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Nick’s Picks | Earth Day, NFL Draft and Cicadas Lots of Politics

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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

Here’s your handy-dandy guide to the week ahead, before it happens: 

  • Today is Earth Day! 
  • The Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown tonight. 
  • Opening statements begin today in former President Donald Trump’s first criminal trial. 
  • The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a long-stalled aid package for Ukraine and Israel. The measure cleared the House over the weekend.  
  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments today on what is being called the biggest homelessness case in decades. The justices will decide whether cities can arrest and punish people for sleeping on streets or in tent encampments on public property.  
  • Tuesday is the Pennsylvania primary. Political analysts say the results could foreshadow who wins the nation’s biggest office in November. 
  • And this time last year, Kansas City was hosting the NFL Draft. Now it’s Detroit’s turn. The draft begins Thursday.  

If you’ve got a little more time, here’s some other stories we’re tracking:  

Migrants  

If you haven’t already noticed, immigration has become one of the nation’s most potent issues this election year. 

It’s also increasingly taking over local politics.  

On City Hall’s agenda Tuesday is a resolution affirming that Kansas City will not become a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. 

It comes just days after Mayor Quinton Lucas offered to bring migrants from New York City to work here. 

The backlash has been swift. 

Over the weekend, the presiding commissioners of Clay and Platte counties called on Lucas to withdraw his offer. And the Missouri attorney general says he’ll be watching Kansas City to see if state laws are being broken. 

Mayor Lucas has since tried to clarify his statements, claiming he was only throwing out the welcome mat to migrants with “lawful work permits, and the lawful ability to come to our community.” 


Last Week, Reviewed


Return of Red Light Cameras? 

More than a decade after Kansas City suspended its red-light cameras over legal concerns, are they about to be turned back on? 

On Tuesday, City Hall will begin discussing a new updated red-light camera system that officials claim will withstand legal scrutiny, thanks to new facial-recognition technology.  

Mayor Lucas says the cameras are needed to help combat a wave of traffic fatalities.  

At one time, Kansas City was netting more than $2 million a year from its 29 cameras. The city was issuing 11,000 tickets a month.  

The cameras were never taken down. You can still see them along Southwest Trafficway and Bruce Watkins Drive. 

Kansas Veto Session 

Kansas lawmakers head back to Topeka on Thursday for the legislature’s annual veto session. 

At stake: Most of the agenda they worked to pass over the last 90 days. 

Gov. Laura Kelly has been busy undoing dozens of bills, including vetoing a ban on transgender care for minors and new abortion and election restrictions. 

Now the Republican controlled legislature will try to overturn those vetoes.  

Still in play over the six-day wrap-up session is the fate of a tax cut package that backers claim will put money in the pockets of every Kansan, but Kelly argues is “irresponsible.” 

Also, look for last ditch efforts to revive marijuana legalization in Kansas and a plan to expand Medicaid. 

No More 4-Day School Weeks? 

Independence is currently the largest school district in our area offering students and teachers a four-day work week.  

It’s become a popular trend.  

District administrators say they adopted the shortened week to help retain and recruit teachers. 

But could school leaders be forced to abandon the scheduling experiment as part of a measure just passed by Missouri lawmakers?  

The bill is heading to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk this week.  

If Parson signs it into law, school districts would need approval from voters to make the switch.  

That includes districts like Independence that have already made the change. 

Only small rural districts would be exempt from the voting requirement. But it means Independence must place this on the ballot for voters to decide by 2026.  

The provision about four-day weeks was part of a sweeping education bill that also includes expanded tax credits for parents who send their kids to private schools. 

Talking Trash in Missouri 

Has a long simmering dispute over trash finally been resolved? 

Missouri lawmakers are set to send to the governor’s desk this week a bill blocking a controversial landfill proposed in south Kansas City.  

The bill would give communities within a mile of the proposed landfill the power to veto it.  

The current buffer is half a mile, which gives surrounding cities little sway over the project. 

The measure passed the Missouri Senate last week and is expected to get overwhelming approval in the House as early as today. 

Want a Job in Washington? 

What’s that big line forming in Kansas? 

It’s all those men and women who looked in the mirror over the weekend and saw the state’s newest member of Congress looking back at them.  

It follows a stunning announcement from Republican U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner. After two terms in Washington, he’s calling it quits claiming, “Congress has taken a toll.” 

In a news statement, LaTurner says he now wants to spend “more time with his family.”  

Look for lots of big names to declare their interest in the race this week, including former Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who lost to Laura Kelly in the Kansas governor’s race. 

The Kansas 2nd Congressional District covers most of eastern Kansas, including large parts of Wyandotte County. 

Cicada Emergence 

We’ve been having some wacky weather around here lately.  

That could also explain the “ridiculously early” emergence of cicadas. 

Bug experts say you could start hearing their loud, nonstop buzzing by the end of the week. 

And this is not a normal year. 

For the first time in 221 years, two distinct species of periodic cicadas will emerge from the depths of the earth at the same time. According to cicada experts, that hasn’t happened since Thomas Jefferson was president.  

That means double the bugs and double the treats for our dog Ollie, who loves to catch and snack on them! 

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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