Government

KCUR News
5:03 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Slam to Big Oil, Bash on Mileage Tax

Sen. Claire McCaskill ( D., Mo) at K.C. gas station. She opposes subsidies to major oil, special tax on miles driven.
photo by dan verbeck

KANSAS CITY, MO. – With backing from the Obama Administration, Missouri's senior Senator is fighting a plan to tax motorists on how many miles they drive. At the same time, Claire McCaskill proposes cutting subsidies to big oil companies. She spoke of the separate plans in Kansas City this afternoon.

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Tracking NBAF
1:57 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

Kansas Legislature Strips KBA Of Bonding For NBAF

New Kansas Bioscience Authority under construction in Olathe. Photo courtesy of KBA

The Kansas House voted unanimously last night to strip the troubled Kansas Bioscience Authority of bonding authority for the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility, or NBAF.

The vote gives the state Department of Administration charge over issuing $150 million dollars in bonds.

In a separate move, a provision added to a Senate bill requires the State Finance Department to approve any NBAF bonds.

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Government
3:40 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Kansas Arts Commission Employees Laid Off, Office Closed

The governor's administration has laid off all five employees of the Kansas Arts Commission. In a letter issued Tuesday, May 10, Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor informed the employees that they would be let go in 30 days.

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KCUR News
5:21 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

Mo. House Passes Welfare Drug Testing Legislation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Legislation that would require drug testing for some welfare recipients is on its way to Governor Jay Nixon.

Under the legislation, work-eligible recipients and applicants of the state's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, program would be barred from receiving benefits for three years if they test positive or refuse to take a drug test.

The bill overwhelmingly passed the Missouri House today. GOP House Member Ellen Brandom of Sikeston sponsored it:

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KCUR News
7:54 am
Mon May 9, 2011

Lawmakers Face Long To-Do List

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The last week of the 2011 Missouri legislative session has arrived. Some major issues have already been resolved. Lawmakers have passed the state budget, forced changes to dog breeding regulations in Proposition B and overridden the governor's veto of the state's congressional redistricting map. But there are still plenty of issues waiting for action.

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KCUR News
11:04 am
Fri May 6, 2011

Veto Override Fuels High-Rise Opposition

The latest design for the controversial Plaza office building.
Rendering courtesy of Highwoods Properties. Click to enlarge.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Making its stand for economic development, the city council voted Thursday to override Mark Funkhouser's veto and reinstate its approval of a controversial office building for the Country Club Plaza.

That means opponents will proceed with a campaign to force a public vote to nix the plan.

Councilman John Sharp told his colleagues they had an option that could avoid that confrontation - reconfirm the council's resolve to allow changes to the area plans, but let the veto of this proposed building stand.

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KCUR News
9:36 am
Thu May 5, 2011

Strike One, Umpire's Watching

Lowell Gard, KC Prosecutor says diverting from jail has been goal for years.
file photo, courtesy KCMO city govt.

KANSAS CITY, MO. – Scores of first-time law breakers due to appear in Kansas City Municipal Court will get a chance to stay out of jail and clean the slate. The diversion program has started after a trial run.

Kansas City had something like this once before but it ended in the early 1980's when critics said the record-keeping outweighed benefits. Lowell Gard took over the City Prosecutor's Office first of the year and says, as an assistant for years, he's wanted to put it back in place.

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KCUR News
4:59 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Fifty and Falling Down

KANSAS CITY, MO. – The Kansas City Council will vote tomorrow whether to sign a new lease on the life of Ward Parkway Shopping Center. It will take form of a Community Improvement District and a special sales tax.

The Council's Plans, Zoning and Economic Development Committee has been told the Center is blighted, a hazard to safety and losing money by the millions. The parking lot is collapsing and closed to public use. There are hazards within a little-known tunnel that runs the length of the complex.

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KCUR News
12:00 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Bin Laden Death Adds Urgency To Efforts Of Those Concerned About Agroterrorism

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts told the 800 conference participants Washington wasn't paying enough attention to the real threats to our food supply. Photo: Laura Ziegler

Kansas City, Missouri – Those involved in protecting the American food supply have a special interest in what comes after the death of Osama Bin Laden.

That was the message at an international conference on agroterrorism last week in Kansas City. Members of law enforcement - from around the global to the local level - joined food and farm representatives to talk about protecting against an intentional introduction of disease anywhere along the food chain.

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KCUR News
11:32 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Nixon Vetoes Act Revising Workplace Discrimination Laws

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – On Friday (April 29, 2011), Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would modify the Human Rights Act, and make it harder for workers to sue for discrimination. He said that modifying the Human Rights Act would scale back protections that took decades to gain.

"Making it easier to discriminate against people with disabilities, or cancer, against women, older workers and minorities, against those of different faiths and ethnicities will not help us create jobs or become more competitive in a global economy," Nixon said.

