Politics/Elections

The Lawrence Journal-World recently sought information on fraternity hazing from the University of Kansas under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. But the documents the newspaper received were so heavily redacted as to shed almost no light on the issue. 

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is no longer the target of a conservative Missouri lawmaker who wants to repeal the earnings tax.

Columbia Sen. Kurt Schaefer dropped Kansas City from his bill challenging the earnings tax on constitutional grounds. The bill, which advanced out of committee Thursday, now focuses solely on St. Louis.

Mayor Sly James credits a strong showing of Kansas Citians in support of the earnings tax for getting Schaefer to back down. James and others testified in Jefferson City earlier this month.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t mince words when asked about the earnings tax during a stop at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley Wednesday.

“It is wrong for the legislature to say to local communities who’ve voted on how they’re going to fund their services to take away after the people have voted the option for them to fund their services that way,” Nixon said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

City officials kicked off a campaign to save Kansas City’s 1 percent earning tax Monday at Union Station.

It’s sometimes called a “fly over” tax by opponents because about half of the people who pay it commute from the suburbs to work in the city.

“I don’t care whether you call it an earnings tax or a fly-over tax or a ground tax or a water tax or whatever the heck you call it, $230 million would have to be replaced,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

The White House

White House Press Secretary and Kansas City native Josh Earnest called Mayor Sly James one of the three best in America during Thursday’s briefing to reporters.

James is in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Along with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Fresno, California, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, James participated in the daily briefing.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

  We already know that the budget problems in Kansas are eating into some core functions of government.

The state will have to postpone maintenance work on hundreds of miles of highways. And those highways are a little less safe because the Kansas Highway Patrol is at least 75 troopers short of full strength.

But budget problems for state law enforcement run even deeper.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Did Kansas lawmakers know about the state's controversial decision to lift the borrowing limit for the Department of Transportation? 

This PowerPoint slide seems to suggest they did, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle along with transportation insiders whom KCUR has talked to all say they were surprised to see KDOT borrowing at record levels in December. 

Courtesy / Centerfire

President Obama unveiled new measures on gun sales in an executive action Tuesday.

He says he wants all gun dealers to run background checks on buyers, and comply with other paperwork and restrictions that licensed gun shops already do.

You might think that licensed dealers would welcome such a directive, but Obama’s executive orders drew a range of emotions from indifference to anger at Centerfire Shooting Sports in Olathe, Kansas.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Would you pay more to get your vehicle titled or registered in Kansas if it meant more state Highway Patrol troopers on the road? Patrol Superintendent Col. Mark Bruce is betting legislators will answer 'yes'. 

Bruce sent a letter to lawmakers last month, proposing a $7.50 increase to the fee charged when a vehicle is titled  or registered in Kansas as a way to pay to hire new troopers. Currently, that fee is $10. 

Missouri News Horizon / Flickr--CC

Count another Missouri Republican in favor of ethics reform in  Jefferson City. 

On the cusp of a new legislative session, Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) told KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up to Date Monday that he "wouldn't be opposed to new [campaign] limits." He joins a growing chorus of leaders within the Missouri GOP — traditionally in opposition to such measures — calling for reforms in the months since Jefferson City was rocked by a series of scandals during the 2015 session.

The Kansas Supreme Court has struck down a law that would have taken the power to select state district court judges away from Supreme Court justices.  Some fear the ruling inches the state toward a constitutional crisis.

Courtesy photo / Mike Sanders

Outgoing Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders says after Dec. 31, when he formally resigns from his post, he will be out of politics. At least for now. 

When asked Tuesday by KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up To Date whether he would consider ever running for political office again, Sanders closed the door, in a sense, but didn't bang it shut. 

"Not completely, but I don't want to say that door is open any time soon," he said. "I'm not dying, I'm not moving. I'll be around. I would say: in a decade, who knows?" 

Here comes 2016 and with it, an ever-evolving set of elections that will have many of us hanging onto our seats from January all the way to November. On this edition of Up To Date, the Political Pundits discuss presidential elections, a big U.S. Senate race in Missouri and a governor’s race to boot.

Guests:

Jackson County government

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders disclosed to The Kansas City Star in an interview Monday that he will resign Dec. 31 after nine years as the top elected official of the county. 

Sanders told the newspaper that he made the decision because he wants to spend more time with his family and has no plans to run for other public office at this time.  Rather, the article says, he would like to resume his private law practice. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has once again thrown his support behind a fuel tax increase in order to fund highway improvements.

Speaking Thursday to host Steve Kraske on KCUR's to Date, Nixon says he hopes a bill pre-filed this month by Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) "gets to his desk."

Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt criticized the president for his lack of leadership during a stop in Kansas City Tuesday. At the same time, President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande held a joint press conference and called for increased cooperation to fight the Islamic State.

“What happens when the United States fails to provide leadership in the world is bad things and more disruptive things fill that leadership vacuum,” says Blunt.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

President Bill Clinton had nothing but praise for the man who ran against him in 1996 during a speech Monday at the University of Kansas.

Clinton was in Lawrence to receive the 2015 Dole Leadership Prize, which he was awarded for his legacy of bipartisanship during his terms in the White House.

But it was Bob Dole, says Clinton, who was truly willing to reach across the aisle.

“He could fight you like no tomorrow,” said Clinton of Dole, “but he never closed the door on something that could benefit a real person.”

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.

Guests:

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.

Guests:

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:

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