Top Stories Of The Week

Apr 19, 2013

Sprint got a second suitor. And two Kansas Cities became partners in studying a streetcar line expansion. KCUR's Steve Bell looks back at those and other top stories on this week's Saturday News Review.

North Kansas City Joins Study Of Expanded Streetcar SystemThe North Kansas City and Kansas City Missouri city councils agreed to share the costs of a feasibility study on extending the not-yet-built downtown streetcar line north of the river. Councilman Jim Glover hailed it as a big step. Glover said the city council has promised a citywide system, and, “ you can't be a citywide system unless you cross the river.”

The study is expected to cost about $500,000.

Kansas City, Missouri Gets Primary Seat-Belt Law

The Kansas City, Missouri council also voted to make driving without a seat belt an offense motorists can be stopped for. Councilman John Sharp said it also fixes the problem of the many loopholes in the present seat-belt ordinance.

Sharp noted, for example, that the present law does not apply to trucks, and that penalties for having children in unsecured infant-seats are now far too low considering the risk of serious injury or death.

The new law raises the maximum fine for driving without buckling up from $10 to $50.

Missouri Scanned Documents/Conceal-Carry Uproar Continues

Missouri's Revenue Director Brian Long resigned amid continuing controversy over scanned documents kept and conceal-carry lists released. Republican Senate Appropriations chair Kurt Schaffer was not appeased. Schaffer continued to hold up next year's funding for the Department of Revenue.

Meanwhile, Mike Campbell of the ATF said that his bureau never asked for or received copies of Missouri conceal-carry permit holder list (which Schaffer said they had).

Governor Jay Nixon ordered the scanning of documentation for conceal-carry permits stopped, which also did not satisfy critics.

Nixon opined that the whole uproar a political ploy to draw attention away from the debate over expanding Medicaid.

Second Amendment Preservation Act” Passes Missouri House

While the confrontation continued over the privacy of the state's conceal-carry permit holders list, the Missouri House passed what sponsors named the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

It allows appointment of conceal-carry “protection officers” in schools, lowers the age for conceal-carry to 18 and makes it a misdemeanor for any federal officer tries to enforce any federal law deemed to conflict with “the right to keep and bear arms.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Doug Funderburk. Said it removed “a noose the federal government has been tightening around citizens' necks.” Democrat Chris Kelly responded by saying the bill is about refusing to obey the US Constitution. “It is about secession,” he said.

Kansas Higher Education Reacts To Loosened Campus Gun Laws

In Kansas, the chairman of the Board of Regents said state universities wouldn't immediately change their “no firearms” policy, but would study the possibility.

A law signed by Governor Brownback allows concealed weapons on the campuses and in public buildings.

Brownback Signs “Life Begins At Fertilization” Abortion Bill

Governor Brownback also signed a controversial new abortion bill that defines life as beginning “at fertilization.” Many physicians have criticized the legislation because it mandates that doctors must tell prospective abortion patients that the procedure increases the risk of cancer.

Drug Testing Will Be Required For Kansas Unemployment, Assistance Recipients

The governor also signed legislation requiring drug tests for recipients of unemployment benefits and public assistance. As he signed the bill, the governor told those present that the law is about getting people into treatment, not punishing them.

Dish Network Tops Softbank Bid For Sprint Merger

Sprint Nextel pondered whether to take a new higher from Dish Network or go ahead and merge with Softbank. Most analysts predicted the original deal would be the one Sprint directors purse, though Dish offered $5.5 billion more than Softbank. Softbank claims the competing offer is full of conditions and loopholes.

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