Celia Llopis-Jepsen | KBIA

Celia Llopis-Jepsen

Celia comes to the Kansas News Service after five years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. She brings in-depth experience covering schools and education policy in Kansas as well as news at the Statehouse. In the last year she has been diving into data reporting. At the Kansas News Service she will also be producing more radio, a medium she’s been yearning to return to since graduating from Columbia University with a master’s in journalism.  

Celia also has a master’s degree in bilingualism studies from Stockholm University in Sweden. Before she landed in Kansas, Celia worked as a reporter for The American Lawyer in New York, translated Chinese law articles, and was a reporter and copy editor for the Taipei Times.

 

KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Many people figure vaping spares their health because it lets them inhale nicotine in aerosols instead of sucking in smoke from burning cigarettes.

New research from the University of Kansas casts doubt on that, raising the specter that vaping nicotine may cause some of the same respiratory problems that plague and even kill smokers today.

“Vaping is just considered not harmful, even though there are no data to support that statement,” researcher Matthias Salathe said. “There are more and more data to actually oppose that statement.”

A detainee at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Chase County, Kansas, has tested positive for mumps, and 22 other migrants may have been exposed.

ICE discovered the detainee with the mumps on June 18, then identified the others who came into contact with that person, said Shawn A. Neudauer, an ICE public affairs officer.

The 22 other detainees are not sick but have been “cohorted,” or separated from the general population, and will remain there until July 16, he said.

Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado.

The national measles outbreak — numbering more than 1,000 cases so far — hasn't hit Kansas yet, but it has crept awfully close to home.

Kansas can no longer put off care for Medicaid patients with hepatitis C because of a recent legal settlement. But hundreds of the state’s prison inmates not covered by that lawsuit will have to wait another year for the pricey treatment.

A teenager wakes up, gets ready for school. Slips a smartphone into her pocket on the way out the door.

Her day may well include some biology or chemistry, history, algebra, English and Spanish. It likely won’t include lessons on how that smartphone — more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo moon missions — and its myriad colorful apps actually work.

In April, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s constitution gives women a right to abortion.

That landmark ruling bolsters an ongoing lawsuit to expand access to abortion in Wichita. The case aims to clear the way for a clinic there — unable to find any willing, local doctors — to lean more on physicians in other states.

A fresh push by school districts to get Kansas to pony up more money for public education met with skepticism Thursday from the Kansas Supreme Court.

Justices had pointed questions for both sides in the lawsuit that began in 2010 and has already gone through multiple rounds of oral arguments and rulings.

The justices, who so far have consistently ruled in favor of the districts, may be ready for it to be over.

Justice Eric Rosen called it frustrating that the funding goal that school districts argue for seems to be a moving target.

Stephanneth Adams plans to leave Kansas.

The nurse practitioner landed in the state’s rural southwest — where she saw patients in Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal — through a federal program aimed at stubborn health care shortages in urban and rural America.

But why stay? Adams has her eyes on Nevada, a state that lets its most educated nurses roll up their sleeves and work without permanently needing, as they do in Kansas, permission from a physician.

(This story was updated at 4:45 p.m.)

 

Kansas women have a fundamental right to abortion, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday — a decision that has conservatives vowing to amend the state constitution.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

The Kansas Constitution protects a woman's right to an abortion, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The landmark ruling now stands as the law of the land in Kansas with no path for an appeal. Because it turns on the state's Constitution, abortion would remain legal in Kansas even if the Roe v. Wade case that established a national right to abortion is ever reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many Kansas families may not be following safe sleep practices meant to cut down the risk that infants could die in their sleep.

The first survey of its kind in the state found four in five new mothers said their babies sleep primarily on their backs.

Rachel Sisson, the director of the Bureau of Family Health at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, wants to make it five out of five.

Ray Alvarez remembers the summer he couldn’t make ends meet driving children to school.

“I did qualify for food stamps,” the Olathe school bus driver said. “And yes, I accepted them. My income was so low.”

UPDATE: On April 5, after this story was first published, both chambers of the Kansas Legislature passed a measure mandating notice that the abortion pill may be reversible, sending the bill to Gov. Laura Kelly's desk where it currently sits. The amended bill includes a compromise sought by Democrats under which physicians who attempt a reversal would report the outcome to state health officials.

There’s a way to shave thousands of dollars off the cost of a bachelor’s degree that’s more reliable than applying for dozens of scholarships and hoping one of them comes through.

Community college.

DODGE CITY — Check out Dodge City.

A new $12 million waterpark. A shiny new craft brewery — not far from the new whiskey distillery. And, yes, that trendy new downtown cafe.

A nearly $6 million addition to Boot Hill Museum just kicked off last fall. That’s about when Dodge City wrapped up $86 million in renovations and expansions to its schools.

KANSAS CITY — Seventy hours a week got old. Fast. So did working multiple jobs.

