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.

Sandhill plum one step closer to Kansas state fruit after students’ bill passes House

By: - March 21, 2022

TOPEKA — Rep. Randy Garber said Monday he had no idea there was such a thing as the Sandhill plum before receiving a phone call from a Sabetha elementary school teacher. Now, the Sabetha Republican said, he has learned a lot about the fruit, also known as a Chickasaw plum. “I learned that you can […]

Big Lie huckster peddles bogus election conspiracies with Kansas lawmakers at Topeka church

By: - March 20, 2022

TOPEKA — Douglas Frank entertained a church crowd in Topeka with bogus conspiracies about hacked voting rolls, fake ballots, machines secretly connected to cellphone towers and a plot by technocrats to predetermine the outcome of elections. The March 15 performance followed a presentation hours earlier before the House Elections Committee, where the Republican chairman admonished […]

Kansas Senate health panel endorses vaccine opt-out for school kids, ivermectin prescriptions

By: - March 17, 2022

TOPEKA — Sen. Kristen O’Shea on Thursday pointed to a sequence of events in which one of her Republican colleagues flipped his vote on a veto override of a congressional map hours after a Senate health panel endorsed an easy out for childhood vaccine requirements. O’Shea, a Topeka Republican, unsuccessfully tried to convince members of […]

Kansas Senate launches effort to legalize medical marijuana by end of session

By: - March 16, 2022

TOPEKA — Retired Holton mechanic Jim Ricketts is a criminal. That’s just because the 71-year-old relies on marijuana every night to ease the pain of injuries suffered in a pair of car crashes, including one that broke his neck. Smoking pot allows him to sleep at night. Ricketts attended a Senate hearing Wednesday on legislation […]

Kansas Senate passes $22.8B spending plan with pay raise for state workers, no food tax relief

By: - March 16, 2022

TOPEKA — The Kansas Senate adopted a $22.8 billion state spending plan Wednesday that provides a 5% pay raise for state employees, doesn’t account for any reduction in the state sales tax on food, and leaves the state general fund with a balance of $359.6 million. The budget bill also invests $245 million in disability […]

State Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Republican from Parker, is campaigning for the GOP nomination for state treasurer in 2022. She is chairwoman of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

Senate bill would force Kansas school districts to repay teachers for classroom supplies

By: - March 16, 2022

TOPEKA — Sen. Caryn Tyson says public schools and legislators for too long have ignored complaints from teachers who feel compelled to pay for classroom materials out of their own pockets. Tyson, a Republican from Parker, told members of the Senate Education Committee this week that she and her husband donate money so teachers can […]

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ordered flags lowered to half-staff statewide until Friday in wake of a Texas elementary school massacre leaving 19 students and two teachers dead. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

At two-year mark of pandemic, Kansas doctors remember first patient and appetite for information

By: - March 11, 2022

TOPEKA — When the first Kansas patient to be treated for COVID-19 arrived two years ago at The University of Kansas Health System, doctors weren’t sure how to handle the new and scary sickness. Steve Stites, chief medical officer for KU Health, was working that Saturday morning, trying to figure out how to prepare for […]

Out-of-state group’s drive to limit federal benefits in Kansas meets pointed opposition

By: - March 10, 2022

TOPEKA — Harvesters policy adviser Karen Siebert questioned members of a Senate health panel Thursday about who would benefit from proposed new restrictions on access to federal food and medical assistance administered by the state of Kansas. The changes won’t help Kansas taxpayers, she said, who would be on the hook for an estimated $27 […]

Kansas woman embarks on risky journey to retrieve sister’s children from Ukraine

By: - March 9, 2022

TOPEKA — Oksana Seitz left Kansas on Tuesday with plans to travel to Romania and return with her Ukrainian sister’s two children by persuading embassy officials to expedite visas or, if necessary, taking the kids to Mexico and slipping across the U.S. border on foot. The daring journey signifies the risks Ukrainian immigrants are willing […]

Kansas Senate’s latest attack on health authorities features another Holocaust comparison

By: - March 8, 2022

TOPEKA — Johnson County resident Melissa Campbell urged state senators Tuesday to remove the authority of state and local health authorities to order quarantines to prevent the spread of an infectious disease. State law doesn’t provide details about what it means to quarantine, Campbell said, and she fears the worst. Senate Bill 489 would fix […]

‘Trans girls are girls’: LGBTQ supporters beg Kansas lawmakers to drop sports fight

By: - March 7, 2022

TOPEKA — Rep. Stephanie Byers told members of the Senate Education Committee on Monday what it is like to be a transgender woman in today’s environment. Byers, a Wichita Democrat and the state’s first transgender legislator, said it means you get messages like this: “Stop appropriating and making a mockery of womanhood, you fat useless […]

Kansas Supreme Court rejects AG’s request to dismiss redistricting lawsuits in state courts

By: - March 4, 2022

TOPEKA — The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday rejected Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s request to dismiss lawsuits filed in Wyandotte and Douglas counties over redrawn congressional districts. The lawsuits argue that a map endorsed by the GOP supermajority in the Legislature is gerrymandered and violates protections in the state constitution. Schmidt argued that state courts […]