Government

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Fred Arbanas became the temporary Jackson County Executive during a ceremony Tuesday at the golf course that bears his name.

Arbanas, a former Chiefs player who served 42 years in the county legislature, stepped into the role after Mike Sanders announced last month he would step down just one year into a four-year term.

“After working in the county for so many years, you really get attached to it,” says Arbanas. “I want to see Jackson County keep moving forward and have good, honest government.”

Kansas collected $27 million less than expected in taxes last month, largely driven by sagging income and sales tax receipts. The drop is enough to erase the state’s small estimated savings account.

Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan says it’s too early to tell if it’s a one-time drop in income taxes or a trend.

“It is the first time this fiscal year that individual income tax receipts have not grown compared to the prior fiscal year to date,” says Jordan.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II says it’s time for Congress to hold hearings on federal compensation for former nuclear plant workers.

A McClatchy newspapers investigation found fewer than half of applicants received payouts from the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, which was created in 2001 to help pay the medical expenses of factory workers exposed to radiation and other carcinogens.

Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf

Dec 19, 2015
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf from Prairie Village, provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss KDOT funding, and the national view of Kansas.

Guests:

KCUR

Republican Missouri Sen. Will Kraus from District 08 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss prefiled bills about conceal carry, voter IDs, and infrastructure. 

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

  • Will Kraus, Senator from District 08, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Nic Zweifel, Citizen
  • C.J. Janovy, Arts Reporter, KCUR
Wikipedia

A Kansas City Council Committee on Thursday endorsed the long-awaited new Midtown/Plaza Area Plan. Though the plan covers an area from 31st to 55th Street, State Line to Paseo and affects 27 neighborhoods, the peak interest was in what it prescribed for Kansas City's landmark Country Club Plaza.

This has been a matter of extra concern to Plaza purists because the second and current owner of the Plaza, Highwoods Properties, is offering it for sale.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

 Was a little-noticed provision slipped into this year's Kansas budget a backdoor way for the state to continue squeezing the Department of Transportation for more general fund revenue? Some lawmakers and transportation experts suggest that could be the case. 

Hyatt Hotels

Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization that collected petition signatures to send financing plans for a downtown Kansas City convention hotel has filed suit attempting to force the City Council to put their initiative on a ballot.

KCUR

Republican Missouri Sen. Will Kraus from District 08 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss prefiled bills about conceal carry, voter IDs, and infrastructure. 

Guests:

  • Will Kraus, Senator from District 08, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Nic Zweifel, Citizen
  • C.J. Janovy, Arts Reporter, KCUR
KC Aviation Department

An Aviation Department Study presented to the full Kansas City Council on Thursday concludes that Kansas City International Airport's three terminals could be replaced for $964 million, approximately $40 million less than the lowest estimate for renovating two of the existing terminals.

The study was finalized and presented at the request of Council Airport Committee chair Jolie Justus, who was emphatic that it must include dollar-figure estimates for both renovation and replacement.

IAS Partners

Once the driving retail force in Kansas City's Nothland, Metro North Mall has declined over the past 15 years. Now, its pitted asphalt parking lots have become storage space for vehicles produced at the Ford plant awaiting shipment.

Little remains of the past retail environment except a Macy's store. 

"Right now it's the definition of 'blight' because you have vacant buildings that are in a crumbling condition.  said Northland Councilman Dan Fowler. "I saw what happened when the same thing happened to Antioch Mall and it wasn't pretty.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR

We’ve heard a lot about problems funding education and roads in Kansas because of poor tax revenues — but we can add another problem to that list: state law enforcement agencies.

There are shortages everywhere.

In the past 10 years, as the population of Kansas has grown about 6 percent, the number of police officers has stayed about the same, right at 7,000.

Dwindling law enforcement

Rendering of BNIM Crossroads headquarters
Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Opponents of tax breaks for the proposed BNIM headquarters in the Crossroads Arts District may have defeated the proposal by default. 

A committee of petitioners turned in several thousand petition signatures Tuesday afternoon. Even if they were short of the 3,400 needed to let the voters decide on the TIF plan, they likely have 10 more days to submit the rest.

But time, not how the public might vote, is the issue for the $5.2 million in tax increment financing.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Linda Gallagher from Lenexa provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss KDOT funding, education, and guns.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

  • Linda Gallagher, Representative for the 23rd District, Kansas Legislature
  • Cameron Baraban, citizen
  • Maria Carter, News Director, KCUR
U.S. Civil Rights Commission

The Kansas voter ID law will be the subject of  a U.S. Civil Rights Commission committee hearing next month.

The Kansas voter ID law is one of most restrictive in the country.

Pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, it demands voters not only have photo ID but they prove they are American citizens.

The Kansas Advisory Committee to the Civil Rights Commission has discussed for about a year whether the law has suppressed voter turnout in minority communities.

Now a hearing has been set for 9:00 a.m. , January 28, at the Topeka Public Library.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Linda Gallagher from Lenexa provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss KDOT funding, education, and guns.

Guests:

  • Linda Gallagher, Representative for the 23rd District, Kansas Legislature
  • Cameron Baraban, citizen
  • Maria Carter, News Director, KCUR
Cody Newill / KCUR

Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order in Kansas City Friday promoting best practices to help end Missouri's gender pay gap.

Nixon signed the order at the Women's Foundation's annual luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel. The event drew nearly 1,600 people who came to see Nixon, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington speak, among others.

Rendering of BNIM Crossroads headquarters
Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Controversial tax breaks for a building in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District advanced two days in a row but it will be at least another week before the full city council makes its final decision on it.

Until this week, the $5.2 million TIF for the new headquarters of architecture firm BNIM was on hold until after the first of the year at the insistence of the Kansas City Public Schools and parents in the district. 

The school district and the parents group said the schools could not afford the loss of tax revenue they had previously agreed to.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas tax revenues are plummeting and that may bode poorly for the future of the state's highway system.

Tax revenue has come in $57 million below estimates since the fiscal year began in July, leading the Brownback Administration to sweep money from different places to balance the budget. The biggest hit was taken by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

You can talk about expansion projects, preservation projects and economic development around transportation, but for many, what’s happening to KDOT funding right now boils down to one thing.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Susan Concannon and Rep. Don Hill provide an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss their removal from the Health and Human Services Committee.

Guests:

In the battle over tax breaks for developers of a downtown Kansas City convention hotel, the ball is once again in the city's court.

The committee of petitioners hand-delivered a letter to the City Clerk on Thursday spelling out in some detail legal arguments that the City Council did not have the right to refuse to honor petition signatures calling for a public vote on the city's financial underwriting of the hotel. 

The letter cites specific sections of the Missouri Constitution as well as court decisions in Missouri and federal courts.

A Kansas City council committee says concerns over the Paris terrorist attacks may help the city to get back on the list of metropolitan areas receiving federal emergency response grants.

The Kansas City area received as much as $8 million a year in Homeland Security money during the first seven years of  the Urban Areas Security Initiative, but the grants dwindled after 2010, with the city getting $1 million in some years and nothing in others, including 2015.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Brandon Ellington from District 022 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss race relations at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Guests:

  • Brandon Ellington, Rep. from District 022, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Dan Curry, Citizen
  • Dan Margolies, Heartland Health Monitor Editor, KCUR
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Brandon Ellington from District 022 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss race relations at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Guests:

  • Brandon Ellington, Rep. from District 022, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Dan Curry, Citizen
  • Dan Margolies, Heartland Health Monitor Editor, KCUR
Hyatt Hotels

Only one Kansas City council member voted Thursday to honor the petitions and submit the city's plans for tax incentives and other financial considerations to the voters. 

The Northland's Heather Hall said she simply did not believe the downtown convention hotel would produce the economic benefits developers speak of and that she has concerns about the effect on local businesses, particularly in the catering industry.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, reporters work with a law professor to make sense of The Gannon v. Kansas school finance lawsuit, and speculate on the outcomes and consequences of that case.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Gannon V. Kansas

Nov 7, 2015
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, reporters work with a law professor to make sense of The Gannon v. Kansas school finance lawsuit, and speculate on the outcomes and consequences of that case.

Guests:

Updated 8:05 p.m. Nov. 3 with court action - The U.S. Supreme Court has hit pause on Tuesday night's scheduled execution of Ernest Lee Johnson.

The high court issued a stay, pending the outcome of one of his appeals. It centers on claims that the state's execution drug pentobarbital could cause Johnson to experience violent seizures, due to part of his brain being removed in 2008 during surgery to remove a tumor.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The arrival on Monday morning of the city's first working streetcar in more than 50 years was overshadowed by the Royals' World Series victory. But dozens of residents, city officials, and transit leaders, gathered in the River Market to watch streetcar #801 roll onto the tracks.

"I don't think I could find anything to make me any happier, frankly," says Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's Planning & Zoning Committee held its first community listening session Saturday to connect city officials with residents who had questions and concerns about issues in their neighborhoods.

Around a dozen residents from the area, mostly from the Marlborough neighborhood, showed up at the Trailside Center in South Kansas City to speak with council members and city employees from a variety of departments.

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