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. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

Wyandotte County District Judge Bill Klapper rules a new congressional map drawn by Kansas Republicans violates the Kansas Constitution. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Congressional map drawn by Kansas Republicans is unconstitutional, Wyandotte County judge rules

By: - April 25, 2022

TOPEKA — Wyandotte County District Judge Bill Klapper ruled Monday that Kansas Republicans violated the state constitution by targeting residents on the basis of politics and race when drawing new congressional districts. Klapper’s order, which Attorney General Derek Schmidt immediately appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, blocks the state from preparing for the congressional election […]

Hesston native and Dallas businessman Brad Heppner has plans to bring a grocery store, retail and chapel to the town's main street, where he has opened an office for his "technology-enabled fiduciary financial institution." Kansas officials cleared the way for TEFFI operations in exchange for the promise of rural development. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas welcomed a pawn shop for the rich in exchange for a promise of rural development

By: - April 24, 2022

HESSTON — Brad Heppner’s vision to transform his hometown’s main street into a thriving commercial hub is so breathtaking, local and state officials would rather not question the operations of a uniquely regulated trust company he describes as a pawn shop for rich people. Few in the Kansas Legislature, or even the investment world, understood […]

Adam Proffitt, the state budget director, and J.G. Scott, director of the Kansas Legislative Research Department, deliver an adjusted revenue forecast during a news conference Wednesday at the Statehouse in Topeka. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

New revenue projections give Kansas a $3.1B surplus as governor pushes for food sales tax cut

By: - April 20, 2022

TOPEKA — A revised economic forecast for Kansas projects the state will collect $407.8 million more than previously expected in the upcoming fiscal year, adding to a budget surplus that could be used to eliminate the 6.5% state sales tax on food. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat seeking reelection this year, has made the elimination […]

Derek Reed, professor of applied behavioral science at the University of Kansas, delivers a keynote speech on "The Science of How We Choose" on March 31, 2022, at the Governor's Public Health Conference at the Manhattan Convention Center in Manhattan. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas public health officials get lesson in behavioral science and why pandemic messages failed

By: - April 9, 2022

TOPEKA — When the University of Kansas wanted to encourage students to take a COVID-19 test upon returning to campus for the 2020 fall semester, administration turned to a team of behavioral scientists for advice. The university could offer students a $5 incentive to get tested, a 50% shot at $10, or a one-in-20 chance […]

Two members of the Kansas House say they heard Rep. Paul Waggoner, R-Hutchinson, claim the gender pay gap was due to men working harder than women. The comment purportedly occurred during a Women's History Month event. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Two Kansas House members say representative offered ‘we work harder’ defense of gender pay gap

By: and - April 6, 2022

Two women in the Kansas House say a male colleague, during Women's History Month event, said the gender pay gap was due to men working harder than women.

Sen. Mark Steffen listens to testimony March 8, 2022, on legislation shielding doctors from discipline for prescribing ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas senator warns doctors of consequences for failure to treat COVID-19 with ivermectin

By: - April 5, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas Sen. Mark Steffen bragged about the attention he received for sending a threatening letter to doctors encouraging the use of ivermectin for early treatment of COVID-19 based on a law the Legislature didn’t pass. In a Facebook post from his personal account, Steffen said he sent the letter — dated March 31 […]

Mark Johnson, left, an attorney for voters who sued over the new congressional map, exits the Wyandotte County District Court following opening arguments Monday morning in Kansas City, Kan. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

‘Nerves and adrenaline’ as Kansas congressional redistricting trial begins

By: - April 4, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — As Wyandotte County District Judge Bill Klapper wandered into his overflowing courtroom Monday before the start of a high-profile redistricting trial, he asked court observers and attorneys if they ever go to horse races. Right before they start, Klapper said, the atmosphere is “all nerves and adrenaline.” “The palpable energy in […]

Kansas Legislature races to finalize budget, tax cuts, parental bill of rights, trans ban

By: - April 1, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers worked Friday to finalize last-minute deals on the state budget, tax cuts, a parental bill of rights, ban on transgender athletes, and a wide range of other legislation in advance of adjourning for a three-week break. The rush toward the finish line — complicated by revelations of an ethics investigation and […]

House members complete an unusual procedure of voting by standing or sitting to resolve an attempt by Rep. Linda Featherston, D-Overland Park, to vote "present" on a bill expanding immunity of hospitals treating health care providers. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas lawmaker tries to sidestep COVID-19 bill, ends up casting deciding vote for passage

By: and - April 1, 2022

The Kansas House takes the unusual step of forcing a member to vote on a bill extending hospital liability protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate push to strip Kansas health secretary’s authority places foster care reform in jeopardy

By: - March 31, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas senators are threatening to derail foster care reforms in an attempt to leverage support for stripping the health secretary of the ability to fight infectious disease. Leaders of the House Children and Seniors Committee have been meeting with leaders of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee to merge several bills based […]

Kansas Sen. Tom Holland

Kansas senator seeks suspension of Beneficient’s novel investment mechanism

By: and - March 27, 2022

A Kansas Senate Democrat seeks an immediate halt to business operations by a company linked to an SEC investigation and federal lawsuit alleging misconduct.

Kansas House unveils sports gambling plan with support of casinos, opposition by greyhound industry

By: - March 22, 2022

TOPEKA — The Kansas House unveiled Tuesday a plan for legalizing sports wagering in Kansas through online platforms and bets placed at casinos, convenience stores and racetracks. House Bill 2740 has widespread support from gaming interests that have squabbled for years over who gets to control the action and how to slice up the revenue. […]