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Nick’s Picks: A Peek at the News to Come This Week

'Kansas City Week in Review' Host Nick Haines Outlines News Agenda

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Above image credit: Nick Haines, host of KCPT's "Kansas City Week in Review," provides a news outlook for the coming week. (File | Flatland)

Here’s a look at the local week in news before it happens.

Crossing Guard Services

Funeral services are today for a Kansas City, Kansas, school crossing guard who sacrificed his own life to save two children from a speeding vehicle. Expect a bill in the Kansas Legislature to better protect crossing guards. It’s a risky job. In the last year, about 15 crossing guards nationwide have been killed on the job. Crossing guards are also routinely subjected to insults and profanity by drivers who blame the guards for lengthening their already slow commutes. 

Protecting Sports Officials

Have you witnessed parents behaving badly at your kid’s sports game?  This week, lawmakers in both Kansas and Missouri will decide whether to advance bills to protect referees and umpires from abuse and assault. Kansas is pushing to increase fines and impose up to six months of jail time for attacking an official. Missouri is considering making referees and umpires a special class of victim. As a result, striking a sports official would be punished with the same severity as assaulting a police officer or firefighter. The National Association of Sports Officials receives five reports a month about assaults. Since 2010, Kansas has seen a decline in registered officials in every high school sport.

Missouri Primary

We’re now two weeks away from the Missouri presidential primary on March 10. This week, Bernie Sanders will open an office in Kansas City. Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren have already opened offices here. If you’re interested in seeing one of these candidates in action, it looks like your best chance will be March 8. That’s when the Missouri Democratic Party has organized the “Show-Me Showdown” at the Kansas City Convention Center. It’s not a debate but all the presidential candidates are invited to deliver a speech. A spokesperson for the state party claims, “they’ll all be here.”

Budget Backlash

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is facing pressure from arts advocates, allies of health care providers, tenants’ rights groups and ambassadors for the Kansas City Film Office. All are upset with Lucas’ new budget that eliminates or sharply cuts their programs. If you want to weigh in, you can. On Saturday, the mayor and the City Council will host a public hearing on the budget from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Southeast Community Center at 4201 E. 63rd Street. That’s just north of Swope Park. The Mayor says you can also let him know your thoughts online or on the phone.  Contact: MayorQ@KCMO.org or call 816-513-3500.

Control Issues

A new study gets underway this week to evaluate whether the Kansas City Police Department should be under local control.  With alarm over rising homicides, the City City council voted to approve the study last week. The KCPD has been overseen for more than 80 years by members of the Board of Police Commissioners appointed by the Missouri governor. Supporters believe local control could make police more accountable to elected city leaders.

Medical Marijuana

Missouri lawmakers will hold a third medical marijuana hearing this week. House Speaker Elijah Haahr says too many questions still remain unanswered about how the state awarded licenses to the new dispensaries. The state is girding itself for hundreds of lawsuits from applicants who were turned down.  Most people simply want to know when they can go to a dispensary and buy marijuana. The official response has not been determined. But some state officials say it’s likely to be June. 

Cannabis growing facilities
Cannabis growing facilities at Ever-Bloom Farm in Carpinteria, California, on September 14, 2019. (Rod Rolle/Sipa USA | AP Images)

Plastic Bag Bans

The Kansas House is expected to vote this week on a bill that would prevent cities from enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and straws. Prairie Village and Lawrence are both considering restrictions on single-use plastic. But the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and groups representing grocers, restaurants and convenience stores say they worry businesses could face a patchwork of local rules that raise costs and create headaches for chains. The state of Missouri already restricts cities from imposing local plastic ban ordinances.

Dreadlocks Discrimination

Kansas lawmakers will decide this week whether to advance a bill to ban discrimination against dreadlocks and other natural hairstyles. Currently, Kansas employers can fire people because of their dreadlocks or not hire them at all.  This is the subject of our newest podcast on Flatland. It’s called “The Filter.” Launching this Wednesday, it examines issues that often get short shrift in our local news and brings voices that often missing from the conversation. 

Ieshia and Vicky, Filter podcast hosts
Vicky Diaz-Camacho and Ieshia Downton are hosts of “The Filter” podcast at Flatland, the digital magazine at Kansas City PBS. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Another GOP Candidate

A former vice president at Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell wants to unseat Kansas 3rd District Congresswoman Sharice Davids. Mike Beehler, a Republican from Leawood, will officially file the paperwork this week. Three other GOP candidates already are running for the right to challenge Davids.

Women’s Voting Rights

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. This week, we’re celebrating the centennial of the League of Women Voters. There’s a major celebration Saturday at the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College featuring the woman whose signature appears on most of the paper bills in your wallet. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Rosie Rios led the charge to return a woman’s image to America’s paper money, by adding Harriett Tubman to the $20 bill. Spoiler alert: It still hasn’t happened. She also leads a project aimed at increasing the number of women in public places.  I have the privilege of hosting this event. Details can be found here.

Nick’s Picks is a regular Monday feature on Flatland and 90.9 The Bridge. You can also tune into KCPT’s “Kansas City Week in Review” Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.

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