Nick’s picks | Back to school, student debt relief and possible tax relief

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Image credit above: Nick Haines, host of “Kansas City Week in Review”. (John McGrath | Flat Earth)

It’s officially the end of summer for all students in the metro. This week, Missouri school districts are returning to the classroom, as are all of our major public universities.

The University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Johnson County Community College, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Missouri are all starting new semesters this week.

We know students are returning amid huge teacher shortages. But parents also discover reduced bus routes for lack of drivers and several elementary schools are forced to do without school crossing guards.

In the Kansas City, Kansas, school district, teacher shortages prompted administrators to get even more creative. At Wyandotte High School, they are returning to virtual learning in some classrooms.

They hired teachers from as far away as Texas and Utah to connect with students via Zoom.

The KCK district has nearly 50 unfilled teaching positions.

Legal battle over abortion vote

Is the Kansas abortion amendment vote finally settled?

Barely.

Over the weekend, a partial manual vote count in the state’s nine largest counties confirmed the lopsided result. But proponents of the recall efforts are not giving up.

Mark Gietzen, who leads the Kansas Republican Assembly, said he plans to file a lawsuit today seeking a full statewide recount.

He says that in Wichita, Sedgwick County election officials missed the deadline to count ballots and part of the recount happened over the weekend without outside observers. be there to watch.

Voter Identification Act

Missouri’s new photo ID law goes into effect this week.

Beginning Sunday, Missouri voters will be required to show photo ID to vote.

Two lawsuits have been filed to prevent the new law from taking effect.

The NAACP says it will prevent thousands of Missourians from voting.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who oversees the election, says he will stop cheating.

He says the new law requires the state to provide free photo ID to those who don’t have one.

Seventeen states plus Missouri have enacted photo ID laws. Kansas has required voters to show photo ID since 2012.

Decision on student debt

If you’re still trying to pay off your college debt, there’s a big announcement you’ll want to know about this week.

President Joe Biden is poised to decide whether to extend the student loan repayment freeze or go even further by announcing a new college debt forgiveness program.

The Biden administration is facing pressure from some Democratic lawmakers to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower. The president has championed a more modest proposal that forgives up to $10,000 in debt.

A final decision could be made today. The current college loan repayment moratorium expires on August 31.

“Money in Your Pocket”

Missouri Governor Mike Parson is calling lawmakers back in session and he has scheduled a press conference for the afternoon today to reveal what he wants them to do and when.

You don’t have to wait that long.

Apparently, Parson will be asking lawmakers to pass the largest income tax cut in state history.

For individuals, that could mean an extra $500 in your pocket. The income tax cut would put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of married filers.

Another part of the plan is to help one of Missouri’s biggest industries: agriculture. The governor is proposing a six-year extension of farm tax credits.

Parson says state revenue is up 20% from last year and it’s time to give “hard-earned money back to working Missourians.”

The special session will likely take place around the September veto session in Jefferson City.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson delivering his State of the State address on January 27, 2021. (Courtesy | Office of the Governor of Missouri)

Sports betting backlog in Kansas?

One of the biggest stories to come out of Kansas is that legalized sports betting is set to begin in just over a week.

But is the September 1 launch date now in question as the state attorney general says he has uncovered “significant legal issues” with the proposed betting rules?

The disagreement usually centers on narrow legal definitions, marketing agreements and advertising rules.

It’s unclear whether the attorney general’s review will delay the state’s proposed in-service date next week.

Climate shock

A week after new housing rules prompted angry outbursts and at least one arrest at City Hall, Kansas City Council members are bracing for another clash, this time over climate policy.

After months of debate, the full council is expected to vote this week on a climate protection plan that aims to make Kansas City carbon neutral by 2040.

Environmental activists say the plan helps large utility companies off the hook. A sticking point is whether Evergy should be required to dismantle its Kansas City coal-fired power plant.

Meanwhile, social justice advocates fear the cost of the city’s new climate policies will be borne by those least able to afford price increases. They claim it could increase utility bills, affect rents and even force some residents out of their neighborhoods.

You will be able to vote on the city’s new climate plan during a public consultation session at City Hall scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Opening of the Union Station exhibit

After a three-month delay, Union Station’s latest blockbuster exhibit is finally open to visitors this week.

“Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises” features over 300 artifacts that will introduce you to the history and culture of the ancient Mayan people.

The exhibition was postponed twice due to bureaucratic obstacles in Guatemala.

The country’s new government had blocked the transport of ancient artifacts to the United States.

Now that the dispute is resolved, you can view the new exhibit through December at Union Station.

Union Station and the Kansas City skyline light up at night.
Downtown Kansas City with Union Station in the foreground. (Contributed | Union Station/Kentadh Photography)

Music week

After two pandemic cancellations, Alicia Keys is finally arriving in Kansas City this week. The singer-songwriter plays Starlight Theater Wednesday evening. Keys postponed his August 2020 and August 2021 shows due to COVID.

Chris Botti is also in town on Wednesday. The Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer performs at Yardley Hall in Johnson County Community College.

Country music fans can party with Alan Jackson. He takes the stage at T-Mobile Center Thursday night. It’s the first time he’s been on the road after being diagnosed with a rare degenerative nerve condition which he says “makes getting around difficult”.

And it’s Charlie Parker celebration week. Multiple events are taking place on the subway to honor the Kansas City jazz legend, who was born 102 years ago this week at KCK.

A free launch event Tuesday night at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library will include a panel discussion examining Parker’s relationship with his hometown.

This Saturday night, the American Jazz Museum is hosting “In the Yard,” an outdoor jazz concert featuring three local and national artists.

You can read more about both events at projectorcharlieparker.org.

Chiefs pre-season finale

Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and the gang return to Arrowhead Stadium this week for their final game of the preseason.

The Chiefs will face the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. Game time is 8 p.m.

The Chiefs’ regular season begins September 11 with a game against the Arizona Cardinals.

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

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Martha K. Merrill