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Headlines for Friday, May 12, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas House Panel Adds Funds for At-Risk Kids 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators looking to boost spending on programs for at-risk public school students have decided to be more generous than previously planned. A House committee worked Friday on a bill that would phase in a $783 million increase in annual aid to public schools over five years. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's funding for its 286 local school districts is inadequate. The court said helping under-performing students is a key issue. The bill initially had a lower total cost, but committee members voted Friday to add an additional $21 million for programs for students who are at risk of failing. That's an extra $111 per student for the 2017-18 school year. The committee hopes to vote on the entire plan Monday.

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Kansas Lawmakers Advance Bill for Oversight of Foster Care 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have advanced a bill that would increase their oversight of the state's privatized foster care system and the contractors running it. The House gave first-round approval to the measure Friday on a voice vote. Members planned to take another vote to determine whether the proposal goes to the Senate. The bill would create an 18-member task force to collect data from the state Department for Children and Families on the foster care system and its contractors and to make recommendations for improvement. Recent state audits have said the department and contractors weren't collecting enough documentation or data to oversee the program and ensure children were placed in safe and appropriate homes. Another audit said some parts of the state didn't have enough foster homes.

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Kansas House Advances Bill on Sales Tax Breaks 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have advanced a proposal that would help the state a little with its budget problems by closing sales tax exemptions while promising a future reduction in the tax on groceries. The House gave first-round approval to the measure Friday on a voice vote. It expects to take a final vote Monday. The measure would raise $115 million over the next two years by applying the state's 6.5 percent sales tax to a few services such as towing, security, pet boarding and non-residential cleaning. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019. The bill would lessen the need to increase other taxes. But new revenue would be offset starting in July 2020 by a reduction in the sales tax on groceries to 6.4 percent.

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Kansas Lawmaker Cites Parkinson's in Announcing Resignation 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas lawmaker is giving up his state House seat at the end of the month because he suffers from Parkinson's Disease. Republican Representative Pete DeGraaf of Mulvane said in announcing his resignation Friday that he doesn't have tremors or other visible systems of Parkinson's. But he says the nervous-system disorder has taken a toll on him and his family. DeGraaf is director of a financial services ministry. He has served in the House since Republicans in his Wichita-area district appointed him to fill a vacancy in May 2008. He is chairman of the House Government, Technology and Security Committee and a member of the Veterans and Military Committee. He is a former Air Force helicopter pilot. DeGraaf publicly disclosed his Parkinson's diagnosis in 2015.

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Late Cash Infusion Fueled Close Kansas Congressional Race 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Newly released campaign finance reports show a late infusion of cash from mostly small donors helped Democrat James Thompson mount his surprisingly close congressional race as emboldened Democrats eye a 2018 rematch in the heavily Republican Kansas district. The margin of victory for Republican Ron Estes in the Kansas 4th District special election on April 11 slid to only seven percentage points from a 31-point margin in November, when incumbent Mike Pompeo was running before he was appointed Trump's CIA director. Reports filed late Thursday show that as of May 1 Thompson raised a total of nearly $832,000, compared to about $494,000 Estes raised. Thompson spent about $562,000, while Estes spent about $421,000. Thompson has about $127,000 left as he mounts his next race. Estes's campaign had nearly $40,000 left.

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Kobach Nominated to Trump Voter Fraud Commission

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed an executive order creating a commission to look at the public's confidence in the integrity of the voting system and he has named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to help lead that commission. The panel will look at allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration across the nation. Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence will lead the commission but Kobach won't be leaving his post in Kansas. Samantha Poetter, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office says Kobach does not plan to end his term in Kansas early. He is considered a likely contender in the 2018 Kansas governor's race. Kobach championed Kansas' tough proof of citizenship requirement as a way to keep noncitizens from voting. He has stood by Trump's unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in November. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the panel plans to complete its work with a report to the president by 2018.

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Kansas May Delay New Amusement Park Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators are asking for an extra year to implement new amusement park rules that lawmakers passed in reaction to a 10-year-old boy's death last year on a water slide in Kansas City, Kansas. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee advanced a bill Thursday afternoon that would delay the law's implementation until July 1, 2018. Committee Chair, Representative John Barker, says the Department of Labor and some county fair operators are concerned about implementing the law so quickly. It requires that amusement rides be inspected annually by a qualified, outside inspector. Currently amusement parks are allowed to conduct their own, in-house, inspections of theme park rides. 

