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Nick’s Picks | Presidents Day, Political Drama and the Return of Big Events

The News Week Ahead

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

Today is Presidents Day.

So let this be your reminder not to head to the bank or post office. They will be closed.

So are most of our area libraries and local government buildings. 

And if you thought this would be a great day to learn something about our past presidents, this may be the worst time to do it. 

Remarkably, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence is closed today. So is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum in Kansas.

Canceling Spring Training Games

The Kansas City Royals were scheduled to play their first spring training game this week. That match-up against the Texas Rangers has now been canceled as the baseball lockout continues.

But it might get worse. 

If no deal is reached between the league and its players by next Monday, it could push back the start of the regular season.

The Royals’ opening day is currently scheduled for March 31 against the newly named Cleveland Guardians.

By the way, if the baseball lockout and the end of the Olympics has left you sports deprived, you can always turn to college hoops. 

KU and K-State meet Tuesday night in Lawrence for the latest installment of the Sunflower Showdown. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

Two cardboard cutouts of fans resting in Kauffman Stadium's bleachers, ready for the home opener.
Kauffman Stadium cutouts at the Royals home opener in 2020. (Courtesy | Kansas City Royals Twitter)

Map Saga

There are only so many ways you can write about the same story over and over again. But for the eighth straight week, redistricting will be one of the biggest items on the agenda in both of our state capitals. 

It’s one of those wonky policy stories that is hard to get the public excited about. But it has huge implications on the big elections you’ll be deciding later this year, and for the next decade.

In Missouri, lawmakers are still at a stalemate over the redrawing of the state’s political maps.

Members of the “Conservative Caucus” in the Missouri Senate say they won’t pass any bills for the remainder of the session, until they get their way. What is that way? They want the U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver out. The plan?  Cut his district in two, making it almost impossible for the Kansas City Democrat to win reelection. 

The stalemate can’t go on forever. 

Candidates are required to file for congressional office in Missouri by March 29. So there has to be some sense of certainty before then. But we won’t see any progress today. The Missouri statehouse is closed for Presidents Day. 

Remember, Kansas has been going through the same painful process. 

Just to recap, what Kansas has decided to do is move Lawrence into the same congressional district as western Kansas and cut Wyandotte County in half. Democrats say the GOP-drawn map aims to squeeze U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids out of office. 

This week all eyes will be on the courts to see if they take up several lawsuits challenging the newly approved map.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants the Kansas Supreme Court to toss out any lawsuits. 

He says the Kansas Constitution does not prohibit the legislature from considering political objectives when drawing congressional districts.

With no quick resolution in sight, let’s just say this whole issue has become messier than a truck stop restroom.

Medicaid Expansion

There are some other important statewide issues you should know about.

Less than 18 month ago, voters in Missouri approved Medicaid expansion. 

It passed with 53% approval.

Now Missouri lawmakers want you to vote on it again. 

The Missouri House is expected to take up a measure Tuesday that would ask you to revote on Medicaid expansion this November.

It wouldn’t totally kill the low-income health coverage program, but it would place work requirements on new recipients. 

It would also give lawmakers legal authority to restrict the number of new enrollees if there isn’t enough money in the annual budget to pay for the benefits.

Parents Rights

Kansas lawmakers will try to push over the finish line this week a new Parents Bill of Rights.

It would require schools to publish online their lesson plans, reading lists and all materials used in the teaching of their students at the start of each school year.  

According to the measure, parents will be able to object to materials used by a school and would be able to remove their children from classes if they believe the content is inappropriate.

Supporters say it’s about transparency.

Opponents argue it will erode relationships between teachers and parents and add a massive new administrative burden on school districts.

They also worry outside groups will cherry pick information out of context and use it to attack teachers.

Thousands of Seasonal Jobs

We all know businesses are really struggling to find workers right now.  

But could this next story give us a sense of how desperate the job market has become?

Worlds of Fun has announced its offering $17 an hour if you’re willing to come out to the amusement park this summer and help push the buttons that power up its rides.

Remember, this is the starting wage for seasonal workers who are at least 16 years old.

To put things in perspective, that’s substantially more than what many critical workers are making.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current average wage for childcare workers is $12.24.

Home health aides make $13.02 an hour, on average.

And pre-school teachers clear an average hourly wage of $15.35.

To offer even more incentives, Worlds of Fun also is offering free meals and free admission to more than a dozen other theme parks from Six Flags to Silver Dollar City.

If you’re interested, Worlds of Fun is holding an in-person hiring event this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Main Event in Kansas City North.

The company says it has more than 3,000 seasonal positions available.

You can book your interview at worldsoffun.jobs.

An aerial shot of Worlds of Fun lit up with Christmas lights at sunset.
Winterfest at Worlds of Fun. (Contributed | Worlds of Fun)

Big Events Are Back

Kansas City didn’t get to experience a big Super Bowl victory parade this year, but we’re pleased to report that another big citywide celebration is making a comeback. 

For the first time in three years, there will be a Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The bagpipers, dancers, floats and green beer will return to our streets Thursday, March 17, starting at 11 a.m. 

While the news may prompt you to break out in an Irish jig, the announcement may signal something even more important. Big events of all kinds are on their way back.

After two years of COVID cancellations, the Kansas City Library is bringing back its large in-person audience events, starting next month.

And Kansas City PBS is in negotiations with the Kansas City Symphony and Union Station to bring back Celebration at the Station this Memorial Day. The annual free concert and firework event has not been held since 2019.

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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