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Nick’s Picks | 7 Things to Watch Following the Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling World Cup, Police Funding and Gas Tax Also on Week's Agenda

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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7 minute read

The ripple effects of a monumental Supreme Court ruling on abortion will continue to dominate national and local news coverage this week.

Here are seven key developments to watch locally:

Clinics: Planned Parenthood has notified the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that it is ceasing abortion care in the state. Currently, there is only one clinic providing abortions in Missouri, and that’s in St. Louis. Planned Parenthood says it will stay open but pivot to providing only contraceptives, preventive care and testing for sexually transmitting infections.

In Kansas, there are four abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood says it’s preparing to open another Kansas City area clinic to keep up with demand. 

It’s a reflection of the sharply different abortion laws on both sides of state line.

Thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling in 2019, Kansas has one of the least restrictive abortion laws in the country. Currently, thousands of women from other states are traveling to Kansas to take advantage of those more permissive rules.

According to state figures, there were more than 7,500 abortions performed in Kansas last year. Nearly half were for women from Missouri. And a growing number of women are coming to Kansas from Texas and Oklahoma. 

But that could soon change. On the Aug. 2 ballot is a constitutional amendment that would allow state lawmakers to decide abortion policy. 

What happens if it passes?

Kansas lawmakers could take up the abortion question when they return to Topeka in January. There is also some suggestion that if the “Value Them Both” amendment is approved in August lawmakers will call for a special session to enact new laws immediately.

Judges and lawsuits: Watch this week what state and federal judges do in our area. Most contentious political issues today end up in court. Will there be an injunction to halt Missouri’s new abortion trigger law from going into effect? 

Will abortion rights groups find new legal ways to challenge Missouri’s abortion ban? Perhaps on religious freedom grounds? Not all faith traditions believe life begins at conception. For example, many Jewish theologians argue life begins when you can see the “crowning of the baby’s head” during the delivery process. Could such an argument be made to declare Missouri’s law unconstitutional?

District Attorneys: How will Missouri now enforce its new law, which blocks all abortions except in the case of a “medical emergency?” 

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says she will not prosecute abortion cases. So have other district attorneys in our metro, including Wyandotte County D.A. Mark Dupree.

Businesses: Another big question is how will businesses react? Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas claims he’s heard from a company that is now declining to come to Kansas City because of Missouri’s abortion ban. And in a social media post he says he expects more to follow. 

A number of other businesses operating in the state, including DICK’S Sporting Goods, are now offering employees up to $4,000 in travel expenses if they decide to terminate their pregnancies and must go out of state to do so.

But could such a policy run afoul of Missouri law? Could it be construed as “aiding and abetting” the commission of a crime?  

The World Cup: We’ve had a number of calls from viewers asking if the World Cup would now pull out of Kansas City as a result of the new Missouri law.

That seems highly unlikely. Remember this year’s tournament will be in Qatar, which has already been called out for having no migrant worker’s rights, no LGBT rights, no women’s rights and no press freedom. 

Abortion Pill: How will this latest law in Missouri affect the abortion pill? 

Most American women don’t go to a clinic to terminate their pregnancies. 

Medication abortions, the two-drug combination sometimes called the “abortion pill,” now accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States.  

More Context: Even before last week’s decision, its worth remembering abortions in Missouri were exceptionally rare. 

Back in 1984, the state recorded more than 20,000 abortions at 26 clinics. In 2020, the state recorded just 167. 

Catching Up

World Cup Press Conference

A delegation of sports and civic leaders in Kansas City have just returned from New York after meeting with FIFA officials. They wanted to get more details on what hosting the World Cup in 2026 will mean for Kansas City. This week, they’re promising a press conference to outline what they’ve learned.

So far, we know little about financial and other obligations in Kansas City. 

There are reports that $50 million in improvements are required at Arrowhead Stadium to accommodate the games. But who will be on the hook for paying that? 

We’re also waiting to hear more from City Manager Brian Platt, who says the city is now on taking the streetcar out to the stadiums by the time the games begin in June 2026. Is that really possible?

The vote on the streetcar extension down to the Country Club Plaza and the University of Missouri-Kansas City took place in 2017. It is not set to open until 2025. Can Kansas City construct a new streetcar line that is twice as long and in half the time? 

Speaking of the World Cup. A story in the Kansas City Star about how you can get tickets for the big tournament caught my eye. It claimed the price for a seat inside Arrowhead Stadium to see these international soccer matches “is expected to be in the $300 range.” 

