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Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

The acting head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol may soon have the job permanently. Governor Mike Parson appointed Lt. Colonel Eric Olson as superintendent on Tuesday. Olson will continue to serve as acting superintendent until his appointment is confirmed by the Missouri Senate.

“This is certainly a humbling experience for me, and I would do my best to represent the patrol in a manner that’s consistent with those who have gone before me,” Olson said.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Protesters withstood single-digit temperatures on the steps of City Hall Monday to share horror stories about landlords kicking their families out after a serious illness or being left with no safe, permanent housing options after an eviction. KC Tenants, a new group advocating for tenants' rights, intends to make housing a central issue in the upcoming mayoral election.

“Housing needs to be the next mayor’s airport,” said activist Tiana Caldwell to cheers of approval.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

The founder of the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City backs legislation that would move it to Jefferson City.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

The Kansas City Council on Thursday took a crucial step toward building a new terminal at Kansas City International airport.

By a vote of 11 to 1, the council approved a project agreement with developer Edgemoor, setting the stage for design and construction to begin in earnest. Edgemoor managing director Geoff Striker said he expects demolition of Terminal A to begin within four or five weeks.

“Clearly the council said, ‘We recognize how important this is to Kansas city,” and they put citizens first and moving forward with the project, so it’s a great day,” Stricker said.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Kansas and Missouri are accustomed to throwing millions of dollars in tax incentives at businesses to lure them across state lines. But under a bill unanimously approved Thursday by the Missouri Senate, the “border war” would stop in the Kansas City metro area — only if Kansas officials agree. 

Big Stock

Missouri will have to reform its parole policies after a federal judge ruled in favor of thousands of current and former parolees who sued the state, claiming those policies are unconstitutional.

Many parolees have been sent back to prison for technical violations of their parole such as crossing a state line, missing a parole appointment or losing a job because their employer found out about their criminal record.

File photo / Creative Commons

The Missouri House of Representatives voted 117-39 Wednesday to approve a bill that would effectively ban abortions in Missouri except for medical emergencies. 

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

The company hired to provide health care in Kansas prisons is getting paid millions less than its contracted amount after failing to meet the agreement’s terms.

State officials reduced payments to Corizon Health because the company failed to hire enough nurses and other health workers. Corizon lost additional money after audits found it fell short of performance standards for a range of medical services.

Now, the Kansas Department of Corrections says the contractor has one more year to look after the health of 10,000 people in its prisons.

Missouri’s health department has already fielded more than 400 pre-applications from potential marijuana growers and sellers.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which will administer the state’s medical marijuana program, won’t begin accepting formal applications for dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing plants until summer.

That hasn’t stopped potential businesses from paying more than $3 million in application fees to the state.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Some residents of Clay County, Missouri, are so frustrated by what they say is a lack of transparency in county government that they've asked for a state audit of the Clay County Commission. Now, two Clay County legislators have introduced bills that would give Missouri voters the right to remove county commissioners through recall petitions.

One bill, filed by Republican Rep. Kenneth Wilson of Smithville, was heard in a House committee on February 20. The other bill, filed by Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur of Kansas City, is awaiting action.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Officials got some long-awaited airport news today — the Federal Aviation Administration has signed off on the environmental assessment, a crucial step before construction of a new terminal can begin.

Sonia Schlesinger

After numerous rounds of snow and ice, cities across the Kansas City area are struggling to keep their residents happy by clearing the streets of ice and snow and stay within their budget.

Twitter user @PrairieCzar applauded his town’s snow removal process last week: “I can see pavement and the street is cleared curb to curb,” he wrote. “Thank you City of Lenexa!” Meanwhile, Kansas City, Missouri, residents have been frustrated by what they say are clearer roads across the state line.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Republicans in the Kansas Legislature handed Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly her first defeat this week.

On Valentine’s Day, no less.

They soundly rejected her plan to extend the timetable for covering the unfunded liability of the state pension system, KPERS.

Kelly hoped to lower the state’s annual payments by extending the timetable for amassing 80 percent of the dollars needed to pay all future retirement benefits.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The proposed Kansas City budget throws a lot more money at fixing up the city's roads. 

The 2019-20 budget, totaling more than $1.7 billion, was presented Thursday to the city council.  It includes a 70 percent increase for road resurfacing — from $10 million to $17 million.

