Government

Traffic Cameras
3:20 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Missouri Bill Seeks To Let Voters Decide On Traffic Camera Legality

A new bill introduced to the Missouri General Assembly is seeking to give Missourians the option to vote on the legality of red light and speeding cameras.
Credit Derek Jensen / Wikimedia Commons

A new bill introduced to the Missouri General Assembly seeks to give voters the choice to ban the use and enforcement of red light and speeding cameras statewide.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court heard three cases testing the legality of traffic cameras. But Mo. Rep. Paul Curtman (R) of the 109th District wants to give the final say to voters.

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Government
1:17 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Independence, Missouri, Looks To Expand Renewable Energy Portfolio

The Independence, Mo., City Council wants to see a solar farm built in the northeast part of the city as part of its plan to decrease reliance on coal-fired power plants.

The city council passed a resolution this summer to have 10 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2018. Independence Power and Light Director Leon Daggett says the city-owned utility already gets about 5 percent of its power from a Salina, Kan., wind farm.

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Government
7:04 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Compromise: Put Leon Jordan's Name On Campus, Not Police Station

The Kansas City Council has come up with a compromise they hope will satisfy those who wanted the new East Patrol police station named after Leon Jordan, a former police officer and the founder of Freedom, Inc, while also satisfying those who opposed it.

Councilman Jermaine Reed explained the idea: name the campus, not the police station.

A parade of black community leaders and former council members spoke in favor of the naming to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  All cited the historic contributions made by Jordan to the city and to law enforcement.

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Government
6:58 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Joint Committee Prepares To Investigate Nixon's Response In Ferguson

The Missouri General Assembly's Joint Committee on Government Accountability shortly before their meeting.

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 4:39 pm

A joint Missouri House and Senate committee is preparing to investigate Gov. Jay Nixon's actions in Ferguson in the aftermath of a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown.

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Government
7:20 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Kansas City To Extend Pension Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

Update, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11:

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council voted Thursday to extend city pension benefits currently offered to couples in conventional marriages to legally-married same-sex couples.

“So this is just one more example of our commitment to being inclusive to all of our citizens in Kansas City,” Councilwoman Jan Marcason said before the unanimous vote.

The original post continues below.

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Government
7:02 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Kansas Republicans Criticize Brownback's Budget Plan

Two high-ranking Republicans have criticized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to use state pension dollars to help fill a budget hole.

Senate Vice President Jeff King and state Treasurer Ron Estes have concerns about the move. They say the proposal hurts the public pension plan, known as KPERS, not long after an attempt to fix it.

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Government
7:55 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Brownback Unveils Plan To Reduce Kansas Deficit

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has released a plan to fix a budget deficit in the current fiscal year. Cuts to highway funding and the state’s public retirement system will be key to balancing the Kansas budget.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, says the administration started by trying to find ways to reduce spending while minimizing the effect the cost-cutting would have on services.

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Government
7:40 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Sinquefield Sets Record With $1 Million Donation To Potential 2016 Candidate

Rex Sinquefield

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 10:08 pm

(Updated 2:50 p.m. Tues., Dec . 9)

Wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield appears to have made his choice for Missouri’s next lieutenant governor:  Bev Randles, chairman of the Missouri Club for Growth.

Sinquefield is backing up his support with a $1 million check into Randles’ newly created exploratory committee, set up Monday. Randles says she will spend months talking to fellow Republicans to decide whether she has adequate support for a 2016 campaign.

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Government
3:31 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Missouri Sets Execution Record With 10 In One Year

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 2:12 pm

Early Wednesday morning, Missouri set a record for its number of executions in a year.

Paul Goodwin was the 10th man executed, more than any other year since the death penalty was reinstated in the state.

Goodwin was put to death for sexually assaulting Joan Crotts, a 63-year-old widow, and then killing her with a hammer in 1998 in St. Louis County.

In denying clemency, Gov. Jay Nixon referred to the crime as "brutal" and "senseless."

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Government
8:01 am
Tue December 9, 2014

ACLU Wants Kansas Agencies To Recognize Same Sex Marriages

The ACLU wants all state agencies in Kansas to recognize same sex marriages. The group is now asking a federal court to make it happen.

The court filing specifically names several state officials, including the secretary of revenue. It says people in same sex relationships have been denied state benefits, like joining their spouse’s health insurance or filing joint taxes.

Thomas Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says the courts have let same sex marriages go forward in Kansas, and that means they should also be recognized by state agencies.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:17 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Attempt To Lift Pit Bull Ban In Wyandotte County Fails

Residents of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County stand to indicate their position on a proposal to lift a county ban on pit bulls during Thursday's meeting of the Unified Government Commission.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service

 

The Unified Government’s commission chambers were jam-packed on Thursday night.

