Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

Kansas anti-vax group boasts 16 sponsors ahead of ‘freedom rally’ in Lenexa

By: - September 19, 2021

TOPEKA — A prominent anti-vaccination group has planned a “freedom rally” for Monday in Lenexa with the sponsorship of a nursing agency, midwifery, dental office, chiropractors, pharmacies and businesses that promote the healing properties of elderberries, tea biotics, red light therapy, hemp and gluten-free baked goods. Kansans for Health Freedom identified 16 “professional partners” in […]

Voting rights attorneys argue whether new Kansas law blocks registration drives

By: - September 14, 2021

TOPEKA — Voting rights attorneys battled Tuesday in Shawnee County District Court over the merits of a new law that threatens felony prosecution for any activities that could be mistaken as the work of an election official. Nonprofits including the League of Women Voters of Kansas sued the state before the law took effect July […]

Kris Kobach appears for a recording of Kansas Reflector's podcast on July 20. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas agrees to $1.9M settlement for defending Kobach’s baseless voter fraud claims

By: - September 10, 2021

TOPEKA — The Kansas Attorney General’s Office has agreed to pay the American Civil Liberties Union and other attorneys $1.9 million in fees and expenses for a five-year legal battle over an unconstitutional restriction on voter registrations. The high-profile lawsuit was filed 2016 in response to former Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s signature law, which […]

Kansas oversight panel releases $50M for nurse pay boost

By: - September 10, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas officials serving on an oversight panel on Friday released $50 million in federal aid for pay increases of nurses at hospitals overwhelmed by a surge of COVID-19 patients. The money will be divided among medical care providers based on the number of licensed beds they operate, with restrictions in place to prevent […]

Inside Mission Control: Hospital capacity in Kansas at its worst with latest COVID-19 surge

By: - September 10, 2021

TOPEKA — Richard Watson says the latest surge in COVID-19 infections has stressed Kansas hospital capacity to new extremes, nearing the point where doctors have “brutal conversations” about which patients they take care of. Watson’s company makes the Mission Control software Kansas hospitals use to find available bed space for acute care patients. He said […]

Kansas panel delays nurse pay boost, rejects punishment for vaccine requirement

By: - September 8, 2021

TOPEKA — The Kansas panel tasked with determining how a $50 million boost in nurse pay should be distributed rejected an attempt Wednesday by Senate President Ty Masterson to claw back funds from hospitals that require employees to get a free, safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. Members of the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas […]

Kansas data doesn’t reflect reality as COVID-19 rips through schools

By: and - September 7, 2021

TOPEKA — School districts across the state independently reported hundreds of infections of COVID-19 among students and staff in the first two weeks of school, while the state’s official ledger showed just two small outbreaks. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s data on school infections is unreliable because of the difficulty in tracing sources […]

Kansas to provide $50M pay boost for nurses at understaffed hospitals

By: - September 3, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas officials plan to allocate $50 million in federal COVID-19 aid to boost the salaries of registered nurses and other frontline workers at understaffed hospitals. The program is a response to severe staffing problems in ICUs overwhelmed by the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, which is attributed to the highly infectious delta variant […]

Ambitious project to improve autism services in Kansas unites parents, advocates, providers

By: - September 1, 2021

TOPEKA — Megan Bradshaw wants to make autism services more inclusive and eliminate red tape for Kansas families who need those services. In her experience, being the mother of a 7-year-old girl with autism is a full-time job on top of her other full-time job, in the juvenile services division of the Kansas Department of […]

Jeff Colyer diagnosed with prostate cancer, ends campaign for Kansas governor

By: - August 30, 2021

TOPEKA — Jeff Colyer announced Monday he was ending his campaign for Kansas governor and receiving treatment for prostate cancer. Colyer’s departure from the race clears the way for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to win the GOP nomination for governor in next year’s primary election. Colyer endorsed Schmidt’s campaign. “While I have always focused […]

Kansas mother grapples with ‘sucker punch’ of 4-year-old’s COVID-19 infection

By: - August 30, 2021

TOPEKA — Jenna Sutter Brown’s 4-year-old daughter couldn’t sleep last week. Hazel had bad congestion, a barking cough, a fever, and allergy-like symptoms. Her parents didn’t yet know the girl had COVID-19. “I try hard to listen to her and give her the chance to tell me what is wrong. And so I said, ‘What’s […]

House leader warned of ‘mask madness’ in Kansas schools, downplayed risk of COVID-19 to kids

By: - August 27, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins told his newsletter subscribers he was “heartened” to see so many school districts reject the governor’s advice that students wear face coverings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And he found it “troubling” that some schools were willing to embrace “mask madness.” “Nothing about these recommendations makes […]