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FIle Photo / Kansas News Service

A U.S. Senate committee has given the green light for the full chamber to proceed with a vote on Gov. Sam Brownback’s confirmation to an ambassador-at-large position.

Approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the position relating to international religious freedom was the first hurdle after President Donald Trump picked Brownback for the role in July.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A female former legislative staff member is charging that sexual harassment is widespread at the Kansas Statehouse.

Abbie Hodgson, who served as chief of staff to former House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs from 2014 to July of 2016, was one of several women quoted in an article about sexual harassment in Statehouses across the country published Wednesday by The Hill, a Washington, D.C., publication that covers government and politics. 

Courtesy Kansas Geological Survey

The governments of Douglas County and Lawrence are calling for changes to Kansas regulations amid an energy company’s proposal to pump wastewater into wells in rural Eudora.

Among their concerns, the local officials argue that the public deserves a 60-day protest period — twice as long as the current allowance — when companies seek to operate such wells in or near their communities.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said the goal is “good public process.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Calling 911 hold times “unacceptable” and citing a need for more patrol officers, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith asked for an additional $9.3 million in funding in the budget he submitted to the city manager last week.

In a blog post explaining why appropriations should increase 3.6 percent for the fiscal year that begins May 1, 2018, Smith noted that the average hold time for a 911 caller was 30 seconds in September.

Facebook - Raytown Police Department

At least 14 officers at the Raytown Police Department have submitted their resignations, the department confirms, and more officers are expected to step down. 

The resignations follow news that budget cuts could force the department to eliminate nearly a third of its sworn officers.

Raytown city officials face a Nov. 1 deadline to resolve a budget deficit.

The cuts most endanger the police department, which could lose 17 of 56 sworn officers and ten civilians.

Courtesy KVC Kansas

With high numbers of children in the foster care system and not enough homes to care for them, one Kansas contractor is turning to a short-term housing option.  

Smithville Fire Protection District

This story was updated Thursday at 4:30 pm with comments from the fire district's lawyer.

In an unusual move, the Missouri State Auditor has subpoenaed the Smithville Fire Protection District for financial records. The auditor requests documents constantly from state and local governments, but very rarely is a subpoena needed.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The news that about 70 children are missing from the Kansas foster care system is the latest in a string of concerns for lawmakers and child welfare advocates.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers considered tighter rules on payday lending during a committee meeting Wednesday, but they ultimately decided not to recommend more regulations for the short-term loans.

Republican Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine chairs the Special Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance. He said Kansas officials should wait to see the effects of federal regulations recently released on the issue.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ plans to migrate driver’s license records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to new information technology infrastructure remain troubled, a new report indicates.

Some portions of the already-delayed KanLicense project have been further postponed, a team of legislative auditors wrote in the report, with plans to carry them out after the project’s go-live date in early January. 

Office of the Kansas Governor

Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he is issuing a single pardon and denying 72 other requests for clemency made to his office.

The action comes as Brownback prepares for a likely departure to join the administration of President Donald Trump.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

Updated, 4:45 p.m. Thursday: Kansas City leaders finally got a glimpse on Thursday of what a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport could look like — if voters approve it in November. 

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

U.S. senators considering Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination as ambassador for international religious freedom peppered him Wednesday with questions, including some about his actions as Kansas governor.

During the Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Brownback argued that a lack of religious freedom lies at the core of many violent conflicts throughout the world. He firmly stated that he would stand for religious freedom internationally.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas corrections officials hope to have a contract signed before the end of the year to build a new state prison in Lansing. The negotiations over that prison contract have been taking place behind closed doors.

Several companies have submitted bids for the construction project. Mike Gaito of the Kansas Department of Corrections said Wednesday that the private negotiations, rather than open bidding, will mean a better plan.

Jackson County Prosecutor's Office

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and  Sheriff Mike Sharp called a news conference Wednesday to say four inmates in the county jail had been charged with assaulting a corrections officer.

But the news conference turned into the two top law enforcement officials in Jackson County expressing their ongoing frustration with a string of problems at the jail. “Everything is a concern at this point. The whole thing is a concern,” says Baker. “We’re fed up with each of our weeks here at the county being filled with the jail as a problem.”

Webber
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Democratic Party announced an ambitious set of health care proposals Tuesday, including expansion of Medicaid and policy changes focused on veterans, women’s health and opioid abuse.