It wasn’t a controversy over a multi-million bond issue that brought people out. It wasn’t even the final step in the approval process for the city’s “healthy campus” downtown redevelopment plan.

It was a proposed change in the way the city deals with feral cats, stray dogs and pit bulls.

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Government
8:41 am
Wed December 3, 2014

New Kansas Legislators Prepare For First Session

New members of the Kansas House of Representatives have been taking orientation classes this week preparing for their first legislative session. They're learning about their legislative email accounts and getting their official photos, but looming budget issues are already on their minds. 

Kansas lawmakers will have to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years to balance the budget. Republican Linda Gallagher, from Lenexa, believes they need to look at raising revenue. She says lawmakers have already made the easiest budget cuts.

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Government
2:06 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

New Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Named

Terry Zeigler, center, is the new police chief in Kansas City, Kan. Unified Government County Administrator Doug Bach, right, and interim police chief Ellen Hanson, left, make the announcement.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Assistant Chief Terry Zeigler will take over the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, county officials announced Tuesday.

Zeigler, who joined the department in 1990, says he'll be continuing the work of interim police chief Ellen Hanson.

"We will continue using strategies like hotspot policing and intelligence-led policing to combat crime, but we will be open to new strategies if it will make our community safer," Zeigler said at a press conference at City Hall.

He beat out four other finalists for the job.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:53 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Newly Re-elected Kansas House Speaker Vows To Cut Spending

The newly re-elected speaker of the Kansas House reiterated on Monday that he would rather deal with the state’s budget problems by cutting spending than by revisiting the tax cuts that are shrinking state revenues.

Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, was overwhelmingly elected to a second term as speaker, defeating Rep. Virgil Peck of Tyro, 80-16.

Republicans now hold a 97- to 28-seat majority in the House.

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Government
3:19 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Update: Gov. Nixon Drops Plans To Call A Special Session

Missouri National Guard members pick up their belongings as they plan their stay at a firehouse in St. Louis during a snowstorm on Nov. 26.

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 3:28 pm

(Updated 3:05 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon telephoned legislative leaders Monday afternoon to tell them that he now agrees that there's no need of a special session to allocate more money to pay the extra costs incurred by the Missouri Highway Patrol and the National Guard in their expanded law-enforcement roles prompted by the Aug. 9 police shooting in Ferguson.

House Speaker-elect John Diehl, R-Town and Country, was among the handful of Republican leaders and aides on the 2 p.m. call with Nixon, a Democrat.

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Courts
8:24 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Supreme Court To Hear Challenge From Kansas, 20 Other States

A battle over air pollution from power plants is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Kansas and 20 other states contend the EPA should have considered the costs of a 2011 rule that forces coal-fired power plants to install new equipment to remove mercury and other toxins from their exhaust.

An appeals court held that they didn’t have to consider the cost, but the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the states’ challenge. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says it’s a very narrow challenge, and one the agency will win.

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Government
2:45 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

ACLU Broadens Suit Over Kansas Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

A couple holds their marriage license in Iowa, a state where same-sex couples can go to get legally married.
Credit Alan C. / Creative Commons-Flickr

 

The American Civil Liberties Union has broadened its lawsuit over Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, seeking to enforce inheritance, driver's license and health insurance rights on behalf of same-sex couples.

The original lawsuit was filed in October by two lesbian couples and sought a ruling that Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The amended complaint seeks to require state officials to recognize the marriages of couples who were wed in other states as well as in Kansas.  

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Government
6:03 am
Wed November 26, 2014

American Royal Withdraws Kemper Arena Replacement Proposal

The fate of Kansas City's Kemper Arena is perhaps in more doubt than ever after the American Royal Association board of directors withdrew its proposal that the arena be torn down and replaced with a smaller one.

Kansas City, Mo., city council committee chair Ed Ford received a letter from the Royal's attorneys Monday indicating that the association was scrapping its proposal and had no desire to engage in future discussions with the city.  The reason cited was "negative dialogue ... detrimental to the American Royal and its core mission."

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Government
2:44 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Same-Sex Marriages In Missouri Remain On Hold After Judge’s Order

A federal judge in Missouri has declined to lift the hold on his judgment striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

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Government
8:21 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Kansas Government Won't Rule Out Tax Increase To Fix Budget

Gov. Sam Brownback is staying tight-lipped about his plans to fix a hole in the state budget. But he says he's looking at all the options. 

