KCCA Featured Updates

KCCA Logo            Statehouse News - June 29, 2023

Counties to Benefit from Millions in Broadband and Healthcare Grants

Kansas is receiving $451.7 million in federal funding to bring high speed broadband internet to every corner of the state. The money is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved by Congress.

“Kansas’ current broadband system does not operate at the needed level for folks across our state to efficiently access crucial resources such as employment opportunities, virtual learning, and health care,” Representative Sharice Davids, (KS 03) said. “This new federal investment is a huge step forward in closing the digital gap and keeping our communities connected."

In anticipation of this funding, the Kansas Office of Broadband Development is completing work on strategic plans for broadband access and digital equity. Data is still being collected to better understand broadband needs, in order to deploy this funding efficiently.

The Kansas Office of Broadband Development is encouraging Kansans to complete a speed test and participate in the process. To participate, residents should visit the official website, broadbandks.com, where they can complete a quick and simple online speed test. This test, which only takes a few minutes, will provide valuable data on internet connectivity throughout the state.

Counties Get Chronic Disease Grants

KDHE is awarding 29 counties Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Community Grants intended to improve the health of nearly two million Kansans.

The CDRR Community Grant Program provides funding, training and technical assistance to communities to address chronic disease risk reduction through evidence-based strategies that impact tobacco use, physical activity and nutrition.

The state fiscal year 2024 CDRR Grantees and the counties they cover:

  • Barton County Health Department (Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties)
  • Crawford County Health Department (Crawford County)
  • Crosswinds Counseling and Wellness (Lyon County)
  • Dickinson County Health Department (Dickinson County)
  • Edwards County Economic Development (Edwards and Hodgeman counties)
  • Finney County Community Health Coalition (Finney, Scott, Stanton counties)
  • Harvey County Health Department (Harvey County)
  • Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (Johnson County)
  • Medical Society of Sedgwick County (Sedgwick County)
  • Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department (Douglas County)
  • Marion County Health Department (Marion County)
  • Miami County Health Department (Miami County)
  • Mitchell County Regional Medical Foundation (Mitchell, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Ottawa, Republic and Smith counties)
  • Reno County Health Department (Reno County)
  • Shawnee County Health Agency (Shawnee County)
  • Sheridan County Health Department (Sheridan County
  • Unified Government (Wyandotte County)

Child Care Grants

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund announced funding awards to 52 statewide organizations for the purpose of creating new, sustainable, high-quality licensed child care slots across the state and accelerating capacity-building in support of families, businesses, and economic development.

The program will provide $43.5 million in grant funding, which will create 4,211 new child care slots across the state. The grants were awarded based upon a competitive request for proposal process that yielded 105 applications totaling over $117 million. Grantees were required to identify at least 25% matching funds from other sources. The grant period begins July 1, 2023, and extends through September 2026.

A subset of 16 communities have also been selected to participate as an Innovation Communities Cohort, to document and facilitate statewide distribution of successful strategies and lessons learned to help us identify and scale effective and transformative approaches statewide. The bonus funding for this program is provided in part through the PDG B-5 funds. A complete list of Accelerator grantees can be accessed at allinforkansaskids.org/accelerator. A map of each awarded project can be found here.

Supreme Court rejects ‘independent state legislature’ theory

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to reject a theory that would’ve removed state courts’ power on federal redistricting efforts. The case involved the North Carolina Supreme Court rejecting a voting map drawn by state legislators as a partisan gerrymander.

Proponents of the so-called “independent state legislature” theory argued that none of North Carolina constitutional provisions allowed for the state court to interfere with the Legislature’s map.

Several Kansas lawmakers and Republican political activists support the idea that the Legislature could pass laws that could not be challenged and potentially overturned by the courts.

Last year, former Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined attorneys general from Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah in support of the theory.

The Supreme Court ruling means state court systems are still allowed to consider the constitutionality of redistricting maps, as the Kansas courts did most recently last year. In April 2022, Wyandotte Court District Court Judge Bill Klapper ruled the redrawn maps of the state’s four congressional districts came as a result of partisan and racial gerrymandering.

The Kansas Supreme Court overruled the lower court the next month, saying it wasn’t a perfect plan, but it didn’t violate the state Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas represented a group of voters who wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to take on the case, but the court declined the request in March.

Extended beyond redistricting, the independent legislature theory could have represented a serious threat to local control and Home Rule.

Kansas Counties Continue to Lose Residents

78 Kansas counties lost population between 2020 and 2022, with the remaining 27 posting gains, according to demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Of the ten largest counties in the state, gainers and losers of population were split evenly; Butler, Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth and Sedgwick showed increases.

In Riley, Reno, Saline, Shawnee, and Wyandotte counties, more people moved out than moved in. Comanche, Gove, Graham, and Gray all saw increases in population.

Of the ten largest cities in Kansas, Lawrence, Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park and Shawnee increased in population, while Kansas City, Manhattan, Salina, Topeka and Wichita lost residents.

U.S. Census data shows 14 of the 32 largest cities lost population. While Johnson County gained residents, the cities of Leawood, Prairie Village, and Roeland Park lost population.

The Sunflower State is alone in population loss in the region. The closest Midwestern state on the list is Illinois. Census figures for states bordering Kansas for the period illustrate the phenomenon:

  • Kansas had a net loss of 7,409 residents to negative domestic migration, resulting in a net population loss of nearly 800.
  • Colorado’s population increase of more than 28,000 includes over 5,000 new residents.
  • Missouri added a little over 8,000 residents.
  • Oklahoma’s population jumped more than 28,000.
  • Nebraska lost 4,200 residents. 

The Kansas Policy Institute blames high tax rates in Kansas for the population loss. An interesting point: the neighboring states with population growth (Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma) have all legalized marijuana.

New KDOT Chief

Governor Laura Kelly has appointed 15-year Kansas Department of Transportation employee Calvin Reed to lead the agency.

Reed is a K-State grad with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering. He has been KDOT’s engineering and design director for the past four years, and previously was chief of the structures and geotechnical services division of the agency.

Reed must be confirmed by the Senate during the 2024 legislative session.

Immigration Issue Returning?

Some political pundits and legislative watchers think immigration could resurface as a legislative issue during the 2024 session. The reason has a lot to do with the fact Kris Kobach is now Kansas Attorney General. Kobach has made restricting immigration his pet issue in recent years.

Given the possibility laws designed to make it difficult for immigrants to live and work in Kansas could surface in 2024, KCCA and the KAC may want to consider a legislative platform on the issue. Officials in agricultural, construction, healthcare, technology and hospitality argue immigrants are vital to their industries because of the workforce shortage. But the issue with undocumented immigrants is an intense political issue. Immigration reform at the national level has failed for years.

I want to take the temperature of KCCA on this issue.

  • How serious is the workforce shortage in your county?
  • How important is immigration reform to your county?
  • Would you support or oppose a state law making it easier for immigrants, even those who are undocumented, to legally work in Kansas?