Republicans control the House, Senate and Governor’s office in Missouri, making it unlikely the proposals will be adopted. But Stephen Webber, the party chair, said Democrats still want to present a “positive proactive vision.”

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The overhaul of the Kansas computer system for processing welfare and Medicaid applications recently went through its final implementation phase. State officials say the process went smoothly, especially compared to the system’s initial rollout that delayed thousands of Medicaid applications.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams assured lawmakers Friday that the state’s new driver’s license system is on course for a smooth rollout at the start of 2018, despite auditor concerns to the contrary.

At issue is a critical Department of Revenue information technology project — known as KanDrive or KanLicense — to migrate records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to a new system. Access to those records is critical for motor vehicle offices and law enforcement agencies.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Millions of victims of a data hack that targeted a Kansas state agency in possession of Social Security numbers were not informed of the breach directly, according to information obtained through an open records request.

The Kansas Department of Commerce says it only had valid email addresses for about 2.5 million of the more than 6 million job seeker accounts that were exposed. It sent notices to those addresses and further spread word of the hack through news releases and other public messages.

Stephen Koranda

Over the last year, more than 100 Kansas kids placed in the foster care system had to spend the night in offices instead of homes. Kids slept on couches or makeshift beds in the offices of the private organizations that handle foster care placement. It happened because there weren't other facilities available to immediately take them.

Lawmakers and child advocates heard about the issue during a meeting of a foster care task force in Topeka. Republican Rep. Linda Gallagher is one of the group’s members.

K. Trimble / Creative Commons

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed six bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year, and this week the legislators had their annual chance to override those vetoes and get their way anyway. In the end, the number of vetoes they overrode was ... zero.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

The recent refusal of a Kansas City Council committee to move forward with a plan to focus on health and safety concerns in rental housing may not be the last word on the contentious matter.

Advocates for tenants and low-income Kansas Citians are drawing up a strategy to collect signatures for an initiative petition that, if successful, would compel the city council to put the question of a rental inspection fee to voters.

 

Updated 7:25 p.m. with exclusive comments from Chappelle-Nadal — Maria Chappelle-Nadal won’t lose her seat in the Missouri Senate, the chamber decided Wednesday. But the Democrat is being censured — a move that apparently hasn’t happened before and is little more than a written reprimand.

Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said last month that the University City Democrat should be expelled for posting a Facebook comment in which she wished for President Donald Trump’s assassination. There wasn’t enough support among Senate members for that to happen Wednesday during the otherwise-quiet veto session. Instead, the GOP majority censured her by a 28-2 vote for her now-deleted post.

Missouri House Republicans chose Rep. Elijah Haahr on Tuesday to succeed Todd Richardson as speaker, assuming the GOP keeps its majority in the lower chamber.

Richardson is barred from serving beyond 2018 because of term limits. Haahr, 35, will take over in January 2019.  

What was already expected to be a contentious second meeting for President Trump's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on Tuesday in Manchester, N.H., is likely to get a whole lot more contentious thanks to a column written by the panel's co-chair.

Although the chairman, Vice President Pence, said in that first meeting that the commission has "no preconceived notions or pre-ordained results," the panel's co-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, seemed to contradict him in Breitbart News last week.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The head of the Kansas Department of Corrections says he sees no connection between last week’s riot at a prison in Norton and disturbances earlier this summer at the state’s El Dorado prison.

But some lawmakers are charging that mismanagement of the state’s prison population is contributing to the unrest.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Lawmakers remain concerned about potential snags as Kansas wraps up years of work on migrating driver’s license records from an old mainframe computer to newer infrastructure ahead of a January launch date.

Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater, a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Information Technology, asked legislative auditing staff Friday whether the state might see a repeat of the technical woes that plagued the first phase of the same project five years ago.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

For those excited to look at designs for what could potentially be Kansas City's new airport, you may be waiting a while. 

The team recommended by a selection committee to design, build and finance a new, single-terminal — led by Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate — says the design should come collaboratively, by engaging with the city and its residents. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

After weeks of deliberation, Kansas City officials have recommended Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate to design, build and finance a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is touting a controversial multistate voter database as a key resource in response to U.S. Department of Justice questions about Kansas’ compliance with federal voting law.

In a recent letter to the Justice Department, obtained by the Kansas News Service through an open records request, Kobach describes the database as “one of the most important systems” Kansas uses to check the accuracy of voter rolls.

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