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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation Thursday that will cut the state's top individual income tax rate to 5.4 percent next year.

Updated July 12 with brief response from plaintiffs' attorney - A Cole County judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the appointment of Mike Kehoe as Missouri’s lieutenant governor.

In a ruling issued late Wednesday, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem said that Gov. Mike Parson had the authority to appoint fellow Republican Kehoe to the state’s No. 2 office, under the Missouri Constitution.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Council is considering a measure to increase transparency in city government.

The measure, introduced by councilman Scott Taylor, would limit lobbyist gifts and meals to city councilmembers to $5, require city officials to wait two years after leaving office before lobbying or doing business in front of the city and limit taxpayer-funded travel for members of the city council.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Police Department is spending its summer reaching out to some of the younger members of the community.

KCPD wants to improve officers' relationships with teens. “Just because a kid lives at 28th and Prospect versus 135th and State Line, a 13-year-old is a 13-year-old," says Deputy Chief Karl Oakman.

file photo / Flickr-CC

Kansas tax collections in June beat estimates — projections that already factored in tax hikes — by $144 million. That capped off a fiscal year where the state topped projections every month, which is a sharp departure from some recent years.

Lawmakers use the projections when they craft the budget, so the boost in revenue means the state’s bank account ends the fiscal year with $318 million more than state officials anticipated.

Missouri Auditor's Office

Clay County residents who want a complete state audit of county finances and operations took a step closer to that Friday.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway's office confirmed about 9,100 signatures were delivered by a group called Citizens For A Better Clay County.

If 5,590 are valid, then state law mandates that Galloway conduct the audit.

The audit would be both of finances and operations, according to the auditor's office.

The group has three main concerns, according to Jason Withington, the driving force behind the petitions.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

The state Public Defender’s Office in Kansas City, the largest in Missouri, will have another chance to argue that its caseloads have become unmanageable.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the presiding judge of Jackson County wrongly refused to hold a formal hearing on the issue. It sent the matter back to the judge and directed him to create a record that can be reviewed on appeal.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

Updated 4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21.

The estimated cost of the new, single-terminal KCI Airport is $300 million more than previously thought, officials said Thursday.

In addition to four more gates, the terminal building itself will be bigger, causing the cost to rise to between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion.

Aviation director Pat Klein assured the city council during an update that the airlines who use the airport —and who will ultimately be on the hook for the cost — support the increase.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County has hired one of the biggest providers of jail healthcare in the country to provide service at the downtown jail. However, the company has a history of being sued for poor care.

Over the past ten years, Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) has been sued 108 times in 16 states, according to Justia.com which tracks federal cases online. Several of those lawsuits are in Missouri and Kansas.

Pew

A new report has some advice for Kansas lawmakers looking at revenue growth that’s beating projections: Don’t count on all of it to last.

The report from the Pew Charitable Trusts outlines strategies states can use to manage growing revenue and maintain balanced budgets.

It recommends that states watch tax collections closely, because some types of tax growth will sag if the economy slows.

headshot of Rep Kevin Yoder
yoder.house.gov

Johnson County leaders have sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, demanding he act to prevent families seeking asylum from being separated at the border.

About 50 Republican and Democratic state lawmakers as well as city and county officials signed the letter to Yoder, who is the chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee.

The letter says the Department of Homeland Security is harming children by taking them from their parents.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Fewer than 20 people showed up to the first of two public meetings inviting community input on the embattled Jackson County jail, which has seen alleged sexual assault, inmate deaths, and bribery schemes.

Jann Coulson — a prison ministry volunteer who works with inmates at the jail — said that's because the public is frustrated to see elected officials trying to fix the jail "stomping over each other's feet."

Updated at 5:15 p.m. June 8 with comments from Jean Peters Baker — A special prosecutor has decided not to charge former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in connection with an affair he had before he became governor.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway says Missouri appears to be wasting millions of dollars through misuse of its food assistance program.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. It helps low-income Missourians get food at grocery stores by using a state-funded electronic card.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Six weeks of protests by the Poor People’s Campaign nationwide and in Topeka aim to raise awareness of social and economic inequalities.

Translating those demonstrations into changes in state policy, says at least one analyst, will likely demand more sustained efforts.

