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Lawmakers ponder increase in property taxes and school consolidation…plus other headlines: March 22, 2016

andy lambertMarch 22, 2016
Kansas legislators under a court order to revamp the state’s education funding formula are raising issues they normally don’t discuss. Those include the possibility of increasing property taxes statewide and consolidating local school districts. Their willingness to ponder such topics comes as the Senate prepares to debate a bill that would redistribute about $38 million in education funds for the 2016-17 school year.
Prosecutors rest their case in the trial of a man accused of killing four people, including an 18-month-old baby, outside Ottawa. The state spent two weeks making its case. The defense didn’t call any witnesses and the suspect won’t testify, so it’s on to closing arguments tomorrow. If that man is convicted of capital murder, it’ll be up to jurors to decide if he’s sentenced to death.
A psychiatric hospital in western Kansas has implemented stringent spending controls after burning through more than 60 percent of its annual budget in six months. As of Dec. 31, Larned State Hospital had spent at least $34.2 million of its $57 million budget for the fiscal year ending June 30. In addition to spending cuts, the hospital has increased auditor review of purchases and prohibited non-urgent expenditures.
The Kansas House has approved a bill to give lawmakers more control over the state’s use of debt to finance big building projects. The House’s 114-8 vote today sends the measure to the Senate. Legislators are considering the bill after the University of Kansas and Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration pursued projects without prior legislative approval.
Nurse midwives wouldn’t need a doctor’s oversight for routine deliveries under a bill that the Kansas House passed. The bill advanced today on a voice vote. Rep. Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, says the nurse midwives would be allowed to prescribe medicines, order diagnostic tests and perform birth procedures such as episiotomies.

 

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