Government

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Johnson County Election Office reports it is in need of more than 2,000 election workers for the coming elections in August and November.

Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker says besides civic pride, the job pays a stipend of at least $135 for each election worked.

“A person can feel like, “I'm doing my civic duty, getting enough money to go out to dinner a couple of times... and I'm giving back to my country,” Metsker says.

The election commissioner emphasized that a 4-hour training class is provided and skills are not hard to master.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

At the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission's June meeting at Union Station Tuesday, one thing was clear: Despite a lower total budget than last year, the Missouri Department of Transportation is looking to the future.

Commission Vice Chair Steve Miller says that, although the Missouri General Assembly didn't increase fuel taxes this session to help fund roads and bridges, the reinstatement of a $20 million cost-sharing program is a boon.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

A Kansas senator says a highway project in his district is back on schedule, drawing protests from Democrats who say Republican Gov. Sam Brownback picked that project over others to help a political ally in an election year.

The project to widen U.S. Highway 69 north of Pittsburg from two lanes to four was one of 25 delayed in April to help balance the state budget.

It sits in the district of Republican Sen. Jake LaTurner, who sent an open letter to Brownback decrying the delay.

Courtesy of jocogov.org

Most departments in Johnson County, Kansas, will no longer ask questions about criminal convictions on their job applications. The move is in support of the Fair Chance Hiring initiative, a campaign started by the National Employment Labor Project to give people with criminal records better access to jobs.

The battle over religious freedom and LGBT rights has moved from Arizona and Mississippi to Missouri. Conservatives there are backing an amendment to the state Constitution that would protect certain people — clergy, for instance — who refuse to take part in same-sex marriages.

But the measure has run into some unexpected — and unexpectedly stiff — opposition, from a longtime ally of the religious right: the business community.

Across the globe, distinct political institutions and governing mechanisms have developed, but how and when did political order even begin? Starting with our primate ancestors through the eve of the French Revolution, we look at how our politics continue to evolve — or not — today.

Guest:

Eric Greitens found himself fending off questions about a controversial donor at Thursday's Missouri Republican gubernatorial debate in Columbia, the first one this year to be televised.

Both Catherine Hanaway and Peter Kinder called on Greitens to return a $1 million campaign contribution from Michael Goguen. The California venture capitalist is being sued by a woman who accuses him of holding her as a sex slave for 13 years.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

As second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, Frank White helped bring the team a big first: a World Series win.

On Friday, more than 30 years after the 1985 World Series, White celebrated two more firsts: his first State of the County address as the first African-American Jackson County Executive. 

"Today I feel like a rookie again," White said with a wide smile and to much applause. "I have never experienced a first quite like this."

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's Planning & Zoning Committee held its first community listening session Saturday to connect city officials with residents who had questions and concerns about issues in their neighborhoods.

Around a dozen residents from the area, mostly from the Marlborough neighborhood, showed up at the Trailside Center in South Kansas City to speak with council members and city employees from a variety of departments.

For a city of 9,500 people, Mission, Kansas has its share of big issues. Mayor Steve Schowengerdt discusses some of the meatiest topics on his city's table, from driveway taxes and the Mission Gateway development project to chickens and bees. 

A 2013 poll showed that nearly a quarter of Americans lean toward a libertarian political philosophy. We explore libertarian ideals that support gay marriage as well as gun ownership. 

Guest:

Lobbyists get a bad rap, but before we judge, let's hear from the lobbyists themselves about what they do and how they get it done. Everything you've always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask. Plus, notes on the recent legislative session in Kansas.

Guests:

  • Kimberly Svatie, lobbyist, Gencur Svatie Public Affairs
  • Bill Sneed, lawyer and lobbyist, Polsinelli
Stephen Koranda / KPR

With only hours remaining before furloughs started, Kansas lawmakers approved a bill that prevents state workers from being taken off the job. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the bill and said  all state employees should report to work as usual.

While financial pressures still exist in state government, the bill deems all state employees “essential” and exempt from being furloughed. That designation only lasts through the end of the legislative session.

Area journalists are largely behind a push to end a loophole in Kansas that allows emails discussing  public affairs— but sent from a private account— to be exempt from open records laws.  The effort is beginning to gain traction in the legislature. 

Guest:

  • Karen Dillon is an investigative reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World.

Do you know what the Export-Import Bank of The United States does? On this edition of Up To Date, guest host Stephen Steigman discusses the role of the bank and why it matters in Kansas City.

Guest: 

  • Fred Hochberg is the Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. 

