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Julie Denesha / KCUR

Starting Saturday, southbound lanes on the Buck O'Neil Bridge will be shut down for construction until December.

This will inconvenience around 44,000 commuters who cross the bridge daily. Here are alternate routes:

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89-three

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said Wednesday afternoon that the VA has reached a 10-year, $10 billion contract with Cerner Corp. to update the VA’s electronic health record system.

The deal calls for the North Kansas City-based company to use the same platform as the one it’s implementing for the Department of Defense so that the two giant agencies’ record systems can “talk” to one another. Cerner secured the defense department contract, worth more than $4 billion, in 2015.

Standing in a light rain in the shadow of the state Capitol, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens blamed “rip-off artists” in the state’s low-income housing program “who thought they ran Missouri” for many of his legal troubles and the threat of his impeachment.

But recalling his past as a Navy SEAL, Greitens declared Thursday that they won’t succeed because he was taught to never quit.

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Public universities in Kansas are proposing tuition hikes significantly lower than some of the larger increases seen in recent years. The schools presented the plans to the Kansas Board of Regents this week.

The increases in tuition and fees for in-state, undergraduate students range from 1.2 percent at Kansas State University to 3 percent at the University of Kansas.

Foutch Architecture and Development

It’s naming time – again – for the former Kemper Arena, and this time Hy-Vee is stamping its brand on the $39 million redevelopment project.

The Iowa-based supermarket chain, which operates 20 stores in metro Kansas City, is replacing Mosaic Life Care, which had to drop its naming rights agreement for the arena last December after being bought by Saint Luke’s Health System.

Bigstock

Federal prosecutors in Kansas have agreed to address issues arising from the furor over their use of recordings of phone conversations between attorneys and clients at the pretrial facility in Leavenworth.

Details remain to be worked out, but after a highly charged day-long hearing Tuesday in federal court, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Wednesday that his office was prepared to work out an agreement with the Federal Public Defender’s Office and the special master appointed to look into the tapings.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include developments at Thursday's City Council meeting.

This week marked the deadline for Kansas City's troubled American Jazz Museum to respond to the city's request to change its staff and board leadership in order to be eligible for city funds.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Josh Svaty picked a political no-name to team with in his run for governor.

But the pick is someone who checks off boxes that Svaty can’t with voters in the Democratic primary and, if things play out right for him, in the general election.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer says President Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Joining six other Republican governors, Colyer signed a letter this week that said the president should get the honor for “his transformative efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.”

The letter, dated Monday, was sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The same panel gave Barack Obama the peace prize just nine months into his presidency in 2009 for what it saw as his contribution to international diplomacy.

Joshua Wiener

Merriam City Council members on Monday approved a new public art project by a close vote of 5-4.

The sculpture, "Hmmm..." is designed by Colorado-based artist Joshua Wiener. A nine-foot tall caterpillar stands next to a 12-foot cairn, a stack of granite river boulders, with a butterfly perched on top. Weiner's proposal was selected by a resident-led arts committee that reviewed 45 submissions. 

Paul Sableman / Flickr - Creative Commons

Besides being refuges for book lovers and places to surf the Internet and check out music and movies, libraries are increasingly becoming entrepreneurial hubs. 

Industrial hemp is coming to Kansas, but first the Department of Agriculture has to figure out how to regulate it.

Bigstock

Missouri would join a majority of U.S. states in raising the age someone can be tried as an adult in court to 18 under a bill passed by the legislature this session.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. May 12, 2018, with a felony charge against Jackson County corrections officer.

A grand jury tasked with reviewing the Jackson County Detention Center says the jail's management and the county's administration is responsible for the "systemic failure to address its well-documented problems."

The findings were released Friday in a highly critical, 72-page report detailing chronic issues at the jail of overcrowding, understaffing and poor management of funds. It also recommends measures to better track progress of changes.

Johnson County Sheriff's Office

Adam W. Purinton, the Olathe resident who was sentenced to life in prison last week for killing a Garmin engineer and wounding two other men, plans to plead guilty to hate crime charges and avoid a possible death sentence in federal court.

A change of plea hearing is set for May 21, the day Purinton turns 53 years old, before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, according to courtroom minutes filed on Wednesday. Purinton had previously pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charges.

Public universities in Kansas saw some of their funding restored as part of the new state budget.

The budget restores $15 million to the Kansas Board of Regents. In fiscal year 2017, state universities spent about $570 million in state funding.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A state-mandated redistricting of the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors could result in a complete turnover of seats next spring, injecting uncertainty during a period of relative stability for the district.

