Kansas City, Mo. – A bill that would give the Missouri General Assembly control over almost every state tax credit is being debated in the State Senate.
The bill's supporters, including GOP Senator Chuck Purgason, say giving lawmakers control over the size of each tax break would ensure that they can set aside enough money to fund education, health care and other critical needs.
"When you are sitting there trying to make a decision whether to cut Medicaid, not fund the formula, or issue tax credits, I think that's an issue that we need to make," says Purgason.
St. Joseph , Mo. – With this weeks national convention in Nashville and some major electoral successes, the The Tea Party has moved away from the political margin. Locally, Tea Party activists have also been organizing over the last several months. They're turning their attention to candidates and campaigns - and away from protests and rallies.
Kansas City, Mo. – Disgruntled people are finding a lot to be mad about within workings at Kansas City, Missouri City Hall. It's turned into a barometer for metro-wide feelings about the region. This appears in a newly released poll for the Greater Kansas City Area Chamber of Commerce. The governors of both states saw it freshly revealed to the public.
The governors opened to light banter of cross state rivalries before pollster Neil Newhouse tore open realities of his survey. The economy was top concern among those questioned.
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri moved one notch closer to annexing 316 Northland acres near Platte City into its boundaries Wednesday when an annexation proposal was approved by a city council committee.
There definitely is opposition to the annexation requested by Tomahawke Ridge developer Tim Dougherty. He wants to build 657 single-family homes in the area around Highway 92 and North Winan Road over the next 20 years.
Topeka, Kan. – The Kansas House of Representatives took a step yesterday towards banning what law enforcement officials call synthetic marijuana. The product, sold under the name K2, contains chemicals similar to those found in marijuana.
Olathe Republican Rob Olson argued for the ban, pointing to cases where young people have been made ill by the substance.
"Are we going to pass over this and not support it, and then someone dies, and then be back here next year saying we should have done this?" asked Olson on the House floor.
Topeka, Kan. – The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee is working on legislation that lawmakers hope could reduce domestic violence in Kansas. The measure would add new ways to identify domestic abusers.
Currently, domestic abusers can be charged with domestic battery. If the legislation becomes law, other crimes could have the designation of domestic violence added. This would include crimes like destruction of property if the victim and the offender had a relationship.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the State Tax Commission's move to reassess property values for the state's farmlands.
The State Tax Commission last month recommended raising the productive value of the state's best agricultural land by 29% and lowering values on low-producing lots by 25%. GOP Senator Bill Stouffer says in addition to crop growers, the move would hurt cattle ranchers, even though pasture land assessments would go down.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Supporters and opponents of scrapping the state income tax in favor of an expanded sales tax sounded off on the issue at a Missouri Senate committee.
Among the resolution's supporters was lobbyist and former GOP House Member Ed Robb. He told the Senate committee on fiscal oversight that the measure would transform Missouri into a "mecca for investment and job opportunities."
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City has surrendered to demands of a lawsuit by Jackson County government. The suit challenged Kansas City power to direct handling of tax dollars due counties, schools and libraries.
The embittered battle of recent weeks appears over with unanimous approval of an ordinance allowing members outside city jurisdiction have full voting power on the Tax Increment Finance Commision. That was essence of the lawsuit set for trial next month.
The TIF Commission allows tax breaks to approved developers.
Topeka, Kan. – Kansas House lawmakers are going to be looking at new ways to fill a projected $400 million state deficit. That's because Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson's proposal to use a sales tax increase to help fill the hole was rejected by a House committee. The proposal would have increased the state sales tax by 1 percentage point for a three-year period.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation that would expand Missouri's ban on texting-while-driving to everyone has drawn lots of support. In a Senate committee meeting, lobbyists for highway workers, law enforcement, senior citizens, and bicyclists spoke in favor of the bill. No one spoke against it. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ryan McKenna of Jefferson County.
