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Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Olathe School Board meeting Thursday night was decidely more upbeat than about this time two years ago. At that time,the board was facing a $2 million deficit and had laid off 80 people to fill budget hole.

But last night, the board heard the district will probably be able to spend about $14.5 million more in the 2017-2018 school under the school funding plan passed this week by the Kansas Legislature.

KC Hotel Developers LLC

The Kansas City Council Thursday passed an accelerated ordinance for the proposed Kansas City convention center hotel, clearing the way for developers to seek financing and possibly break ground this fall.

Dan Margolies / Kansas News Service

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who catapulted to national prominence on the strength of his anti-immigration views, announced his candidacy for Kansas governor Thursday.

Kobach made the announcement two days after Kansas lawmakers voted to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax package that would raise $1.2 billion over the next two years — a rejection of Brownback’s signature 2012 tax cuts.

Richard Jones greets lawyers and supporters after a Jackson  County District Judge freed him Thursday.
Courtesy Midwest Innocence Project

A Kansas City man sentenced to 19 years in prison for a purse snatching was freed by a Kansas judge on Wednesday after he found the man was wrongly convicted.

Richard A. Jones had spent nearly 16 years in prison for a crime he said he did not commit.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kansas Citians have a rare opportunity to spend some time inside a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on Saturday.

That's when the Sondern-Adler home opens to the public for an afternoon during the Roanoke Neighborhood Spring Home & Garden Tour.

Courtesy The Elders

Opinions differ on the best examples of anything, whether it’s the finest flavor of ice cream or the greatest Batman villain.

Leave it to the weekend to provide some clarity, with quintessential samplings of history, music and public spectacle on tap.

And the most essential ice cream and Batman baddie? Chocolate and the Joker, obviously. Carry on.

1. Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center

The City of Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar on Thursday fired back at people who say she's working against the interests of Kansas Citians. 

At the conclusion of Thursday's public hearing on a proposed single-terminal KCI, Loar defended comments she made in a guest column in the Kansas City Star. 

That commentary prompted Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO President Pat Dujakovich announced he would run for her 2nd District at-large council seat in 2019. 

Brookings Institution / Flickr — CC

Former FBI Director James Comey is testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this week, speaking publicly for the first time since he was fired by President Trump nearly a month ago. The Senate Committee is looking into the circumstances around Comey's dismissal and how they relate to the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. Election. 

File Photo / Kansas News Service

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning requiring abortion providers to give patients information listing their credentials, any disciplinary actions meted out against them and whether they have malpractice insurance.

The bill also requires the information to be provided at least 24 hours before a procedure and printed on white paper in black 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

In an effort to address crime in public parks, the Kansas City Council is proposing implementing park hours and developing a plan to make them safer. 

Recent murders near several Kansas City trails and parks have brought park safety to the forefront of conversations within the council and in neighborhood groups across the city. 

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

Joplin city leaders and school officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience campus on Tuesday.

Built near the site of what was the parking lot of the old Saint John’s Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed in a 2011 tornado that killed 161 people, the new medical school was described as a “phoenix rising from the ashes.”

Howard Simmons / Courtesy Washburn University

Gwendolyn Brooks lived in Topeka for just a few weeks after she was born. But the iconic poet – Brooks was the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize — still has relatives in Kansas, and they’re ready to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday.

“I’m very happy and proud when I hear so many people here in Topeka that really had a lot of respect for her and the gift God had given her,” says Carolyn Wims Campbell, Brooks’ first cousin once removed (Brooks and Campbell’s father were cousins).

bigstock

A school finance bill headed to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk would expand a program that funds private school tuition through tax credits.

Lawmakers passed the changes Monday. The provisions were just one portion of a much larger bill that primarily establishes a new system for funding Kansas public schools. 

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

By the time Stephenie Hashmi of Lenexa, Kansas, was in her mid-20s, she had achieved a lifelong dream: She was the charge nurse at one of Kansas City’s largest intensive care units. But even as she cared for patients, she realized something was off with her own health.

“I remember just feeling tired and feeling sick and hurting, and not knowing why my joints and body was hurting,” Hashmi says.

Hashmi was diagnosed with systemic lupus, a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, parted ways with Gov. Sam Brownback on tax policy Tuesday — at least long enough to side with moderates and Democrats in overriding his veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

The law to increase taxes over the next two years comes as legislators seek to close a projected $900 million budget gap for that same period and bolster funding for K-12 schools under a Kansas Supreme Court order.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

After coming to an agreement with its neighbors about a re-zoning request, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has now received approval from the Kansas City Plan Commission. 

