Government

Political news

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The deadline has passed, and two proposals are in, but it may be a while before there's a decision on the fate of Kemper Arena in Kansas City's West Bottoms.

City Council Economic Development Chair Scott Taylor says city staff is vetting the proposals to make sure they are complete and thorough. Until that is determined, limited information about the two applicants will be released.

City of Kansas City. MO

Two city officials who went to Elmira, New York, to check on progress and attempt to speed up the process, if possible, have returned with better, if not definitely good news.  CAF U.S.A., the company custom-building four streetcars for Kansas City's starter line says the first car should be delivered by Oct. 29.

Earlier, CAF had alerted the city to the fact that delivery could be as late as December.  Because of DOT testing requirements, that would have made it unlikely Kansas City could have had a streetecar running in time for the Big 12 Tournament in March.

The last time the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life met, members threatened to hold a Nixon administration official in contempt unless she produced documents identifying which hospital had a working relationship with Columbia's Planned Parenthood clinic.

That became a moot point when Department of Health and Senior Services Director Gail Vasterling sent the committee a letter stating that Colleen McNicholas, M.D., had received admitting privileges from University of Missouri Health Care.

KC Aviation Department?Steve Bell

The Kansas City Council's new Airport Committee is making it clear that the airlines will not dictate the future of KCI. 

The committee held its first meeting on Tuesday, and the main course was a report from Aviation Director Mark VanLoh on the history and status of the airport.

Councilwoman Teresa Loar was perhaps the most assertive with VanLoh when he suggested that since the airlines will pay for whatever is done, they should have the most say in whether the airport terminal is renovated or replaced.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. RonRyckman Jr. from Olathe provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss free lunches from lobbyists, block grants, and extraordinary need funding for schools.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on itunes.

Guests:

HDR / City of Kansas City

Kansas City could get more information on when its new streetcars will be delivered as early as Tuesday.

Tom Gerend, executive director of the Streetcar Authority and City Engineer Ralph Davis are in Elmira, New York at facilities of CAF U.S.A on what would be a routine progress visit – except the first streetcar was due in June. All four were supposed to be delivered by this month.

The Streetcar Authority Board meets on Thursday and Davis and Gerund hope to be able to report on whether the streetcar line can open in time for the Big-12 tournament as planned.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. from Olathe provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss free lunches from lobbyists, block grants, and extraordinary need funding for schools.

Guests:

Ken Zirkel / Flickr-CC

The Kansas City Council approved a petition that seeks to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 for a Nov. 3 election.

However, state law is likely to get in the way of the measure, regardless of what voters decide. When council members passed the city's minimum wage ordinance last month, they believed that a state bill forbidding local wage hikes gave a small window of opportunity.

But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that bill, which could be considered during the Missouri General Assembly's special Sept. 16 veto session. If it's overridden, any minimum wage ordinance or petition passed by Kansas City would be in violation of state law.

Chantex/Public Domain

It can be pretty frustrating: you have people in and it rains and the roof leaks. 

That is what has been happening for several years at Bartle Hall according to Kansas City Director of Convention and Entertainment Facilities Oscar McGaskey.

Mc Gaskey told the City Council Finance Committee on Wednesday that the roof at Bartle is beyond patchwork repairs and “in bad shape.”

He says exhibitors keep asking him when it will be repaired.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  joins Statehouse Blend to discuss voter fraud, immigration, and his treatment in the media.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on itunes.

Guests:

  • Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State
  • Melissa Carlson, Citizen Voice
  • Nick Haines, Executive Producer of Public Affairs, KCPT
KCUR file photo

Red light traffic cameras could be coming back to life in Kansas City, Missouri. 

The cameras have been turned off for nearly two years as the city awaited decisions from the state Supreme Court on cases challenging the constitutionality of traffic camera ordinances in the St. Louis area. 

The question on the city's mind: whether the cameras themselves are unconstitutional.

The decision came Tuesday. Though the ordinances in the other communities were declared unconstitutional, the cameras were not. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  joins Statehouse Blend to discuss voter fraud, immigration, and his treatment in the media.

Guests:

  • Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State
  • Melissa Carlson, Citizen Voice
  • Nick Haines, Executive Producer of Public Affairs, KCPT
City of Kansas City. MO

Kansas Citians are more satisfied than ever, according to the latest Citizen Satisfaction Survey. And the city held events Thursday to thank both the citizenry and the employees who delivered the customer-pleasing performance.

Kate Bender of the office of performance management says the best gains were in the most important areas. 

Kansas regulators will consider a compromise that would allow Westar Energy to increase rates for electricity customers by $78 million. That would mean $5 to $7 more a month for most customers. The Kansas Corporation Commission will consider the compromise during hearings starting Monday. Commissioners will decide whether to adopt it or craft their own plan.

Lane4 Properties

Updated August 14, 2015

For long-time south Kansas City residents, the faded shopping center at Holmes and Red Bridge Road is a sad sight to behold.  Once a popular destination for shopping, dining, an ice cream cone, a movie or bowling, Red Bridge is now almost a ghost town with 80 percent of the retail space in its two main sections vacant. The bowling alley, later converted to office space, is also empty and wears a huge banner proclaiming “29,948 square feet for lease.”

