Government

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would expand the grounds for impeaching a state Supreme Court justice.

The bill says justices could be impeached for trying to exercise powers given to the governor or Legislature. Republican Sen. Forrest Knox says checks and balances in government are important.

"We have arrived at a point today in this country, in this state, where specifically Supreme Court justices have become kings, where there is no check," says Knox.

Megan Hart / Heartland Health Monitor

Three influential Republican state senators Tuesday introduced a bill to repeal a controversial business tax exemption approved as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 income tax cuts.

Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said the measure is needed to close a tax “loophole” that is costing “at least $250 million” a year and wreaking havoc with the state budget.

“It continues to make the budget unstable,” Denning said in a news release. “Given the rapid deterioration of the budget, I believe we have the votes to close the loophole and send the bill to the governor.”

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Missouri Rep. Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City) provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss the so-called "paycheck protection" bill, criminal justice reform, and cuts to the University of Missouri system's budget.

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

Guests:

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

February’s disappointing revenue numbers have Kansas lawmakers once again scrambling to balance the state budget.

The spending blueprints for the remainder of the current fiscal year and fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, were balanced on paper when lawmakers left for a brief mid-session break, thanks to a series of one-time revenue transfers and some spending reductions.

But both were undone when the Kansas Department of Revenue reported last week that February tax receipts had come in $54 million short of projections.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Rep. Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City) joined KCUR's Statehouse Blend podcast this weekend to discuss proposed cuts to the University of Missouri system budget.

Rep. Dunn was one of five representatives who voted no this week on an amendment to a House budget bill that would cut the University of Missouri system's funding by $7.6 million. The House Select Committee on Budget voted 20-5 in favor of the cuts.

Excavation safety group - dlickr.com

An ordinance advanced by a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday would require contractors to pluck the unsightly markers when their work is done.

Utility line excavation markers are required by law,  but the fluttering swatches of yellow and orange that  line lawns along roadways often remain long after they have served their purpose. 

Their wire stems may pose mowing hazards for several years to come.

Public Works Director Sherri McIntyre said the ordinance will require the removal of the flags before the contractor can close the permit on the job site.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, leaders of faith based organizations discuss their unique view on the current political climate in Kansas.

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

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, leaders of faith based organizations discuss their unique view on the current political climate in Kansas.

Guests:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Before the Kansas City Council sat down for its second public hearing for the 2016-2017 budget Saturday, 3rd District Councilman Jermaine Reed predicted that blighted housing would be a key topic for the day.

"There's a bit of excitement, but also a bit of caution," Reed said. "People don't necessarily want to see these buildings and homes torn down, they want to see people repopulate the urban core."

Kemper Arena Recommendations Coming In March

Feb 25, 2016
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

After more than a year of uncertainty, recommendations on the future of Kemper Arena are just weeks away. 

Kansas City Council Economic Development Chair Scott Taylor said on Wednesday that a special committee is wrapping up its work and he expects to submit recommendations to the full council sometime in March. 

Taylor said there will also be more public hearings before a final decision is made, including one to be held at Kemper Arena.

Landrum & Brown / Kansas City Aviation Department

An increase of $3 a day at some airport parking facilities and a modest but unspecified ticket price increase would be the only effect of a new billion-dollar terminal on travel costs. That was the essence of a report aviation officials presented to the Kansas City Council Airport Committee on Tuesday.

Aviation officials presented a financing scenario involving revenue bonds, federal grants and airline participation. 

Their numbers were based on 3 percent inflation, 6 percent interest rates on the bonds and a passenger traffic gradual increase of 40 percent by 2045.

A group that challenged tax breaks for a $310 million downtown Kansas City convention hotel announced Tuesday that it will not challenge a judge's ruling that the city does not have to honor their petition drive to force a public vote. 

A Jackson County judge ruled in agreement with the city that though Citizens for Responsible Government collected the required number of valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot, doing so could require the city to illegally default on already-signed development agreements.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Market rate apartments are being built in Kansas City, Kansas, for the first time in 30 years.

In Tuesday’s State of the County address, Mayor Mark Holland said while he’s celebrating the more than $150 million investment in the Legends, he’s also thinking about how to improve Wyandotte County’s existing housing stock.

“I want our housing to be affordable not because it’s deplorable, but because we care about the people who live in it,” Holland said.

It’s a common problem: people who find jobs and break the cycle of poverty end up leaving Wyandotte County.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There's no doubt statewide law enforcement agencies in Kansas are hurting. But there is some movement in the state Legislature, albeit modest, to help both agencies.

The Kansas Senate on Tuesday approved two new vehicle registration surcharges that will help bolster the budgets of the Highway Patrol and Law Enforcement Train Center in Hutchinson.

The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) is 80 troopers below strength even after graduating a new class in December. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is short 20 agents and says it has been turning down 20 percent of felony cases referred by local sheriffs and police departments.

