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City of Kansas City

Remember when Kansas City, Missouri, sold houses for $1 each?

City leaders recently celebrated the success of that program, touting major improvements to the urban core. The Land Bank of Kansas City is starting a new program to sell 25 houses to public employees for only $100.

File Photo / Luke X. Martin KCUR 89.3

Kansas City residents will now be able to see more of how the city spends their money.  

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council voted unanimously to scale back the city manager's power to award contracts for city projects.

Councilman Quinton Lucas, who sponsored the ordinance, said it wasn't prompted by any single contract awarded by the city manager but rather a general effort to promote transparency. 

Before Thursday's vote, City Manager Troy Schulte could award construction contracts valued at more than a $1.3 million without public notice or council approval. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. with comments from the county prosecutor.

This story was updated at 2:00 p.m. with information from Sharp's resignation letter.

In a stunning development, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp has admitted to a "personal failing" in connection with a sexual relationship with an employee and has resigned the post he has held since 2009, effective Thursday.

Lawmakers and Governor Jeff Colyer have written another chapter in the story of this ongoing debate by authorizing a $500 million increase in school funding over the next five years. But will that be enough to end the litigation? If not, are we headed for another showdown like the one that rocked the Statehouse in 2005?  

U.S. Navy

Politicians from both parties in Kansas and Missouri have voiced their support of President Donald Trump's decision to launch airstrikes in Syria Friday night. The bombings targeted chemical weapons research and storage facilities after a recent suspected chemical attack on civilians in Syria.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, commended the president for responding quickly to the suspected chemical attack.

"I support this effort and believe the president has the full authority to take these actions," Blunt said in a written statement

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The timeline for a new single terminal at Kansas City International airport has been slightly delayed because airport officials have determined it needs more gates than originally planned. 

Screengrab / Kansas Department for Children and Families

Kansas is looking to prod parents to catch up on their child support, arguing that doing so could chip away at the the cost of welfare.

The Department for Children and Families website launched a child support evaders Web page Wednesday that features pictures of 10 delinquent parents. It includes notes on what they owe, where they were last seen, and a link to report their whereabouts.

Gov. Jeff Colyer said delinquent parents shift child support costs on to taxpayers.

After months and months of debate, it’s finally happened. The Kansas Legislature has passed a school funding plan. Now, the questions are whether lawmakers can fix a mistake in the plan and, once fixed, whether it increases funding enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Tim Lair / Tim Lair Photography

Much of Kansas City’s economic development over the past few decades is thanks, in part, to tax breaks given to developers by the city.

 

The shops at Zona Rosa and Briarcliff in the Northland, the Power and Light District and Crossroads Arts District downtown, and the massive Cerner development in south Kansas City, just to name a few, all benefit from tax abatements.

 

But developers may have a tougher time getting those breaks under a bill making its way through the Missouri legislature.

Photo illustration / Kansas News Service

Younger people could carry guns even as local authorities gain new powers to take guns away in some situations. Police videos could become more available and people held in prison wrongfully could expect payments from the state.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Nashville-based company that provides health and dental care for the 1,000 inmates at the Jackson County Detention Center has told the county it is pulling out of its three-year contract early.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A bill to update state adoption law was sailing through the legislature. Until it wasn’t.

It’s been gummed up because of a faith-based protection provision that would allow adoption agencies to receive state funding while turning away prospective parents who don’t fit with an organization’s religious beliefs.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

In some states, abortion is on the agenda just about every year. Missouri is one of those states, and it is one where efforts to regulate or restrict abortion are often successful. Last week, the House passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Host Brian Ellison talks with the bill's sponsor, Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, and KCUR's health editor, Dan Margolies, to put the legislation in the broader context of Missouri abortion law and the numerous court challenges it continues to face.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There seem to be two competing groups in Kansas City when it comes to deciding how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A petition drive, backed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, seeks to rename The Paseo, an iconic Kansas City boulevard, after the slain civil rights leader.

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The Kansas City council voted Thursday afternoon to allow more bars into the city's Historic 18th and Vine district. 

Councilman Jermaine Reed, who represents the district, sponsored the proposal, which makes it easier to obtain a liquor license in the historic district.

KC Pet Project

Kansas City’s over-crowded animal shelter is a step closer to becoming a state-of-the-art animal “campus.”

