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.

Maj. Gen. David Weishaar, the Kansas adjutant general, said about 280 Air and Army members of the Kansas National Guard would deploy to Louisiana to support hurricane recovery efforts. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas governor renews high-stakes clash with Republicans over COVID-19 emergency declaration

By: - May 27, 2021

TOPEKA — Maj. Gen. David Weishaar told legislative leadership Wednesday they haven’t heard him talk much in the past year because he tries to save his words for when they are important. And what he was about to say was important. If the current emergency declaration for COVID-19 were to expire on Friday as scheduled, the […]

Kansas lawmakers fail to override veto of ‘junk’ insurance expansion, urge end to unemployment boost

By: and - May 26, 2021

TOPEKA — Republicans in the Senate and House punctuated the close of the 2021 legislative session Wednesday by asking Gov. Laura Kelly to cut off federal support for out-of-work Kansans and failing to override the governor’s veto of a short-term insurance bill. Lawmakers returned to the Statehouse for a largely ceremonial one-day close to the […]

Kansas foster care employee distributed nude photos of child’s step-mom and kept her job

By: - May 20, 2021

TOPEKA — A Saint Francis Ministries employee at the nonprofit’s Hutchinson office distributed nude photos of a foster child’s stepmother and avoided discipline for the personal attack. Saint Francis, the state’s largest foster care contractor, didn’t deny that Keighla Belote, an attendant care worker, sent the photos. The organization investigated the situation in early January […]

Kansas governor signs bills for first-time homebuyers, elder abuse, rural development, new sex crimes

By: - May 17, 2021

Gov. Laura Kelly signed an assortment of legislation Monday dealing with first-time homebuyers, elder abuse, tax preparations, rural opportunity zones, and new crimes for sexual extortion and sexual battery of a spouse. The seven bills, some of them representing bundles of policy revisions, all passed both chambers by wide margins earlier this month before lawmakers […]

Kansas agencies to reopen June 13 with face masks required for visitors, employees

By: - May 12, 2021

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration revealed plans Wednesday for state agencies to return to normal operations on June 13. State offices have been closed or provided limited public access for more than a year because of the threat posed by COVID-19. The governor’s office said the availability of vaccinations and rapid testing combined with […]

Former U.S. Senate nominee Barbara Bollier formed the nonprofit Prairie Roots to work statewide on driving voter turnout in support of progressive candidates and issues. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Democrats launch nonprofit to drive turnout for progressive candidates, issues

By: and - May 11, 2021

Former U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier leading Kansas effort to expand interest of low-turnout voters in progressive issues, candidates.

Revised Kansas budget includes $53M more for universities, $120M Docking rebuild, judicial raises

By: - May 7, 2021

TOPEKA — Lawmakers agreed to a budget deal Friday to inject cash into state universities, renovate the Docking State Office Building, increase pay for judges, restrict the use of vaccine passports, and leave the state with a $541 million reserve. The final adjustments include stripping state employees of a 2.5% pay raise. Senate Republicans demanded […]

Prayer service at Kansas Statehouse features apology to American Indians

By: - May 6, 2021

TOPEKA — Rep. Randy Garber delivered an apology to American Indians during a prayer ceremony Thursday on the south steps of the Kansas Statehouse, recognizing the country’s “long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies.” The remarks were part of a coordinated reading in all 50 states during National Day of Prayer ceremonies — inspired […]

Senate Republicans dismiss Kansas budget director’s warning about education funds

By: - May 4, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers must fully fund K-12 public schools and pump an additional $106 million into universities, or federal authorities will withhold education funding from the state. Unless they don’t. Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget director sent a dire warning to legislators Sunday night, on the eve of their votes to override the governor’s vetoes […]

Anti-Semite dies in Kansas prison while awaiting lethal injection

By: - May 4, 2021

TOPEKA — The man who killed three people in a hate-driven 2014 shooting spree at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center has died in state prison while on death row. Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., also known as Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., died Monday at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. He was convicted of capital murder […]

Attempt to ban transgender athletes from school sports fails in Kansas Senate

By: - May 3, 2021

TOPEKA — The Senate-led charge to ban transgender athletes from school sports crumbled Monday when an effort to override the governor fell one vote shy of the required two-thirds majority. The session-long drama ended in a rambling speech from Sen. David Haley, a Democrat from Kansas City who tried to avoid voting but was forced […]

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 […]