The Senate bill would tack on an extra $3.25 to the registration fee for all vehicles. The bill would send $2 to the KHP and $1.25 to the training center. In all, the bill could generate $3.4 million a year.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Several dozen Kansas City residents went to the city's first public budget hearing for the 2016-2017 budget Saturday morning, and most who testified had the same three things on their minds: infrastructure, blighted houses and the city's earnings tax. 

City council members listened to the residents' testimony for more than an hour at the Kansas City, Missouri, Regional Police Academy. Keith Nelson of the North Bennington neighborhood in the Northland told council members that infrastructure needs had been neglected for too long.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Missouri Sen. David Pearce  (R-Warrensburg) provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss campaign contribution limits, the University of Missouri Columbia, and the earnings tax.

Guests:

  • David Pearce, Senator from Warrensburg, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Pat Kelly, Teacher, KCPS
  • Jason Rosenbaum, Political Reporter, St. Louis Public Radio

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

As second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, Frank White helped bring the team a big first: a World Series win.

On Friday, more than 30 years after the 1985 World Series, White celebrated two more firsts: his first State of the County address as the first African-American Jackson County Executive. 

"Today I feel like a rookie again," White said with a wide smile and to much applause. "I have never experienced a first quite like this."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

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

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Mayor Sly James hopes a plan to redirect some of Kansas City’s economic development revenue could spur more projects east of Troost.

James pitched his plan to deposit payments in lieu of taxes – or PILOT dollars – into what’s being called the Shared Success Fund to the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee Wednesday.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri House appropriations subcommittee has stripped out the $12 million state appropriation that primarily would pay off the debt on the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

And while the legislative budget process is far from over, the action places half of the facility’s yearly debt payments into jeopardy.

Besides the state, St. Louis and St. Louis County both contribute $6 million toward the Jones Dome. The facility is slated to receive debt payments until 2021.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

Guests:

KCMO Housing and Neighborhood Services / Opendata KC

The Kansas City Missouri City Council on Thursday received a proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 from Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte that would make big changes in vacant housing and boost funding for the arts.

The key proposal from the $1.5 billion budget would issue a $10 million bond to raze more than 800 dangerous houses, most of which sit east of Prospect Avenue.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James made an impassioned plea on behalf of the earnings tax campaign at a NAACP forum Thursday night.

“I think the earnings tax is of particular interest to Kansas Citians, whether they’re black, white or Latino,” James said before the forum, which about two dozen people attended.

Revenue generated from the 1 percent tax on people who live or work in the city makes up the bulk of the general fund and pays for vital city services like police, fire and ambulance. State law requires a vote to renew the earnings tax every five years.

Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit to force a vote on the downtown convention hotel deal.

The group Citizens for Responsible Government sued the city in Jackson County Court late last year after the Kansas City Council wouldn’t put their question on the ballot.

In oral arguments Feb. 2, the city argued that requiring a vote on the already-signed contracts to build a downtown convention hotel would violate tax increment financing law.

Judge Jennifer M. Phillips agreed, dismissing the lawsuit on Thursday.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss the urban versus rural divide and transportation.

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

Guests:

  • Ryan Silvey, Representative from Kansas City, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Matt StaubBlogger
  • Elle Moxley, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR

A bill being heard this week by a Missouri legislative committee promotes shared parenting – a flexible arrangement in which children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after separation or divorce.

The legislation proposes adding language to the state’s child custody law to emphasize that the best interest of the child is equal access to both parents – a change that would encourage judges to pay more attention to research on the best interest of children.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss the urban versus rural divide, campaign contribution limits, REAL ID, and transportation.

Guests:

  • Ryan Silvey, Representative from Kansas City, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Matt Staub, Blogger
  • Elle Moxley, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has given lawmakers a budget that balances on paper.

But it remains to be seen whether legislators will agree to the complex formula of spending reductions, budget transfers and administrative changes that Brownback is proposing to erase a projected $436 million shortfall in the budget year that begins July 1.

Lobbyists representing several groups and causes are lining up in opposition to many of the changes.

Rendering courtesy of Crawford Architects

Airline consultants have rejected a proposal to renovate existing KCI terminals rather than build a new one.

Consultant Lou Salomon of AvAirPros told the Kansas City Council Airport Committee Tuesday that the renovation plan lacks the flexibility needed for a forecast 40 percent passenger traffic growth by 2040 and underestimates the costs.

“The major renovations are just less efficient,” Salomon said. “And they cost more – and not just from the initial capital costs perspective.  They cost more to operate and maintain and to finance.”

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Hotel Corp.

Petitioners trying to force a vote on the downtown Kansas City hotel deal were back in court Tuesday.

The group Citizens for Responsible Government sued the city in Jackson County Court late last year after the Kansas City Council wouldn’t put their question on the ballot.

“While the city completely respects the petition process – that’s why it’s in the charter, it’s an important part of the democratic process – you cannot use the petition drive to overturn certain laws,” says city spokesman Chris Hernandez.

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