By JOE JAROSZ
June 4, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – What did the state legislature do this past year that affected the Northeast?
That’s what members of the Northeast Chamber of Commerce found out at its most recent member luncheon. Held Tuesday, May 27, at the Green River Chinese Restaurant at 12th Street and Brooklyn Avenue, members were joined by State Senator Paul Levota. Representing the 11th district, which includes portions of Historic Northeast area and Jackson County, Levota updated the group of about 20 members about what from the last Jefferson City session could affect them the most.
Even though he currently lives in Independene, Levota said his family grew up in the Northeast area. He said the latest legislative session, which just concluded, provided some highlights, including a redefinition of the transfer issue that would affect the Kansas City Public Schools. Levota introduced a bill clarifying when transfers can take place to not overburden the receiving district, but it was vetoed. Even though the KCPS reached provisional accreditation, they’re still labeled as a failing school and Levota would like to see that changed.
“We have a lot of work to still do with the Kansas City school district,” Levota said.
Also during the session, Levota, with the help of State Representative John Rizzo, secured funding for a new highway patrol crime lab based in the Independence area, and among other measures, increased surcharge from $2 to $4 for domestic violence shelters and passed a bill that would invest in early childhood education.
“I know I rattled off a lot but it’s because I don’t have the opportunity to come here often,” Levota joked.
After he gave his update, Levota took questions from Chamber members. He was asked about crime in the Northeast, Medicaid expansion and infrastructure. He said at a town hall meeting last year, he learned about the problems residents face walking to grocery stores and other neighborhood establishments. He said he wants to figure out a way for businesses to keep their traffic while at the same time not lose customers because of rerouting a highway.
“We have food deserts but they’re across the street from a major highway,” Levota said. “I’d like the opportunity to sit down and figure out how we can help with that.
Also during the luncheon, the members voted in five new members to the Board of Directors. New members include Gerry Cramer of Central Bank, Sua Ann Erb of the Northeast Vikings N Club Association, attorney Jerry Potocnik, Rev. Ann Rundquist of Children’s Memorial Lutheran Church and Dick Vorce of Space Bank. The next luncheon will be held Tuesday, June 24, at Peter May’s House of Kielbasa, 1654 Bristol Ave., with special guest speaker Tom Turner, of the Bishop Sullivan Center, to speak about the Center’s jobs program.