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Republican Kansas Rep. John Rubin from Shawnee, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here.

Guests:

A Kansas House committee has voted to undo part of the tax cuts pushed by Gov. Sam Brownback. The committee voted to reinstate some business income taxes, which were completely eliminated by the 2012 tax cut.

Republican Rep. Mark Hutton says the current law creates an unfair system and may not be spurring much job growth.

“I would argue, as a business owner, that the federal code takes precedent far ahead of any consideration that I get from the state on this issue,” says Hutton.

Kansas Legislature

Republican Kansas Rep. John Rubin from Shawnee, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

  • John Rubin, Rep. for the 18th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Sara Prem, citizen voice
  • Peggy Lowe, Harvest Network Analyst, KCUR
Cody Newill / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon stopped by the recently closed Missouri River bridge on Highway 291 in Sugar Creek, Missouri Thursday to call on state lawmakers to pass a fuel tax hike for transportation funding.

The northbound bridge was closed Wedensday when a Missouri Department of Transportation inspection found a rusted hole through a support strut. 

Nixon said the bridge is indicative of a larger problem with state transportation funding.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Rep. Nancy Lusk from Overland Park, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

You can listen to the full podcast here.

Guests:

The idea of a unified metro-wide emergency dispatch system for area law enforcement got a first hearing in a Kansas City council committee Wednesday. 

Assistant City Manager Mike Schumacher told the public safety committee that with existing separate dispatch systems, a crime can occur within a block of a police car, but those officers don't get a call because the need is in a different municipality. And the dispatcher for that municipality doesn't even know the officers are close.

The ride-hailing service Uber has suspended operation in Kansas. That comes after lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto of a bill that puts new regulations on Uber and similar services. The bill adds new insurance mandates and requires background checks for drivers.

In a statement, Uber says Kansas shut them down, cost jobs and blocked consumer choice. Senate President Susan Wagle calls Uber’s decision to halt service “political theatre.”

Sen. Jeff Longbine says they pursued the override as a solid base for negotiations.

Updated 5 p.m., Wed., May 6 -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had harsh words for the General Assembly’s action to override his veto of a bill that shortens the period for low-income families to receive welfare benefits. The bill also imposes new work requirements.

During a stop in St. Louis, the governor said he didn't object to changing the work requirements. But he did object to the way it was done, which his administration says will result in about 6,500 children getting knocked off the state's welfare rolls.

"You don't move the state forward by taking benefits away from 6,500 kids,'' Nixon said. He explained that there were ways, such as a "protected payee program" that would have penalized the parents, but not the children.

"What did a 5-year-old do wrong?" he asked. "There were a lot of ways where kids didn't have to suffer here."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Rep. Nancy Lusk from Overland Park, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

Some digital signs will be allowed in Kansas City, Missouri residential neighborhoods under an ordinance passed Thursday. 

The battle went on for nearly two years, according to ordinance sponsor Councilman Ed Ford. Churches and schools said the new signs were modern, convenient and efficient. Homeowners worried that they could be glaring, garish and constantly changing.

Ford said the compromise ordinance allows the signs at institutions with 15-acre sights (10 acres on busy thoroughfares).

A proposal to require Kansas City, Missouri building owners to make energy efficiency figures on the buildings public met mixed reactions at a city council committee hearing Wednesday. 

The plan would require owners to compile energy usage figures and submit them to the city or face a fine for not doing so. Proponents representing environmental groups, civic groups and some building owners said the ordinance would further enhance Kansas City's image as a sustainability-focused community while helping to improve air quality, reduce energy use and make lower rents possible for many low or fixed income apartment dwellers.

Americasroof / Wikimedia -- CC

A Kansas City council committee took the next step in an attempt to sell Kemper Arena Wednesday. 

The plans, zoning and economic development approved a basic schedule for sending out requests for proposals. The invitations would go out next month, with 90 days for responses to come in. 

Chair Ed Ford said to try to get as many offers as possible the city shouldn't put many restrictions on intended use for the old arena.

"We may get someone who wants to put in a beer garden or a mega-church or move it to the riverfront and make an aquarium," he quipped.

Democrat Kansas Rep. Jim Ward from Witchita, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

Kansas Legislature / Kansas Legislature

Democrat Kansas Rep. Jim Ward from Wichita, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

  • Jim Ward, Rep. for the 86th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Scott Morgan, citizen voice
  • Cody Newill, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR

Kansas City and Uber have come to terms on regulations for the ride-hiring network and its drivers. 

The compromise ordinance was unveiled at the council business session Thursday and passed shortly after 5 p.m. It replaces one passed two weeks ago that prompted Uber to say it was being forced out of Kansas City.

The city agreed to drop the permit fee for individual drivers for companies willing to pay a $45,000 annual blanket fee. 

