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10:18 am
Sat January 17, 2015

Kansas Educators Confused About Governor's Budget Proposal

Kansas educators are confused over Gov. Brownback's proposed budget.
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The watch word for school funding in Kansas is now block grants.
But how that will work remains a mystery to educators.
Gov. Sam Brownback wants to scrap the current per pupil funding formula which, he says, is complicated and inefficient.
While lawmakers try to write a new formula Brownback proposes to give school districts lump sum payments over the next two fiscal years equal to about what they receive now.
Across the state, that’s $3 billion in aid to local school districts.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:27 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Two Flu-Related Deaths Reported At Children’s Mercy Hospital

This winter’s flu epidemic appears to have peaked, but the virus remains highly dangerous.

At a news conference Friday, Children’s Mercy Hospital pediatrician Robyn Livingston said two young patients had died of complications related to the flu. She did not provide specific patient information, citing privacy reasons.

She said, however, that flu deaths among children tend to be complicated cases. 

“Most of the children that have bad outcomes have underlying medical conditions,” Livingston said.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:57 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Brownback Budget Includes Medicaid Changes, Tobacco Tax Increase

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration outlined a sweeping budget plan Friday that includes changes to Medicaid and increases in the state’s tobacco and alcohol taxes.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said closing a $650 million budget gap will require new tax revenue and slowed expenses in the state’s “three major cost drivers”: public schools, public employee pensions and Medicaid.

“It is time to make additional changes to both better the care coordination of 400,000-plus members in Medicaid and, second, to further bend down the cost curve in Medicaid,” Sullivan said.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:41 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Health Groups Declare Support For Kansas Cigarette Tax Increase

Credit Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

 

A coalition of health organizations is supporting Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for a big increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

Brownback is proposing to raise the tax by $1.50 per pack, increasing it from 79 cents to $2.29. The governor wants to use the approximately $81 million in additional revenue to close a gaping hole in the fiscal 2016 budget.

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Government
2:16 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Metro-Area Kansas Politicians Say They're Watching Brownback's Tax Policy Closely

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback stuck by his aggressive tax policy during his State of the State address Thursday, outlining an ambitious list of legislative priorities for 2015.

But even members of the governor's own party say it's too early to tell what Brownback can accomplish during the session.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:32 am
Fri January 16, 2015

How The Kansas-Missouri State Line Became A Road

The original Livestock Exchange building sat on State Line Road and 16th St. It's location is likely the reason the road was built in the mid-1800s.
Credit Missouri Valley Special Collection / Kansas City Public Library

For the past four months, KCUR's Beyond Our Borders project has examined how the Missouri-Kansas state line affects the lives of those around it

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Education
9:47 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Hickman Mills School District Closer To Full Accreditation

The Hickman Mills School District is getting closer to full state accreditation.
Credit Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

The Hickman Mills School District in south Kansas City, Mo., appears to be inching closer to full accreditation.

Hickman Mills lost its full accreditation after several years of dismal test scores.

At the State Board of Education meeting Thursday Hickman Mills and two other districts updated their improvement plans.

Between the 2012-13 school year and 2013-2014 Hickman Mills made huge improvements on test scores and college and career readiness.

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Arts & Culture
5:40 am
Fri January 16, 2015

With Folk Alliance International In Town, KC's Musical Landscape Has Changed

Victor and Penny, otherwise known as Erin McGrane (left) and Jeff Freling, have upped their game thanks to Folk Alliance.
Credit Phil Peterson

A couple of years ago, an organization called Folk Alliance International moved its headquarters from Memphis to Kansas City. Then, last February, 3,000 musicians from around the world came to town for the Folk Alliance’s annual music conference.

Kansas City has good musicians. It’s a solid music community. But when all of those other musicians took over the Westin Crown Center, it was a shock to the system.

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Government
8:01 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Brownback Touts Successes, Dem Leader Calls State Of State ‘Bad’

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback giving his State of the State address Thursday night.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

In his first State of the State address since being re-elected, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday night that his efforts to fight poverty and reform Medicaid have been a success and outlined a controversial second-term agenda.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:35 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Twin Births Peak At Saint Luke’s East Hospital

Jennifer Vaughn, of Lee's Summit, Mo., holds her newborn girls, Brooke (left) and Peyton Koehler, one of six sets of twins born at Saint Luke's East Hospital within the past month.
Credit Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

When Jennifer Vaughn delivered identical twin girls at Saint Luke’s East Hospital last week, she and her husband were not that surprised – and it wasn’t just because of the sonograms or because she had dreamt of having twins even before the ultrasounds.

“My husband and I have always been fascinated with twins,” Vaughn said Thursday at the Lee’s Summit, Mo., hospital, where she was holding Brooke and Peyton Koehler, both of whom weighed less than 5 pounds at birth. “I guess it was meant to be.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:24 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Medical Marijuana Supporters Rally In Topeka

A Kansas Senate committee will hold informational hearings on legalizing medical marijuana.
Credit Danny Danko / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 

About 50 supporters of medical marijuana rallied Thursday at the Statehouse amid news that a Senate committee has scheduled informational hearings on the issue.

