Top Stories Of The Week | KCUR

Top Stories Of The Week

May 19, 2012

Missouri lawmakers ended their session with digs at Democrats. Republican factions stayed deadlocked in the Kansas Legislature. Steve Bell looks back at those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.

Committee Endorses Sly James Tax And Repair Plans

Mayor Sly James's “Reform and Repair” tax plan would swap the city car license and some property taxes for a 1/2-cent sales tax and use the money for streets, parks and community centers. James said the plan would allow the city to start catching up on deferred maintenance at a cost of $15 a year or less tor the average resident.

The tax plan is accompanied by a call for a half-a-billion dollars worth of bonds to a finance a federally-mandated sewer overhaul. Both measures still require approval from the full council and the voters.
Deadlocks Continue In Kansas Legislature

The Kansas Legislature was still getting attention for not what it didn't do. Negotiators came up with a compromise tax-cutting plan designed to not hit revenues as hard and immediately as one on Governor Brownback's desk. And the governor gave his support to the compromise. But House conservatives were still grousing that the plan wasn't aggressive enough, Senate moderates that it was too aggressive, and the governor was saying he would sign the bill that did pass that would produce billions in deficits rather than have no tax cut.

There was still no agreement on a state budged or on Congressional redistricting. As a result Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Johnson County leaders moved to join a lawsuit asking a federal court to take over the redistricting process.

The Legislature also failed to finalize its own redistricting.

Missouri Session Ends With “Rush” Of GOP Bills

Rush (Limbaugh).  Unlike Kansas lawmakers, the ones in Missouri got attention for what they did do. For one, the House inducted Rush Limbaugh into the Hall of Famous Missourians despite strong objections from Democrats. To avoid possible confrontation with protesters, the ceremony was by invitation only and not publicly announced until minutes before it started. Limbaugh praised House Speaker Steven Tilley for not giving in to objectors, calling his critics “deranged.”

The Bills.  In its final week, the Missouri assembly sent Governor Nixon bills allowing land banks, letting health workers and employers to refuse to provide services like abortion and birth control or insurance that covers them, lowering the fees for shipping radioactive materials through the state,and reducing the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine.

On the final day it passed a ballot measure that does not require the governor's signature that would prohibit him from forming a health insurance exchange as specified in the federal health care law. It would only allow the creation of any health insurance exchange by direction of the Legislature or a public vote, and specifies that any official who tries create one can be sued.

A bill regarding a state takeover of the Kansas City school district never made it to a final vote.

New “NOVA” Violent Crime Program For Kansas City

Area law enforcement began a program called NOVA to reduce violent crime in Kansas City -- . Jackson County prosecutor Jean The program will compare various law enforcement data bases to identify the small number of repeat offenders law enforcement officials say account for most violent crime. After a few years of operation, a similar program in Boston reduced homicides 63 percent.

Delay Requested For Ratigan Child Porn Trial

Lawyers for defrocked priest Shawn Ratigan asked that his federal trial on child-pornography charges be delayed for two months. They cited the large volume of prosecution evidence and the need to study it before presenting a defense.

Missing Overland Park Man Drowned in Indian Creek

After a week of searches of Indian Creek, Overland Park Police found the body of Jeffrey Bridge, who never returned home after going out to look at flooding the evening of May 6

Johnson County Motor Vehicle License Offices Still Stymied

A delegation of Johnson County leaders complained to the state that the new computer system that was supposed to improve the Kansas motor vehicle licensing process has been taking twice as long as the old one. On Friday, the Department of Motor Vehicles advised those who need license renewals to use the on-line computer method if possible to avoid long waits and multiple visits.

Few Set To Vote in Kansas City Streetcar District Election

With Tuesday the deadline, only a few hundred voters requested ballots for the downtown streetcar election. More than 5,000 registered voters live in the district, and more than 3,000 of those have voted in recent elections. The deadline to request a ballot from election officials is this Tuesday, May 22.