Government

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams assured lawmakers Friday that the state’s new driver’s license system is on course for a smooth rollout at the start of 2018, despite auditor concerns to the contrary.

At issue is a critical Department of Revenue information technology project — known as KanDrive or KanLicense — to migrate records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to a new system. Access to those records is critical for motor vehicle offices and law enforcement agencies.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Millions of victims of a data hack that targeted a Kansas state agency in possession of Social Security numbers were not informed of the breach directly, according to information obtained through an open records request.

The Kansas Department of Commerce says it only had valid email addresses for about 2.5 million of the more than 6 million job seeker accounts that were exposed. It sent notices to those addresses and further spread word of the hack through news releases and other public messages.

Stephen Koranda

Over the last year, more than 100 Kansas kids placed in the foster care system had to spend the night in offices instead of homes. Kids slept on couches or makeshift beds in the offices of the private organizations that handle foster care placement. It happened because there weren't other facilities available to immediately take them.

Lawmakers and child advocates heard about the issue during a meeting of a foster care task force in Topeka. Republican Rep. Linda Gallagher is one of the group’s members.

K. Trimble / Creative Commons

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed six bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year, and this week the legislators had their annual chance to override those vetoes and get their way anyway. In the end, the number of vetoes they overrode was ... zero.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

The recent refusal of a Kansas City Council committee to move forward with a plan to focus on health and safety concerns in rental housing may not be the last word on the contentious matter.

Advocates for tenants and low-income Kansas Citians are drawing up a strategy to collect signatures for an initiative petition that, if successful, would compel the city council to put the question of a rental inspection fee to voters.

 

Updated 7:25 p.m. with exclusive comments from Chappelle-Nadal — Maria Chappelle-Nadal won’t lose her seat in the Missouri Senate, the chamber decided Wednesday. But the Democrat is being censured — a move that apparently hasn’t happened before and is little more than a written reprimand.

Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said last month that the University City Democrat should be expelled for posting a Facebook comment in which she wished for President Donald Trump’s assassination. There wasn’t enough support among Senate members for that to happen Wednesday during the otherwise-quiet veto session. Instead, the GOP majority censured her by a 28-2 vote for her now-deleted post.

Missouri House Republicans chose Rep. Elijah Haahr on Tuesday to succeed Todd Richardson as speaker, assuming the GOP keeps its majority in the lower chamber.

Richardson is barred from serving beyond 2018 because of term limits. Haahr, 35, will take over in January 2019.  

What was already expected to be a contentious second meeting for President Trump's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on Tuesday in Manchester, N.H., is likely to get a whole lot more contentious thanks to a column written by the panel's co-chair.

Although the chairman, Vice President Pence, said in that first meeting that the commission has "no preconceived notions or pre-ordained results," the panel's co-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, seemed to contradict him in Breitbart News last week.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The head of the Kansas Department of Corrections says he sees no connection between last week’s riot at a prison in Norton and disturbances earlier this summer at the state’s El Dorado prison.

But some lawmakers are charging that mismanagement of the state’s prison population is contributing to the unrest.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Lawmakers remain concerned about potential snags as Kansas wraps up years of work on migrating driver’s license records from an old mainframe computer to newer infrastructure ahead of a January launch date.

Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater, a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Information Technology, asked legislative auditing staff Friday whether the state might see a repeat of the technical woes that plagued the first phase of the same project five years ago.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

For those excited to look at designs for what could potentially be Kansas City's new airport, you may be waiting a while. 

The team recommended by a selection committee to design, build and finance a new, single-terminal — led by Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate — says the design should come collaboratively, by engaging with the city and its residents. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

After weeks of deliberation, Kansas City officials have recommended Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate to design, build and finance a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is touting a controversial multistate voter database as a key resource in response to U.S. Department of Justice questions about Kansas’ compliance with federal voting law.

In a recent letter to the Justice Department, obtained by the Kansas News Service through an open records request, Kobach describes the database as “one of the most important systems” Kansas uses to check the accuracy of voter rolls.

Kansas Department of Corrections

All is quiet Wednesday after a night of rioting at the Norton Correctional Facility about 320 miles west of Kansas City.

The Kansas Department of Corrections (DOC) has moved 100 inmates to other prisons around the state, according to spokesman Samir Arif. Fifty of those inmates were moved to Lansing.

Two staff members suffered minor injuries and were treated on site.