Sen. David Haley, a Kansas City Democrat, and Rep. Gail Finney, a Wichita Democrat, have introduced bills that would allow marijuana use to treat a range of illnesses and symptoms. 

The last hearing on a medical marijuana bill in Kansas was in 2012. The briefings scheduled next week in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee are not formal bill hearings, but Finney remains encouraged.

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Community
3:00 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Volker Neighbors Learning To Love KU Hospital And Medical Center, Gradually

Patient Sherry Cordle and visitor Linda Harrington walk across the street to smoke in the only designated smoking place on campus.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

The University of Kansas Hospital and University of Kansas Medical Center run along State Line Road adjacent to Kansas City, Missouri's Volker neighborhood. A tight-knit few blocks, where students unwind in neighborhood bars and long-time homeowners chat while walking dogs.

The institution is growing, and like many "town and gown" situations, the expansion has created some challenges.

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Central Standard
11:09 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Kansas City Playwright David Wayne Reed Reveals How He Helped Himself

David Wayne Reed: Transformational seminar survivor.
Credit Courtesy David Wayne Reed

Theatergoers anticipating Help Yourself, the new show by Kansas City playwright and actor David Wayne Reed, got some insights into Reed’s inspiration on Wednesday’s Central Standard.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:06 am
Thu January 15, 2015

ACA Insurance Enrollment Nearly Doubles In Missouri And Kansas

The number of Missourians and Kansans signing up for private health insurance in the federal marketplace has surpassed last year’s numbers, and enrollment continues at a steady clip.

Figures released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) show that nearly 76,000 Kansans and nearly 198,000 Missourians chose a health plan or re-enrolled on HealthCare.gov between the start of open enrollment on Nov. 15 and Jan. 9.

Enrollment in both states has surged about 94 percent in the last month.

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McTavish Weekend Extra
10:17 am
Thu January 15, 2015

6 Big Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

A tour through Harry S. Truman's historic home is just one of the 'big' things you can do in the Kansas City area this weekend.
Credit Library of Congress: Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia-CC

Do you want to talk about big? Do you want to talk about colossal, gigantic, massive and enormous? Do you … oh, you’d rather I do the talking?

Well, that’s big of you.

In that case, allow me to share some big things going on this weekend. Some are unmistakably great on their face. Some possess an inner immensity.

One way or another, let’s get large, shall we?

1. Harlem Globetrotters

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Arts & Culture
9:36 am
Thu January 15, 2015

The Glenwood Arts Theatre Closes On Metcalf

Mark Mossman changed the Glenwood Arts marquee on Thursday to announce the move from the (closed) Metcalf South Mall. Plans calls for merging with Leawood Theatre to become the Glenwood Arts at 95th and Mission Road.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

When the Glenwood Arts Theatre at the Metcalf South Shopping Center closes on Jan. 25, it marks the end of an era, nearly 50 years of a Glenwood theater on Metcalf. 

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Heartland Health Monitor
8:54 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Judge Blocks Minimum Wage, Overtime Rule For Medicaid In-Home Caregivers

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked implementation of a U.S. Department of Labor regulation that would have required state Medicaid programs to pay in-home care workers minimum wage and overtime.

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Government
8:51 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Ordinance To Allow Digital Signs Outside Of Schools In KCMO Stalls Again

Many schools and churches in Kansas City, Mo., like the idea of digital signs.
Credit Amayleben / Wikimedia-CC

The matter of digital signs outside of schools and churches in Kansas City, Mo., remains stalled in a Kansas City council committee after a second week of public hearings.

A lot of schools and churches like the idea of digital signs – capable of multiple messages that are easy to change without braving frigid or blistering weather. Some also say they are more effective at communicating with parents and parishioners than the old style letter-board signs.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:21 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Rural Kansas Hospitals Say They Face Uncertain Future Without Medicaid Expansion

Experts on rural Kansas hospitals made dire predictions about their fiscal futures in a legislative hearing Wednesday that laid the groundwork for a discussion of Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Tom Sloan, chairman of the Vision 2020 Committee, said that he’s trying to start a discussion about crafting an expansion plan that addresses the needs of stakeholders and the concerns of those wary of its connections to the Affordable Care Act.

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Community
3:46 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Missouri Has Highest Black Homicide Rate, Nearly Twice The National Average

Missouri's black homicide rate is nearly twice the national average, according to a study released Wednesday from the Violence Policy Center.

There were 247 black homicide victims in Missouri in 2012, or about 35 deaths per 100,000 people.

"If you compare it to the overall rate of 4.5 per 100,000, basically all races across the country, it's seven times the number," says Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann.

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Harvest Public Media
2:48 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Grain Glut Could Hurt Rural Economies, Keep Prices Low

Soybeans pile up at a grain elevator outside of Heartwell, Neb. Nationwide, farmers harvested record-breaking amounts of corn and soybeans in 2014.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

American farmers grew more corn and soybeans in 2014 than ever before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest crop production report.