Protesters occupied part of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office recently and 18 people were arrested. This week, Statehouse police arrested 16 people protesting in favor of Medicaid expansion outside the office of Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, in a strongly worded letter to county legislators, called on them to move administration of the downtown jail from the county executive to the sheriff's office. In the letter, she said the jail is a "stubborn problem" and "it remains one of the most serious problems facing this County."

To help make her case she brought along three members of the county grand jury that wrote a scathing report on the jail, saying it was unsafe, filthy and fiscally mismanaged.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A former 23-year veteran employee of the Kansas City Fire Department is suing the department for racial discrimination.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Travis Yeargans, who is black, says he's not the only one who has been discriminated against. The lawsuit claims KCFD has a "pattern and practice of not promoting African-Americans to any position above firetruck driver due to race."

Yeargans was promoted in 1996 to driver but never to captain. The lawsuit says he made several attempts to get the promotion.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Developers who ask for tax incentives in Kansas City can claim an apartment that rents for $1,600 a month is affordable — and eligible for incentives.

An ordinance passed by the Kansas City Council on Thursday changes that.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Top Democrats in the Kansas House and Senate will request investigations into the use of no-bid state contracts, but the proposals will need the approval of some Republican lawmakers to advance.

The Kansas Department of Revenue used a no-bid process, called prior authorization, to award a multi-million dollar contract that outsourced some information technology services earlier this spring. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Police arrested 18 people protesting policies pushed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after the demonstrators occupied part of his office.

Police led them past other protesters to a bus waiting outside the Kobach’s office.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The team behind a potential southern streetcar expansion has refined the proposed stops. 

Voters who live near the streetcar have yet to decide whether to approve a 1 percent sales tax and special property tax assessment to help fund the $230 million dollar project. Notarized ballots are due to the Jackson County courthouse by 5 p.m. June 12. 

Sixty-four years ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to end legal segregation in the public school system as part of the Brown v. Board of Education case. A new mural is being unveiled Thursday in the Kansas Capitol in Topeka to commemorate that landmark decision.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Some 20 administrators in the Kansas agency managing child welfare and state assistance have been promoted, fired or shifted to other posts since November.

Gina Meier-Hummel was tapped to take over the Department for Children and Families nearly six months ago and says now that the changes have been aimed at strengthening the agency as it confronts a rising caseload of children in care.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer says President Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Joining six other Republican governors, Colyer signed a letter this week that said the president should get the honor for “his transformative efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.”

The letter, dated Monday, was sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The same panel gave Barack Obama the peace prize just nine months into his presidency in 2009 for what it saw as his contribution to international diplomacy.

file photo / Harvest Public Media

This winter we reported that Kansas is one of just four states with the strictest cannabis laws in the country.

But the 2018 legislative session that ended earlier this month shook the state’s legal landscape. So what has changed and what hasn’t?

Bigstock

Missouri would join a majority of U.S. states in raising the age someone can be tried as an adult in court to 18 under a bill passed by the legislature this session.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The woman at the center of a scandal that brought down the Jackson County sheriff has settled her lawsuit against the county—for no money.

Christine Lynde was a civilian worker in the sheriff's office when she sued the county in 2015, claiming she had been sexually harassed by two women in the office and the number two in the department, Col. Hugh Mills. 

Prairie Village, Kansas

Updated, 10:53 a.m. Tuesday: The Prairie Village city council approved the bike and pedestrian plan on Monday evening by a vote of 7-5. City leaders said that the plan was still conceptual and that details of the new sidewalks, trails and lanes would be worked out with public input in future stages of planning and development.

The original post continues below.

Years of planning by Prairie Village, Kansas, cycling advocates have led up to a vote Monday evening by the city council.

That's A Wrap

May 7, 2018

Kansas lawmakers have ended their 2018 legislative session. School spending, guns, and taxes were at the center of big debates this year. This week we discuss what passed, and what didn't. 

file photo / Kansas News Service

In an election year with a state Supreme Court ruling hanging over their heads, Kansas lawmakers wrestled over school spending, taxes and guns.

They fought among themselves and often split ways from legislators they’d chosen as leaders.

In the end, they decided not to throw a tax cut to voters. It would have partly reversed tough political choices they made a year before to salvage state government’s troubled financial ledger.

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