Government

File Photo / Kansas News Service

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning requiring abortion providers to give patients information listing their credentials, any disciplinary actions meted out against them and whether they have malpractice insurance.

The bill also requires the information to be provided at least 24 hours before a procedure and printed on white paper in black 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

In an effort to address crime in public parks, the Kansas City Council is proposing implementing park hours and developing a plan to make them safer. 

Recent murders near several Kansas City trails and parks have brought park safety to the forefront of conversations within the council and in neighborhood groups across the city. 

Conservative Republicans have joined with moderates and Democrats to override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase. This brings to a close many of the tax cuts pushed by the Brownback in 2012.  

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A school finance bill headed to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk would expand a program that funds private school tuition through tax credits.

Lawmakers passed the changes Monday. The provisions were just one portion of a much larger bill that primarily establishes a new system for funding Kansas public schools. 

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, parted ways with Gov. Sam Brownback on tax policy Tuesday — at least long enough to side with moderates and Democrats in overriding his veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

The law to increase taxes over the next two years comes as legislators seek to close a projected $900 million budget gap for that same period and bolster funding for K-12 schools under a Kansas Supreme Court order.

Courtesy Office of Gov. Sam Brownback

Kansas lawmakers are gearing up for an attempt to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax increase. The House and Senate approved the plan overnight Monday and Brownback vetoed it Tuesday.

In a statement, Brownback said Kansas has a “pro-growth” tax policy and the bill would be a step backward on that front.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is confident the state's new voter ID law won’t disenfranchise anyone.

“I’ve spent over 70,000 miles traveling the state over the last two years, and I’ve challenged anyone to point to someone that can’t vote under this law that would’ve been able to vote under the prior law,” says Ashcroft, who was in Blue Springs Tuesday morning to explain how the law has changed. “No one’s been able to find someone.”

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A bill to replace funding for Medicaid and the Kansas mental health system lost to budget-balancing cuts last year is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Senate substitute for House Bill 2079 would increase a fee that health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, pay to do business in Kansas from 3.31 percent to 5.77 percent. HMOs are a type of health insurance that typically has lower premiums but only covers care within a network of doctors and hospitals. 

Kansas lawmakers have gotten down to business, passing a school funding bill that adds nearly $300 million over two years for public education and a $1.2 billion tax plan. But just minutes after the vote, Gov. Sam Brownback said he would veto the package.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center Monday night, a Kansas City Council committee held the first public hearing on a new airport since opening the bidding process to additional firms.  

Kansas City firm Burns and McDonnell quietly presented the city with a proposal last month to build a new, privately-financed, single terminal airport. The proposal allegedly protects the city from financial risk while allowing ownership and operation of the airport to remain in city hands.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

On Day 108 of the Kansas Legislature’s session, lawmakers got down to business. They passed a school funding bill that adds nearly $300 million over two years for public education, then they approved a $1.2 billion tax plan.

But minutes after the Senate’s 26-14 tax plan vote, Gov. Sam Brownback said he would veto the package, which would put more than 300,00 small businesses and farmers back on the tax rolls, add a third income tax bracket and restore a number of tax deductions and credits.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

A school finance plan that will add nearly $300 million over two years gained approval Monday night in the Kansas Legislature and now moves to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could make a special session likely.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas House and Senate negotiators have come up with an amended foster care task force bill but are working against the legislative clock to get it passed.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

With a record number of children in state custody — more than 7,000 at the end of March — Kansas officials have made recruiting and retaining foster parents a priority.

Speaking at a recent Statehouse event, Gov. Sam Brownback said Kansas should reverse its current situation and have foster parents waiting to be assigned children.

“This is doable. We just need people to step up,” he said. “Listen to your heart. Don’t block it.”

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

The Kansas House is expected Monday morning to debate a mega bill that ties sweeping tax reforms and higher funding for public schools into a single yes-or-no vote.

The latest attempt at sealing elusive deals on income tax and school finance emerged Sunday afternoon following three days of stop-and-go negotiations between the Legislature’s two chambers, which each have passed their own versions of a K-12 bill.