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Public Works Director Stan Harris told the council Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday that the full year's 2.5 million snow removal budget was no match for the series of storms that ushered in 2010.
Harris said as of January 3, at the end of that storm, his department had expended a total of roughly 2.8 million dollars, about 300,000 dollars over the budget for the full year.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's budget picture remains bleak, as lawmakers begin to consider Governor Jay Nixon's spending plan and come up with their own.
State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday that revenue collections will continue to lag. But she also said Missouri is expected to receive $300 million in federal dollars that can be used for state expenses.
GOP Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia expressed concern that the Nixon Administration is depending on money that may not come.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – Around 50 Kansas Air National Guard troops are in Cuba for a four-month deployment to help with the recovery in Haiti. The Guantanamo Bay, Cuba naval base is a major staging ground for recovery efforts. Right now it's unclear if the guardsmen will stay in Cuba and work from there or be ordered to Haiti. Stephen Koranda went to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base with some of the troops.
Kansas City – Members of the Kansas Bioscience Authority told Governor Mark Parkinson, legislators, researchers and entrepreneurs last night they have been successful in recruiting investment from biotech and animal health companies for Kansas.
That's the mission of the KBA, which was established as a result of the $581 million dollar Economic Growth Act of 2004.
Kansas City, Mo. – Supporters of the governor's proposed 1 cent sales tax increase are hoping the bill will advance in the Kansas House. The House Taxation Committee took testimony from proponents of the increase.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council wasted no time in approving a lease on the overhaul base at KCI. The proposed deal with Jet Midwest was first announced last week, and today the contract is ready for the inking.
What can you say when you come up with a deal to fill most of a space due to soon become vacant for about $700,000 a year... with the possibility of up to 600 good-paying jobs within three or so years?
Kansas City, Mo. – With an eastern Missouri millionaire contributing a half-million dollars to a campaign to end earnings taxes, Kansas City's city council is the threat to revenues seriously.
Council Finance and Audit chair Deb Hermann says it's not that City Hall is in love with the idea of an earnings tax, but that the tax contributes $200 million a year toward paying the city's bills. She says, "loss of that revenue without something in place ahead of time to replace it would be devastating."
Kansas City, Mo. – A statewide drive to quash the earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis is about to begin in earnest. Initiative petitions will be circulated no later than this weekend to promote a Missouri referendum.
The drive will be well funded, in the words of the Jefferson City attorney who drew up the proposal. A half million dollars has been donated as seed money. It comes from St. Louis businessman Rex Sinquefield.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Jackson County executive pledges to sue Kansas City government unless the city's Tax Increment Finance Commission is opened to broader representation. Documents supporting a motion for temporary restraining order are written and ready to file for a donnybrook-in-the-making.
Jackson County estimates it has $3.5 Million in revenue diverted to TIFs yet has no vote in spending it. Missouri law requires an 11 member TIF commission to move a project. Kansas City's has six, appointed by the mayor.
Topeka, KS – The Kansas Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is running out of cash. The fund may start drawing loans from the federal government as soon as next month to keep paying benefits.
The fund pays for unemployment benefits in Kansas. High unemployment rates have meant millions in payments and that has drained the fund over the last year. There is currently around $60 million available to pay unemployment benefits. at the beginning of last year, the fund held more than $500 million.
Topeka, Kan. – There are now two Democrats and two Republicans running for Kansas Secretary of State. The most recent to announce are already serving in state government.
Democratic State Senator Chris Steineger of Kansas City, Kansas said today he intends to file as an official candidate next week. He appointed a treasurer this week, allowing him to raise funds. Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs chose a treasurer last fall and says he expects to file in coming months.
Jefferson City, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate returned to their party's traditional themes, after talking up ethics and the economy on the legislature's opening day last week.
Led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, GOP leaders pledged first and foremost not to raise taxes this year.
"Taking more money from Missouri families is not a sensible solution to fix whatever budget problems we face today," said Kinder.