Wow. So this is not something most of us are going to have the privilege to witness in person? The city insists there’ll be scores of other events to connect Kansas Citians to the games, from fan festivals to free watch parties at places like Union Station and the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Police Funding

In other news, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson plans to sign legislation this week raising the amount of money Kansas City is required to spend on its police department. 

The governor is scheduled to be in Kansas City today to sign the measure at Kansas City Police Headquarters.

It requires City Hall to spend at least 25% of its general fund revenue on police services. The measure still has to be approved by Missouri voters. It will appear on the November ballot.

Gas Tax

A week after President Biden called on Congress to enact a federal gas tax holiday, we have a newsflash for you.

Get ready for the tax on gas to go up this week where we live. As part of a highway improvement law signed by Gov. Mike Parson last year, the Missouri gas tax will increase on Friday by 2.5 cents a gallon.

Remember, you can avoid paying the tax if you keep your receipts and submit them to the state. 

You mean, you haven’t been doing that? 

I think that’s what the state has been betting on. But if you are one of those drivers who has been stashing your gas station receipts in a special place over the last year, you can finally claim your first rebate check this week.  Here’s the form to submit your receipts to get some of your money back.

Sports Betting

Sports betting will become legal in Kansas this week. But don’t expect to be betting on your favorite teams quite yet. Gov. Laura Kelly says the state is still setting up the rules for the new law and the first sports wagers won’t be permitted until September.

Lawmakers approved sports betting at the four state-owned casinos in Kansas, including the Hollywood Casino next to the Kansas Speedway. They’re also permitted to partner with online and retail outlets as part of their licenses.

Under the law, 80% of sports wagering revenue will be deposited into a fund for attracting a professional sports team to Kansas, contributing to speculation that the state is trying to lure the Chiefs across the state line. 

But last week, Kelly poured cold water on that idea, saying any past remarks about the possibility were offered “tongue-in-cheek.” Kelly says she’s never approached the Chiefs, nor has anybody in her administration.

National Guard Troops Risk Dismissal

Up to 40,000 National Guard soldiers face dismissal this week as a mandatory COVID vaccine deadline looms.

Guard troops have until Thursday to get the vaccine. According to data compiled by the Associated Press, the Missouri National Guard has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with about 2,500 service members refusing the shot.  

More than 1,000 Kansas National Guard members are still unvaccinated.

Closing the Book

It’s not just police chiefs and school superintendents who are now calling it quits. Some of Kansas City’s top library leaders are closing the book on long leadership careers.

Friday was Steve Potter’s last day after 34 years at the Mid-Continent Public Library.

This week, the head of the Johnson County Public Library system surrenders his library card.

Sean Casserly has been Johnson County’s top librarian for more than a decade. 

Deputy librarian Tricia Suellentrop will succeed him, starting Friday.

Sports News

It’s been a rough season for the Kansas City Royals. And it’s about to get even rougher. 

The team is going to have to do without one of its star players for the rest of the summer.

Salvador Perez has just undergone thumb surgery and will be out for at least eight weeks.

A massive parade is headed to downtown Denver on Thursday after the Colorado Avalanche claim ice hockey’s greatest prize. Denver hoisted the Stanley Cup on Sunday night after a come-from-behind win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And Wimbledon gets underway today in London. But has the world’s premier tennis tournament just become a glorified exhibition event? 

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours are refusing to provide any ranking points to players after Wimbledon officials blocked Russian and Belarussian players from competing over the invasion of Ukraine. 

America’s Birthday

It’s going to be a short week for many of us as Kansas City gets ready to celebrate America’s birthday.

Fireworks over the Liberty Memorial.
Fireworks over the Liberty Memorial. (File photo)

After a two-year pandemic disruption most of the metro’s traditional fireworks events are back for the Independence Day holiday.

And there are some new traditions. 

The National WWI Museum and Memorial and KC RiverFest are joining forces for what they say will be the largest fireworks show in the city.

They’re calling it the Star and Stripes Picnic and it’s taking place this Saturday on the expansive grounds next to the Liberty Memorial.

Food trucks and music start at 3 p.m. The fireworks display is scheduled to begin around 9:40 p.m. 

The event is free.

If you’re thinking of avoiding the crowds with your own backyard fireworks show this weekend, prepare for some sticker shock.

Inflation is shooting up wholesale firework prices at a time when everything seems to cost more.

How about 35% over last year?

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, supply chain issues are affecting the availability of fireworks and gas prices and labor costs mean shipping prices have skyrocketed.

Nick Haines, tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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