Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.

Advocates highlight issues of child care, family leave for women in Kansas and beyond

By: and - May 22, 2023

The “women’s bill of rights” passed by Kansas legislators bans transgender women from sharing bathrooms, prison facilities, domestic violence centers and other gender-specific spaces with cis women. The law looks nothing like what Wendy Doyle would like to see in a bill of rights for Kansas women. Doyle, president and CEO of United WE, a […]

Progeny executive director Marquetta Atkins

Church and state: Kansas Republicans reject systemic racism while fighting critical race theory

By: - May 19, 2023

WICHITA — When Marquetta Atkins was 7 or 8 years old and the subject of slavery came up at school, she was the only Black child in the classroom. Everyone would turn and look at her as though she were a slave. “If I can be subjected to something like that, why can’t your kids […]

Kevan Myers, left, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Clifton Boje, of Bonner Springs, protest outside the House chamber ahead of the State of the Judiciary speech in January

Church and state: Kansas Republicans ignore voters and pass new anti-abortion laws

By: - May 18, 2023

TOPEKA — Torn between his Catholic faith and commitment to public service, Rep. Henry Helgerson struggled to keep his composure as he spoke to colleagues from the House floor near the end of this year’s legislative session. The Eastborough Democrat referenced an avalanche of anti-abortion legislation produced by Republicans in defiance of voters who rejected […]

Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen appears at the March 31, 2023, rally of 200 transgender kids and their allies at the Statehouse in Topeka

Church and state: Kansas Republicans target ’eminently exploitable’ LGBTQ community

By: - May 16, 2023

TOPEKA — Shouting into a bullhorn from the south steps of the Capitol, Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen told a throng of transgender kids: “You belong here.” The Topeka pastor assured them they have allies in the Statehouse who were working to change the minds of transphobic politicians. “But you gotta help us out,” Schlingensiepen said. “Wherever […]

Members of the Senate, seen here in May 2021, and House begin daily sessions with invocation from a chaplain

Church and state: Republicans revel in divine plan to turn Kansas into ‘conservative sanctuary’

By: - May 15, 2023

TOPEKA — Adam Peters laced his sermon for Reno County Republicans with conspiracy theories about a liberal plot to turn their children against them, LGBTQ-friendly church pastors who signed a contract with Satan, the ubiquitous travesty of critical race theory, and make-believe enemies working to “foment violent conflict.” Peters, the GOP chairman in Ellis County […]

Sen. Mark Steffen

After lying about offer to convert Muslim woman, Kansas senator opines on ‘lost souls’

By: - May 11, 2023

TOPEKA — Sen. Mark Steffen says he never felt so overwhelmed as when he was caught lying about his offer to convert a Muslim woman. In a secret audio recording obtained by Kansas Reflector from a meeting last week of Republicans at Riverside Baptist Church in Hutchinson, Steffen described a group of young adults who […]

A sign reads "pardon our progress" with the ESU mascot

Emporia State University, Kansas Board of Regents members ‘unfit to lead,’ investigation finds

By: - May 1, 2023

TOPEKA — An investigation into Emporia State University’s realignment plan, which included the firing of tenured professors, faults the university for “shifting and incoherent rationales” and concludes university administrators and Kansas Board of Regents members are “unfit to lead.” The American Association of University Professors released its findings Monday following months of interviews and review […]

Sen. Molly Baumgardner appears during a conference committee meeting on public schools

Kansas lawmakers polish plan to fully fund public schools, revive voucher program

By: - April 27, 2023

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers have restored language in the public school finance plan to ensure K-12 schools continue to be fully funded beyond the upcoming academic year and revived a voucher program. Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Louisburg Republican, lashed out at lobbyists who were “screaming fire in a crowded theater” because of changes made to […]

GOP Rep. Brenda Landwehr of Wichita, left, and Democratic Rep. Susan Ruiz of Shawnee verbally spar on merits of Gov. Laura Kelly's veto of $2 million earmarked for pregnancy resource centers. The House voted to override Kelly, but the Senate has yet to act. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas House rejects governor’s veto of bill expanding limits on access to food subsidies

By: and - April 26, 2023

House overrides Gov. Laura Kelly's veto of bill aimed at compelling food aid recipients to get a job and a $2 million earmark for pregnancy crisis centers.

Clockwise from left, Poskin, Woodard, Hoye, Ruiz, Feb. 13, 2023

Kansas Legislature overrides governor’s veto of anti-abortion bill

By: - April 26, 2023

TOPEKA — The GOP-dominated Legislature took aim Wednesday at Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of three anti-abortion bills, ignoring objections about state-mandated misinformation, alienating OB-GYN workers and ignoring the will of voters. The House and Senate completed a veto override of legislation requiring medical care for babies who are “born alive,” which means House Bill […]

Gov. Laura Kelly appears at Elmont Elementary School north of Topeka to announce she has vetoed a flat tax plan

Kansas governor vetoes flat tax plan, proposes one-time $800M rebate

By: - April 24, 2023

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday she was vetoing a flat tax package that predominantly favors the most wealthy Kansans and proposing instead a one-time rebate of $450 per taxpayer. The GOP-dominated Legislature passed a plan in the early morning hours before adjourning in early April that would install a 5.15% income tax rate […]

A police officer's gun is strapped to his hip

Wichita legal fees exceed $267K in defense of ‘absolutely asinine’ gang list

By: - April 21, 2023

TOPEKA — Tracey C. Mason Sr. says the City of Wichita’s defense of its police department gang list is about leverage. Authorities don’t want to treat young Black people as human or equals, Mason said. The city has spent more than $267,000 in legal fees since being sued over the gang list in April 2021 […]