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.

Lee Norman steps down as Kansas health secretary, months after internal dispute

By: - November 19, 2021

TOPEKA — Lee Norman stepped down Thursday from his high-profile cabinet post as the chief medical officer in Kansas, where he managed the state’s response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. His departure from Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration follows months of conversations between Norman and her office about whether he was ready to leave state government. […]

Kansas child death report looks beyond rep’s claim that critical race theory shames white girls

By: - November 18, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas children who kill themselves typically die with a gun or by asphyxiation, according to an annual report on adolescent deaths in the state. The team of health professionals, law enforcement officers, educators and attorneys who examine each child death in Kansas point to a history of physical or sexual abuse, family discord, […]

Location, other details released for Kansas redistricting town halls

By: - November 17, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas legislative staff released details Wednesday about how to participate in upcoming public meetings on redistricting. Lawmakers are gathering input before redrawing congressional and legislative boundaries in the upcoming session, and plan to listen by live video feeds to public comments from four virtual town halls. GOP leaders previously announced they would hold […]

Kansas Chamber, anti-vaxxers critique proposals for dealing with vaccine mandates

By: - November 12, 2021

TOPEKA — Eric Stafford, lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber, wants legislators to understand that businesses don’t want mandates “from either side.” He expressed concern Friday over legislation drafted by Kansas lawmakers as they gear up for a special session to address federal COVID-19 mandates. The proposals, Stafford warned, will burden businesses by draining the unemployment […]

Kansas hearing on vaccine mandates provides stage for Holocaust comparisons

By: - November 12, 2021

TOPEKA — Daran Duffy told Kansas lawmakers Friday he doesn’t think it is offensive to wear the Star of David on his chest. Duffy, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, appeared with the star before the Special Committee on Government Overreach and the Impact of COVID-19 Mandates to complain about the implications […]

Kansas Republicans force special session to deal with federal vaccine mandates

By: - November 11, 2021

TOPEKA — Republican leaders announced Thursday they had gathered the signatures necessary to force a special session for the week of Thanksgiving to respond to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Every Republican in both the Senate and House signed the petition, providing the two-thirds needed in each chamber. Leadership said they would deliver the petitions to Democratic […]

Pediatrician to Kansas schools: Don’t give in to stupid lies about masks

By: - November 11, 2021

TOPEKA — Vernon Mills has a strong message for school officials who are tired of fighting with angry community members over the benefits of making students and staff wear face coverings. The retired pediatrician from Leavenworth, speaking during a meeting Wednesday of health care providers and school officials, said a retreat from mask mandates in […]

New Kansas revenue forecast predicts $2.89B surplus, bolstering push to cut food tax

By: - November 10, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers from both parties welcomed new revenue forecasts Wednesday that project a $2.89 billion surplus to the state general fund as evidence the state can afford to exempt groceries from the state sales tax. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat seeking re-election, called on lawmakers to “axe” the food tax earlier this week […]

Black Hills reaches deal with Kansas regulators to add $11.47 to monthly bills for five years

By: - November 10, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas regulators have reached an agreement with Black Hills Energy to recoup $87.9 million in costs tied to excessive natural gas prices during a week in February when an arctic chill dropped temperatures more than 20 degrees below zero. The natural gas utility’s residential customers will pay, on average, an additional $11.47 each […]

Kansas lawmakers plan special session for response to vaccine mandates

By: - November 9, 2021

TOPEKA — Senate President Ty Masterson says “motions are underway” to call a special session for Nov. 22 to address legislation dealing with COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The Republican from Andover on Tuesday unveiled proposals that would shield employees from inquiries into their religious beliefs and ensure they receive unemployment benefits if discharged for refusing to […]

Kansas nurses lack voice in staff shortage crisis, association director says

By: - November 9, 2021

TOPEKA — Kelly Sommers thinks nurses should have a voice in policy discussions about nurses. If you really want to understand why a new $50 million retention pay program won’t do much to help hospitals address a shortage of registered nurses, Sommers says, there are a couple of things you need to know. As director […]

Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a candidate for governor in 2022, and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who is seeking re-election, raised substantial contributions to their campaigns. Kelly reported $2.04 million in donations in 2021, while Schmidt had $1.63 million for the year. (Photos by Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas governor, attorney general both oppose federal vaccine mandate

By: - November 5, 2021

TOPEKA — The two prominent candidates for governor in next year’s election share at least one political stance. They both say President Joe Biden’s latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate is bad for Kansas. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt have issued statements objecting to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new policy […]