Top Stories Of The Week
Both Missouri and Kansas lawmakers passed bills to expand gun rights. And Missouri Republicans said to compete with Kansas the state has to jump on the tax cut bandwagon. KCUR's Steve Bell recaps on those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.
Tax Cuts Likely for Missouri
The Missouri Senate approved legislation to gradually lower the state's income tax and raise the sales tax over a 5-year period. Republican Senator Will Kraus of Lee's Summit said it would help the state compete with coming Kansas tax cuts and that the $450 million estimated annual cost could easily be absorbed in other economies.
Democrats, including Paul LaVota of Independence, said it was a premature jump into a Kansas “experiment” that threated to undermine school and road financing.
Democratic Governor Jay Nixon said the plan would shift Missouri's tax burden to the people least able to pay. The liberal Missouri Budget Project said the GOP underestimated the cost to the state almost by half.
But tax-cut mania rolled ahead in Missouri – and in a dozen other states.
Missouri Accreditation Suit Reaches High Court
The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging the state law that unaccredited school districts, like those in Kansas City must pay tuition for students that transfer out to adjoining districts. The suit originated in the St. Louis area, but would also affect what happens in Kansas City, where the school district encountered difficulties with neighboring ones that said the unaccredited central district offered inadequate per pupil tuition for the transferees. No ruling is expected for at least several weeks.
Gun Rights Laws, Lawsuits and a Conceal-carry Record
Gun rights continued to be a hot topic. The Missouri Senate approved a constitutional amendment emphasizing the right to bear arms and defining the right to defend one's family with firearms. If it passes the House, it would require voter approval.
A a lawsuit in the Missouri bootheel provoked reaction in Jefferson City. The plaintiff accused the state of wrongfully scanning personal documents of persons applying for concealed carry permits. A rumor from the right said copies were sent to Washington as part of a firearms confiscation plot. Republican legislators didn't weigh in on the confiscation rumors, but took severe exception to requiring documentation for conceal-carry permit, and especially to scanning documents. House Speaker Tim Jones said there was “a lot to be loked into.” The Department of Revenue said it was following state law, and that nothing was being sent to Washington.
Kansas set a record for concealed-carry applications for the second month in the row. More than 153,000 Kansans now have active permits.
And a Kansas House committee endorsed a bill expanding the number of public buildings where concealed carry will be allowed. Olathe Republican Larry Campbell explained a contribution he made to the bill: that it also forbids criminal charges if a permit holder accidentally carries a gun into a forbidden location.
Abortion Funding Ban Bill Advances In Kansas
Another Kansas committee endorsed a bill eliminating things like medical-expense tax deductions for abortion and forbidding employees of organizations that provide abortions from working for school districts or teaching sex education in schools as volunteers. Republican Allen Rothlisberg commented that people who work for abortion providers should either change jobs or look for another opportunity for volunteer work.
Second Kansas Bill To Curb Teachers Unions Debated
Another Kansas committee considered a bill limiting the items school districts can be required to negotiate with teachers unions. Districts could refuse to discuss, for example, the number of classes to be taught per day or the methods used in performing teacher evaluations.
More Back And Forth In NKC Hospital Conflict
The battle over investigating selling North Kansas City Hospital continued, with the hospital board asking a judge to stop the city council from appointing new board members and the council calling for an independent audit of hospital finances. The board originally filed suit when the city council announced its intention to investigate whether there were possible buyers for the hospital. After the board sued, the council said it would fill vacancies on the board with persons who do not oppose a sale.
Memorial Service Held For Plaza Fire Victim
Funeral services were held for Megan Cramer, the waitress who died in the JJ's Restaurant fire on the Plaza. She was remembered as a person with empathy, a sense of humor and a passion to help others. Several benefits were also scheduled this week for Cramer's family and for other victims of the JJ's fire.