Government

Central Standard
9:37 am
Tue January 21, 2014

The Missouri Death Penalty Controversy And Voter ID In Kansas

Will Missouri inmates on death row face death by firing squad someday? After a recent debacle in a Ohio execution and shortages of lethal injection drugs, legislators are considering alternative methods.

Host Brian Ellison talks to death penalty opponents. Later, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will discuss voter identification laws.   

Guests: 

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Tell KCUR
8:38 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Tell KCUR: Should Your Boss Be Able to Fire You For What You Tweet?

Should your boss be able to fire you for what you tweet? Tweet us your answer with the #TellKCUR hashtag.
Credit KCUR

 As the debate surrounding social media and the workplace comes to a head, we’re wondering what you think of a chilling policy out of the Kansas Board of Regents that’s receiving national attention.

Last week, the board rejected a university faculty request to delay the policy, which gives schools the ability to suspend or fire any faculty or staff for using social media for “improper” comments that are “contrary to the best interest of the university.”  

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Missouri Statehouse
8:09 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Nixon Expected To Call For School Funding, Medicaid Expansion

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will deliver his annual State of the State Address Tuesday, during which he’ll officially unveil his proposed budget for next year.

The governor is expected to announce funding increases for both K-12 schools and higher education, along with a warning to House and Senate GOP leaders to not cut taxes.

Kansas Statehouse
7:48 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Brownback Proposes Pay Raises For Some Kansas State Employees

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing a 1.5 percent pay raise for classified state employees. It's one of the budget amendments he's suggesting for next fiscal year.

Interim Budget Director Jon Hummell told the Senate's budget committee that the Republican governor has always wanted a smaller, better-paid state workforce.

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Central Standard
1:32 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

4 Things To Know About North Kansas City

In 1869, North Kansas City didn't exist. It was all rural farmland north of the Missouri River. The one bridge in the scene is the Hannibal Bridge but was only accessible by freight cars.
Credit A. Ruger Merchant Liths. Co. / Madison, Wis., Ruger & Stoner - Wikimeida Commons

There’s a community of more than 4,000 people that sits barely two miles away from Kansas City’s Downtown. It has its own mayor and city agencies and a major hospital, and it’s more than a century old. We're talking about North Kansas City, all 4.4 square miles of it.

On Friday's Central Standard, Monroe Dodd chats with two longtime residents of the city about the history of this town-within-a-town.

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Missouri Statehouse
8:20 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Missouri House Speaker Urging Medical Malpractice Caps

The Speaker of the Missouri House is pushing lawmakers to restore caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Missouri law created a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. But that cap was tossed out in 2012 by the Missouri Supreme Court.

House Speaker Tim Jones says without the cap, millions of dollars could be shifted from patient care to legal defense costs.

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Kansas Statehouse
8:07 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Brownback Releases Details Of Kansas Budget Plan

Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing a reversal of some state university salary cuts and a 1.5 percent raise for classified state employees. He's also hoping to rewrite the Department of Corrections budget. 

Andover Republican and Senate budget committee chair, Ty Masters, says most of the governor's proposed $460 million dollar spending increase is allocated for corrections, but some lawmakers will still have concerns.

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Government
7:56 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Kansas City Charter Change Suggestions Advance

Plans for an election on changing the Kansas City, Mo., charter are heading into the home stretch, but there is still some disagreement on what should go on the ballot.

One sticking point as the full city council debated the changes Wednesay was: “why send the voters any proposed change most council members consider a bad idea?” – for example doing away with at-large council seats.

Mayor Sly James's answer: because some citizen groups have proposed the changes and the Charter Review Commission thought the voters should consider them.

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Government
7:19 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Kansas City Streetcar Expansion Will Likely Be Up To Voters

The decision to expand the streetcar further may go to voters.
Credit City of Kansas City, Missouri

An ambitious expansion of the Kansas City streetcar system has gotten approval from a City Council Committee.

The plan is for a taxing district that covers a wide swath south of downtown.

A variety of possible extensions of the system branch east and south from the starter line.

Supporters are in a hurry to move the system past its current fledgling movement.

Council members were told the tax district would provide local funding as seed for federal grants, necessary for expansion.

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Government
10:05 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Proposed Kansas City Budget Supports Arts Funding

Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte submitted his official proposed budget for 2014-2015 to Mayor Sly James Wednesday afternoon.

The plan calls for an overall 2.7 percent increase in spending. About 40 percent of that $37 million increase will go to start fully funding the city's share of its long underfunded employee pensions.