The glut has pushed grain prices to a five-year low, forcing some farmers in Midwestern states to operate on much tighter profit margins than in recent history. Some will even sell their crop for less than it cost to grow.

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:59 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Kansas Wind Farms Demonstrate Potential

The Post Rock wind farm sits on about 9,500 acres in Ellsworth and Linn counties. It was one of three Kansas wind farm that ran at nearly 50 percent capacity in 2013.
Credit Westar Energy

 

A trio of wind farms in central Kansas ran at nearly 50 percent capacity in 2013, which one Kansas senator says is a positive sign for the state’s young wind industry.

Sen. Marci Francisco said the relatively high capacity-factor rates for the two Smoky Hills wind farms and neighboring Post Rock wind farm mean that the area just west of Salina where they were built has particularly good wind power potential.

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Education
5:40 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Tensions Ease Between Charter Schools And Kansas City Public Schools

Fourth grade students at Gordon Parks Elementary School listen while Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James reads.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Last week a group of parents in Midtown Kansas City realized a dream: they raised enough money to get two new charter schools off the ground.

There was a time when such an announcement would be met with suspicion and perhaps even hostility from the Kansas City Public Schools.

Superintendent Steve Green says the district saw itself as a target.

"We isolated ourselves. It’s sometimes a typical response when you’re wounded or in some way hurting you isolate yourself. But it’s probably the last thing you should do," he says.

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Central Standard
9:55 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Historians Recommend The Best 20 Books About Kansas City

The Missouri Valley Special Collections at the central branch of the Kansas City Public Library is a quiet haven for local history readers.
Credit Patrick Quick / KCUR

It’s cold outside, so now is the perfect time to curl up with a good book.

Central Standard took the opportunity to seek out some of the best books about Kansas City history. After all, even if you can't get outside to explore the city, you can still do it from the comfort of your home.

Local historian Monroe Dodd and Missouri Valley Special Collections manager Eli Paul gave us their recommendations of the best books for local history lovers, focusing on those that are a really good read.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:20 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Kansas Plan To Conserve Water Looks To Combine Carrots And Sticks

Gov. Sam Brownback's effort to create a 50-year water plan for the state is moving into its first stages -- with selection of a panel to mull statewide conservation solutions and a series of five-member regional teams to find local ones.
Credit Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Eber Phelps was a member of the Hays City Commission in 1991 when two of the city’s water wells went dry, sucking up nothing but air.

Until then, Hays had little comprehensive plan to save water. The city dug wells here and there and let residents do what they pleased with their plumbing systems.

That all changed when the wells went dry.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Report: Medicaid Expansion In Missouri Would Yield Up to $100M In Annual Savings

A new study finds that Missouri would save money by expanding Medicaid.
Credit Bigstock

Even as prospects appear bleak for Medicaid expansion in Missouri, a new report says the state would save $81 million right off the bat and $100 million annually later on if it expands the program.

The report by the Missouri Budget Project, a nonpartisan think tank in St. Louis, says the savings would come from money the state currently spends on Medicaid services provided to pregnant women, mental health patients and prisoners in need of medical care.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Kansas Hospitals Advance Economic Argument For Medicaid Expansion

Several red-state governors have dropped their opposition to Medicaid expansion in recent months and are pursuing ways to use federal dollars to fund their own more conservative plans.

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Politics
4:57 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Brownback Says Kansas Must Strengthen Families

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback addresses newly elected legislators and statewide office holders Monday at the opening of the 2015 legislative session in the House chamber.
Credit Ashley Booker, KHI News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback opened the 2015 Kansas legislative session Monday with an inaugural speech that emphasized strengthening families as a solution to the state’s financial woes.

Addressing newly elected legislators and statewide office holders in the House chamber, the governor said a “lack of healthy families” plays a major role in poverty, both in Kansas and nationwide.

“While many of our problems are economic and we will be second to none in addressing them, the reality is the solutions are principally cultural and moral,” Brownback said.

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2015 Legislative Session
2:47 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Missouri Marijuana Activists Seek Reforms From 2015 Legislative Session

Missouri marijuana activist group Show-Me Cannabis will push state lawmakers to pass reforms on industrial hemp and medical marijuana this session.
Credit Aleks / Wikimedia Commons

Missouri marijuana activist group Show-Me Cannabis is planning to push lawmakers to reform marijuana laws in the 2015 legislative session.

The group is specifically interested in creating a medical marijuana program and lifting the ban on hemp production for farmers.

Show-Me Cannabis Executive Director John Payne believes that the Republican supermajority in both chambers will be more likely to support hemp production, but a medical program shouldn't be counted out yet.

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Harvest Public Media
12:53 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Hemp's Legality Has Stunted Research, But That's Starting To Change

Some hemp varieties can grow up to 20 feet tall, like this plant growing in a Lafayette, Colorado warehouse.
Credit File: Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

  Humans have been growing hemp for centuries. Hemp-based foods have taken off recently. So have lotions and soaps that use hemp oil. There’s evidence that different compounds in cannabis could be used as medicine and hope that its chemical compounds could hold keys to treatments for Parkinson’s disease and childhood epilepsy.

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