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KCUR News
5:10 pm
Fri April 29, 2011

Funkhouser Vetoes Plaza High-Rise

Mayor Mark Funkhouser has vetoed the council's plan to allow a high-rise office building at the north edge of the Plaza.
Rendering courtesy of Highwoods Properties.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser ends his final day in office with one last clash with the city council.

The mayor has vetoed the resolutions and ordinance that was to allow the building of a controversial high-rise office building on the Country Club Plaza.

The mayor issued a statement in which he said he feared the Plaza is nearing a "tipping point" that would irreversibly change the historic shopping center and cost more jobs than the council hopes to save by allowing the office building to be built.

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KCUR News
7:43 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Kansas Senator Warns Threat To Food Supply Bigger Than Believed

Senator Pat Roberts projected on a screen so 750 participants at the International Symposium on Agro Terrorism could see him as he addressed the assemply. Photo: Laura Ziegler

Kansas City, Missouri – Kansas Senator Pat Roberts told an international conference on agro terrorism today in Kansas city that Washington has threats to our food supply too low on its list of priorities.

Among the concerns the 750 participants studied over the 3 day conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel: the shrinking global economy (we import from over 50 different countries,) our vast transportation systems that move food quickly from coast to coast, and the easy accessibility of information.

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KCUR News
12:01 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Council Votes for Plaza High-Rise

A controversial plan for a seven-story office building on the Plaza gets the city council's approval.
Rendering courtesy of Highwoods Properties.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The controversial plan to build another high-rise office building on the Plaza got the go-ahead from the Kansas City city council Thursday.

Councilwoman Jan Marcason spoke for the 8 members who voted for the latest version of the Highwoods Properties proposal. And she admitted that with the Polsinelli Shughart law firm saying it is no longer pursuing the location, the building may never get built.

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KCUR News
1:02 am
Thu April 28, 2011

Army Displays Manning-WikiLeaks Lockup

Army prison Commandant, LT.COL. Dawn Hilton (R), COL Thomas Collins (L) outside complex where PVT. Bradley Manning is held.
photo by Dan Verbeck

Fort Leavenworth, KS – In an unusual action, The US Army opened parts of its newest prison to show reporters conditions under which the soldier accused in the WikiLeaks scandal is now being held. KCUR's Dan Verbeck was there, at Fort Leavenworth.

Private Bradley Manning has been fully being processed into the Joint Correctional Facility at the Fort. His first day as a regular inmate begins Friday, April 29th.

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KCUR News
12:46 pm
Wed April 27, 2011

Advocates for the Disabled to Rally at Statehouse

TOPEKA, Ks. – Kansans will be rallying at the Statehouse today to raise awareness of issues facing the developmentally disabled.

Matt Fletcher is the associate director at InterHab, a group that advocates on behalf of the disabled. He says since 1996, waiting lists for services have grown to the point where 4,500 Kansans are now on waiting lists for services.

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KCUR News
10:28 am
Wed April 27, 2011

Funkhouser Ends Term Proud, Disappointed, Grateful

\"Funk's Front Porch\" was the mayor's campaign headquarters and provided the title for his newsletter.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As a new month dawns, Kansas City, Missouri swears in a new mayor - and with the beginning of a new administration comes the end of the old. KCUR's Steve Bell joined outgoing mayor Mark Funkhouser on a chilly, rainy April day for a last conversation from Funk's Front Porch.

Funkhouser leaves office proud of his achievements in putting the city on a more sound financial foundation, frustrated that he couldn't accomplish more, grateful to his family and unsure where the future will take him.

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KCUR News
5:05 pm
Mon April 25, 2011

Ambulance Response Times to be Focus of New Council Chair

Mayor-Elect Sly James in midst of his new City Council at City Hall.
photo by Dan Verbeck

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the next two months, new chairs of Kansas city Council committees will have assigned members to work on tasks for their highest priorities. Incoming Mayor, Sly James, handed out the power positions late last week.

For the next head of the redesigned Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee, John Sharp, it will be improving response times for ambulances. The national standard is to arrive at life-threatening situations in less than nine minutes. Sharp says the city has a challenge to go to meet those.

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KCUR News
4:39 pm
Mon April 25, 2011

Animal Shelter Practices Examined

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – At the end of the month, Kansas City's animal shelter will temporarily go back to be managed by the city, after two years of operation by a private contractor. In 2009, veterinarian Dr. Wayne Steckelberg won the contract to run the shelter, which was renamed Half Way Home Pet Adoptions.

As recently as last year, the privatization of the shelter was considered a success. But complaints from volunteers and a staff member led the city to reconsider.

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KCUR News
5:35 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Committee Endorses Plaza Office Building

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A proposed high-rise office building on the Country Club Plaza was endorsed by the city council planning and zoning committee despite passionate statements by a number of objectors.

Among those testifying against the plan were descendants of J. C. Nichols, the founder of the Plaza.

The resolutions as endorsed by the committee include the intention of a protective "overlay" plan for the existing retail area of the Plaza.

