Government

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, the Director of Johnson County Mental Health talks about the state of mental healthcare in Kansas.

Guests:

Matt Hodap / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, the Director of Johnson County Mental Health talks about the state of mental healthcare in Kansas.

Guests:

Courtesy Nimrod Chapel Jr.

An attorney for the so-called “Medicaid 23” says his clients will appeal their convictions on trespassing charges, even though they face no jail time.

A Cole County, Missouri, jury on Wednesday acquitted 22 clergy members of obstructing government operations but found them guilty of trespassing when they refused to leave the Missouri Senate gallery during a protest in May 2014. The case of the 23rd defendant will be decided later.

It's a split decision in the trial of the so-called "Medicaid 23," a group of religious leaders who staged a protest in the Missouri Senate more than two years ago over lawmakers' refusal to expand Medicaid.

Twenty-two members of the group were found guilty of trespassing for not leaving the Senate gallery when ordered to do so by Capitol police. But they were found not guilty of obstructing the operations of the Senate. The case of one other member will be decided later.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City) talks about transportation funding, Right To Work legislation, and this year's gubernatorial election.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City) talks about transportation funding, Right To Work legislation, and this year's gubernatorial election.

Guests:

  • Rep. Judy Morgan, (D-Kansas City), Missouri House of Representatives
  • Maria Carter, News Director, KCUR
Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

  On this week's Statehouse Blend, we look back at the Kansas and Missouri Legislature's favorite songs, and what they meant in the context of the sessions. It's Statehouse Blend's Greatest Hits.

Guests:

  • C.J. Janovy, Arts Reporter, KCUR
  • Matt Hodapp, Statehouse Blend Producer, KCUR
Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The frustrated director of Missouri’s underfunded public defender’s office has done something most unusual: He’s assigned a case to the governor.

The budget woes in Michael Barrett’s department are ongoing – too many poor people needing public defenders, too few lawyers to represent them. So he’s relying on a state law that appears to let him appoint any lawyer who's a member of the Missouri Bar to defend an indigent criminal defendant.

Enter Gov. Jay Nixon.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R-Overland Park) talks about presidential politics, schools, and tax policy.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

  On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R-Overland Park) talks about presidential politics, schools, and tax policy.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) talks about transportation funding, the Republican party platform, and this year's gubernatorial election.

Guests:

  • Sen. Ryan Silvey, (R-Kansas City), Missouri House of Representatives
  • Elle Moxley, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR
Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Bioscience Authority will soon go on the auction block. A state panel Wednesday officially merged the KBA into the Kansas Department of Commerce, the first step in selling off the state-funded investment organization.

Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave says the agency will be taking bids to purchase the organization in the comings months. He says they’re hoping for a buyer with a connection to the state of Kansas.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) talks about transportation funding, the Republican party platform, and this year's gubernatorial election.

Guests:

  • Sen. Ryan Silvey, (R-Kansas City), Missouri House of Representatives
  • Elle Moxley, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR
Iknowthegoods / Wikimedia Commons

After months of debate, Thursday's Kansas City Council vote was unanimous, but the $7 million commitment had reverted to a level similar to the first proposal made seven months ago.

In the meantime, estimates for improving the historic Jazz District had ballooned to as much as $12 million to start. The remainder of the $27.6 million total cost is expected to be divided into two more phases over a three-year period.

Supporters called it a most-expensive-case scenario, predicting that private investment would end up paying a large portion of the expense.

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

The Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee of the Kansas City Council will postpone a vote on a controversial West Side apartment complex until Aug. 10.

The measure was sent back to committee for a second hearing June 22 after neighborhood groups expressed concerns that the upscale housing would raise property taxes in the area.

Developer John Coon at the time said the worries were unfounded and offered to meet with neighborhood groups to negotiate a compromise of some sort.

A new plan for 18th and Vine Jazz District upgrades trims phase one commitment to $7 million.
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

City Council discussions have produced a new, scaled back proposal for improvements to the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District.

Councilman Jermaine Reed tried to bring a $27.6 million, three-phase plan to a vote in last Thursday's legislative session, but called for a postponed vote when support failed to materialize.

The main concerns other council members expressed had to do with the total financial commitment on the part of the city and making that commitment before exploring the possibility of reducing the burden through private investment.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

With three last-minute alternatives on the table and no apparent consensus, Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed backed down Thursday on his plan to force a vote on Jazz District improvements.