Basic services budgets remain at about 2013-2014 levels, but cuts are planned in the municipal court and in jobs at City Hall.

Schulte did include funds to meet a council commitment to increase spending for arts programs by $325,000.

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Kansas Statehouse
7:15 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Brownback Unveils Priorities For 2014 Kansas Legislative Session

Gov. Sam Brownback gave his 2014 State of the State address at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka Wednesday.
Credit Wikimedia Commons - CC

Gov. Sam Brownback made comments aimed at the courts, referenced Kansas history and touted his administration's accomplishments during the annual State of the State address Wednesday night.

Brownback unveiled some of his legislative priorities as he spoke before the members of the Kansas House and Senate. He held up what he says are the achievements of his administration over the last three years: building up state financial reserves and balancing the budget during the recession.

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Government
7:45 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

READ: Gov. Brownback Delivers 2014 Kansas State Of The State Address

Credit state of Kansas

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback delivered his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday night at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. He called on the state to institute all-day kindergarten and allocate funds to address the housing shortage in rural areas and to focus on water needs in the state.

You can read the full text of Gov. Brownback's address here:

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Up to Date
11:21 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Missouri Campaign Finance Proposal Offers Sweeping Changes

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has proposed numerous changes to the state's campaign finance regulations.
Credit Missouri Secretary of State's Office

Missouri Secretary of State, Jason Kander, released a proposal Tuesday to change Missouri's campaign finance regulations. But, it is a long-shot in the Republican-led legislature.

In the first part of Wednesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Kander about his goals with the proposal and what the biggest problems are.

Guest:

  • Jason Kander, Missouri Secretary of State
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Government
8:38 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Kansas Lawmakers Could Try To Reverse Corrections Cuts

Officials at the Kansas Department of Corrections have recently been working to deal with budget cuts. Some lawmakers voted against the state budget for the current fiscal year specifically because of the cuts to corrections. Legislators may now try to go back and reverse some of the reductions.

Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts says they have had to deal with a $4 million funding shortfall. He says they had to move money from other areas and cut back on offender programs, and they are still more than $1 million short.

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Government
5:27 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Kander Introduces Sweeping Ethics Reform For Missouri

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has unveiled a wide-ranging ethics proposal he wants lawmakers to take up and pass this year. It includes restoring campaign contribution limits, banning gifts from lobbyists to all state elected officials, and requiring a 3-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers can work as lobbyists.

Kander says if adopted, Missouri can go from having the worst ethics system in the country to the best.

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Government
7:11 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Airlines Lukewarm On New KCI Terminal Concept

Airlines that use KCI are not convinced a complete terminal replacement would help their business.

Airline officers took their turn appearing before the advisory group on the airport’s future.

The advisory group appointed by the Mayor is exploring whether to recommend a new terminal layout or renovate what’s there.

Southwest Airlines executive Ron Ricks spoke for all major carriers at the airport and said the current system operates well.

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Government
8:04 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Missouri Legislators Discuss Right-To-Work Bill

A bill that would turn Missouri into a right-to-work state was the subject of a hearing in Jefferson City Monday.

As written, the so-called “Freedom to Work Act” would bar workers from being required to engage or cease engaging in labor union activities as a condition for employment.

Greg Johns with the group Missourians for Right to Work cites Oklahoma as an example of where it has worked.

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Government
7:56 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Kansas Democrats Introduce Bill To Amend Voter Registration Law

The 2014 Kansas legislative session is underway, and on the first day, two lawmakers introduced bills that would reduce a backlog of voter registrations.

Nearly 20,000 registrations are on hold in Kansas because of a new law that took effect last year requiring people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide documents proving their U.S. citizenship.

The bills that have been introduced would allow people registering to instead sign an affidavit swearing they're a U.S. citizen. Lying on the form would be a felony.

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Up to Date
10:34 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Former NAACP Chair On The Continuing Struggle Of Civil Rights

Julian Bond joins Steve Kraske to talk about civil rights, past and present.
Credit naacp.org

Former NAACP national chair Julian Bond was part of the original Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

In the second part of Monday's Up to Date, we talk with him about his involvement in civil rights and how it’s still relevant in today’s climate. We also get his impressions of Obama’s presidency. 

Guest:

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Government
10:15 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Brownback To Push 'Targeted' Approach To Education In 2014 Session

The 2014 Kansas legislative session begins Monday.
Credit Wikimedia Commons - CC

The 2014 Kansas legislative session kicks off Monday, and Gov. Sam Brownback says education is at the top of his priorities, including his recently unveiled reading initiative and instituting statewide full-day kindergarten. 

