Government | KCUR

Government

Flickr

The Kansas House killed a tax cut bill on its way out the door Friday, ending the 2018 session with yet another signal that this isn’t the same conservative-dominated body of just two years ago.

This is the Legislature that voted last year to expand Medicaid and end then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature 2012 tax cuts with a two-year, $1.2 billion tax hike.

Gov. Eric Greitens is in danger of becoming the first Missouri governor ever to be impeached.

That’s because members of the House and Senate have gathered enough signatures to call a special session that would include considering impeaching the GOP governor, who is facing two felony charges and a full collapse of his political support.

file photo / Kansas News Service

In the last year, the number of Cherokee County children in state custody shot up by roughly half.

The places available for those kids to stay, meanwhile, hasn’t changed.

So that’s meant shipping them two hours away — and regularly taking deputies from the 19-person sheriff’s department off patrol to drive the children to Andover, Kansas — the closest place available with any room.

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.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The resignation of Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp over a sex scandal has, rather unexpectedly, brought to light an issue in the office—a severe lack of diversity.

The office Sharp inherited in 2009 and left two weeks ago is overwhelmingly white and male.

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.

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.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The ACLU of Missouri is suing Kansas City and the Board of Police Commissioners for what it calls “predatory” impound and towing practices.

The ACLU says their client, Dyanna Black, legally parked her car on a public street in February 2016. On returning to her spot, she discovered it had been towed. 

photo illustration / Kansas News Service

Janelle DuBree didn’t need statistics to see that foster kids are traumatized. The evidence was spilled, smashed and smeared all over her kitchen and down the hallway.

Two of the younger girls she took in, on one of their first nights in her Emporia home, raided the kitchen around 2 a.m. Eggs were cracked and trailed everywhere — on the floor, the countertops, the side of the refrigerator. Her carpet was soaked in bright red Hawaiian Punch.

DuBree adopted the girls, now 7 and 9, from a place where food wasn’t always available. So when it was plentiful, they took out and ate everything they could.

Flickr

Kansas lawmakers approved an updated $16 billion budget Saturday on a 92-24 vote as they worked through part of the weekend.

The bill amends the spending plans lawmakers approved last year, and includes some targeted increases in state government funding.

It partially restores cuts to higher education from 2016, at a cost of $12 million. It also allocates $8 million to provide raises to workers in the judicial branch.

The bill funnels more money into the state’s pension plan, KPERS, to make up for a missed $194 million payment.

file photo / Kansas News Service

For years, reporters in the Kansas Capitol press corps and advocates for open government pressed legislators to hide less of the workings of state government from public view.

Now, the Kansas Legislature appears ready to approve changes that would pull back the curtain — at least a tad.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Changes in federal tax law could actually cost some Kansans more in state taxes.

Kansas lawmakers might turn down that revenue windfall and add an election year tax cut instead. A bill they’re backing would cost roughly the same amount as a court-triggered boost to school spending.

All the commotion around a school funding plan may have overshadowed the fact that Kansas lawmakers are also working on a controversial tax cut bill. Some say it simply returns a federal windfall to Kansas taxpayers. Others argue it’s unaffordable at a time when the state is still recovering from former Governor Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with Judge Rex Burlison taking request under advisement.

Attorneys for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens want to disqualify St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from overseeing the governor’s latest felony charge — and instead appoint a special prosecutor.

It stems from how Gardner has handled Greitens’ other felony case for felony invasion of privacy.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is opening up child protection services jobs to people who aren’t licensed social workers.

City of Kansas City

Remember when Kansas City, Missouri, sold houses for $1 each?

City leaders recently celebrated the success of that program, touting major improvements to the urban core. The Land Bank of Kansas City is starting a new program to sell 25 houses to public employees for only $100.

File Photo / Luke X. Martin KCUR 89.3

Kansas City residents will now be able to see more of how the city spends their money.  

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council voted unanimously to scale back the city manager's power to award contracts for city projects.

Councilman Quinton Lucas, who sponsored the ordinance, said it wasn't prompted by any single contract awarded by the city manager but rather a general effort to promote transparency. 

Before Thursday's vote, City Manager Troy Schulte could award construction contracts valued at more than a $1.3 million without public notice or council approval. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. with comments from the county prosecutor.

This story was updated at 2:00 p.m. with information from Sharp's resignation letter.

In a stunning development, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp has admitted to a "personal failing" in connection with a sexual relationship with an employee and has resigned the post he has held since 2009, effective Thursday.

Lawmakers and Governor Jeff Colyer have written another chapter in the story of this ongoing debate by authorizing a $500 million increase in school funding over the next five years. But will that be enough to end the litigation? If not, are we headed for another showdown like the one that rocked the Statehouse in 2005?  

U.S. Navy

Politicians from both parties in Kansas and Missouri have voiced their support of President Donald Trump's decision to launch airstrikes in Syria Friday night. The bombings targeted chemical weapons research and storage facilities after a recent suspected chemical attack on civilians in Syria.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, commended the president for responding quickly to the suspected chemical attack.

"I support this effort and believe the president has the full authority to take these actions," Blunt said in a written statement

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

The timeline for a new single terminal at Kansas City International airport has been slightly delayed because airport officials have determined it needs more gates than originally planned. 

Screengrab / Kansas Department for Children and Families

Kansas is looking to prod parents to catch up on their child support, arguing that doing so could chip away at the the cost of welfare.

The Department for Children and Families website launched a child support evaders Web page Wednesday that features pictures of 10 delinquent parents. It includes notes on what they owe, where they were last seen, and a link to report their whereabouts.

Gov. Jeff Colyer said delinquent parents shift child support costs on to taxpayers.

After months and months of debate, it’s finally happened. The Kansas Legislature has passed a school funding plan. Now, the questions are whether lawmakers can fix a mistake in the plan and, once fixed, whether it increases funding enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Tim Lair / Tim Lair Photography

Much of Kansas City’s economic development over the past few decades is thanks, in part, to tax breaks given to developers by the city.

 

The shops at Zona Rosa and Briarcliff in the Northland, the Power and Light District and Crossroads Arts District downtown, and the massive Cerner development in south Kansas City, just to name a few, all benefit from tax abatements.

 

But developers may have a tougher time getting those breaks under a bill making its way through the Missouri legislature.

Photo illustration / Kansas News Service

Younger people could carry guns even as local authorities gain new powers to take guns away in some situations. Police videos could become more available and people held in prison wrongfully could expect payments from the state.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Nashville-based company that provides health and dental care for the 1,000 inmates at the Jackson County Detention Center has told the county it is pulling out of its three-year contract early.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A bill to update state adoption law was sailing through the legislature. Until it wasn’t.

It’s been gummed up because of a faith-based protection provision that would allow adoption agencies to receive state funding while turning away prospective parents who don’t fit with an organization’s religious beliefs.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

In some states, abortion is on the agenda just about every year. Missouri is one of those states, and it is one where efforts to regulate or restrict abortion are often successful. Last week, the House passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Host Brian Ellison talks with the bill's sponsor, Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, and KCUR's health editor, Dan Margolies, to put the legislation in the broader context of Missouri abortion law and the numerous court challenges it continues to face.

Pages