City Manager Troy Schulte says that is a new consideration.

“Given that we're being besieged with pothole requests, that’s a direct result of that,” Schulte said.

The budget won’t be adopted until March – so that extra cash won’t help fix current potholes.

Missouri ranks just behind Mississippi for the lowest-paid correctional officers in the country.

The average annual pay for a correctional officer in Missouri was $30,870 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, well below the national average of $47,600. Even with a recent pay bump of $1,050 a year, the department is struggling to retain and attract correctional officers for the state’s 21 prisons.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

The Kansas secretary of corrections calls staffing shortages at a state prison an emergency.

Worker shortages are a persistent problem the state prison system. Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz said it’s especially bad at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, where staff already work long shifts. The prison holds about 1,700 inmates and currently has about 85 unfilled jobs.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Hunter Defenbaugh loves working in prison.

Five nights a week, the 19-year-old corrections officer works overnight shifts in the infirmary at El Dorado Correctional Facility 30 miles northeast of Wichita. He checks on sick inmates, gives them blankets, calls nurses for help.

Defenbaugh likes the job, he says, because he likes helping people. It beats his old gigs flipping burgers at McDonald’s or ringing up customers at Walmart.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly named former Republican Rep. Melissa Rooker on Thursday to help lead one of her signature initiatives.

Kelly chose Rooker to head the Kansas Children’s Cabinet, a 15-member group created in the late 1990s to guide state investments in early childhood programs.

Rooker, a moderate Republican, represented a Johnson County district in the Kansas House for six years before narrowly losing last year to Democrat Rui Xu. While in the Legislature, Rooker played a leadership role on education issues.

Capitol
Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

The majority of Missouri state representatives decided Thursday to subject local officials to the same lobbying and campaign contribution limits that state legislators face, as well as limit the amount of official records that can be made public.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

Mayor Sly James celebrated a milestone Thursday in the journey to a new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

After months of back and forth, the airlines that fly out of KCI — and will ultimately pay for the construction — have coalesced around a $1.5 billion price for the terminal.

“We are at a point now where we have never been before,” James said.

The city has been waiting for the airlines to agree to a price before they can approve a development agreement. Until then, no significant design or construction work can begin.

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Missouri's budget director announced this week that revenues are down 7 percent compared to last year. While that may change as more people file their taxes, lawmakers are looking for new ways to bring in money while faced with tax cuts they instituted on top of growing expenses for health care, infrastructure and education. 

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Kansas City used to be considered an affordable place to live.

Now that some downtown rents are reaching $1,500 a month for a single unit, that’s no longer true, and city leaders are wrangling with how to change that.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Missouri remains the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, though it is a step closer. Again. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The airlines that fly out of Kansas City International Airport reached a deal Wednesday on the price of the new, single terminal estimated to open in early 2023.  

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Note: This post has been updated to include comments from Sen. Bob Onder.

A bill that would allow people to bring guns onto public transit last week became the first of about 20 gun-related proposals to receive a hearing in the current Missouri legislative session.

Missouri Auditor's Office

The Clay County Commission is looking to limit the scope of an ongoing, resident-requested state audit of the county’s finances and operations.

The county filed a lawsuit Thursday just hours after Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena to force the county to turn over documentation from all Clay County Commission meetings in 2017 and 2018.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s budget plan includes a raise for all state employees, who on average are the lowest-paid in the nation.

“We're going to invest in the state workforce,” state budget director Dan Haug said. “We have had some studies done and we had employees below what the market minimums were, so we're going to try to get almost all of our employees up to that.”

Chris Haxel / KCUR

As Fred Nelson shuffled through a crowded convention center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a man tapped him on the shoulder to ask about a gun.

The man knew Nelson was selling thanks to the handwritten menu taped on Nelson's backpack advertising more than a dozen handguns, rifles and shotguns.

He offered $300 for a Glock 19 pistol listed at $350.

"Meet me in the middle at $325," Nelson responded. "It's never been fired. You can look down the barrel."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

A little more than a week after his first State of the State address, in which he outlined his focus on workforce development and infrastructure, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson expanded on those ideas during an interview with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3

One of Kansas City, Missouri's major thoroughfares will undergo a significant name change from Paseo Boulevard to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

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