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Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is confident the state's new voter ID law won’t disenfranchise anyone.

“I’ve spent over 70,000 miles traveling the state over the last two years, and I’ve challenged anyone to point to someone that can’t vote under this law that would’ve been able to vote under the prior law,” says Ashcroft, who was in Blue Springs Tuesday morning to explain how the law has changed. “No one’s been able to find someone.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center Monday night, a Kansas City Council committee held the first public hearing on a new airport since opening the bidding process to additional firms.  

Kansas City firm Burns and McDonnell quietly presented the city with a proposal last month to build a new, privately-financed, single terminal airport. The proposal allegedly protects the city from financial risk while allowing ownership and operation of the airport to remain in city hands.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department has awarded Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. a contract to create its electronic health record system.

VA Secretary David Shulkin on Monday announced the contract, which was awarded without competitive bidding under a “public interest” exception to federal contracting regulations.

The contract comes after Cerner won a $4.3 billion contract in 2015 to update the Department of Defense’s electronic health record system.  

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The University of Missouri system is facing a $101 million budget crunch due to cuts in state funding, as well as declining enrollment at the campus in Columbia. 

UM System President Mun Choi on Friday presented plans for the budget in fiscal year 2018.

For UMKC, proposed cuts could mean $15.4 million less in spending and the loss of 51 positions — including four faculty members from the Theatre Department and a $400,000 decrease in the department's budget. 

Courtesy Park University

UPDATE: This story was updated on Friday, June 9, to reflect Kenneth Broberg's advance to the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Having advanced to the finals of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Kansas City pianist Kenneth Broberg has one more concert to play before learning who will win the competition in Fort Worth, Texas.

University of Missouri

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi on Friday outlined plans for addressing $94 million in potential budget cuts over the next two years.

Besides a $19.6 million reduction in its state allocation, Choi said, the university system's budget problems have been "compounded by the dramatically lower enrollments we're facing especially here at the Columbia campus."

Kansas Department of Transportation

There could be a slight change (and hopefully improvement) to your commute this summer if you regularly drive on I-35.

New ramp meters, designed to help ease congestion, will start running in mid-to-late July, says Mark Sommerhauser, KC Scout transportation project manager. 

KC Scout is working with the Kansas Department of Transportation on the $250,000 project. KC Scout will take over maintenance and operation once testing is finished. 

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City will take bids for building a new, single terminal at Kansas City International airport after all.  

Earlier this month, city officials announced that they would consider an offer from Kansas City based Burns & McDonnell to design, build and finance a new airport terminal to replace the horseshoe shaped terminals at KCI. Burns & Mac asked for exclusivity on the deal, but some council members wanted competitive bids on the enormous project, and last week another engineering firm, AECOM, from Los Angeles, tendered one, unsolicited.

Sales of organic food reportedly climbed to record highs in 2016, an indication organics are edging toward the mainstream.

 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ first special session was a success.

On Friday, the Senate passed a bill 24-5 designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant once operated by Noranda, as well as to build a new steel plant nearby. The bill will take effect the moment the Republican governor signs it.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City officials are trying to figure out how to proceed after receiving a letter from the nation's largest airport design firm saying it was interested in a new single-terminal deal at Kansas City International Airport. 

The Kansas City Star first reported the letter from AECOM, which Councilwoman Jolie Justus says she received about 2:30 Thursday afternoon — hours after a second public hearing to discuss a proposal put forth by Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell to design, build and privately finance a new terminal. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Longtime civil rights activist Alvin Brooks is stepping down as a Kansas City Police Commissioner so he can serve on the Hickman Mills Board of Education.  

Brooks, 85, says it was time. His term is about to expire, and he doesn’t think Republican Gov. Eric Greitens will reappoint him.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas House debated a new school finance plan for five hours Wednesday, taking up two dozen amendments and finally voting 81-40 to advance a bill not much different from the one that had come out of committee. The measure is slated to get a final vote Thursday in the House. Then it will be the Senate’s turn.  

Missouri Department of Transportation / Flickr--CC

Harrisonville, Missouri, has too many special taxing districts – and according to Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway, they’re not generating enough revenue to pay for the projects they were created to fund.

“Overall, my team found a city that has overextended itself and overcommitted on a number of special taxing district projects across the city,” Galloway says.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The president of the Kansas City, Missouri, chapter of the NAACP told reporters and members of the community Tuesday that there was an “ugly urgency" to call on Governor Eric Greitens to veto Senate Bill 43.

The bill weakens protection for minorities and women, Rev. Rodney Williams said, by making it harder to prove discrimination is the cause of an employer’s disciplinary behavior.

courtesy ArtsKC

After conducting a national search, ArtsKC, the regional arts council, on Monday announced a new president and CEO: Dana Knapp. 