Extreme partisan divisions have given the U.S. Congress a bad rap. Its inability to compromise has resulted in an ineffective government and public disapproval. We look at the effects of having such a polarized institution with two former congressmen who offer suggestions for how it might be saved.

Guests:

  • Tom Davis (R) represented Virginia's 11th district from 1994 to 2008.
  • Martin Frost (D) represented Texas' 24th district from 1979 to 2005. 

In order to become a naturalized citizen, immigrants must pass a basic U.S. civics test. Some Missouri lawmakers are pushing for the state to adopt education policies that would require high schoolers to pass the same test to graduate. On this edition of Up To Date, Steve Kraske talks with two lawmakers supporting this requirement, and quizzes listeners with questions from the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test.

Guests:

News about legislative committee meetings at a Jefferson City country club have raised new questions about Missouri's ethics laws. State Representative Jeremy LaFaver and Missouri State University political scientist George Connor join Steve Kraske to discuss cleaning up ethics in the state. 

Guests:

  • Rep. Jeremy La Faver is a Democrat from Kansas City.
  • George Connor is a political Scientist at Missouri State University.

Tax cuts, toll roads, public schools, what will affect Missourians most this year?

The Missouri Legislature began its 2015 session on Wednesday. On Thursday's Up To Date, a panel of journalists discusses what may become the biggest issues of the coming year. 

Guests: 

United States Department of Homeland Security / Wikimedia Commons

After her stint as secretary of Homeland Security ended in 2013, former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano became president of the University of California system. The transition made for quite a change, but she said she's up for the challenge.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with Napolitano about looking in hindsight at Middle East policies and the challenges her new position presents.

Guest:

MId-America glcc

In the 1920s and '30s, Kansas City was defined by the corruption of the political machine run by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. But the machine finally was brought down, in no small part through the efforts of reform-minded women.

Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes tells the story of these “civic housekeepers” whose fight came to a dramatic conclusion with the ballot-box victories of 1940, Pendergast’s imprisonment in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, and the smashing of machine-mob rule.

Guest:

Recently, Harvest Public Media took a look at the new Farm Bill, and what they found might surprise you.

On Monday's Up to Date, we discuss how little influence farmers and agricultural groups had in shaping the bill and look at who the major players actually were.

Guests:

Pat Roberts has represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate since 1997, but he’s up for re-election and facing several competitors in the Republican primary.

On Monday's Up to Date, we talk with two of those challengers, Republicans Milton Wolf and Alvin Zahnter. We discuss about how healthcare laws, the job market and more.

Guests:

  • Milton Wolf, U.S. Senate candidate from Overland Park
  • Alvin Zahnter, U.S. Senate candidate from Russell, Kan.
Mark Fischer / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week we saw the closing of another Supreme Court session with landmark rulings about religious freedom, cell phone privacy, and recess appointments. But there was another decision: a 5-4 ruling that may have an impact on unions and how they operate, including right in the Kansas City area. On Tuesday's Up To Date,  guest host Brian Ellison talks with the AFL-CIO's Craig Becker on the highest court in the land's ruling on union agency fees.

www.nationalpartnership.org

It's scary being a new parent, and many state regulations make the adjustment period very difficult for new moms and dads who have jobs. A recent study gives both Kansas and Missouri a failing grade in this area.

City Lights Publishers

Since its creation in the late 1940s, the CIA has changed from a relatively limited intelligence agency to a big player in America's military complex. 

On Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sits down with ex-CIA analyst Mel Goodman to talk about the changing role of the CIA throughout history. We'll discuss how different presidents transformed the powers and operations of the agency during the Cold War, the War on Terror, and today.

Guest:

On Monday's Up to Date, we sit down with Al From, author of The New Democrats and the Return to Power.  He joins Steve Kraske for a look at the history and future of the Democratic Party.  As founder of the Democratic Leadership Council he ushered in a new breed of Democrat with Bill Clinton's administration.   

Guest:

Al From is founder of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). 

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

You know the Federal Reserve is important to the government, but what does it really do?

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George about why Kansas City has a Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. We'll also look at the history of the bank at its centenary.

Guest:

  • Esther George, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City 
KSHB-TV

If the police staged a massive raid on your house, complete with assault weapons, you’d want to know why. But finding that out in Kansas is tricky and costly. 

On Monday's Up to Date, we look at a KSHB-TV investigative report on the problems local residents have had getting police records open in the state.

Guests:

It’s been nearly a year since Mark Holland became mayor of Kansas City, Kan., and it’s time to see what influence he’s wielded in the city over that time.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, Mayor Holland joins us in the studio to talk about the city’s economic development, public health programs and other issues.

Guest:

  • Mark Holland, mayor of the unified government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County

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