Now lawmakers will vote simultaneously on whether to increase state aid for schools by about $280 million — and scuttle Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policies.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

One Missouri lawmaker who won't be back for any special sessions this summer is Kansas City's Randy Dunn; the representative resigned last week to begin a new job in Omaha. Dunn was a triple minority in the Missouri General Assembly: A Democrat, a person of color and an openly gay man. He joined us for an exit interview to give us an unvarnished look at the way things work in Jefferson City.

University of Kansas Hospital

The Kansas Senate and House voted Thursday to allow public health care facilities to continue banning concealed weapons. The 24-16 Senate vote and 91-33 House vote send the bill to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

A state law taking effect July 1 will allow people to carry concealed guns into any public building that is not secured by armed guards and metal detectors.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The Senate’s potential new formula for funding Kansas schools is based on spending at 41 districts where — according to a recent statistical analysis — students are doing well academically relative to local poverty rates.

The Kansas Legislative Research Department performed the calculations last month at the request of Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, and the bill based on it would inject around $230 million into K-12 school districts over the next two years.

Missouri’s Photo Voter I.D. Law goes into effect today with those who supported it reassuring voters and those who opposed it continuing to express their concerns.

The new law is a state constitutional amendment that was approved by voters last November.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft criticized those who said Wednesday that the new law would make it harder and more confusing to vote.  He said “the law will not disenfranchise a single voter.”

Kansas News Service

After 10 hours of debate, a dozen amendments and a timeout to talk taxes, the Kansas Senate early Wednesday advanced a school finance plan and returned later in the morning to approve it on a 23-16 vote.

Once they finished the late-night debate, senators ended where they began: an additional $234 million over two years for K-12 education. 

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City will take bids for building a new, single terminal at Kansas City International airport after all.  

Earlier this month, city officials announced that they would consider an offer from Kansas City based Burns & McDonnell to design, build and finance a new airport terminal to replace the horseshoe shaped terminals at KCI. Burns & Mac asked for exclusivity on the deal, but some council members wanted competitive bids on the enormous project, and last week another engineering firm, AECOM, from Los Angeles, tendered one, unsolicited.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

A few years ago, Olathe attorney Shanelle Dupree noticed a pattern in the foster care cases she handled: Most parents had little understanding of the system or what to do if they wanted their children back.

So she started a class to try to change that. Once a month, parents who have a child in foster care can meet in a Johnson County family law courtroom to learn more about the basics of the child welfare system. Most parents are referred by the courts as part of the plan to prove they can take care of their children, Dupree said.

Updated May 31 with oral arguments — A case that could expand legal protections for the state’s LGBTQ community is in the hands of a three-judge panel of Missouri’s Court of Appeals.

Judges Anthony Gabbert, Victor Howard and Cynthia Martin heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a 17-year-old transgender boy from the Kansas City area who wants to be allowed to use the boy’s restroom and lockers rooms at his school. His attorneys argue that the decision by the Blue Springs R-IV district to deny the request violates Missouri’s Human Rights Act.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this episode, we get the democratic perspective on a school funding formula that passed in the Kansas House last week. And, we look ahead to what tax package  might emerge in the coming week.

Guests:

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

At the end of the 2017 legislative session, we took the podcast on the road to ask an important question: are Kansas City's communities of color being heard in Jefferson City?  

This podcast was recorded live at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ first special session was a success.

On Friday, the Senate passed a bill 24-5 designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant once operated by Noranda, as well as to build a new steel plant nearby. The bill will take effect the moment the Republican governor signs it.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City officials are trying to figure out how to proceed after receiving a letter from the nation's largest airport design firm saying it was interested in a new single-terminal deal at Kansas City International Airport. 

The Kansas City Star first reported the letter from AECOM, which Councilwoman Jolie Justus says she received about 2:30 Thursday afternoon — hours after a second public hearing to discuss a proposal put forth by Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell to design, build and privately finance a new terminal. 

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas is on track to spend less than a third of what it did six years ago on cash assistance and to serve a third as many low-income people, according to a state budget office memo.

Those numbers have been falling steadily since Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2011, when Kansas began incorporating work requirements for programs like cash assistance and food stamps in an effort to break what the governor described as “cycles of dependency.”

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

A new law will allow Kansas crisis centers to treat involuntary mental health patients for up to 72 hours, but it isn’t clear if lawmakers will fund it.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday signed House Bill 2053, which allows crisis centers to treat people deemed a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health or substance use disorder. The bill had passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 27-12 after some amendments. 

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