Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, columnists and bloggers speculate about spooky legislation we might see in 2016 and discuss the legislative ghosts that might carry over from 2015. It's a Statehouse Blend Halloween Special.

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


Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Besides the biggest celebration ever in Kansas City history, there also was an election on Tuesday.

Voters were deciding a couple of open Missouri statehouse seats, capital improvement taxes in Independence and Oak Grove, and a school board seat in Kansas City Public Schools.

At lunch time, a polling place in Brookside was completely empty, except for the poll workers. Some voters came in early, every single one with a Royals shirt on.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, columnists and bloggers speculate about spooky legislation we might see in 2016 and discuss the legislative ghosts that might carry over from 2015. It's a Statehouse Blend Halloween Special.


The much-anticipated Iowa Caucuses — which are known to decide each party's final front runners — are three months away.  On this edition of Up To Date, we talk to Des Moines Register reporter Jason Noble about the culture the caucuses have created in the state and why Iowa has dibs on the first major contest in the presidential  race. 

Former U.S. Senator John Danforth has spent years speaking out against the abuses of our political system. On this edition of Up To Date,  he speaks with Steve Kraske about Missouri, the 2016 presidential race and his latest book, The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics.

John Heilemann co-authored the definitive books on presidential campaigns: Game Change on the 2008 election and Double Down, Game Change 2012. He speaks with Steve Kraske about the in-depth research and interview process used in writing those manuscripts, and we get his thoughts on the current race.

John Heilemann is one of the speakers at Village Shalom's Ages of Excellence dinner on Oct. 22, 2015.  

Frank Morris / KCUR

In Kansas, you have to show proof that you are a U.S. citizen to register to vote, and that requirement has held up tens of thousands of registrations and produced an enormous list of would-be voters who are essentially in limbo — all because they haven’t shown a birth certificate or passport. 

Now Kansas’ top elections official in Kansas wants that list purged, and that’s leading to a fight. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

We are many months away from the primary election in Kansas, but it appears it's going to be a wild one.

There is already one moderate Johnson County Republican who has filed to run against a  conservative incumbent and a Democrat who has already announced her candidacy.  

County election officials in Kansas are starting to cancel incomplete voter registrations that are more than 90 days old.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach put the rule in place to clear out thousands of incomplete registrations. There’s a legal challenge against the new rule, but a court last week declined to put it on hold.

Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrews Howell says it could take weeks to sort through and identify the registrations that will be canceled.

Wikimedia Commons / California Department Of Corrections

If you thought Texas held the title of death penalty capital, you’d be right — kind of.

Though Texas has carried out more executions than any other state, Missouri now has the highest death penalty rate per capita.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is rejecting Republicans claims that her new autobiography shows the Democrat’s 2012 campaign violated federal campaign laws.

The book, Plenty Ladylike, details the heated Senate race between McCaskill and Republican Todd Akin. Her campaign ran an ad supporting Akin in the primary.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Congress may be in summer vacation, but there's no shortage of big issues on the table awaiting their return.

U.S. Representatives Kevin Yoder and Emanuel Cleaver, who represent Kansas and Missouri, respectively, in Washington, joined Steve Kraske on Up To Date to discuss the latest from the Capitol.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Some say that local government is the toughest branch, because it’s closest to the people.

For Mission, Kansas Mayor Steve Schowengerdt, it's easy.

“If you're honest and talk straight the people tell you what they want and what they don't like and you adjust,” he says.  

Schowengerdt stopped by KCUR studios to talk with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the meatiest issues on Mission's table. 

Here are five questions Kraske asked the Mayor:

US Dept. of Justice

One of the strictest voter ID laws in the country will be under the microscope when the Kansas Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission holds hearings to determine whether the law has suppressed voter turnout in some communities.

The Civil Rights Commission has advisory committees in all 50 states and the Kansas committee voted Tuesday to move forward with its investigation.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For the mayor of Kansas City, life is not boring.

Fresh off a triumphant re-election campaign, Sly James is set to face a city council with nine new faces— something he says will be a challenge.

“It is difficult to integrate nine people onto a 12 person council,” James told Up To Date host Steve Kraske on Wednesday.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster are calling for an investigation into the abortion provider Planned Parenthood after the release of two videos that have caught national headlines. 

