and Sen. Kellie Warren, of Leawood. Mattivi sits down with Tim Carpenter to discuss how his experience led him to run for attorney general of Kansas and what makes him qualified for the job.
Aug 16, 2021
Derek Schmidt campaigns for governor
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is working hard to return to an office in the Capitol where he previously served as a state senator. Now he is campaigning for the Republican Party's nomination for governor in 2022. Schmidt joins senior reporter Tim Carpenter on the Reflector podcast to discuss the campaign and a potential shot at challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.
Aug 9, 2021
Laura Howard on foster care improvements and remaining work
The Kansas foster care system has been the subject of numerous heartbreaking stories as a surge in the number of children entering foster care strained the capabilities of the system and placed children's safety in jeopardy. While progress has been made in recent years, a lot of work remains. Laura Howard, secretary of the Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, is focused on improving outcomes for children in state custody. She joins Sherman Smith to discuss her work monitoring approximately 6,800 kids in the Kansas foster care system, as well as support programs for parents and families.
Aug 2, 2021
Journey along the civil rights trail
Selma, Memphis, Little Rock, Montgomery and Topeka: The city names alone are a roadmap of the nation's struggle for equality in terms of voting rights, educational opportunity, and jobs. These landmark cities are also on the U.S. civil rights trail. Joining Tim Carpenter on the Kansas Reflector podcast is Lee Sentel, Alabama's tourism director and the man behind a 128-page guide to more than 120 historic sites across 14 states, including the Brown v Board of Education and National Historic Site and Sumner Elementary School in Topeka.
Jul 26, 2021
Commission on Racial Equity and Justice 2021 interim report
In June of 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and outcry for social and racial progress, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly established the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. The first year of work was spent focusing on law enforcement and policing with more than 60 recommendations for different levels of government submitted in a final report. Now, the commission has released an interim report on a bevy of new subjects. The co-chairwomen of the commission, Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Topeka Public Schools, and Shannon Portillo, a Douglas County commissioner, discuss the interim report.
Jul 19, 2021
Voices from the Frito-Lay picket line in Topeka
Since July 5, more than 500 workers on strike have been posted across from a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka demanding higher wages and more limited hours. Union members rejected a contract offer from Frito-Lay with an annual 2% wage increase because for many workers that would be less than 50 cents per hour. Additionally, many employees are subjected to forced overtime and work up to 84-hour weeks because of worker shortages. We visit the picket line on this Kansas Reflector podcast to speak with the workers before planned negotiations on July 19.
Jul 12, 2021
Jeff Colyer campaigns for governor
In 2018, Republican Jeff Colyer fell 172 votes short of beating Kris Kobach in the closest statewide GOP primary election in Kansas history. He is confident he would have beaten Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat seeking re-election in 2022. Now Colyer is competing against Attorney General Derek Schmidt in the Republican gubernatorial primary for the opportunity to finally go toe-to-toe with her. He sits down with Tim Carpenter on this week's Reflector Podcast.
Jul 5, 2021
Riverkeeper Dawn Buehler on the thrills of the Kansas River
The Kansas River, or the Kaw, as some say, is a little-known treasure to most Kansans. Riverkeeper Dawn Buehler — advocate, scientist, educator and investigator — speaks to the environmental importance and recreational opportunities offered by this waterway.
Jun 28, 2021
Political scientists examine mass exodus from Legislature since 2010
In 2010, the Capitol in Topeka was abuzz with 125 representatives and 40 senators eager to take on the state's political challenges. This 165-person group included Sen. Laura Kelly, now the governor, and Sen. Jeff Colyer, who made it to the governor's office a step ahead of her. Another half-dozen or so individuals moved on by climbing the political ladder, but they were the tip of the iceberg in terms of the decade of legislative exodus. Ten years later, only eight senators and 14 representatives still hold those elected positions. Political scientists Bob Beatty, of Washburn University, and Michael Smith, of Emporia State University, examine legislative turnover in Kansas and weigh in on a few other political issues — including critical race theory.
Jun 21, 2021
What the Kids County report means for Kansas
Advocates worry a decade of progress improving the lives of Kansas children could be undermined by COVID-19 if policymakers can't sustain recovery from the pandemic. Even before COVID-19 infected the world, Kansas trailed more than 20 states in terms of child well-being based on a series of metrics tracked annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The newly released 2021 Kids Count report by the foundation of the 50 states ranks Kansas 18th in the nation, so there's some good news. John Wilson, president of the nonprofit nonpartisan Kansas Action for Children, joins host Tim Carpenter to help us get a handle on the report.
