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.

Kansas Senate president dismisses criticism of Republican-drawn congressional map

By: - January 20, 2022

TOPEKA — Senate President Ty Masterson met complaints about his proposed congressional district boundaries with a series of dismissive replies during a redistricting hearing Thursday. Republicans in the Senate Redistricting Committee then forced a vote on the widely criticized map, which they approved along party lines in an evening hearing after hours of debate. Democrats […]

Kansas lawmakers test positive for COVID-19, worry about lax safety at Statehouse

By: - January 19, 2022

TOPEKA — Democrats in the Kansas House are worried about lax health safety protocols, relocated COVID-19 testing, and the confirmed and rumored infections of legislators and staff. Few lawmakers regularly wear a mask at the Statehouse, despite record-setting numbers of hospitalizations and escalating death totals from COVID-19. The Kansas Department for Health and Environment on […]

Kansas Republicans introduce map to divide KC metro, place Lawrence in 1st District

By: and - January 18, 2022

Political combat over redistricting opened with preliminary skirmishing in the Kansas House on potential boundaries of a new congressional map for Kansas.

Kansas House passes bill extending governor’s orders on staff for hospitals, nursing homes

By: - January 18, 2022

TOPEKA — The Kansas House approved legislation Tuesday that would relax qualifications for workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities until May 15. House Bill 2477 is a response to the governor’s request that the Legislature extend her recent executive orders through law before her emergency declaration expires on Friday. The Senate could consider the […]

Kansas abandons efforts to trace contacts for COVID-19 infections

By: and - January 18, 2022

TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Tuesday it would stop contact tracing for COVID-19 at the end of the month because of a lack of cooperation and surge in new cases. Janet Stanek, the agency’s acting secretary, also told lawmakers during a Senate panel meeting that the agency no longer requires […]

Gov. Laura Kelly’s education advisers call for investments in child care, technology in Kansas

By: - January 14, 2022

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly told members of education advisory group Friday that the state’s healthy financial situation made this year’s budget process “particularly fun.” Faced with a projected $2.9 billion surplus, the governor was able to include nearly all of the recommendations made by educators in the proposed budget she delivered to the Legislature […]

Nebraska company attempts to unload toxic waste on Kansas farmer

By: - January 14, 2022

TOPEKA — A Nebraska company nearly unloaded its toxic ethanol byproduct on an unsuspecting Topeka farmer before regulators intervened in late December. AltEn, which is under close observation after creating an environmental crisis in Mead, Nebraska, didn’t disclose the risks of its biochar before selling it to Brady Yingling, owner of B. Cole Agriculture, according […]

Shawnee Mission hospital official forced to consider morgue capacity amid escalating COVID-19 surge

By: - January 12, 2022

TOPEKA — At AdventHealth in Shawnee Mission, the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 has doubled in the past week to 82. Another 25 people are waiting in the emergency room for a bed to become available, some for 48 hours. Lisa Hays, the chief medical officer there, says the hospital nearly ran out […]

Kansas alternative investment program hits snag with FBI over background checks

By: - January 12, 2022

TOPEKA — A pilot program designed to lure billions of dollars into Kansas in the form of alternative investments faces an unforeseen obstacle in the FBI’s refusal to conduct criminal background checks, the state’s banking commissioner told lawmakers Wednesday. The idea behind legislation passed last year is to pioneer a tax-friendly framework of regulations for […]

Gov. Laura Kelly greets House Speaker Ron Ryckman and Senate President Ty Masterson at the 2022 State of the State address in the Kansas House chamber at the Capitol in Topeka. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas governor asks for simple food tax relief, resilience in State of the State speech

By: - January 11, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday used her annual State of the State address to propose eliminating the sales tax on food with a simple 13-word phrase, freezing college tuition rates, investing in law enforcement, and funding a state water plan abandoned by previous administrations. She provided encouragement to health care workers and […]

Kansas doctors praise governor’s ‘bold action’ as COVID-19 infections continue to spike

By: - January 7, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas medical providers on Friday praised Gov. Laura Kelly for declaring a state of emergency and issuing executive orders to help confront an overwhelming surge in COVID-19 infections. Steve Stites, chief medical officer of the University of Kansas Health System, said the governor’s “bold action” will help hospitals address staffing shortages exacerbated by […]

Gov. Laura Kelly issued a temporary COVID-19 disaster declaration and two executive orders Thursday to address staffing shortages at hospitals and nursing homes. She wants the 2022 Legislature to extend the regulatory suspensions through March. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas governor signs COVID-19 disaster declaration, executive orders for staff shortages

By: and - January 6, 2022

Gov. Laura Kelly issues orders designed to alleviate COVID-19 staffing problems at hospitals, nursing homes. AG Derek Schmidt urges caution.