regulation

file photo / Kansas News Service

Executives pushing the merger of the two largest utility companies in Kansas have told regulators they’ll give in on some customer bill protection and job guarantees.

But the leaders at Great Plains Energy and Westar Energy say promising a 5-year moratorium on rate hikes could leave the new, larger company unable to keep step in a fast-changing industry.

file photo

A merger of Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy deserves approval, regulatory staff say in a new report, if the two utilities sweeten the deal with more money for ratepayers and less for shareholders.

The staff report issued this week is only advisory. Combining the two companies still needs a go-ahead from the Kansas Corporation Commission. But it signals that the companies may be close to a merger that wins regulatory approval.

Grian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

A proposed merger between two of Kansas’ biggest electric utilities drew little criticism, or praise, during a public hearing Monday night in Topeka.

Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light, want to  create a new company worth about $15 billion. It would serve more than 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. The combined company would also have one of the largest portfolios of renewable energy in the country.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Nursing homes in Kansas find themselves in crisis, say the people who run them.

Where to fix blame or how to remedy things remain matters of debate.

A parade of nursing home operators and their lobbyists pleaded with members of a Kansas House health committee Thursday to fully restore cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates. They also called for pressure on Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to repair a long-broken Medicaid enrollment system.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light say all the money coming from recently passed federal corporate tax cuts will land in their customers’ pockets. On Thursday, the agency that sets utility rates in Kansas insisted on it.

Westar Energy expects its tax bill to shrink by about $65 million a year under the new federal tax plan. Spokesperson Gina Penzig says several politicians asked if the utility would pass those savings along.

“We were glad to offer that confirmation,” she said.

tylerhoff / Flickr - CC

How do you know if your child's day care facility is licensed, and why should you care if it is or not? Today we discuss child care regulation, and why it's so hard to find a trustworthy place that's affordable. Then, sit in the passenger seat as we talk with a "bedbugging" trucker who's got a tale or two to tell about Life on the Road. From a blindfolded trip to a warrior burial ceremony, to what piece of furniture says the most about you in a move — you'll want to hear this.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Schlitterbahn will tear down the world's tallest water slide after the investigation into a 10-year-old Kansas boy's death is complete.

Verrückt has been closed since Caleb Schwab died while riding it on Aug. 7. 

In a statement, spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said the Henry family, which owns Schlitterbahn, was "heartbroken" by what happened at its Kansas City, Kansas, water park:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jazz is all about creativity and freedom, but casual listeners can sometimes find deciphering it a chore. Today, we learn How to Listen to Jazz. Then, they say everything's up to date in Kansas City, but are we a "world class" locale? Finally, a winded Brian McTavish presents his Weekend To-Do List.

Employers throughout the nation will soon need to ensure all salaried workers are making at least $47,476 annually, or will need to make them eligible for overtime pay by changing their status to hourly. The new rules about who is and isn't eligible for overtime are set to go into effect on December 1, 2016, but 21 states have joined in a lawsuit to have the higher standards declared invalid.

Guest:

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed earlier this month while riding the Verrückt waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas, it turned out that neither the state of Kansas nor the federal government had ever inspected it for safety. The accident has sparked a national debate on amusement park regulation.

Two years ago, there was lots of fanfare when the 17-story Verrückt went up at Schlitterbahn water park — in part because it seemed so dangerous. A video broadcast on Good Morning America showed test rafts with sandbag dummies sailing off an early version of the ride.