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Kansas Lawmakers Increase Penalties for Human Trafficking 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas senators passed a bill unanimously Thursday that would toughen the state's laws on human trafficking. The bill creates new crimes related to trafficking and toughens some existing laws. The House passed it unanimously on Monday. The bill would create new crimes related to human trafficking, such as using communication devices to facilitate human trafficking or knowingly selling travel services connected with human trafficking. It also would create the crime of internet trading of child pornography. Attorney General Derek Schmidt told lawmakers that Kansas' response to human trafficking has improved. According to Schmidt's testimony, victim advocates served 463 victims of human trafficking last fiscal year. The bill now goes to Governor Sam Brownback for a signature.

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Students in Western Kansas Bring Tiny House to Topeka 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Students in western Kansas have shown state officials a 330-square-foot tiny house they began building at the beginning of the school year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the students from a construction and entrepreneurship class at Ness City High School drove five and a half hours to bring the 12,500-pound tiny house to Topeka this week. They told the Kansas State Board of Education on Wednesday that they want to "conquer the tiny house world." Students say the tiny home is more energy efficient than the average home, using only 900 kilowatt-hours per month. Sophomore Kris Liggett says he and his classmates used a variety of academic subjects to build the house. They're also using communication and social media marketing skills so they can sell the house for nearly $60,000.

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Firm Proposes Privately Funding New Kansas City Terminal 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A local engineering firm has proposed to privately build and finance a new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport in order to garner voter approval and finish the airport project. Mayor Sly James tells the Kansas City Star that the city has been trying for five years to create an airport improvement plan that voters support, but city taxpayers think they'd be the ones financing it. James says private financing would remove any question of taxpayer risk. Engineering firm Burns & McDonnell has asked city officials to be the lead firm for the design and construction work. The project is estimated to cost about $1 billion. The firm says it plans to put money into the project itself, attract other investors and find private lenders to complete the financing.

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Missouri Dog Left to Drown Near Lake Finds New Home 

INDEPENCENCE, Mo. (AP) — A dog that was discovered chained to a cinder block at a Kansas City-area lake has found a new home. KMBC News reports that Deputy went to his new home Thursday. Deputy had been in the care of the Great Plains SPCA since he was found by park rangers earlier this month along Longview Lake. The lab and shepherd mix was caked in mud and had no food or water. Officials believe he had been left to drown as the water levels rose. Tonya Hampton with the Great Plains SPCA says she has no doubts that "this was intentional." People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is offering a $5,000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest and conviction on animal cruelty charges.

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Kansas Airport Seizes More Than 140 Pounds of Cocaine 

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A pilot and a passenger have been arrested at a southwest Kansas airport after landing a plane carrying more than 140
pounds of cocaine. The Kansas City Star reports that the cocaine was discovered after the twin-engine plane landed at the Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport on Wednesday. Kansas Bureau of Investigation officials say authorities received a tip about the plane and asked the Seward County Sheriff's Office to conduct a "ramp check" on the plane as well as review the documentation and identification of the pilot and aircraft. The two men were arrested after the drugs were discovered at an estimated street value of about $2 million. The bureau says the plane and drugs were seized. The bureau says the investigation is ongoing.

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Kansas Education Official Outlines Plan for School Redesign 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas education commissioner wants to choose seven school districts to participate in a major redesign of their systems based on the state board of education's "Kansans Can" vision. Commissioner Randy Watson told board members Tuesday the intent of the redesign project is to the help districts "determine what makes a successful high school graduate." The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Watson says the schools will base their redesign on the five goals of the "Kansans Can" vision for the students' success. Those are locally measured social and emotional growth; kindergarten readiness; individual study plan focused on career interest; high school graduation rates; and postsecondary completion and attendance. Watson says the districts will be chosen by September.

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Records: Slain Boy Told Missouri Authorities About Abuse

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Missouri state records show an emaciated boy whose father later killed him and fed his remains to the family's pigs told authorities he was being abused. Adrian Jones was 5 years old in July 2013 when he told a Missouri Children's Division worker and police officer that a "little bone come out" when his father kicked him in the head. Two years later, Adrian was dead. Adrian's father and stepmother, Michael and Heather Jones, are serving life sentences in his death. The records released this week show Missouri welfare officials said in 2013 that they didn't think they could ensure Adrian's safety at home, but that a county juvenile officer suggested the family be provided more services. The family then moved to Kansas. Similar records remain under seal in Kansas, where welfare officials have said allegations against the family were "thoroughly investigated."