Kansas City's Finance and Governance committee advanced an ordinance Wednesday to begin design and construction for the new animal facility.

The $26 million dollar project is partially funded with $18 million in GO KC bonds from the city. Voters approved the $800 million infrastructure bond package last year.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A roiling debate over how to assess big box stores — their worth when occupied, or their value as vacant properties — could upend property tax systems across Kansas.

At the heart is the “dark store theory,” as critics call the strategy. It contends property valuations should look at what an empty store could fetch on the open market.

That would dramatically cut their property tax bills, forcing county and local governments either to get by on smaller budgets or shift a heavier burden to other property owners.

The clock is ticking for the Kansas Legislature to agree on a new school finance formula. One lawmaker in the middle of the debate says while progress is being made, it’s not happening fast enough. On this episode, the story of the legislature’s increasingly frantic efforts to meet the court’s end of the month deadline.

 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House has had its say on school finance — putting the ball in the Senate’s court. But Senate leaders say they won’t move forward on increasing K-12 funding to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court without a deal to prevent schools from suing again in the future.

 

The message from Senate President Susan Wagle and Republican Leader Jim Denning was loud and clear Tuesday: Kansas must amend the state constitution to put an end to the cycle of litigation over school funding.

 

Updated May 8 at 8:30 a.m. with new recommendations —

Some degrees slated to be dropped at the University of Missouri-St. Louis appear to have been saved.

UMSL administrators released final recommendations Monday on a restructuring effort designed to save the public institution money. The entire University of Missouri System is going through a similar process at the direction of President Mun Choi.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Last year was a busy one for elections in Kansas City, Missouri.

Between approving a new airport terminal, deciding the future of a streetcar extension, and agreeing to property tax hikes for a 20-year, $800 million infrastructure package, Kansas City voters made some big decisions about the city's future.

Next week's election is much more low-key. On Tuesday, voters will be asked to renew a one percent sales tax for 20 years to fund capital improvements across the city.

file photo

A polarizing debate over the role of faith-based adoption organizations, and their ability to exclude same-sex couples, has tangled an update of Kansas adoption and foster care laws.

A bill needed to revise the rules passed the House without a dissenting vote in late February. But it drew opposition in the Senate this week when a controversial amendment was added.

file photo / KCUR

Schlitterbahn, the amusement park under indictment over the 2016 death of a lawmaker’s son on its signature waterslide, now finds itself subject to a full state audit.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Labor said Wednesday the audit is set to take place before the park’s scheduled opening for the summer season on May 25.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Coming off of a weekend where gun violence dominated headlines, Mayor Sly James didn't shy away from the topic at his seventh "State of the City" address Tuesday at Westport's Plexpod.

James touted the city's progress on infrastructure over the past year, including groundbreakings for both the new airport and new convention hotel and plans for a new Buck O'Neil Bridge underway.

Is this the right time for a new political party in Kansas? Can an independent candidate win the governor’s race? The coming election could give us answers to both questions. The viability of independent candidates and parties in this edition of Statehouse Blend Kansas.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Even in the wake of national and local protests, students and others pushing for tighter gun laws say, state and federal lawmakers from Kansas refuse to tackle even “common sense” firearm rules.

Thousands rallied across the state over the weekend. They called for stronger background checks. They pushed an assault weapons ban. And they pleaded for laws to extract guns from homes where suicide and domestic violence appear imminent.

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The Kansas City Council has paved the way for a third new luxury apartment building downtown as well as more moderately priced units. But downtown shoppers, drinkers and diners will be paying an extra penny on the dollar.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Council on Thursday approved a $1.66 billion dollar budget for the coming fiscal year. 

As it did last year, the city boosted funding for public safety, which includes the police and fire departments and the municipal court, and which takes up more than three-quarters of the city's general fund. Most other city department budgets will remain flat next year.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

For decades, city officials say Kansas City police would write about 300,000 traffic tickets a year. The last few years that's dropped below 120,000, according to Kansas City Police Department records.

While that may be good for drivers, it’s bad for the city’s bottom line.

“So what we’re seeing is, not only a decline in the number of tickets but a decline in the corresponding revenue that are used to support city operations,” says Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3 FM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications.

Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders.

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