Most Missouri school boards have seven members, and a 2013 law requires the nine-member KCPS board to eliminate one sub-district and one at-large seat by April 2019. Because all seven seats will be open at the same time, it’s possible voters will install an all-new board.

Missouri voters could have several marijuana proposals to choose from this fall, along with ballot issues that seek to increase the state’s minimum wage and change Missouri’s process for crafting legislative districts.

Backers turned in signatures for six initiative-petition proposals by Sunday’s deadline. Four of them deal with marijuana.

Two of the proposals would legalize marijuana for medical use, while two others would legalize it for recreational use as well.

Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita suspended his campaign for governor on Wednesday.

Ward will instead focus on being re-elected to the House.

Prairie Village, Kansas

Updated, 10:53 a.m. Tuesday: The Prairie Village city council approved the bike and pedestrian plan on Monday evening by a vote of 7-5. City leaders said that the plan was still conceptual and that details of the new sidewalks, trails and lanes would be worked out with public input in future stages of planning and development.

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Years of planning by Prairie Village, Kansas, cycling advocates have led up to a vote Monday evening by the city council.

file / bigstock.com

The Trump administration has nixed Kansas’ idea of a three-year lifetime cap on Medicaid benefits.

Gov. Jeff Colyer had wanted to include the limit in a remake of the state’s privatized Medicaid system, KanCare. He also wants work requirements for non-disabled KanCare beneficiaries.

Late last month, he walked back his stance on pursuing a lifetime cap, while sticking by the work proposal. Both ideas had faced criticism from health care advocates who fear they would reduce poor people’s access to doctors and medication.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Crews in Kansas City, Missouri, spent Thursday cleaning up after severe storms, which spawned tornadoes, swept through the metro area Wednesday night. 

The National Weather Service reported that three minor to moderate tornadoes touched down in the Kansas City area around 9 p.m. Wednesday — in Raytown and Belton, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas. It also reported a tornado touched down a few hours earlier in Big Lake State Park about 100 miles north.

file / Creative Commons-Flickr

House and Senate negotiators struck a tentative deal Wednesday to prevent changes in federal tax law from ratcheting up state taxes for Kansans.

The Senate wanted broader tax cuts in the same bill, but couldn’t coax the House team to go along.

Rep. Steve Johnson, who chairs the House tax committee, said his chamber didn’t want to go beyond addressing the federal impact in ways that would produce deeper cuts to state government revenue.

“It’s all of the tax cuts and these targeted tax cuts that have given us heartburn,” he said.

Gov. Jeff Colyer signed an executive order Wednesday supporting the "Ban the Box" initiative.

The new order requires state agencies to remove a checkbox from their job applications that asks whether someone has a criminal record.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers have approved new restrictions blocking teenagers and out-of-state candidates from future races for governor. The bill says starting next year, candidates must live in Kansas and be at least 25 years old.

The state’s lax laws have led to several teenagers, and residents of other states, joining the campaign for Kansas governor.

A wave of candidates even included a Hutchinson man attempting to enter his dog in the race

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens allegedly directed a staffer to obtain a donor list from the veterans charity he founded and lied about it to the state ethics commission, according to a special House committee report released Wednesday.

Immediately, Democrats and some Republicans again called for Greitens, who faces two felony charges, to step down. Greitens' camp dug in with legal counsel Catherine Hanaway's statement that said the report "does a tremendous disservice to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions." 

Legislation that would legalize marijuana for medical use in Missouri passed the state House on Tuesday.

The bill originally would have only allowed medical marijuana use for terminally ill patients, but the House added amendments last week to expand access to those with chronic and debilitating, but not necessarily fatal, illnesses.

Missouri Department of Social Services screenshot

People who work with federal food-aid recipients in Missouri and recipients themselves have said the state’s hotline is slow to answer phone calls. State data shows that at times, callers have had to wait up to an hour to talk to someone and that in May 2017, almost a quarter of callers abandoned getting through.

Missouri’s Family Services Division started addressing those concerns in April and said it expects to have new software in place by July to make the call center more efficient and start the food-stamp interview process more quickly.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers on Tuesday dropped an effort to require Secretary of State Kris Kobach to pay a contempt of court fine with his own money, rather than state dollars.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Amazon celebrated the grand opening of its third "fulfillment center" in Kansas on Tuesday.

The new 850,000 square-foot Kansas City, Kansas, began operations on August 6, 2017; other facilities were already operating in Lenexa and Edgerton. The centers serve as the conduit between an online order on Amazon to the shipment to the customer. 

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