Jun 14, 2021
Food insecurity in southwest Kansas
A new report by the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice is re-examining barriers to food access faced by many southwest Kansans. For example, SNAP food assistance participation has decreased even though the need has increased in Stevens, Seward, Grant, Ford and Finney counties. Jami Reever, executive director of the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Martha Terhaar, Thriving Campaign Advocate, analyze what the report means and pointed to some barriers and solutions to those issues.
Jun 7, 2021
A sneak peak at the Kansas Capitol tour, reopening June 14
Most years, the Kansas Capitol would attract more than 6,500 visitors to see the state history contained there. But with a pandemic raging last year, activity grinded to a halt. Now, the Kansas Historical Society plans to reopen the Statehouse for tours on June 14. Joe Brentano, the Capitol Visitor’s Center coordinator, has given these tours for the past 14 years. He provides a tour for Kansas Reflector and shares a deep knowledge of state history.
May 31, 2021
A tour of Kansas’ independent colleges
Scattered across Kansas are an assortment of private colleges ranging in size from 300 to 3,600 students. That list includes Baker and Friends universities, Benedictine and Bethany colleges, MidAmerica Nazarene, McPherson College, University of St. Mary and others. What do they all have in common? They're part of the Kansas Independent College Association. Joining the Kansas Reflector podcast and host Tim Carpenter is Matt Lindsey, president of the association.
May 25, 2021
Rep. Steven Johnson: Candidate for state treasurer
Kansas voters thought they gained some distance between politicians and all those ads, mailers and speeches during the 2020 election cycle. Not so fast! The 2022 campaign season upon us and fans of the electoral process can expect competitive races for governor, attorney general, the U.S. House and state treasurer. Senior reporter Tim Carpenter is joined on this week's Kansas reflector podcast by state representative Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican. He is running for the office now held by democratic treasurer Lynn Rogers.
May 17, 2021
KDHE secretary Lee Norman update on Kansas health amid COVID-19
On Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the Capitol, Lee Norman confirmed the unsettling but inevitable news that Kansas had its first case of the novel coronavirus. Since then, more than 311,000 Kansans have been infected. Overall, more than 5000 infected Kansans have died. Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has been at the center of this public health storm. He sat down with senior reporter Tim Carpenter to discuss the state of Kansas health during a visit to the Kansas Reflector.
May 10, 2021
Veto Session: Business relief, taxes and medical marijuana
After four months of the legislative session, the Kansas Legislature reached bedrock and key areas of public policy. The evidence emerges in the most simplistic forms in the snappy yes or no votes of bills and amendment resolutions, and also in poignant and sometimes lengthy speeches on the House and Senate floors. Senior reporter Tim Carpenter is joined by opinion editor C.J. Janovy, editor in chief Sherman Smith, and reporter Noah Taborda on the Kansas Reflector podcast to sort through gems of oratory, touching on the GOP power to override vetoes by the governor, the revisionist history applied to COVID-19, the related financial intervention by the government during the pandemic, and consideration of a medical marijuana law.
May 3, 2021
Looking ahead to veto session
The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature covered Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's desk with a pile of bills that turned out to include an unusual amount of veto bait. In all, she vetoed eight bills and line-item vetoed more than a dozen provisions of a massive budget bill. House and Senate Republicans are licking their chops. They say they can't wait to return to Topeka on Monday for the traditional veto session, which hasn't offered Republicans a target-rich environment like this in more than 15 years.
Apr 26, 2021
The Kansas Legislature through voices of prayer
The House and Senate frequently begin their work on behalf of Kansans standing side-by-side with heads bowed in prayer. In these moments, religious leaders and sometimes legislators urge all 165 members to follow the Good Word and to go about their political objectives as instruments of peace. The elected are directed repeatedly to sow love where there is hatred, pardon those who injure others, bring hope to despair, and deliver light where there is darkness. On this Kansas Reflector podcast, we're taking a look at the 2021 Legislature's collection of prayers. Members of the Senate and House were recipients of sustained pleas for goodness, tolerance and honesty.
Apr 19, 2021
Energy policy observers examine Kansas securitization plan
A bill overwhelmingly passed by the Kansas Legislature and signed by Gov. Laura Kelly allows investor-owned utility companies to issue ratepayer-backed bonds to retire expensive power plants and transition to alternatives, such as wind or solar power. The bonds also enable utility companies to deal with price shocks on natural gas from February's cold snap. Paul Johnson, a public interest advocate who has followed energy policy at the Capitol for years, and Zach Pistora of the Kansas Sierra Club, dive into securitization — a subject that affects everyone's wallet and Kansas energy and environmental policy — with senior reporter Tim Carpenter.