Last year, such approval seemed uncertain. The Nelson wanted to turn houses it owned along 45th Street into administration and staff offices, and reuse some of the former Rockhill Tennis Club site as a sculpture garden and for overflow parking. 

Courtesy Office of Gov. Sam Brownback

Kansas lawmakers are gearing up for an attempt to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax increase. The House and Senate approved the plan overnight Monday and Brownback vetoed it Tuesday.

In a statement, Brownback said Kansas has a “pro-growth” tax policy and the bill would be a step backward on that front.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is confident the state's new voter ID law won’t disenfranchise anyone.

“I’ve spent over 70,000 miles traveling the state over the last two years, and I’ve challenged anyone to point to someone that can’t vote under this law that would’ve been able to vote under the prior law,” says Ashcroft, who was in Blue Springs Tuesday morning to explain how the law has changed. “No one’s been able to find someone.”

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A bill to replace funding for Medicaid and the Kansas mental health system lost to budget-balancing cuts last year is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Senate substitute for House Bill 2079 would increase a fee that health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, pay to do business in Kansas from 3.31 percent to 5.77 percent. HMOs are a type of health insurance that typically has lower premiums but only covers care within a network of doctors and hospitals. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center Monday night, a Kansas City Council committee held the first public hearing on a new airport since opening the bidding process to additional firms.  

Kansas City firm Burns and McDonnell quietly presented the city with a proposal last month to build a new, privately-financed, single terminal airport. The proposal allegedly protects the city from financial risk while allowing ownership and operation of the airport to remain in city hands.

Piracy In The Fields: Agricultural Trade Secrets A Tempting Target

Jun 6, 2017
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SCHOOL OF ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY / Flickr — CC

As a group of visiting scientists prepared to board a plane in Hawaii that would take them back home to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage. Those seeds are likely to land at least one scientist in federal prison.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

On Day 108 of the Kansas Legislature’s session, lawmakers got down to business. They passed a school funding bill that adds nearly $300 million over two years for public education, then they approved a $1.2 billion tax plan.

But minutes after the Senate’s 26-14 tax plan vote, Gov. Sam Brownback said he would veto the package, which would put more than 300,00 small businesses and farmers back on the tax rolls, add a third income tax bracket and restore a number of tax deductions and credits.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

A school finance plan that will add nearly $300 million over two years gained approval Monday night in the Kansas Legislature and now moves to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could make a special session likely.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department has awarded Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. a contract to create its electronic health record system.

VA Secretary David Shulkin on Monday announced the contract, which was awarded without competitive bidding under a “public interest” exception to federal contracting regulations.

The contract comes after Cerner won a $4.3 billion contract in 2015 to update the Department of Defense’s electronic health record system.  

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas House and Senate negotiators have come up with an amended foster care task force bill but are working against the legislative clock to get it passed.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The University of Missouri system is facing a $101 million budget crunch due to cuts in state funding, as well as declining enrollment at the campus in Columbia. 

UM System President Mun Choi on Friday presented plans for the budget in fiscal year 2018.

For UMKC, proposed cuts could mean $15.4 million less in spending and the loss of 51 positions — including four faculty members from the Theatre Department and a $400,000 decrease in the department's budget. 

A new hospital, financed by a USDA loan, is under construction in Syracuese, Nebraska, a town of under 2,000 people.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

President Donald Trump spent the campaign pledging to revive rural communities, where many voters have felt ignored by previous administrations. But after announcing staffing changes and budget plans that would make cuts to programs aimed at rural areas, critics are questioning whether the White House remains committed to that goal.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

With a record number of children in state custody — more than 7,000 at the end of March — Kansas officials have made recruiting and retaining foster parents a priority.

Speaking at a recent Statehouse event, Gov. Sam Brownback said Kansas should reverse its current situation and have foster parents waiting to be assigned children.

“This is doable. We just need people to step up,” he said. “Listen to your heart. Don’t block it.”

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

The Kansas House is expected Monday morning to debate a mega bill that ties sweeping tax reforms and higher funding for public schools into a single yes-or-no vote.

The latest attempt at sealing elusive deals on income tax and school finance emerged Sunday afternoon following three days of stop-and-go negotiations between the Legislature’s two chambers, which each have passed their own versions of a K-12 bill.

Now lawmakers will vote simultaneously on whether to increase state aid for schools by about $280 million — and scuttle Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policies.

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