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Man Charged in Connection with Triple Murder in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A 28-year-old man is jailed on $1 million bond after being charged in connection with the shooting deaths of three people in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors in Wyandotte County on Thursday charged Jason R. Tucker with capital murder, attempted burglary and violating a protection order. Tucker is also charged with attempted capital murder for allegedly wounding a man. Police have said that survivor was struck in the head and shot in the back late Tuesday at a home, where officers later found the bodies of 47-year-old Bernadette Gosserand, 47-year-old Vincent Rocha, and 26-year-old Jeremy Rocha. Police say three children who were at the home during the shootings were unharmed. 

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ATF Officials Shoot Armed Suspect in Kansas City Area

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have shot an armed suspect in Independence, Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting happened late Thursday after ATF officials went to the Crossland Economy Studios because a wanted suspect was reportedly there. Independence police say ATF officials encountered the armed suspect and shot the person. Independence police are investigating the shooting. The name of the wounded person has not been released..

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Kansas Man Convicted in Mother's Death

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man has been sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison in the shooting death of his mother. KVOE-AM reports that 30-year-old Daniel Harris was sentenced Thursday in Coffey County District Court for involuntary manslaughter in the death of 61-year-old Niki Harris. Court documents say Daniel Harris' mother came to his Burlington home on February 1 after he argued with his wife over alcohol use. Two guns were present, and Niki Harris picked up one of them. Her intoxicated son then retrieved the second gun, threatened to hurt himself and then turned the handgun on his mother when she advanced toward him. He reportedly fired once, hitting her in the abdomen. The bullet also narrowly missed Harris' wife and baby. Niki Harris died several days later.

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Man Admits to Duping Women into Sex for Porn 'Rehearsals' 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City-area man has pleaded guilty to duping dozens of women into having sex with him on camera by telling them they were rehearsing for roles in pornographic movies. The U.S. attorney's office says 34-year-old Mario Antoine, of Raymore, pleaded guilty to one wire fraud count and will be sentenced to 10 years in prison under the terms of the deal he agreed to Friday. He also will be required to pay restitution to his victims. Formal sentencing is set for September 13. Prosecutors said Antoine created online aliases as a talent manager, photographer and videographer and claimed to work for fictitious companies in the pornography industry. Investigators say he promised to pay the women thousands of dollars. Prosecutors say when the women complained about not being paid, Antoine forwarded images of the sexual activity to their employers or significant others.

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NASCAR Steps in When Driver Shows at Kansas with Pot Sponsor 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Carl Long was forced to strip the logo of a Colorado-based marijuana vaping company from his car Friday after NASCAR said it violated rules governing sponsorship and paint schemes. The logo for Colorado-based Veedverks was plastered on Long's green and yellow No. 66 for tech inspection, but a NASCAR spokesman said it was never vetted and approved. And when officials learned of the hood logo, they had crew members remove it before the car went to the track. NASCAR officials said it will not adorn the car the rest of the weekend. Long returned to NASCAR's top series this weekend after an eight-year banishment over an unpaid fine from a rules infraction earlier in his career. The penalty was commuted by NASCAR this season.

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Orioles' Adam Jones Donates $20K to Negro Leagues Museum 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, the target of racial taunts during a recent game in Boston, has donated $20,000 to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Jones plans to visit the museum and speak with its president, Bob Kendrick, on Saturday before the Orioles continue their series against the Kansas City Royals. The museum founded by a group of former Negro Leagues stars is located in the historic 18th and Vine district, a hub of black culture in Kansas City during the first half of the 20th century. The abuse of Jones on May 1 in Boston touched off a discussion of racism across the sports landscape. Major League Baseball is reviewing security protocols at all 30 of its stadiums, and the Red Sox banished a fan from Fenway Park for using a racial slur against another fan in a separate incident.

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Royals Shut Out Tampa Bay Rays 6-0, Win Series 3 Games to 1

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Royals' starting pitcher, major league ERA leader Jason Vargas, went seven scoreless innings as the Kansas City Royals beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 on Thursday. Vargas (5-1) scattered three hits and dropped his ERA from 1.19 to 1.01. Salvador Perez had a two-run double during a five-run eighth inning. Jorge Bonifacio also scored in the eighth with an RBI single before Whit Merrifield hit a single and then circled the bases when Rays' center fielder Kevin Kiermaier misplayed the hit for a three-base error. Merrifield also homered for the Royals, who won three of four games against the Rays. Kansas City had lost 13 of 16 entering the series. Jake Odorizzi (2-2) gave up one run and four hits in six innings for the Rays. He had allowed three hits or fewer in each of his previous four starts.

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