Apr 12, 2021
Don't Tread on Me license plate sparks debate over flag ties, meaning
A seemingly innocuous bill approving a series of new distinctive license plates sparked debate last week in the Kansas Legislature. That’s because one plate included would be based on the Gadsden flag — a design critics say has ties to slavery. Cristopher Gadsden designed the yellow Revolutionary War symbol bearing a hissing snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” He was a merchant and slave owner in South Carolina who had a wharf built bearing his name in Charleston, where an estimated 100,000 enslaved Africans landed in the United States. The bill passed the House and Senate and is now headed to Gov. Laura Kelly for review.
Apr 5, 2021
Political scientists evaluate Legislature, governor's race
Political scientists Bob Beatty, of Washburn University, and Michael Smith, of Emporia State University, consider the work of the House and Senate this legislative session, as well as the performance of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Republicans who want to take her job in 2022.
Mar 29, 2021
A week of election reform in the Kansas Legislature
It has been about four months since Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab expressed confidence in state elections. Still, some legislators are considering significant changes to the election system. Voting rights activists say these measures under review by Republican-led committees could cut thousands of ballots in future elections or make access to voting harder. Republican legislators argue reform is necessary to increase an all-time low public confidence in elections. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector Podcast, reporter Noah Taborda takes a look back at a week full of election conversation and controversy in the Kansas Legislature.
Mar 22, 2021
Wind energy legislation in Kansas
Republican governors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer praised it. Democratic governors Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Parkinson and now Laura Kelly concurred. What were they excited about? They were pointing to wind farm development in Kansas. The state is a hotspot for wind power. On highways through blustery hills and flatlands of Kansas, you can't miss these turbines. So far, around 14 billion has been invested in Kansas wind projects and more than 40% of Kansas energy comes from wind. At the Capitol, a Senate bill would inject an unprecedented level of government regulation into the industry in Kansas. On this week’s podcast, senior reporter Tom Carpenter examines the legislation with Kimberly Svaty, of the Advanced Power Alliance, and Alan Anderson, an attorney who works with companies interested in being part of the wind farm projects.
Mar 15, 2021
Sen. Ethan Corson reflects on freshman session
Kansas voters overhauled the Kansas Senate in 2020, filling more than 1/3 of the 40 seats with newcomers. The chamber has 15 new members, a dozen Republicans and three Democrats. One of those freshman senators is Ethan Corson, D-Prairie Village, who had never before held elective office, but was no stranger to politics. Host Tim Carpenter sits down with Corson to discuss his impressions of his first session in the Legislature.
Mar 10, 2021
Kansas Reflector staff legislative session roundtable
In response to the pandemic and other policy desires, the 2021 Kansas legislative session has been packed with action on several fronts. It’s a long process and the Legislature has weeks left to discuss and amend favored bills, but some measures have already been approved. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector podcast, editor in chief Sherman Smith, senior reporter Tim Carpenter, reporter Noah Taborda and opinion editor C.J. Janovy discuss major movement at the statehouse thus far.
Mar 1, 2021
Voices from the debate over Kansas' transgender sports bill
Last week, the Kansas Senate Education Committee held a hearing on a bill forbidding any team designated for females to be open to students of the “male sex.” Champions of Senate Bill 208 said it would preserve hard-fought opportunities won by feminists for equal participation in athletics and guarantee a level playing field for girls and women. Opponents of the bill said it would provide legal authority to further marginalize people faced with discrimination and would obviously be challenged in court as unconstitutional.
Feb 22, 2021
KNEA, KASB reps talk K-12 public education proposals
No Kansas legislative session is without a debate about the academics, leadership and financing of Kansas public education. This session is no exception. The conversations are made more compelling by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is interrupted in-class teaching, much to the dismay of lawmakers who questioned the wisdom of teaching the state's 400,000 or so public school students through online alternatives. Mark Desetti, of the Kansas National Education Association, and Mark Tallman, of the Kansas Association of School Boards, join the Kansas Reflector Podcast to dive into the nuts and bolts of the legislative intrigue.
Feb 15, 2021
Former Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers sees state treasurer role as 'natural fit'
In December 2020, Gov. Laura Kelly appointed then-Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers to fill the vacancy of state treasurer left by U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner. Unlike his predecessors, Rogers does not see his new role as a stepping stone for future political positions. Rogers joins Tim Carpenter to discuss his first month in the role of state treasurer and what the future may hold.
