Unemployment benefits bill headed to House

Election-year legislation to resume long-term jobless benefits is headed to the House, where a small band of dissident Republicans is leaning on Speaker John Boehner to permit a vote on resuming aid to more than 2 million victims of the Great Recession.

Kansas lawmakers pass school finance bill merging funding equity with education reforms

Kansas lawmakers late Sunday narrowly passed a school finance bill that ties reforms championed by conservatives to fixing a spending gap between rich and poor schools. The House and Senate passed a bill that spends $126 million to bridge wealth-based disparities in the school funding formula, strips teachers of due process rights and promotes school choice. The bill now goes to the governor to sign.

With funds restored, Kansas City’s film office will roll again

Kansas City government quit funding a film office more than a decade ago, but the new budget provides money to reopen that office, in partnership with the Convention and Visitors Association. Film advocates say it’s a welcome and crucial move to give Kansas City a foot in the door for all sorts of film opportunities.

Medicaid change sought for disabled, elderly in Missouri

Some Missouri Republicans have remained adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of adults by tapping into billions of federal dollars available under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Yet support has been quietly growing among some of those same Republicans for a mini Medicaid expansion.

There are no absolutes in education debate

The Kansas City school board’s vote to delay the sale of Westport High School stoked accusations that members who voted “no” did so out of a reluctance to see a charter school take over the space. The idea that charters are staking out too much turf in the district isn’t new, but it doesn’t hold the same clout it once did.

Angry families want GM prosecuted for defects

The families of those who died in General Motors cars with defective ignition switches want prosecutors to go after GM insiders responsible for letting the problems fester for more than a decade — and perhaps for covering them up.

Rewards of a political convention are wrapped in risks

Bringing the 2016 Republican National Convention to Kansas City would mean millions of dollars, invaluable publicity and a chance for a newly vibrant community to pop its buttons before the world. That’s the promise. It would also mean a beefy and expensive police presence, potential confrontations with disruptive anarchists and pesky logistical hurdles for hundreds of businesses and thousands of residents. That’s the threat.

Kansas lawmakers approve small abortion changes

The Kansas Legislature has approved abortion legislation that addresses legal issues raised in state and federal lawsuits filed by abortion providers, avoiding a larger debate this year over proposals to ban the procedure early in pregnancy.

Kansas House passes school equity plan

The House plan, praised by Gov. Sam Brownback, is more generous and less controversial than a Senate bill passed in the wee hours Friday morning. A House-Senate conference committee is taking up the issue.

Kansas legislators tackle school funding question

the Kansas Senate early Friday morning approved a plan aimed at fixing an unconstitutional funding imbalance between rich and poor school districts. The Senate voted 23-17 to support a plan that gives local school districts the ability to expand their taxing authority with voter consent but also added controversial proposals promoting school choice and blocking spending on Common Core academic standards.

Medicaid expansion divides Missouri Republicans

An effort by some in the GOP to expand eligibility for the federal health insurance program, led by Sen. Ryan Silvey of Kansas City, will probably fall short this year. But it reveals fissures in the GOP blanket objection to anything related to Obamacare and may signal the possibility of a breakthrough next year.

GOP quest for right-to-work law stirs hornet's nest in Missouri

A push to bring so-called right-to-work laws to Missouri comes with multi-layered political ramifications and the attendant maneuverings. A bill prohibiting union fees as a condition of employment was the first to receive a committee hearing this year, but it remains on the legislative calendar four months later with no clear path to success.

Affordable Care Act endures tense deadline day

Monday’s last-minute applicants for 2014 coverage under the Affordable Care Act ran the emotional gamut as hundreds of thousands of people nationally flooded the balky system to buy health insurance. Experts trained to help with Obamacare enrollment in Kansas City said website and phone center delays on Sunday and Monday added to consumer frustrations.

Kansas City seeks voter approval for $500 million in water bonds

Kansas City is seeking voter approval to issue up to $500 million in revenue bonds, to continue modernizing the water system. Water officials say the money is needed over the next 10 years to make critical upgrades and repairs to aging and break-prone water mains and other water assets. The city could borrow the money at historically low interest rates, and the money would be paid back with already-scheduled water rate increases.

Tax-cut opponents in Missouri House draw little primary opposition

Missouri House Republicans were told they could get a well-funded party primary opponent in this year’s election for voting to sustain a gubernatorial veto of tax-cut legislation. Despite those threats, 15 Republicans voted to sustain Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto last year. Yet as candidate filing closed this past week, just four of that group drew August primary opponents – and it’s not definitively clear that their tax cut vote had anything to do with that.

Lawmakers consider funding boost for Missouri 911

If you use a cellphone to get an ambulance in Kansas City, emergency responders should be able to identify your location. But if you call for help while canoeing on the Current River in southern Missouri, rescuers likely would need your help to find you. Officials want to eliminate the latter scenario and bolster a 911 system that in some areas is lagging behind.

Conservation in Kansas comes under attack in Legislature

Four bills wending their way through the Kansas Legislature will decide whether certain wildlife and environmentally sensitive land will continue to be protected, or whether conservation management will give way to development and farming and ranching interests.

Health care signups reach 6 million-plus

More than 6 million Americans have signed up for private coverage on the nation’s health insurance marketplaces, surpassing the Congressional Budget Office estimate for first-year enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.