Republicans choose Estes to run for seat vacated by Pompeo…and other headlines: February 10, 2017

Republicans pick state Treasurer Ron Estes as their nominee for the Kansas congressional seat formerly held by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Six Republicans were vying for the nomination decided at a party convention last night. The U.S. House seat that covers Wichita has been held by a Republican since 1994.
Kansas lawmakers consider a bill that would exempt a statewide list of licensed law enforcement officers from the open records law. Other records maintained by the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training would also be covered by that. Information about officer terminations and complaints filed about officers also wouldn’t be subject to open records law either. The full House of Representatives is set to debate the bill.
Democrats in the Kansas Senate outline a plan to increase personal income taxes and generate $1.2 billion in additional revenues over two years. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka released details yesterday after Republican leaders in the chamber canceled a debate over a smaller plan backed by Republicans. The Senate Democrats’ plan eliminates an income tax exemption for farmers and business owners and increases the top tax rate.
A legislative audit determines Kansas school districts could save millions of dollars by consolidating health insurance plans, but the change would also shift costs to teachers and staff. The audit released this week claims a single statewide health insurance plan could save the districts in the probe a total of $63 million a year. Some lawmakers believe $24 million of that would come from transferring insurance costs from districts to workers.
Credit ratings agency S&P Global Ratings changes its outlook on the state’s credit rating from “negative” to “stable”, pointing to weak economic trends and “structural budget pressures.” Kansas’ bond rating sits at AA-, among the lowest for a state government.

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