Willoughby Design, Inc.

The Kansas City streetcars could be very late arriving. And Mayor Sly James says that is becoming a “critical issue.”

City officials say they are having “very strong conversations” with CAF USA, the company building the streetcars after CAF USA notified the city that there could be a “significant delay” beyond the September delivery date for the first car. That date had already been moved back from June.

The city was hoping to have two cars tested and in operation for visitors to the Big 12 Tournament in March. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Missouri Rep. Joe Don McGaugh from District 039 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss agriculture, education, and Medicaid expansion.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on itunes.

Guests:

  • Joe Don McGaugh, Rep. for District 039, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Arley Hoskin, Citizen Voice
  • Mike McGraw, Special Projects Reporter, Flatland KC

Johnson County Commissioners will vote Thursday on a mill levy increase to pay for parks and libraries.

“Fully 50 percent plus of this entire property tax increase is going to improve services,” says County Manager Hannes Zacharias, adding those are the amenities besides a high-quality education that attract people to Johnson County.

The rest will offset a decrease in revenue collections, improve pay for sheriff’s deputies and fund capital improvements for county infrastructure.

A federal judge formally tossed out Kansas’ gay marriage ban on Monday, forcing Gov. Sam Brownback to allow state agencies to offer benefits to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled the provision in the state’s constitution that prohibits issuing marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Missouri Rep. Joe Don McGaugh from District 039 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss agriculture, education, and Medicaid expansion.

Guests:

  • Joe Don McGaugh, Rep. for District 039, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Arley Hoskin, Citizen Voice
  • Mike McGraw, Special Projects Reporter, Flatland KC
HDR / City of Kansas City

Kansas City and Cincinnati are in it together. Their streetcars are being built by the same company as part of the same order – to be delivered next month – allowing both cities a year for required testing before initiating rider service in 2016.

But CAF USA, the company building the streetcars said earlier this month delivery could be late. Leading to speculation the grand opening schedules would have to be pushed back.

Kansas City officials had little to say except that they had put the pressure on CAF to deliver on time or close to it.

Creative Commons / around-the-world.wuerth.com

Kansas City has been selected to participate in an initiative aimed to help officials better implement the city's strategic goals through the use of consultants and technical experts.

"What Works Cities" is sponsored by the Bloomberg Foundation -- as in former New York mayor and business scion Michael Bloomberg -- and it’s dedicated to enhancing openness and using data to improve government efficiency.

The Topeka City Council will consider a proposal that would outlaw public nudity in the city. Currently, there's nothing on the books making it illegal for people in the Kansas capital to bare it all.

At a meeting this week, City Councilman Jeff Coen called the Shunga Trail a gem in Topeka.

“Every time I ride, there’s bunny rabbits running across there. We’ve seen turtles and snakes,” said Coen.

But there are some things he doesn’t want see.

dachs2danes.com /Creative Commons

A dog sweltering in a locked car on a 95 degree day – or tethered in the yard by a heavy chain for hours with no water. It's agonizing for an animal lover to see those sights. 

To avoid such scenarios, Kansas City is asking for help with improving its animal control ordinance. It contains the city's statutory rules on animal neglect and abuse.

Like animal lovers and animal rights activists, city leaders are frustrated. Responding to calls from concerned citizens, the city animal shelter took in 3900 abused or neglected animals last year. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan from District 024 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss infrastructure, education, and the culture of Jefferson City.

This is only an excerpt of this week's episode, but you can listen to the full show here for even more Missouri capital conversation.

Guests:

Kansas lawmakers have begun working on a proposal to study the state’s government for efficiency. The state will hire a firm to comb through and evaluate how Kansas spends money.

Kansas lawmakers included $3 million in the budget to pay for the study. Republican Rep. Ron Ryckman is leading a group drawing up the contract documents. The hope is an outside firm could scour state government in a way that lawmakers can’t.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director believes Kansas officials needs to study how they estimate future state tax collections. The comments were made just before new July revenue numbers came in below the mark.

Over the last year, Kansas tax collections have come up short of the estimates 10 times, and beat the estimates twice. Some of the misses were small, but four times over the last year the state’s monthly tax collections were at least $20 million below expectations.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, helps create the estimates.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the 12 newly elected city council members were sworn into office Saturday morning.

Hundreds packed the Gem Theater in the city's historic 18th and Vine District to hear James' inaugural speech and watch the council's first legislative session.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Judy Morgan from District 024 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss infrastructure, education, and the culture of Jefferson City.

Guests:

  • Judy Morgan, Rep. for the District 024, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Eric Bunch, Citizen Voice
  • Gina Kaufmann, Host of Central Standard, KCUR

Kansas is wrapping up the first month of the new fiscal year on a sour note. The state’s tax receipts in July came in just shy of expectations.

Over the month, total tax collections in Kansas were short by just about 1 percent, or nearly $4 million. The shortfall was largely driven by sales tax revenue coming in lower than expected.

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