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Nick’s Picks | Big Week Ahead for Politics and KC Restaurants A Look at the News Week Ahead

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

Some say the statute of limitations to wish someone a “Happy New Year” ended yesterday. So to avoid any form of social punishment, I’m not going to offer you that salutation. Let me instead greet you with a hearty welcome to the first Nick’s Picks of 2023. 

There’s a lot going on. 

Kansas Politics 

It’s a big week in Kansas politics. The 2023 legislative session begins today.

Get ready for fights over everything from medical marijuana and Medicaid expansion to new efforts to restrict abortion and the participation of transgender athletes in girls’ sports. 

Does it all sound familiar? 

This is also inauguration day for Gov. Laura Kelly. 

The Democrat starts her second term this morning with a swearing-in ceremony on the south steps of the statehouse in Topeka.  

Also being sworn in is Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach. This is his first day on the job. 

On Wednesday night, Kelly will deliver her annual State of the State address before a joint session of the legislature. 

You can watch the address live on the Governor’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Kansas City PBS will rebroadcast the speech this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. 

Meanwhile, Missouri lawmakers are already back at work. Sports betting, teacher pay and efforts to restrict initiative petitions are topping this year’s agenda in Jefferson City. 

Gov. Mike Parson will deliver his State of the State message next week. 

Catching Up

Change in Johnson County 

There’s a big change underway in Johnson County.  

Tonight, former Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly will be officially sworn in as the new head of Johnson County government.  

He succeeds Ed Eilert, who led the county for the past twelve years.  

Kelly will preside over his first Johnson County Commission meeting on Thursday. 

Drama in Congress 

After being trapped in limbo for the better part of a week, Congress finally gets back to business today. 

But does that historic, bare-knuckle brawl to pick House Speaker Kevin McCarthy foreshadow ugly fights ahead? 

Concerns about gridlock may become real starting today when the House votes on a new rules package that sets how the chamber will run during its term.  

Lawmakers will then tackle the most immediate issue in front of them: raising the debt ceiling. Without it, Democrats say government would shut down. But a group of House Republicans are already signaling they will hold the issue hostage without substantial cuts to government spending. 

In Other News 

Prince Harry’s memoir goes on sale this week. “Spare” will be released on Tuesday and is expected to dominate book sales and office small talk. 

Will you be buying a lottery ticket this week? The Mega Millions jackpot has ballooned to $1.1 billion —the third-largest prize in U.S. history. The next drawing is Tuesday night. 

The college football championship game is tonight. The Georgia Bulldogs take on the TCU Horned Frogs. Game time is 6:30 p.m. 

The Golden Globe Awards makes its return to television on Tuesday night. There was no telecast last year following a scandal over diversity, accusations of sexism, and ethical and financial lapses among members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 

KC Restaurant Week 

If losing weight topped your New Year’s resolution list, close your ears for this next story. It’s KC Restaurant Week.  

More than 200 local eateries are offering discount deals and cut-price multi-course menus designed to get you to try some new places to dine. 

And it’s all for a worthy cause. 

The event donates 10% of sales to local charities, including Cornerstones of Care, the Visit KC Foundation and the Greater KC Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. 

KC Restaurant Week is a 10-day affair. It starts this Friday and runs through Jan. 22.  

To find out what deals are available and to check out what restaurants are taking part, go to 

Country Club Plaza Centennial 

Traditionally, this is the week a team of electric workers begin tearing down the thousands of holiday lights on the Country Club Plaza.  

But not this year. 

To mark the shopping center’s 100th birthday in 2023, the Plaza is keeping the lights on for another six weeks. 

That means you’ll be able to see the holiday illuminations through Valentine’s Day. 

Country Club Plaza holiday lights
Christmas lights on the Country Club Plaza. (Courtesy | Visit KC)

Roller Coaster Year 

Guess what else is celebrating a big anniversary this year? 

Worlds of Fun. 

Kansas City’s hometown theme park opened 50 years ago this summer. It was the brainchild of late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. 

The park is celebrating by building its first new roller coaster in more than a decade.  

Worlds of Fun is bringing back an updated version of what was a cult favorite at the park, the Zambezi Zinger. 

It will be available to ride when the park opens in April. 

In the meantime, Worlds of Fun has launched a 50th anniversary memory contest. 

They want some of your best memories from the last half-century. 

Remember that time when you evacuated your lunch after riding the Timberwolf? Or when you got a bad sunburn after waiting nearly two hours in line for the Mamba?  

Those stories won’t win you any prizes. But you could win one of four VIP Zambezi Zinger prize packs if you share how you met your life partner on the Snoopy train ride or decided to become a scientist after experiencing weightlessness on the Swedish Fling. Remember that? 

If I’ve jogged your memory, head on over to the park’s website at for your chance to win.

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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