Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the 2021 and 2022 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. He is a lifelong Kansan.

U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner participates in a panel discussion Tuesday in Wichita as part of a summit organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from USGLC video)

Kansas Republican Jake LaTurner defends $40B aid package for Ukraine

By: - August 31, 2022

TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner credits Russian President Vladimir Putin with accomplishing something nobody thought was possible. “He brought the United States Congress together in a bipartisan way,” LaTurner said Tuesday during a panel discussion in Wichita organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. The discussion was part of a summit featuring policymakers and […]

Charrica Osborne appears Aug. 23, 2022, at an education roundtable discussion at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas educators recall pain of Brownback era, urge support for Gov. Laura Kelly

By: - August 29, 2022

TOPEKA — Charrica Osborne remembers spending up to $800 of her own money every year on classroom supplies for her students at a Wichita public school as funding eroded under former Gov. Sam Brownback. Osborne had three children in school and was still paying off student loans for her master’s degree. Her husband at one […]

Women face numerous economic obstacles, including pay inequality, access to affordable child care, limited family leave and entrepreneurship restrictions. (Getty Images)

Kansas women articulate unnecessary economic barriers in parental leave, pay gap, mentorship

By: - August 26, 2022

TOPEKA — Emily Vincent strategically planned the births of her three children around her accumulation of sick leave while working for a former employer who didn’t provide parental leave. Vincent, who now works for Johnson County government, was among 150 women who participated Wednesday in a statewide virtual town hall to talk about the economic […]

Dana Chandler appears on Aug. 23, 2022, in Shawnee County District Court. (Pool photo)

Defense attorney in Kansas cold case blasts ‘laughable’ last-second emergence of eyewitness

By: - August 25, 2022

TOPEKA — The defense attorney in a high-profile double-homicide case blasted prosecutors for presenting a new witness who emerged at the end of trial to claim for the first time she saw someone who looked like Dana Chandler leave the scene of the crime in 2002. Tom Bath, who represents Chandler, told jurors during closing […]

Former Topeka Police Detective Richard Volle appears on Aug. 23, 2022, in Shawnee County District Court. (Pool photo)

Police detective’s false testimony ignites latest flash of controversy in high-profile Kansas trial

By: - August 24, 2022

TOPEKA — A defense attorney on Tuesday questioned the lead detective in a high-profile double-homicide case about why he gave false testimony under oath to help prosecutors convict Dana Chandler a decade ago, igniting the latest flash of controversy in Chandler’s retrial. Chandler faces two first-degree murder charges in the 2002 killings of her ex-husband, […]

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, campaigning against Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, said her second-term agenda included end of state's food sales tax, tax relief for the elderly and back-to-school sales tax holiday. (Photos by Sherman Smith and Thad Allton/Kansas Reflector)

Governor’s race: Schmidt denounces Kelly’s approach to flaws in Kansas’ foster care system

By: and - August 23, 2022

GOP gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt asserts Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has fallen short of promises to rectify deep problems in Kansas foster care.

The Kansas constitutional amendment ballot question appears on a touch screen at a voting booth on July 29, 2022, at the Shawnee County Elections Office. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Election official says recount of Kansas abortion amendment vote proves election integrity

By: - August 22, 2022

TOPEKA — Secretary of State Scott Schwab says the result of a nine-county hand recount of ballots from the Aug. 2 election shows there is no systemic election fraud in Kansas. The weeklong recount produced little change in vote totals showing Kansans overwhelming rejected a constitutional amendment on abortion. After exhausted election workers took a […]

Rep. Gail Finney, a Wichita Democrat, calls for improved accounting of maternal deaths during a news conference on Jan. 13, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka. Democrats announced Finney's death on Saturday. She was 63. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Rep. Gail Finney remembered as champion for Wichita, warrior for justice

By: - August 20, 2022

TOPEKA — Rep. Gail Finney’s colleagues mourned her death Saturday and remembered the Wichita Democrat as a fierce advocate for child welfare, a warrior for justice, a champion for her community, and a shining example of a public servant. Finney’s death was announced by fellow Democrats on social media. She was 63. “Kansas lost a […]

From left, Shawnee County Commissioners Kevin Cook, Bill Riphan and Aaron Mays meet with Shawnee County election commissioner Andrew Howell on Monday at the election office to certify the Aug. 2 results. (Thad Allton for Kansas Reflector)

Kansas recount affirms early trend: Johnson narrowly defeats Tyson in GOP treasurer’s race

By: and - August 19, 2022

GOP state Rep. Steven Johnson, who prevailed in a close primary with Sen. Caryn Tyson, turns attention November showdown with Democrat Lynn Rogers.

Gov. Laura Kelly says legalized sports betting will keep Kansans' money in Kansas. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas plans Sept. 1 ‘soft launch’ of sports wagering for start of football season

By: - August 18, 2022

TOPEKA — Sports wagering in Kansas will launch Sept. 1, state officials said Thursday, allowing bets to be placed at the start of football season. Lawmakers in April passed legislation to greenlight sports wagering in the state under the administration of the Kansas Lottery. The action was estimated to generate revenues of up to $10 […]

Kasper Schirer at Kansas Court of Appeals

‘Blood from stone’: Kansas Court of Appeals examines endless probation for poor people

By: - August 17, 2022

TOPEKA — A defense attorney asked the Kansas Court of Appeals on Tuesday to reject the basis for subjecting a woman to a lifetime of probation because she can’t afford to pay restitution for her crimes. The attorney’s argument, if successful, could have a far-reaching effect on a two-tiered system of justice in Kansas, in […]

Melissa Leavitt appears Monday in a video she posted on TikTok about her request for a statewide recount of the vote on constitutional amendment on abortion. Anti-abortion activists raised $119,600 to the finance a nine-county recount instead of the statewide review of ballots. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from TikTok)

Kansas anti-abortion activists secure $119K for nine-county recount on abortion amendment

By: and - August 15, 2022

Anti-abortion activists disappointed with failure of a Kansas constitutional amendment secure $119,000 to pay for nine-county recount.