After more than five hours of talks that stretched into the early morning hours, House and Senate negotiators have signed off on next year's $26 billion state budget.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton from Overland Park, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

  • Stephanie Clayton, Rep. for the 19th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Ryan Smith, citizen voice
  • Brian Ellison, Host/Contributor, KCUR
Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Kansas has more laws restricting access to abortion than almost any other state. Most of these laws restrict the women seeking the abortion or the clinics providing the abortion. But until recently, the anti-abortion movement hasn't had much success in restricting the abortion procedures themselves. 

Until last week, when Kansas was the first state to ban "dismemberment abortions." While there is no medical procedure by that name, the law seems to ban "dilation and extraction" abortions, also called D&E. 

Rendering courtesy of Cordish Co.

A second Power and Light District apartment tower at Truman Road and Grand has won big dollar incentives from the Kansas City council.

The council Thursday approved underwriting construction of the 24-story Two Light luxury apartment tower and its parking garage for up to $17 million and endorsed what amounts to 50 percent property tax abatement for 25 years.

Councilman Jim Glover told colleagues to think of it not as a subsidy, but an investment.

Legislation that would reduce lifetime eligibility for most welfare recipients in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk.

An earlier version of the bill would have cut lifetime eligibility for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, in half, from 5 years to two and 1/2.  But a compromise between the House and Senate reduces that period to 3 years and 9 months.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Rep. Jarrod Ousley from Merriam, provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

  • Jarrod Ousley, Rep. for the 24th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Terry Blastenbrei, citizen voice
  • Jeremy Bernfeld, Harvest Public Media Editor, KCUR
Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Missouri House will take up another body camera proposal next week.

Lawmakers have filed nine different bills looking at how law enforcement officers record their interactions with the public. Proponents of police body cameras say they can provide crucial evidence in cases like the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.

Blue Springs Rep. Sheila Solon says the legislation that passed out of the Select Committee on State and Local Governments would protect the privacy of people recorded.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt emphasized the need for Congress to pass a five- or six-year highway bill during a stop in Blue Springs, Missouri, Friday morning.

The Highway Trust Fund is set to expire next month after being propped up for years with stopgap legislation.

"You can't build roads and bridges six months at a time," Blunt told civic leaders at a Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce breakfast. "You can't get the best bid, you can't get the work done, you can't do anything you need to do there six months or even two years at a time."

Legislation designed to aid some delinquent taxpayers in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk.

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed HB 384, the "tax amnesty" bill, which would allow people behind on their state income taxes to pay them off without additional penalties or interest.

In its business session  Thursday the Kansas City Council heard a report on the future of the now mostly vacant Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City. Kevin Breslin of Centerpoint Properties, which is assisting the GSA in repurposing the facility said the existing Bannister buildings, with the exception of the facilities occupied by the U.S. Marines,  will be torn down.

Breslin said the old structures have outlived their usefulness and starting fresh will allow for a more aggressive environmental clean-up while allowing private businesses to re-create the complex in a manner that suits its "next future."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday signed a law that bans dilation and evacuation (D&E), a common second-trimester abortion procedure.

The law, titled the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, redefines "dilation and evacuation" as "dismemberment." Language in the law says the fetus is pulled apart limb by limb and allowed to bleed to death before being removed from the pregnant woman's body. 

A lawmaker in the Kansas House warns that a campus religious freedom bill could attract national attention like the type that has been aimed at Indiana recently.

The Kansas bill would bar colleges from taking action against religious student groups that want to exclude people from their organization.

Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton urged her colleagues to vote against the bill in a House committee.

“If we pass this, we might face national backlash. It could have an adverse effect on the Kansas economy,” says Clayton.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, what we've seen so far in the Kansas Legislative session, and what we can expect when we return from spring break. 

Guests:

The Kansas legislature voted 98-26 Wednesday to ban an abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. If signed into law, as Gov. Sam Brownback has promised to do, Kansas would become the first state in the country to ban the procedure. 

The procedure is a common second trimester abortion procedure, making up 8.8 percent of all abortions in Kansas. The bill renames the procedure "dismemberment," claiming that the fetus is pulled limb from limb before being removed. National Right to Life director of state legislation Mary Spaulding Balch said in a press release that "dismemberment abortions brutally — and unacceptably — rip apart small human beings." 

Nine Republican lawmakers in the Kansas House have filed a complaint against a Democratic representative over comments she made in a committee meeting.

The complaint says Rep. Valdenia Winn used “inflammatory” language. An investigation will start Wedesnday.

Winn’s comments came during a meeting in March. The committee was debating a bill that would affect some college students in Kansas who are in the country illegally. The bill would have ended a program that allows those students to pay in-state tuition. Here’s Winn commenting on the bill, and you’ll also hear Republican Rep. John Barker. 

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