Following a meeting at the Statehouse, Brownback gave few details to the media about what he'll propose. He says all options are on the table, including tax increases or slowing future scheduled decreases.

Brownback also won't say whether he'll make budget cuts, known as allotments before lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January. Right now, he says he's conferring with state agencies and studying the numbers.

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Government
2:31 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Gay Marriage Remains Up In The Air in Missouri

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, talks to reporters after oral arguments in Jackson County Court on September 25. With him is one of the couples who brought the lawsuit, Randy Short (left), and his partner Eric Goodman-Short.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Gay marriage in Missouri is moving in fits and starts, allowed in just three areas and refused in others.

Attorney General Chris Koster has yet to appeal the federal court decision striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Koster has said he plans to appeal but has yet to do so. He has until Dec. 10.

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Government
8:52 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Kansas Transportation Funding Might Help Balance State Budget

Kansas lawmakers may dip into highway funding to help balance the state’s budget.

The state Senate’s top budget officials say transportation money could help fill the gap. Andover, Kan., Republican Senator Ty Masterson chairs the Ways and Means Committee. He says transportation is a big expense to the state and Kansas has already built a healthy system.

"Pulling back to a point of preservation, and not this aggressive expansion, wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing," Masterson said. "And it wouldn’t be prolonged."

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Government
4:18 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Brownback Won't Allow Marriage Rights To Gay Couples In Kansas

A lesbian couple apply for a marriage license at the Douglas County (Kansas) Courthouse last week after a federal court ruled that the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Although gay and lesbian couples are getting married in at least 24 Kansas counties, Gov. Sam Brownback won’t allow any state recognition of the unions.

Brownback said Thursday that he won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples get, such as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.”

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Government
7:23 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Nixon Appoints 16-Member Ferguson Commission

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks with the new members of the Ferguson Commission. He swore in the 16-person panel today at the Missouri History Museum.

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:47 pm

With a fateful grand jury decision expected any day, Gov. Jay Nixon swore in 16 people to serve on the so-called Ferguson Commission.

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Government
6:10 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Kansas High Court Allows Gay Marriage In Johnson County

This couple, named only as Kelli and Angela, were the only same-sex couple issued a license in Johnson County. With Tuesday's ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court, there will undoubtedly be many more.
Credit Equality Kansas

A limited ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court Tuesday opened the door for more gay marriages, yet left in place a patchwork of counties where some judges are approving licenses and some are not.

The court lifted a stay on issuing licenses to same-sex couples in Johnson County, the first county to do so in Kansas back in early October. Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty was "within his jurisdiction" to order clerks to accept applications from and issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the high court ruled.

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Government
11:51 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

American Royal Kemper Plan Faces Opposition

The ongoing struggle between the Kansas City Council and the American Royal to decide what to do with Kemper Arena continues.
Credit Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

A special committee of the Kansas City Council held its first hearing Thursday on the American Royal proposal to replace Kemper Arena. The idea of demolishing the old arena and building a smaller one met some determined opposition.

Representatives of the American Royal and Sporting Kansas City said their plan is a boost for a venerable institution, youth sports and the West Bottoms. 

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Government
10:59 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Some Kansas Counties Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples

Brian and Randy, a gay couple from Johnson County, sign their marriage license papers Thursday before one of the clerks in Douglas County.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Updated at 2:34 p.m.

At least six of Kansas' 105 counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Thursday, a day after  the U.S. Supreme Court let take effect an order overturning  a ban state officials had feverishly hoped to keep in place.

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Government
4:56 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Same-Sex Marriage To Proceed In Kansas

Same-sex marriages will be allowed to go forward in Kansas.

That comes after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Wednesday not to block the marriages while a lawsuit over the issue waits before an appeals court.

Kerry Wilks, from Wichita, and her partner Donna are parties in the lawsuit. She says she was thrilled to hear the news.

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Government
11:50 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Timeline: Same-Sex Marriage In Missouri And Kansas

TV cameras catch a protest against Proposition 8 in 2010 in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Flickr, Creative Commons

  Updated 2:51 p.m. Nov. 25

The whirlwind of gay marriage decisions in Missouri and Kansas has left same-sex couples, court watchers and even reporters a bit breathless.

In an effort to keep us all up-to-date with these quick-moving issues, KCUR has pieced together this timeline, which highlights significant legal developments in both Missouri and Kansas in the state and federal courts. The list is not exhaustive but represents our best attempt to make sense of the rush of events while offering a look back at some of our coverage.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:01 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Kansas Slashes Revenue Forecast

State revenue forecasters said Monday that the state can expect hundreds of millions of budget dollars less than previously thought to fund schools, social programs and highway projects.

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