Since January 1, 2017, Knapp has served as the interim leader of ArtsKC, a nonprofit arts organization that "promotes, supports and advocates for the arts across a five-county region." According to ArtsKC, Knapp "begins her new role immediately."

UMKC

Some of Kansas City’s largest health organizations announced on Friday the launch of a collaboration centered on Hospital Hill.

The “UMKC Health Sciences District” includes the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Truman Medical Centers, Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, among other partners.

Kristen Rechtlich / St. Louis Public Radio

Six clergymen who were found guilty of trespassing in the Missouri Senate gallery after they protested Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid were sentenced today to one year of unsupervised probation.

The six, including well-known Kansas City clergymen Sam Mann, Wallace Hartzfield Sr. and Vernon P. Howard Jr., were part of the so-called Medicaid 23, who were charged with trespassing and obstructing government operations after leading a group of about 300 protestors in the Senate gallery three years ago.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m. to include a statement from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. 

A federal judge has denied Missouri’s request to stay his order blocking two statewide abortion restrictions, making clear he takes a dim view of the state’s arguments.

In a three-page ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs rejected out of hand Missouri’s claim that the restrictions protect abortion patients’ health.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James last week unveiled a plan for a new terminal  at Kansas City International Airport funded privately by engineering firm Burns & McDonnell.

The firm proposes to foot the bill for the terminal in exchange for exclusive rights to design and construction. They’d be paid back over time with airport fees usually collected by the city. 

James and other city leaders hope to get the project approved by voters in November, and they're anxious to get moving. 

Nicholas Rau / U.S. Air Force

Vastly expanding the scope of an investigation of video and audio taping of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the detention center in Leavenworth, a federal judge now wants to know whether the government obtained and used such recordings.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A highly-anticipated election will soon be underway in Kansas City, Missouri, but you might not know about it — and most Kansas City residents won't get to vote in it.  

In fact, the immediate future of the UMKC streetcar extension is in the hands of about 30,000 registered voters who live in the area roughly between the Missouri River and 53rd street, and State Line Road and Campbell. 

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

City leaders say Kansas City can get a new, single-terminal airport at no risk to taxpayers. Burns & McDonnell, one of Kansas City’s big engineering firms, is offering to take on the project at Kansas City International Airport — not just the design but the financing as well. 

Kansas City Mayor Sly James says the deal would leave the city completely out of the project’s funding.

wp paarz / Flickr — CC

As expected, Missouri has appealed a federal judge’s ruling blocking two abortion restrictions enacted by the Legislature in 2007.

Attorney General Josh Hawley had said he would appeal the preliminary injunction entered by U.S District Judge Howard Sachs last week.

The injunction blocks Missouri’s laws requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and abortion clinics to be outfitted like ambulatory surgical centers.

Intropin / Wikimedia Commons

Another major pharmacy chain in Missouri now offers naloxone, the potentially lifesaving drug that prevents opioid overdose deaths, to Missourians without a prescription.

Hy-Vee announced Wednesday it will now sell the drug to customers in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

President Donald Trump today named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to help lead a commission on voter fraud and suppression, a body he has promised to create since taking office nearly four months ago.

Kobach, who has gained national notoriety for his claims of widespread voter fraud, will serve as vice chair alongside Vice President Mike Pence, who will chair the commission.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

A federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to turn over by Friday documents that he shared with then President-elect Donald Trump in a case challenging Kansas’ voter registration requirements.  

A federal magistrate judge had previously directed Kobach to produce the documents, but Kobach sought review of the order. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday denied Kobach’s request.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Whenever she takes people out on her boat, Vicki Richmond from the Healthy Rivers Partnership likes to ask if they know where their drinking water comes from.

“You’d be amazed how many people don’t know it’s the Missouri River,” says Richmond as members of the media clamber aboard. For Drinking Water Week, the Kansas City Water Department arranged to have Richmond show us the Missouri River.

(This reporter would like to state, for the record, she knew before today where our drinking water came from.)

Tim Samoff / Flickr - CC

Water rates in Kansas City, Missouri, have soared over the last several years. The average water bill has gone from $48 in 2009 to more than $100 today. 

That's due, in part, to infrastructure upgrades mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those mandatory upgrades were not accompanied by federal dollars, which means the cost fell to rate payers. 

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATED, 4:50 p.m. Monday: The Kansas State University Police Department is investigating after a noose was found hanging from a tree on campus Friday.

The school's Office of Institutional Equity received the complaint. The noose was removed by campus police.

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