Feb 8, 2021
Kansas' unfunded brain injury program
For years, Kansas declined to include children with brain injuries and some adults with comparable problems in the state's Medicaid program. Finally, in 2019, the federal government prodded the state into expanding coverage to these vulnerable populations. Here's the problem: The governor's budget didn't include the 8 million needed to finance the brain injury program as intended. A state agency appears willing to create a waiting list for additional people to move to this service. Janet Williams, founder of Minds Matter, the state's largest provider of services to people with brain injuries, joins the Kansas Reflector podcast to discuss why this is happening.
Feb 2, 2021
Missing and murdered Indigenous peoples in Kansas
As of Jan. 7, 2021, there are over 696 missing American Indian or Alaskan Native, including three in Kansas, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. A 2020 report using data from the Sovereign Bodies Institute, a nonprofit, Indigenous-led research organization, shows 2,306 Native American women and girls in the U.S are missing within the past 40 years, with 58% resulting in homicide. It’s an issue that has always been front and center in the minds of Kansas’s Native American legislators and now they are working to give it the government attention a situation of this urgency requires. "I know that this is a problem. I've always known that," said Ponka -We Victors, D-Wichita. "Every time I travel on the highway by myself back to Wichita, I know I could be another statistic of not making it home."
Jan 25, 2021
League of Kansas Municipalities discusses how cities have managed COVID-19
League of Kansas Municipalities representatives have reserved seats to observe how more than 600 cities in Kansas have interacted with other levels of the government hierarchy during the COVID-19 pandemic. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector Podcasts, senior reporter Tim Carpenter sits down with Trey Cocking and Erik Sartorius of the League of Municipalities to address the good and the bad of the pandemic response.
Jan 18, 2021
Gianfranco Pezzino: COVID-19 from public health perspective
Gianfranco Pezzino served as Shawnee County's health officer for 13 years before stepping down abruptly from the position in December. In the middle of the battle against COVID-19, Pezzino found politics overruling science. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector podcast, senior reporter Tim Carpenter sits down with Pezzino to discuss what he learned during the pandemic, why he stepped away, and Kansas response to the health crisis.
Jan 11, 2021
Kansas Rep. Aaron Coleman on calls for resignation, policy goals
Aaron Coleman defeated an entrenched incumbent for a seat in the Kansas House. He did it, extraordinarily, at age 20 while championing a Green New Deal reform agenda. But that accomplishment is overshadowed by controversy. On this episode of the Kansas Reflector podcast, Coleman joins senior reporter Tim Carpenter to respond to calls for his resignation and discuss policy goals.
Jan 5, 2021
Gov. Laura Kelly on re-election, 2021 legislative session
Gov. Laura Kelly announced in December she would pursue a second term in 2022. Amid the pandemic and with several policy goals yet to be achieved, the Kansas governor said running for re-election was a no-brainer. In this episode of the Kansas Reflector podcast, senior reporter Tim Carpenter — with help from editor-in-chief Sherman Smith — sits down with Kelly to discuss pandemic response, budgeting issues and, of course, her reelection efforts.
Dec 28, 2020
Hensley remembers good and bad from 44-year legislative career
After 44 years at the state Capitol, 2020 will be the last for Sen. Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. The longest-tenured legislator, who took office in 1977, has worked with 10 different governors and around 150 different state senators. On the Kansas Reflector podcast, senior reporter Tim Carpenter sits down with Hensely to reflect on his career — highlights, lowlights and everything in between.
Dec 21, 2020
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on election lawsuits, criminal justice reform
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, now in his third term, makes his presence felt. He'll be relied upon during the upcoming legislative session, but beyond that, he has weighed in on several notable legal issues, like the election and Kansas proof of citizenship laws. On this edition of the Kansas Reflector podcast, senior reporter Tim Carpenter sits down with Schmidt to discuss criminal justice reform, a Texas-born election lawsuit contesting the 2020 general election and a possible run for governor.
Dec 14, 2020
Roberts, Senate colleagues reflect on the Kansas congressman's career
After nearly 40 years as a congressman, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts announced early last year he would not pursue reelection in 2020. Capping off the longest tenure of any Kansan in the nation’s capital Sen. Pat Roberts delivered a final speech on the Senate floor Thursday. In what he dubbed his “adios amigos” speech, Roberts reflected on his path to politics, time spent as chair of the agriculture committee in both the House and Senate and the value of bipartisan efforts in passing meaningful legislation.
