Government

File photo / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City needs to do a better job investigating and documenting employment discrimination complaints.

Kansas City Auditor Doug Jones says his office initially set out to audit the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity (EEO) office because it was told that complaints take too long to resolve.

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A Washington-based watchdog group has joined calls for an investigation into Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard over campaign contributions he received from a Joplin businessman.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Republican Sen. Jake LaTurner is replacing Ron Estes as state treasurer.

Gov. Sam Brownback announced LaTurner’s appointment to the soon-to-be vacant position Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

During a Friday visit to Junction City that included a stop at a food pantry site, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said he would work to maintain funding for programs that feed the hungry.

Marshall represents Kansas’ 1st District, which includes two counties — Geary and Riley — with the state’s highest rates of food insecurity. Residents of those counties also are more likely than most people across the country to lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Renewed attention to the financial struggles of several Kansas hospitals is giving supporters of Medicaid expansion a potentially powerful argument as they work to build a veto-proof majority for a new bill.

Hudnall and Ellison
Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Did Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard sponsor a bill to help a Joplin business avoid a costly lawsuit in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations?

Julie Denesha / KCUR

When it comes to the Buck O’Neil Bridge (formerly known as the Broadway Bridge,) Kansas City is in a tough spot.

More than 50,000 people drive across the bridge each day, according to The Mid-America Regional Council, whose Beyond The Loop project is studying the bridge and its surrounding area.  

ktrimble / Creative Commons

Did Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard sponsor a bill to help a Joplin business avoid a costly lawsuit in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations?

For the third year in a row, the Missouri House passed a bill that would legalize the growing and production of hemp for purposes like soap and rope. But its fate is likely to be the same as before: A slow death in the Senate due to the short time left in the 2017 session and the bill’s low priority for Republicans running the chamber.

The Missouri Farm Bureau also strongly opposes House Bill 170, and sent individual letters to every member of the House before Monday night’s 126-26 vote.

Kansas lawmakers have a plan for school funding, but they still have to pass it. And they have to agree on some mix of spending cuts and revenue increases to close the giant budget gaps projected for the next two years. Kansas News Service editors Amy Jeffries and Jim McLean joined Statehouse Blend host Sam Zeff to talk about how lawmakers might ultimately solve the state’s budget problems.

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Additional funding for some mental health facilities in Kansas may depend, at least in part, on the number of lottery tickets sold from new machines.

The Kansas House and Senate have approved versions of House Bill 2313, which would direct proceeds from newly legalized lottery ticket vending machines to crisis stabilization centers and mental health clubhouses.

Kansas lawmakers have a plan for school funding, but they still have to pass it, and agree on some mix of spending cuts and revenue increases to close the giant budget gaps projected for the next two years. Kansas News Service editors Amy Jeffries and Jim McLean joined Statehouse Blend host Sam Zeff to talk about how lawmakers might ultimately solve the state’s budget problems.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

As a House-approved $27.8 billion state budget heads to the Senate, we sit down with Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Ryan Silvey to talk about who wins and who loses in this proposal and the process for crafting a budget. Silvey also talks about his hopes for the REAL ID legislation he is sponsoring, and he weighs in on recent suggestions that his fellow Republican, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, has engaged in pay-for-play by sponsoring a bill sought by a wealthy donor.

Kansas News Service

Kansas legislators hit adjournment Friday with some big tasks left for their wrap-up session that starts May 1.

At the top of the list is a tax and budget plan, which largely will be influenced by the amount of school funding that legislators decide to add in light of the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling last month. In the health policy arena, Medicaid expansion supporters are regrouping after the governor’s veto — and holding out hope for another shot this session.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Editor's note: This story was updated  at 10:30 a.m. April 14 to clarify that expansion supporters will attempt to pass a new bill, not override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto.

Advocates of expanding Medicaid eligibility are planning a another attempt to overcome Gov. Sam Brownback’s opposition to an expansion bill when lawmakers return in May to wrap up the 2017 session.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

After sitting on the sidelines since his veto of a tax bill in February, Gov. Sam Brownback this week re-engaged with lawmakers working on a solution to the state’s budget crisis.

He needn’t have bothered.

The Senate on Thursday rejected the “flat” tax bill that he was lobbying for by a decisive 37-3 vote.

“This is bad tax policy,” said Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee.

KC Pet Project

Kansas City residents handed city officials a big victory Tuesday night when they approved an $800 million bond package and property tax increase to address the city's infrastructure needs. 

City officials are eager to get to work. City Manager Troy Schulte says his team has already been developing a first-year implementation plan for the first tranche, or portion, of the money. He says he plans to deliver a final version of that plan to the city council by May 1. 

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. April 5.

Rather than propose a new tax plan, Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday opted to endorse a flat tax proposal that a Senate committee advanced this week.

“My goal has always been to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and grow a business,” Brownback said in a statement. “A flat tax accomplishes this goal by making taxes fair for everyone and encouraging economic growth.”

Courtney Bierman / Kansas Public Radio

Members of the Kansas House on Tuesday shot down a proposal to debate whether to allow concealed firearms on college campuses.

A motion by the chamber’s top Democrat would have forced the House to consider a bill regarding out-of-state concealed carry licenses. However, the real motivation was for critics of the state’s concealed carry law to propose changes during the debate.

House members rejected the idea of even bringing up the bill for debate with a 44-81 vote.

E-Cigarette Tax Fix Moves Forward In Kansas

Apr 4, 2017
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The Kansas House voted Tuesday to substantially reduce a tax the state had struggled to enforce on e-cigarette liquid.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. April 3.

A motion to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility failed Monday in the Kansas House. The 81-44 vote was three short of the override total needed to send the bill to the Senate.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

David Howard, Superintendent of the Basehor-Linwood school district, and David Smith, Chief of Public Affairs for Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, react to a school funding formula that has been proposed in the Kansas Legislature.   

Mike Russo / KCUR 89.3

Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, and Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, joined Statehouse Blend Missouri for a live taping in a neighborhood that straddles their two districts. They talked about campaign finance reform, the prospect for Real ID legislation and a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Kansas Office of the Governor Photo

Supporters of expanding Medicaid eligibility in Kansas are preparing to mount an intense lobbying campaign over the weekend to get the votes they need to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an expansion bill.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. March 30.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday morning vetoed a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility in Kansas, spurring a short veto override effort in the Kansas House that likely will continue next week.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislative leaders took a couple of days to try to persuade some members of the House K-12 Budget Committee to accept $75 million more in school funding, according to legislators on both sides of the aisle.

But the hardball tactics apparently failed.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The intersection of Hillcrest Road and Oldham in Swope Park needs work. The narrow bridge here has been considered structurally deficient since 2014.

And at night, especially when it rains, the sharp turns can be dangerous.

Two fatal crashes happened here in just the last few months.

Guard rail and bridge repairs would make this intersection safer. But it’s only one of hundreds of project all over the city in need of attention. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens met with President Trump last weekend. It was his fourth trip to Washington D.C. since his election. On KCUR's Statehouse Blend Missouri, we ask the question: Is the governor’s media strategy of relying on Facebook Live instead of press conferences positioning him for the national stage?

Dank Depot / Flickr — CC

More than half of states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use.

Kansas City voters won’t be considering that exact question on April 4th, but they will get to decide whether to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

As the K-12 Budget Committee in the Kansas Legislature holds hearings on a proposed school funding formula, Rep. Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway) is uncertain the plan puts enough money back into schools.

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