So Joseph Cowsert wept tears of joy and relief the day he got word while bathing his baby daughter that UPS was offering him a 40-hour-a-week position in web development.

“It was like a burden lifted off of me,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was weighing so heavily.”

LIBERAL — Hefty college debt won’t saddle Bryan Medina.

He’s on a fast track to an energy career that he hopes will pave the road to family dreams: Buying his own cattle and going in on the purchase of 300 acres of land with his dad.

“We could grow and eventually own our own feedyard,” said Medina, who finished high school last May in the small southwest Kansas town of Sublette. “If things go great, if we put all the work into it, we’ll definitely get there.”

Life is expensive. Rent, health care, raising a family, saving for retirement — it adds up. But so does college debt. In fact, the cost of college shot up many times faster than typical U.S. earnings in recent decades.

So, what to do after high school? Here’s what you need to know.

TOPEKA — The glittery gold print on Cara Simon’s graduation cap begged — maybe only half-jokingly — for a break: “Can I take a nap now?”

Toilsome college coursework may have kept the Wichita native up at night, but looking for a job won’t. Simon lined one up at an emergency room before even graduating — one of the benefits of earning a nursing degree.

“It’s so versatile,” she said. “You can work in a million different places. You can work in any state. It’s exciting.”

Thousands of Kansas children and teens go without vaccines that could save their lives.

A series of policy changes, though, could protect more Kansans against everything from cervical cancer to swift-acting meningococcal disease.

Most Kansas students graduate high school nowadays. Yet many still struggle with the skills of reading and writing.

Now a task force of educators, parents and lawmakers hopes to help close that gap.

Over the past half year, the Dyslexia Task Force put together recommendations and this month handed them off to the Kansas State Board of Education.

The group’s work is well worth paying attention to. It could change reading instruction for every public school student in the state.

Teachers fleeing the state? Promises to schools broken time and again?

Here’s some context for the statements you heard about Kansas education Wednesday night — both in Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s State of the State Speech and Republican Senate President Susan Wagle’s response.

Around 20,000 state employees in Kansas now qualify for paid parental leave.

Baby steps, say groups that advocate for families and women. They’re celebrating, but they really want Kansas to join the six states and Washington D.C. that make private-sector companies give paid leave, too.

The Women’s Foundation and Kansas Action for Children want paid family leave that Kansans can use for everything from bonding with babies to taking an elderly mom or dad to a doctor’s appointment.

Kansas voters elected a new governor, Democrat Laura Kelly, who wants to promptly expand Medicaid eligibility, resolve a long-running lawsuit with more school funding, and address a crisis in the state's foster care system. But her ability to fulfill that agenda will depend on how willing a more conservative Legislature is to work with her.

Following an on-stage conversation with the governor-elect, My Fellow Kansans host Jim McLean was joined by Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty and Kansas News Service reporters Stephen Koranda and Celia Llopis-Jepsen for a live panel discussion of the dynamics heading into the 2019 legislative session. 

Beatty, armed with insights from a Fox News exit poll, said voters are looking for their elected officials to chart a center path. 

 

The election is upon us. Here’s what you need to know.

Advance voting

Advance voting in person ends Monday at noon. For where you should go, check this county-by-county list.

Republican Scott Schwab and Democrat Brian McClendon disagree on the most basic of questions about the job they’re competing for, Kansas secretary of state.

Case in point: Is it the secretary’s job to increase voter turnout?

Schwab, a lawmaker of more than 10 years, says no. He says the things that drive voters to the polls lie beyond the secretary’s control — times of war, ailing economies, contested races.

“The secretary of state can’t make people vote and I can’t change people’s hearts,” he said. “All I can do is make sure it’s a good experience when they do go vote.”

McClendon, a former Google vice president from Lawrence, doesn’t buy that.

“The current secretary of state” — Republican candidate for governor Kris Kobach — “has done the opposite,” he said. 

The federal government recently tore up Debbie and Tony Morrison’s front yard in the small southeast Kansas town of Caney.

And the two are happy about it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came in, scraped away contaminated dirt, replaced it with clean soil and spread sod on top.

“It actually looks very good,” Morrison said. “After they put the new grass in, they came down and they faithfully watered and cared for it continually until they felt like it had taken hold.”

Angie Schreiber sees it time and again: dyslexic students failing to learn to read through traditional teaching techniques.

But she says she knows how they can flourish.

Schreiber’s private teaching service in Emporia uses an approach known as structured literacy. The method drills students on myriad rules of English sound and spelling that most of us never learned consciously.

Kansas could end up handing out fewer felonies — and more misdemeanors —  for certain property crimes.

That could mean sending fewer people to state prison, though some might end up in county jail instead.

Sepsis hits nearly two million people in the U.S. a year and kills more than a quarter million. It’s a particular problem in nursing homes, where the aging, confused and immobile are especially susceptible.

In Kansas, scores of nursing homes have received federal citations since 2015 for practices that can put residents at a higher risk of sepsis.

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