Dec 7, 2020
Kansas civil rights advocates on the death penalty
Kansas law allows capital punishment, but no one has been put to death in the state since 1965. At El Dorado Correctional Facility, 10 men are currently on death row, set to die by lethal injection. The majority are white and all are convicted killers. On this Kansas Reflector podcast, Cheryl Pilate, a criminal defense lawyer, Beatrice Swoopes, a retired public policy lobbyist for Catholic causes, and Mark Mark McCormick, director of strategic communications with the ACLU of Kansas, share strong feelings in opposition to capital punishment.
Nov 30, 2020
Kansas Veteran's Treatment Court
According to a report from the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 8% of inmates serving time in state and federal prisons and local jails are veterans. Despite making up a sizeable portion of the criminal justice system, diversion options specific to veterans are few and far between. In 2008, Judge Robert Russell, the presiding judge of the Buffalo Drug and Mental health Courts, established the nation’s first Veterans Treatment Court intended to provide structure and rehabilitation for military men and women. In 2016, Johnson County followed suit and established the first and only Veteran’s Treatment Court in Kansas. Now, with eyes on criminal justice reform across the country, several legal leaders in Kansas are encouraging more of these treatment courts be adopted across the state.
Nov 23, 2020
Sparks fly as Kansas legislators debate pandemic recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has left Kansas embroiled in economic chaos. Tens of thousands out of work, severely delayed payment of unemployment claims, and a wave of fraudulent jobless claims are among the turmoil the state has suffered over the past nine months. This past week a joint House and Senate committee charged with working on how best to move Kansas forward from this disaster met in Topeka. Legislators provided a fiery tit-for-tat debate on several of these issues. In this edition of the Kansas Reflector podcast, host Tim Carpenter guides us through the proceedings.
Nov 17, 2020
Political scientists dissect 2020 election results
Bob Beatty and Amber Dickinson, political science faculty members at Washburn University in Topeka, say President Donald Trump easily won confidence of Kansas voters, no amount of money would have altered the outcome for Senate candidate Barbara Bollier, and rural backing carried state Treasurer Jake LaTurner.
Nov 9, 2020
General Election 2020: What happened and what's left
Election Day 2020 has come and gone, but many races are still too close to call across the country, including here in Kansas. A week removed, counties now must canvass election results and cure provisional ballots in order to certify results. Davis Hammet, president of Loud Light, a youth-focused organization fostering increased civic engagement in Kansas, joins this week's host Noah Taborda to discuss Election Day and what's to come over the next few weeks of election certification.
Nov 2, 2020
Survey sheds light on where Kansans stand on major issues
The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University recently released its annual survey report on how Kansans view significant issues facing the state and nation. The report provides insight on issues like taxes, funding priorities, quality of life in the state and public policy issues. Brett Zollinger, director of the Docking Institute joins the Kansas Reflector Podcast this week to discuss findings in the report. Public policy issues covered in this year’s report include COVID-19, mail-in voting and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Oct 26, 2020
Kansas City woman fights wrongful convictions, corruption in criminal justice system
The KC Freedom Project is a ministry fighting to exonerate individuals who are wrongfully convicted or accused. The organization is also actively involved in calling out corruption within the Kansas City community, be it in the police department or the prosecutor’s office. Latahra Smith founded KC Freedom Project using skills she acquired investigating and clearing her son of a 2008 capital murder case in Texas. Her work on her son’s case brought her to her calling investigating similar situations across Kansas and Missouri.
Oct 19, 2020
Kansas community colleges combat decreased enrollment amid COVID-19
After the Great Recession in 2008, community colleges nationwide saw an influx of nontraditional students and an increase in overall enrollment. Amid COVID-19, the opposite has occurred, and Kansas community colleges are facing a 14.1% decline in enrollment since last fall. Carter File, Hutchinson Community College President, has seen a 3.6% decrease in overall enrollment this fall, on the high end for enrollment this year. Brian Inbody, Neosho Community College President, said his college is facing enrollment losses across the board, from technical education programs to concurrent high school programs. Despite these losses, Heather Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, said Kansas community colleges are well-positioned to rebound when the pandemic subsides.
