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.

Kansas House advances constitutional amendment requiring elected sheriffs

By: - February 22, 2022

TOPEKA — Rep. Eric Smith encouraged House members Tuesday to support a constitutional amendment requiring counties to elect sheriffs, rather than risk the possibility of a county commission gaining authority to appoint the position. Smith, a Republican from Burlington who said his “real job” as a deputy sheriff for Coffee County supports his political hobby, […]

Kansas childhood anti-vax bill slams into wall after falsehood-packed hearing

By: - February 21, 2022

TOPEKA — As the daughter of a retired, small-town funeral director, Heather Braum says she has walked through the cemetery numerous times. And, she told lawmakers Monday, she noticed something about the older sections. “There are so many infant and child graves throughout, many without names or dates listed,” Braum said. “If there are dates […]

Kansas attorney general asks high court to block redistricting lawsuits

By: - February 18, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants the Kansas Supreme Court to block a pair of lawsuits challenging the legality of a new congressional map. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Loud Light filed separate lawsuits Monday in Wyandotte County District Court. The lawsuits argue the state constitution’s bill of rights provides protection […]

Proposal to ban cities from banning plastic bags pits Sierra Club against Kansas Chamber

By: - February 18, 2022

TOPEKA — Sierra Club lobbyist Zack Pistora told lawmakers he could talk at length about the “big mess” plastic bags have created for aquatic ecosystems, landscape and infrastructure in Kansas. But the real problem with Senate Bill 493, he said, is an assault on democracy. The Kansas Chamber, manufacturers of plastic bags, and service industry […]

Kansas Senate prepares to introduce maps for redistricting of legislative seats

By: - February 16, 2022

TOPEKA — The Senate Redistricting Committee plans to introduce maps for new Senate districts next week, while awaiting outcome of two lawsuits challenging the legality of a new congressional map. Committee members met briefly Wednesday in preparation for the unveiling of Senate map proposals. The new maps will be restricted to a 5% deviation from […]

Rep. Barb Wasinger, R-Hays, said the competitive integrity of sports teams for girls and women had to be protected from an influx of transgender athletes through a bill sent to Gov. Laura Kelly. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

House Republicans push for Kansas voters to limit executive branch authority, agency regulations

By: and - February 16, 2022

TOPEKA — Republican representatives are eager Wednesday to approve a constitutional amendment that could provide legislators with new powers over the executive branch should it receive Senate and public approval. If passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and approved by a vote of the people of Kansas, the resolution proposed would amend article […]

House Republican wants bonus pay for teachers to replace funding for at-risk students

By: - February 16, 2022

TOPEKA — Rep. Kristey Williams dueled Tuesday with school board lobbyist Mark Tallman over her proposal to create a bonus pay system for teachers by redirecting money earmarked for schools with high concentrations of low-income families. House Bill 2690 would reward teachers in schools where students show 5% gains in standardized tests over the previous […]

Trespass case triggers attempt to legalize piping of hog waste on private property in Kansas

By: - February 15, 2022

TOPEKA — Rodney Ross says his family lived through a four-year nightmare instigated by a prominent hog producer who piped urine and manure through Ross’ property and sprayed the foul mix on a field next to the Ross home in Phillips County. In July, a jury ordered Terry Nelson to pay $134,000 in damages to […]

Kansas Democrats critical of Schmidt comments on federal funds used for hospital reopening

By: - February 14, 2022

TOPEKA — A spokeswoman for the Kansas Democratic Party says Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s praise for the reopening of a hospital in Bourbon County is inconsistent with his complaints about the federal program that helped make it possible. Schmidt attended the Jan. 31 announcement in Fort Scott that Noble Health will open a health […]

Voting rights groups launch court battle over new Kansas congressional map

By: - February 14, 2022

TOPEKA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Loud Light filed two separate lawsuits Monday arguing the congressional map endorsed by a GOP supermajority in the Legislature intentionally violates constitutional rights of Democrats and communities of color. Republicans passed a map that divides the Kansas City metro area in an obvious attempt to […]

Kansas senator wins support for off-label drug use, vaccine exemptions for children

By: - February 8, 2022

TOPEKA — Sen. Mark Steffen succeeded Tuesday in persuading Republicans on a health panel to advance legislation that would clear him from punishment by state regulators for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients. The Hutchinson Republican and anesthesiologist revealed last month he was under investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. He proposed legislation that […]

Kansas Senate fails to override governor’s veto of GOP-drawn congressional map

By: - February 7, 2022

TOPEKA — Senate President Ty Masterson found inspiration in the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride” on Monday as he urged senators to override the governor’s veto of a GOP-drawn congressional map. Then, something inconceivable happened. Despite their GOP supermajority, Republicans failed to gather the 27 votes necessary to override the veto. They deployed a procedural […]