Reed had already softened his original stance that the council should fully commit to $27.6 million in three-phase funding for the 18th and Vine area.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Rep. DaRon McGee (D-Kansas City) talks about gun legislation, libraries, and ethics reform.

Guests:

Sunflower Development

Beacon Hill soon could be joining Kansas City's downtown hotel boom.

On Wednesday, the City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee endorsed plans for a $13 million, 90-room hotel project at 24th and Troost in the Beacon Hill redevelopment area. It would operate as a Best Western Plus.

The master plan for the area, created when Emanuel Cleaver was mayor, focuses on affordable housing, principally town homes. But Leonard Graham of design firm Taliaferro and Browne says the hotel is consistent with the original goal. 

Missouri's new state budget is $115 million lighter, after Gov. Jay Nixon announced temporary cuts to 131 programs and state agencies.

He told reporters Wednesday it was necessary because state revenues are not growing as fast as projected.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Missouri Rep. DaRon McGee (D-Kansas City) talks about gun legislation, libraries, and ethics reform.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation stepping up oversight of the state’s 360 Community Improvement Districts.

“When residents vote to improve their communities through local taxing districts, they expect those districts to be held accountable and follow the law,” Nixon said Wednesday in Kansas City. “They need a watchdog, and that watchdog needs to have teeth.”

The bill Nixon signed makes that watchdog State Auditor Nicole Galloway. Before, Galloway could only audit a CID if a citizen petition requested it.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Unified Government broke ground Friday on a new police station in Argentine, next to the Walmart Neighborhood Market that opened in 2014.

“This facility is the second police station command center we have opened in my tenure, the last three years,” Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland said at a ceremony. “It’s putting the police in a place that is most effective for the community and most effective for customer service.”

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

Four former governors have banded together to “Save Kansas” from Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters.

In a letter circulated Friday, former Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Bill Graves, Mike Hayden and John Carlin urged Kansas Democrats, Republicans and Independents to band together “to regain our fiscal health and stop the calculated destruction of our revenue stream and our educational, healthcare, and transportation systems.

KC Aviation Department

For two years, KCI Airport officials have leaned heavily on promoting the idea of a new single-terminal concept when reporting aviation details to City Council committees.

Not this time.

New Aviation Director Patrick Klein reported to the Airport Committee on Wednesday and focused entirely on ideas for improving the existing terminals.

In May, Mayor Sly James said the city was putting discussions on a new single-terminal for KCI on hold after research suggested an overwhelming lack of public support.

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

Neighborhood opponents of a proposed apartment development in Kansas City's Westside outnumbered its supporters 3 to 1 at a second Kansas City Council committee hearing on the project Wednesday.

The development would replace a warehouse at 17th and Madison.

A second public hearing was prompted by the number of objections to the committee's original decision to approve the zoning and design at an earlier hearing with a delayed start. Many neighbors said they had to leave that meeting because it was so late; before the matter of the apartment project came up.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to Kansas City Wednesday to sign legislation strengthening laws against human trafficking.

“We tend to think of human trafficking as something that happens in a distant, undeveloped country,” Nixon said. “But the tragic reality is, right here in the United States, human trafficking is a real and growing problem.”

A traffic engineer fine-tunes the InSync system from a remote computer.
Rhythm Engineering/InSync

A new $700,000 computerized traffic system installed by a private company to give Kansas City streetcar riders a better experience is reducing travel times for all vehicles in the downtown streetcar zone, according to the company.  

Jesse Manning of Rhythm Engineering, a Lenexa, Kansas, firm, told a City Council committee last week that the smart traffic system has reduced travel times between the River Market and Union Station by 31 percent northbound and 23 percent southbound during morning peak traffic hours.

Clay Chastain
Video frame courtesy of TV-9

It took just 1,709 valid signatures to qualify for a public vote. And Clay Chastain turned in 47 more than that.

But a place for his latest light rail plan is not assured a place on the ballot yet.

Chastain, who lives in Virginia most of the time, expects resistance from the Kansas City Council to his $2 billion plan.

Stinging from the slap of having a previous proposal blocked from the ballot because city attorneys found court support for their contention that the measure as put forth was illegal, the activist has tried to ward off another refusal.

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

Concerned neighbors, many of them senior citizens, showed up at Kansas City City Hall last week to object to a proposed apartment project at 17th and Madison on the city's Westside. But few had a chance to testify.

According to former city councilman Robert Hernandez and other community leaders, many were retired and low-income persons who worried that the upscale apartments would drive up their property taxes and force them out of their homes.

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