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KCUR News
4:57 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Ford Cook's Tour for Senator

Outside Ford Assembly Plant, Claycomo, MO, arrival of Sen. Roy Blunt.
photo by dan verbeck

Claycomo, MO. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt cautions against government over-borrowing, during a one-day flurry of drop-bys around Kansas City.

The first term Republican Senator toured the Ford Claycomo Plant, made no pronouncements about the industry except to say the future looked "bright." And he praised Ford for investing in production.

Meeting with two reporters outside the plant, the Senator touched on the battle over deficit spending. He said the U.S is close approaching the perils that ditched the economy in Greece.

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Tracking NBAF
9:59 am
Sun April 17, 2011

Interim Head Of KBA Concerned About NBAF, Investments

David Vranicar, Interim CEO of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

The interim CEO of the troubled Kansas Bioscience Authority says the KBA will cooperate completely with the Governor's office in it's request for an independent audit. The Kan. legislature has been holding hearings in recent weeks.

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KCUR News
11:32 am
Fri April 15, 2011

Thornton Steps Down From Kansas Bioscience Authority

SALINA, Ks. – The embattled president of the Kansas Bioscience Authority has stepped down amid legislative and legal probes into the state-financed economic development agency. As Bryan Thompson reports, Tom Thornton's resignation comes the day after Congress approved a long-awaited $40 million appropriation for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan.

 

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KCUR News
1:33 am
Fri April 15, 2011

Council Cuts Back on Some Pensions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City's outgoing city council went on record yesterday as wanting to leave a legacy of fiscal responsibility when it comes to retirement plans.

The change in pension plans the council enacted will only affect new elected officials and municipal judges, and will only save about 45,000 dollars next year. But returning council member Jan Marcason says it's a step in a needed direction.

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KCUR News
3:54 pm
Thu April 14, 2011

Time for the Olive Branch: Brownback

telecom bill praised by and about to be signed by Kansas Governor. Benefits disputed by critics.
photo by dan verbeck

Mission, KS – There needs to be less animosity between Kansas City, Missouri and the State of Kansas over the lure of businesses from one to the other. It was a frequent complaint during the recent K-C Mayor's race.

The Governor talked about it in Mission, Kansas this afternoon and KCUR's Dan Verbeck was there.

It's not a targeted raid to seduce companies to move, says Brownback. It's just the incentives Kansas can and does offer when approached by what amounts to corporation head-hunters.

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KCUR News
12:02 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Wyandotte County Adopts "Complete Streets" Policy

KANSAS CITY, Ks. – The Unified Government of Wyandotte County has committed to designing new roads with walkers and bike riders in mind. Mayor Joe Reardon says adopting this 'complete streets' philosophy changes the way city planners approach transit projects, and he hopes that will lead to some concrete improvements down the road.

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KCUR News
9:07 am
Wed April 6, 2011

E-Tax: No Hair's Breadth

E Tax backers intent on returns at Union Station watch gathering. Bonnie Smith (R).
photo by Dan Verbeck

Kansas City, MO – It wasn't even close!!

The vote to keep or kill off Kansas City's Earnings Tax ended in a smashing victory for the 'save it' side.

The winning margin was better than 3 to 1 and it only needed a simple majority. On the other hand, voter turnout appeared relatively low. But it was still higher than the city election last month.

KCUR's Dan Verbeck was following returns with the side that won.

The Clay County vote was crucial.

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KCUR News
12:04 am
Wed April 6, 2011

Johnson Countians Stay Home For Spring Vote On Schools, City Officials

Student election worker Susie McClannahan worked the polls from 6AM to 7PM yesterday. She doodled pictures of animals to keep from getting bored. Photo by Laura Ziegler

Johnson County, Kansas – With dozens of elections for council seats, mayors, school boards, and Community College trustees, officials reported a surprising lack of voters. While spring elections are always quiet, election commissioner Brian Newby said a lot of money and attention went toward these races. He said he expected more concern, given the urgency of city and school funding issues.

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KCUR News
9:09 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Earnings Tax Wins Big in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City voters left no doubts. They want to keep the earnings tax in place for the next five years. Maybe more. The victory margin was better than 3 to 1.

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KCUR News
2:40 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

KCK City Hall vs D.C.

EPA Region 7 Headquarters in Kansas City, Ks.
photo by Dan Verbeck

Kansas City, KS – The Environmental Protection Agency will not pack up its regional headquarters for a move to Lenexa without a fight from Kansas City Kansas.

There will be a formal protest of the newly signed lease for suburban property. The KCK mayor calls the maneuver, " federal government at its worst."

EPA's property overseer, the General Services Administration, says it can't afford to stay in the KCK building designed and built for EPA in 1999, not at 4 and three quarter million dollars a year rent.

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KCUR News
2:31 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Turnout in Johnson County Low So Far

Kansas City, Missouri – It's a spring election in an off year, and, as expected, turnout has been relatively low so far in Johnson County, Kan.

16 cities have races for mayor and or city council. 8 school districts are electing board members. Voters will elect or return 3 trustees to the board of the Johnson County Community College.

Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby says turnout is always higher in some places.

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