One video shows a national Planned Parenthood executive discussing donations of fetal tissue from abortions for medical research. Such donations are legal, with the patient's consent. Selling the tissue is illegal. Critics accuse Planned Parenthood of selling the tissue.

Another Republican is jumping into next year’s race for Missouri governor.

Bob Dixon currently represents Springfield and parts of Green County in the Missouri Senate, having first been elected to the 30th District seat in 2010 and re-elected last year. Before that he served four terms in the Missouri House.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Audio Pending...

Democrat Katheryn Shields, who will take her seat on Kansas City Council on Aug. 1 after a close election win, didn't grow up dreaming of political campaigns, though the Parkville farm where she grew up as an only girl with four older brothers did teach her to be "a bit of a scrapper." 

The latest campaign-finance report for Attorney General Chris Koster, the only major Missouri Democratic candidate for governor, shows that he continues to outraise his 2016 rivals on both parties.

Koster reports almost $4 million in the bank after raising almost a $1 million during past three months. Both tallies are more than those reported by any of the Republicans – including likely candidate Eric Greitens, who appears to have the most momentum on the GOP side.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Democratic presidential primary was being fought in Kansas City Monday. 

Three out of five announced candidates – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley – were in town to address the National Conference of La Raza, meeting in Kansas City

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at protecting "religious freedom"  for clergy that refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The order will protect the religious liberty of those who feel they may be forced to sanctify such unions after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26, Brownback said.

"Today’s executive order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs," Brownback said in a statement.

The order comes a day after Brownback quietly allowed state agencies to comply with the high court's ruling, so couples can now do things like place state workers’ spouses on health care plans.

Hillary Clinton will make her first visit to Kansas City as a 2016 presidential candidate later this month. The presumptive Democratic front-runner will speak at the National Council of La Raza's annual convention on  July 13. 

NCLR President Janet Murguia, a University of Kansas graduate, said thousands of Latino leaders and activists will be on hand to hear Clinton's address. 

The conference will be held at the Kansas City Convention Center from July 11-14. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The newly elected Kansas City Council features a lot of new blood— six out of the 12 members have never served on the council before. 

In the spirit of getting to know our newly elected council men and women, we asked them — what is the greatest challenge facing Kansas City as you start your term?

Alex Smith / KCUR

Since 2000, money that was supposed to be used primarily for early childhood development in Kansas has been repeatedly raided by the Legislature to help balance the state's budget. Now, says Kansas Action for Children in a report released Wednesday, the Kansas Endowment for Youth (KEY) Fund will be almost depleted in two years.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week on same-sex marriage has yet to spur Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback into action on the issue.

On Tuesday, Brownback’s office reiterated what he said after Friday’s ruling – that he is reviewing the decision — but state agencies reported that officials aren’t making changes based on the decision.

The newly elected Kansas City, Missouri, city council features six members who have never served on the before. On yesterday's edition of Up To Date, we spoke to three of those new members, and today we meet two more newcomers to the job. 


Vox efx / Flickr--CC

Mayor (99% of precincts reporting)

  • Sly James 87%
  • Vincent Lee 13%

Council At-Large Seats

1st District (99% of precincts reporting)

  • Scott Wagner 80%
  • Jeff Roberts 20%
1 Minute Candidate

Mere hours are left before the polls open for the Kansas City Missouri, elections — but are you informed about the candidates?

According to one Kansas City entrepreneur, millennial voters aren’t getting the information they need to make an educated vote — and he’s trying to change that with 1MinuteCandidate.co, a company that aims to quickly inform voters about candidates with 60-second videos.

Voter turnout among millennials has been extremely low, especially in municipal elections. According to an analysis of Kansas City election board data by local civic organization mySidewalk, three times more people over the age of 80 voted in the April 9 primaries than people under 30.

file photos

The Tuesday Kansas City, Missouri City Council election ballot features six races that do not have incumbent candidates.  One of those is for the 5th District At-Large seat, where Lee Barnes and Dennis Anthony square off in their first bids for membership in the city's governing body.

HDR, City of Kansas City

In less than a week, Kansas City, Missouri voters will go to the polls to decide on the makeup of their next City Council.

One of the most closely-competitive races is for the the Northland's 2nd District At-large seat now held by Ed Ford, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits.

Running for the 2nd District seat is Teresa Loar, former two-term City Council member and two-term member of the North Kansas City School Board, who says she has lived in the northland for almost 50 years.