This is one of several uprisings the DOC has had to put down recently. The last disturbance was in July at the prison in El Dorado.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Engineering firm Burns & McDonnell is calling on Kansas City officials to restart the selection process for a new, single-terminal Kansas City International Airport. 

Josh Henderson / Flickr-CC

Kansas City’s Animal Health and Public Safety Division needs better training and more oversight, according to an audit of the department. 

The audit was conducted at the direction of the city council. 

The report concluded that the focus on enforcement of code violations, rather than education or problem-resolution in the field, doesn’t result in improved animal welfare or public safety.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday: The ethics complaint against Councilwoman Jolie Justus has been dismissed.

A citizen filed the complaint on Sunday, alleging Justus had a conflict of interest serving on the airport selection committee because the law firm she works for, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, represented proposer Burns & McDonnell in litigation involving the Branson airport in 2013.

Jo Mannies / St. Louis Public Radio

Why are thousands of Missourians losing state funding for nursing home or in-home health care this week? On this episode, we discuss how that funding was salvaged—and then lost again. And one legislator shares her ideas for how to get it back.

St. Louis’ $10-an-hour minimum wage is a thing of the past. So is a Missouri resident’s ability to sue when he or she thinks age or race was part of the reason for being fired.

That’s because several new laws have taken effect as of Monday.

Courtesy photo-Kansas Memory project / Kansas Historical Society

Former Kansas Lt. Gov. Tom Docking died Thursday night at age 63.

Docking served with Democratic Gov. John Carlin from 1983 to 1987. He was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1986 but lost to Republican Mike Hayden.

The Associated Press reports that Docking was living in Wichita and had been fighting cancer.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A jury in Topeka said Thursday that Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office did not discriminate when firing an employee. Courtney Canfield argued in the lawsuit that she was fired in part for not attending church, and she said that amounted to religious discrimination.

After the unanimous verdict from the eight-person jury, Kobach said he was “very pleased.”

Platte County

In a rare complaint against an elected prosecutor, the Missouri agency responsible for investigating allegations of lawyer wrongdoing has recommended that Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd be punished for professional misconduct.

The matter now goes before a disciplinary hearing panel – two lawyers and one non-lawyer – which will hear evidence and recommend what discipline, if any, to impose.

The Missouri Supreme Court is authorized to review the panel’s decision and impose punishment ranging from a public reprimand and suspension to disbarment.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A former employee of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office said Monday in federal court that she was fired in part for not attending church, which left her confused and depressed.

Courtney Canfield argues her firing amounts to religious discrimination.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced immediate pay increases for corrections officers during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state prison in El Dorado. 

Brownback said all officers will receive an immediate 5 percent salary increase, and starting pay will be increased across the corrections system. The hourly pay rate for entry-level corrections officers will climb from $13.95 to $14.66.

At El Dorado, where the staff vacancy rate is 47 percent, the hiring hourly rate will go from $13.95 to $15.75, he said.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Complaints from Kansas Citians about rotting floors, broken fixtures and black mold in rental units often make their way to City Hall. But short of condemning an entire building or advising renters on do-it-yourself remedies, officials currently can’t do much to help.

Prompted by health officials and some neighborhood groups, Councilman Scott Wagner wants to give the city some better tools — and he wants to do it sooner rather than later.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Residents of the Flint Hills on Wednesday took a fight against an oil company to Kansas energy regulators as part of their broader battle to stem wastewater disposal in the area.

They fear that a request from Quail Oil and Gas to jettison up to 5,000 barrels a day of brine near Strong City and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve brings a risk for earthquakes or contamination of local groundwater — claims that the company disputes. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Updated, 4:56 p.m. Tuesday: There won't be a decision this week on a new terminal proposed for Kansas City International Airport.

Instead, the four teams that submitted proposals to build a single terminal KCI are being asked to answer four additional questions by Friday, when the airport selection committee reconvenes.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

A decade after Kansas unveiled plans to migrate its driver’s license records from an aged mainframe to modern information technology infrastructure, the effort remains incomplete and, auditors say, troubled.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A decision on which company might build a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport, potentially a billion dollar project, is getting closer.

Kansas City councilmembers plan to pick one of four firms and must have ballot language approved by Aug. 24 if the issue is to make it on the November general election ballot.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

After four years of planning for concealed carry in Kansas government buildings, you might expect that officials would have the wrinkles ironed out -- that they would have considered all the possibilities. 

But there is still confusion, and it starts at Cedar Crest, the stately governor’s mansion on the west side of Topeka.

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