Oct 12, 2020
Sarah Smarsh humbled by attention, finds 'perfect model' in Dolly Parton
Kansas writer Sarah Smarsh's 2018 book, "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth," was a New York Times best-seller and a finalist for the National Book Award. It earned her high-profile invitations, such as introducing civil rights icon Dolores Huerta at the 2019 Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. "It's been very humbling to know that folks who kind of have their hands on the levers of power saw something worth reading in the book," Smarsh said. Her new book is about a very different but perhaps more powerful figure: "She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived her Songs," is out this week from Simon & Schuster. "I was raised by women who didn't go to college, they never studied feminist theory, but they embodied feminism's tenets, even if they were averse to the term because it had been somehow weaponized by, you know, political forces," Smarsh said. "And it struck me that Dolly Parton was a was a perfect model to expla…
Oct 6, 2020
Kansas resident, Brennan Center attorney address false claims of voter fraud
President Donald Trump, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and race-baiting think tanks like the Heritage Foundation use the myth of voter fraud to justify laws and tactics that make it more difficult to vote. Research and court records show voter fraud is extraordinarily rare, but Kobach and Trump have influenced public opinion by frequently repeating debunked claims. Scott Moore, of Mission Hills, sued Kobach over his quest to find voter fraud, which led to a privacy breach of personal information for Moore and 944 other Kansas voters. Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Voting Rights and Elections program, is working to knock down false claims in an unusual election year. Read more: https://kansasreflector.com/2020/10/06/voter-fraud-myth-persists-despite-constant-failure-to-prove-claims/
Sep 28, 2020
Advocates of elderly, disabled argue for deeper COVID-19 cluster report
Four of five COVID-19 fatalities in Kansas were people at least 65 years of age, but that group is a mere 11% of the population. Vulnerability of medically challenged people in large residential facilities makes public disclosure of outbreaks a "life or death" public service. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment offers a weekly summary of COVID-19 clusters. Advocates for the elderly and disabled appreciate KDHE's site-specific list, but suggest broadening information shared on long-term care facilities.
Sep 21, 2020
Kansas lawmakers walking long road to legalizing medicinal marijuana
Rep. Gail Finney and Sen. David Haley are optimistic the 2021 Legislature can advance a bill legalizing medical marijuana, something they have advocated for more than a decade.
Sep 14, 2020
De La Isla reflects on Black Lives Matter, health care, COVID-19
Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, the Democratic nominee for the 2nd District seat in Congress, says the police department is full of heroes, "but for us to say with a straight face that there is no room for improvement is crazy." Her campaign is focused on expanding access to preventive health care, and she criticizes President Donald Trump for favoring politics over science in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sep 7, 2020
Sen. Pat Roberts reflects on career in politics, military, journalism
Retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts shares personal insights into his 40-year career as an elected official in Washington, D.C., which was preceded by service in the U.S. Marine Corps and work as a journalist and congressional aide.
Aug 31, 2020
KU professor reflects on reopening of K-12 schools
Dorothy Hines, assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, says K-12 students can explore COVID-19's impact on their lives through social media, and children need to know they are part of a family of teachers, administrators, counselors and others who value their well-being.
Aug 24, 2020
Children's advocates reflect on pandemic's impact to state services
John Wilson, president of Kansas Action for Children, and Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund, outline concerns for more than 100,000 children living in poverty in Kansas.
Aug 17, 2020
Political scientists reflect on primary results, prospects for November
Patrick Miller, of the University of Kansas, Bob Beatty, of Washburn University, and Michael Smith, of Emporia State University, say U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier needs to clearly define herself or risk Kris Kobach's fate.
Aug 10, 2020
Health secretary Lee Norman warns of 'lethal brew'
Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said he was distressed only 15 of the state's 105 counties embraced Gov. Laura Kelly's recommendation of a mask mandate. The public health value of requiring people to cover their mouth and nose when in public has been undermined by government officials who discounted potential of the virus or viewed government edicts as infringement of individual liberties.
Aug 3, 2020
After 'most difficult year of my life,' Wagle turns attention to family
Senate President Susan Wagle, a Republican with 30 years of experience in the Kansas Legislature, has never been mistaken for a shrinking violent. She took on an otherwise all-male Republican field to make the case she was best suited to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, the dean of Kansas politics. As the primary campaign season was about to catch fire in March, COVID-19 began consuming the nation's political oxygen. Then, one of her children, 38-year-old Julia Scott passed away.
Jul 27, 2020
Kris Kobach warns GOP voters not to be fooled by general election oddsmakers
Kris Kobach warns GOP voters not to be fooled by general election oddsmakers by Reflector Podcast
Jul 16, 2020
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, commerce secretary David Tolland plan recovery from COVID-19
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, commerce secretary David Tolland plan recovery from COVID-19 by Reflector Podcast