Downtown KC charter school wins support to double size

A plan by Crossroads Academy of Kansas City to double its size by this fall with the help of $5.5 million in tax incentives was endorsed Monday by the Kansas City Tax Increment Financing Commission. The fast-growing downtown charter school wants to acquire the building next door so it can expand to include middle school students.

House passes bill to separate Kansas from Affordable Care Act

A bill that seeks to remove Kansas from the Affordable Care Act — if Congress approves — passed the House on Monday. House Bill 2553, which passed 74-48, commits Kansas to join a health care compact, a hypothetical network of states that would be allowed to set up their own health insurance regulations separate from the Affordable Care Act. It now goes to the Senate.

Support and opposition both growing as streetcar court hearing nears

As a crucial April court hearing on streetcar extensions nears, some Kansas City neighborhoods are rallying squarely behind the streetcar plan, while organized opposition is also intensifying. It’s setting the stage for what could be a packed courtroom and fierce debate over whether streetcars will roll anywhere besides the two-mile downtown starter route.

With a week left in open enrollment period, Obamacare canvassers comb neighborhoods

Armed with stacks of handouts about the Affordable Care Act, canvassers are going door to door in Kansas City’s urban neighborhoods asking people whether they are interested in enrolling in ACA health plans. How well the campaigns succeed in these final days before the March 31 deadline for open enrollment will be crucial not only for gaining coverage for the nation’s uninsured this year.

Special courts could be key in fighting street gun culture

The term “street gun culture” needs little explaining. Kansas City hears its repercussions amplified every night on the TV news. Worse, citizens of the urban core suffer its consequences daily. But could it be deflated if using a gun in a crime like robbery drew swift and consistent consequences?

New television ads are rekindling the ‘border war’

Two nonprofit groups with ties to anti-tax crusader Rex Sinquefield lobbed fresh firecrackers this month into the business border war between Kansas and Missouri. The groups — Kansans for No Income Tax and Save Missouri Jobs — are spending a combined $200,000 during the tax filing season on cable TV ads promoting lower taxes in Kansas. They also portray Kansas City as a high-tax place to live and do business.

Kansas City has dreams of transforming little-used Washington Square Park

Union Station and Crown Center are currently on the upswing, but smack dab in the midst of this beehive of activity is a rather drab piece of city land that almost no one visits, Washington Square Park. Park officials and adjacent businesses have big plans to rejuvenate the 5-acre park, especially because it will be the end point of the new downtown streetcar route.

Sen. Claire McCaskill brings ‘Main Street Tour’ to UMKC

For about an hour Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Claire McCaskill got to hear what’s on the minds of her Kansas City constituents as she brought her “McCaskill on Main Street Tour” to the area. This was her fifth town hall meeting this week and McCaskill said the questions have been all over the board, ranging from the health care exchanges to legalizing marijuana.

Tanning bed debate heats up in Kansas and Missouri

Kansas lawmakers are considering legislation banning minors from indoor tanning. Missouri is considering a measure requiring anyone under 17 to get their parents’ consent before tanning. The legislation is a response to public health advocates sounding alarms about risks associated with indoor tanning and added exposure to ultraviolet light, especially among teens.

Kansas City’s firefighters fountain to get new memorial wall

Kansas City’s Firefighters Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1991, is to get a new memorial wall and other upgrades this summer. The improvements are designed to give the memorial more visibility and make it a more inviting landmark on 31st Street at the southern edge of Penn Valley Park.

Change is coming slowly, surely to Kansas City

Downtown has changed dramatically, yet standing there now is also a reminder that change comes at an enormous public cost, one Kansas Citians have been willing to pay. Kansas City’s political class grinds the change wheel slowly, but grinds it nonetheless. Now it’s grinding again, this time for improvements at the airport and a streetcar system.

Claire McCaskill plunks down $2.7 million for D.C. condo

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is the 24th richest member of Congress according to a recent Roll Call list. Now look at what property records show the Democrat — and her husband Joseph Shepard — recently bought in Washington, D.C.: a $2.7 million condo. That’s a lot of money, even for the pricey nation’s capital.

Congress hard at work on absolutely nothing

House Republicans call their new effort the “Enforce Act.” It passed 233 to 181. They’re calling the president out for using executive orders. But many of these same Republicans put the pen into his hand by refusing to negotiate reforms to current law.

Lack of action leads to loss of Missouri tobacco settlement money

When Missouri receives an annual settlement payment from tobacco companies next month, the deposit will be less than half of its typical $130 million. That’s because an arbitration panel decided Missouri officials in 2003 failed to diligently enforce the terms of the multi-state tobacco settlement.

Kansas lawmakers pass school funding bill that would eliminate teacher tenure

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 Gov. Sam Brownback to sign.

Obamacare shapes politics in campaigns big and small

“Pretty much every race, from U.S. Senate to the city council, Obamacare is on people’s minds,” said Republican consultant Aaron Trost. Republicans see it as a winning issue in 2014. Democrats worry that it has become a broader critique of a federal government that many voters distrust, to their party’s disadvantage.

Odessa gun store is sued for allegedly selling weapon used by mentally ill woman in fatal shooting

The complaint says that in June 2012, Odessa Gun & Pawn sold a .45-caliber pistol to Colby Sue Weathers and that Weathers used the gun to fatally shoot her father. The store’s operators should have heeded a warning from the daughter’s mother not to sell a gun to a person in such an unsettled psychological state, says the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.