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.

Kansas Republicans restore tax cuts after both chambers spike governor’s veto

By: and - May 3, 2021

TOPEKA — Republicans in the Legislature delivered a knockout punch Monday in the first round of their promised “veto override-a-rama” by securing enough votes to re-instate a tax reform bundle that includes breaks for multinational corporations. Senate Bill 50 also raises the standard deduction for state income tax returns, and allows high earners to claim […]

Kansas governor blocks attack on transgender athletes, civics test for high schoolers, NRA curriculum

By: - April 22, 2021

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday vetoed a series of controversial bills that would have banned transgender athletes from school sports, required high schoolers to pass a civics test before graduation, and install NRA-sponsored curriculum in public schools. The Republican-dominated Legislature is certain to attempt an override of the vetoes when lawmakers return in […]

In Kansas fight over anti-trans sports bill, Senate adds civility to casualty list

By: - April 15, 2021

TOPEKA — Asia Jynaé Foster. Yunieski Carey Herrera. Angel Unique. Sara Blackwood. Brooklyn Deshuna. Felycya Harris. Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas. Mia Green. Aerrion Burnett. Kee Sam. Lea Rayshon Daye. Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears. Queasha D Hardy. Dior H Ova. Marilyn Cazares. Summer Taylor. Bree Black. Shaki Peters. Merci Mack. Brayla Stone. Brian “Egypt’ Powers. Selena Reyes-Hernandez. […]

Kansas health secretary says recoil from Johnson and Johnson vaccine disrupts race against variants

By: - April 13, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman says efforts to vaccinate the public will grow more difficult following the announcement of rare blood clots associated with Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended an abrupt halt in the use of the vaccine based […]

Kansas Senate Republicans strip majority leader of title in closed-door meeting

By: - April 9, 2021

TOPEKA — Senate Republicans ousted Gene Suellentrop from his majority leader title in a secret meeting Friday after he refused to resign over his late-night drunken escapade through Topeka. Senate President Ty Masterson said he personally asked Suellentrop to resign, but the Wichita Republican refused. The 29-member caucus forced Suellentrop out of the leadership role […]

Effort to redirect money from public to private schools stumbles in Kansas Senate

By: - April 9, 2021

TOPEKA — An attempt to pass a “Frankenstein” education bill failed in the Senate late Thursday when Republicans realized they would need their disgraced majority leader to drive back from Wichita in the middle of the night to cast the decisive vote. The rare stumble for Republicans capped a day in which they passed or […]

Kansas Senate majority leader had 0.17 blood alcohol level in wrong-way pursuit

By: and - April 8, 2021

TOPEKA — Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop reeked of alcohol, struggled to speak or walk, and threatened the Kansas Highway Patrol officer who stopped him in the early hours of March 16 for driving the wrong way on Interstate 70 in Topeka. The details of the arrest were made available Thursday following the release of […]

Tax council points to billion dollar hole in Kansas budget outlook, providing cover for possible veto

By: - April 7, 2021

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly’s financial advisers poured cold water on a tax plan passed by the Legislature, saying it would contribute to a billion-dollar deficit in the next fiscal year. The tenuous financial forecast reflects a package of tax reforms that add up to a $285 million reduction in annual state revenue, an unexpected […]

Senators forge bipartisan deal to aid Kansas businesses impacted by pandemic

By: - April 6, 2021

TOPEKA — A new Senate plan would redirect a portion of federal COVID-19 aid from the state and counties to small businesses impacted by public health orders during the pandemic. The bipartisan compromise between Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson Republican, and Sen. Tom Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat, emerged during a committee hearing Tuesday. The […]

‘We’ve got to do something’: Senate moves forward with plan for oversight of Kansas foster care system

By: - April 2, 2021

TOPEKA — Sen. Molly Baumgardner says the first call she received as an elected senator was about the foster care system in Kansas. The Republican from Louisburg recalls reading newspaper reports before she was elected that detailed “horrific” neglect and abuse of Kansas children. Seven years later, those stories are still being reported. “What bothers […]

Kansas GOP-controlled legislative council spikes Kelly’s refreshed mask mandate

By: and - April 1, 2021

Kansas Senate president considers Gov. Kelly's reissuance of mask mandate an April Fool's joke; Legislature intends to spike her order.

Sen. Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City, Kansas, questioned wisdom of a Senate amendment forbidding KDHE from expanding a list of required child vaccinations, including a possible COVID-19 shot. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Senate passes bill requiring civics test for high schoolers

By: - March 31, 2021

TOPEKA — Sen. Pat Pettey raised concerns during Senate debate Wednesday with jettisoning “what really works to help students learn” in favor of requiring high schoolers to pass a 60-question civics test before they receive a diploma. Pettey, a Democrat and retired teacher from Kansas City, lectured Ellinwood Republican Sen. Alicia Straub about the Kansas […]