"I think the public wants to see us produce high-quality products, here from government. And the core function of state government is education," Brownback said in an exclusive interview. "We put over half of our state general fund in K-12, but we need to see it produce and not just put money in. And, not ask for any results."

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Government
4:56 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

No Ruling In Kansas School Finance Lawsuit

The Kansas Supreme Court generally issues rulings on Fridays, so many people in the Kansas Legislature were watching to see if the court would release its opinion in a controversial school finance case Friday.

The justices did not, so lawmakers are likely to start the legislative session on Monday without a decision in the case.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, says the case could prompt lawmakers to consider rewriting the state's school funding formula.

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Government
8:17 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Gov. Nixon Defends State Board Appointment

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is defending his choice last month to fill a vacancy on the State Probation and Parole Board with State Rep. Dennis Fowler. Fowler then gave up his seat in the Missouri House for the appointment. He also happens to be one of the 15 House Republicans who voted against overriding Governor Nixon’s veto of a controversial tax cut bill last year.

Nixon told reporters Thursday that Fowler’s vote had nothing to do with his Parole Board appointment.

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Government
8:09 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Brownback Proposes More Services For Kansas Vets

Gov. Sam Brownback has a plan to beef up veterans' services in Kansas. The proposal would include improvements at two facilities and new workers aimed at helping veterans.

The plan would include a $1.4 million renovation of a veterans' home in southwest Kansas. It would also add 40 new beds for long-term care services to a veterans' facility in Winfield.

Gregg Burden, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs, says under the proposal they'll also be looking to hire four new staff members to help veterans access the benefits they've earned.

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Immigration
10:47 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Deferred Action Immigration Program Leaves Detained Kansas City Man In Limbo

Edher Palafox talks with KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross via video phone from the Missouri jail where he is being detained.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Update, 3:32 p.m.
Edher Palafox was released from ICE custody Thursday afternoon, his lawyer said in an email.

The original story appears below:

It’s been a year and a half since President Barack Obama announced an executive order that could potentially transform the lives of many undocumented immigrants.

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KCI Airport
7:58 am
Thu January 9, 2014

As KCI's Terminal A Closes Its Doors, Airport Future Still Uncertain

Terminal A at Kansas City International Airport.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

Overnight Wednesday, movers hauled US Airways' remaining equipment out of KCI Terminal A to Terminal C, but the future of KCI remains undecided.

City officials say Terminal A won’t necessarily be demolished, but closing little-used Terminal A saves about $2.5 million a year, says Joe McBride with city aviation.

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Government
7:38 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Plan Could Increase City's Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

A proposal before the Kansas City Council Thursday would gather information to expand the employee benefits available for same-sex couples.

One factor prompting the plan is the increasing number of same-sex couples who have legally married in other states. Another is to remain competitive with other states.

Councilman Scott Taylor says the sponsors simply believe it is the right thing to do.

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KC Currents
8:00 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Offers Future To Undocumented Youth

DREAM Act Protesters during President Obama's Visit to Austin on May 10, 2011
Credit Tood Dwyer / Flickr -- Creative Commons

On June 15, 2012 President Barack Obama signed a memorandum called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under this mandate, young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children can apply to attend public universities, get driver licenses and work legally.

However, DACA offers no path to citizenship and its future is uncertain.  

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Government
7:55 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Missouri House Considers Funds To Assess Success Of Common Core

A Missouri House subcommittee is considering whether to approve more money for student assessment tests under the new Common Core standards. The standards are designed to implement consistent nationwide standards in math and language arts.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the committee Tuesday that implementing Common Core in Missouri has not cost the state any additional money, but that measuring student performance under the new standards will.

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Government
4:29 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Majority Of Kansas City Water Pipes Withstand Sub-Zero Temps

Despite some of coldest weather in years, the Kansas City Water Services Department has not been inundated with service calls for frozen pipes or lines. Though, troubleshooters await a second full night of sub-zero temperatures.

Almost 100 calls have come from customers who say their water taps deliver nothing, but Jennifer Kincaid of the city’s Water Services wants people to stay aware the danger to pipes remains through Monday night.  

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Up to Date
12:56 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Missouri And Kansas Lawmakers Tackle New Sessions

Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka Jan 13 for the new legislative session.
Credit stgermh / Flickr-CC

When lawmakers go back to work in Kansas and Missouri, they’ll have some hot issues to keep them warm.

On Monday's Up to Date, state lawmakers from both Kansas and Missouri join us to talk about those contentious topics. In Kansas, the buzz centers around school funding and how the state’s Supreme Court could change the budget for education.

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