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Headlines for Friday, April 18, 2014



Kansas Extending Ban on Expansion of Medicaid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has indefinitely extended a ban on expanding Medicaid in Kansas under the federal health care overhaul. Brownback on Friday signed a bill approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature to keep the ban in place. The governor and other Republicans have been strong critics of the 2010 federal health care law. A ban included in budget legislation last year is set to expire in July 2015. Medicaid provides health coverage for the needy and disabled, and some provisions of the bill require prompt payments to health care providers. Supporters of expanding Medicaid say it would help thousands of Kansans and that the federal government promises to pay most of the cost. GOP lawmakers consider the health overhaul burdensome and question whether the federal government will keep its funding promise.


Former Kansas Lawmaker Killed in Ultralight Crash

HILLSBORO, Kan. (AP) — A former six-term Kansas House member who was appointed in December to the state's Supreme Court Nominating Commission has died in an ultralight plane crash near his hometown. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports 69-year-old Donald Dahl was flying at low altitude at 1:45 pm Friday when he ran into a tree branch 2 miles south of Hillsboro. The plane fell to the ground near a pond and flipped upside down into the water. The retired U.S. Navy officer served in the House as a Republican from 1997 through 2008, including the last two years as speaker pro tempore. He also was chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee for four years. Governor Sam Brownback issued a statement Friday expressing sympathy to Dahl's family and friends.


UPDATE: First Lady's Planned Speech Draws Complaints

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas high school senior has launched a petition drive urging school officials to rethink their decision to have first lady Michelle Obama speak at graduation next month in Topeka. Taylor Gifford started the drive Thursday evening after concerns were raised by students and parents that Obama's visit would alter graduation plans, including limiting seating for family and friends. The school district announced Thursday that the first lady would speak at a ceremony May 17, the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision that made school segregation unconstitutional. Topeka school officials plan to combine graduation ceremonies and hold them in an 8,000-seat arena. Gifford says Friday she's excited about Obama speaking, but hopes concerns about the ceremony can be addressed.


Governor Lets SE Kansas Casino Bill Become Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is allowing a bill aimed at luring a state-owned casino to southeast Kansas to become law without his signature. Brownback announced the decision Friday, his deadline for acting. Brownback said he has reservations about state-owned casinos but noted that southeast Kansas residents strongly support the bill. The bill decreases the investment required by Kansas law for a casino in either Cherokee or Crawford county to $50 million, instead of the current $225 million. The bill also cuts the fee prospective developers are required to pay to $5.5 million from $25 million. A 2007 law authorized a casino owned by the Kansas Lottery to be built and operated by a private developer. But local officials have argued the current investment requirement is too high to attract interest.


KS Majority Leader's Wife Gets Diversion

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The wife of Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce was granted diversion and fined for a driving under the influence case. The Hutchinson News reports that Sarah Bruce, of Nickerson, will be given at least six months to complete requirements of her diversion. If she does that successfully, the driving under the influence charge will be dismissed. Bruce was arrested in December 2013 in Hutchinson after an accident in which her vehicle hit another vehicle. No one was injured. Court records indicated her blood alcohol level was .159. Bruce sued the state to have her driving privileges restored. That lawsuit is still pending in Reno County District Court.


Spokeswoman: Sebelius Not Considering US Senate Run

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokeswoman says departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not considering running for the U.S. Senate. HHS spokeswoman Dori Salcido said in an email Thursday night to The Associated Press that Sebelius is continuing her work at the federal agency and isn't considering a Senate campaign. Sebelius announced April 11 that she was stepping down as HHS secretary. President Barack Obama immediately nominated White House budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace her. The New York Times reported this week that Sebelius was considering a run for the Senate seat now held by Kansas Republican Pat Roberts. Sebelius is a former two-term Kansas governor. But Democrats in Kansas were skeptical. State Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said Sebelius had not contacted her or party officials about a run.


KS Governor Signs Legislation Addressing Abortion Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed abortion legislation addressing legal issues raised in state and federal lawsuits filed by abortion providers. Brownback announced his action Friday. The changes take effect next week. Abortion opponents have said the bill makes minor changes in existing laws without setting new policy. Planned Parenthood remained neutral on it. The bill revises a requirement that the home pages of abortion providers' websites link to a state health department site about pregnancy and fetal development. Providers would no longer have to post a statement that the state's information is accurate and objective. The measure also revises language in Kansas laws on medical emergencies in which abortion restrictions are waived. Brownback said the bill affirms, in his words, "the sanctity of human life at all stages."


Man Charged in Kansas City-Area Highway Shootings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been charged with 18 felony counts in connection with about a dozen recent random highway shootings that have wounded three people in the Kansas City area. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a news conference Friday that Mohammed Whitaker was charged with two counts of shooting into a motor vehicle and injuring a person, seven counts of shooting into a motor vehicle and nine counts of armed criminal action. At least six of the shootings occurred near Grandview. The Kansas City suburb is home to an area known as the Grandview Triangle, where three interstates and U.S. 50 intersect. The last confirmed shooting believed to be connected to the case was reported April 6. None of victims' wounds was considered life-threatening.


US Delays Review of Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL pipeline before deciding whether to issue a permit. That could push a decision about the controversial oil pipeline until after the midterm elections in November. The State Department is citing a recent decision by a Nebraska judge that overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state. The State Department says that created uncertainty and ongoing litigation. The government is not saying how much longer the review will take. But it says the process isn't starting over. The pipeline has become a politically fraught issue. Republicans criticize President Barack Obama for taking too long to decide. The State Department has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross the border between the U.S. and Canada.


Service Set for 2 Killed in Kansas Shootings Incident

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Services are scheduled for two of the three people shot to death at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City. Frazier Glenn Cross is charged with capital murder in the killings Sunday of Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Cross is also charged with murder in the shooting death of Terri LaManno at a nearby Jewish retirement complex Sunday. Her funeral was Thursday. A service for Corporon and Underwood is Friday afternoon at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. Corporon and Underwood were at the JCC for the "KC Superstar" competition, an American Idol-like singing contest for high school students. LaManno was visiting her mother at the retirement village when she was shot.

Kansas Officials Boost Revenue Estimates by $178M

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are projecting that the state will collect nearly $178 million more in revenues than previously thought through June 2015. The new revenue projections issued Thursday brighten the state's budget picture and would appear to allow Kansas to avoid a budget shortfall through June 2016. The previous revenue projections, issued in November, estimated that the state would collect about $5.9 billion in taxes and other revenues for the current fiscal year and again during the fiscal year beginning in July. The new projections predict about $6 billion in revenues for each fiscal year. But revenues during the current fiscal year would still run about 6 percent behind revenues during the previous year because of income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback.

Dole Planning Second Round of Kansas Visits in May

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and presidential candidate Bob Dole is planning to return to Kansas for a second tour of his home state in May. The 90-year-old Dole announced Thursday that he will visit 16 communities over four days, starting May 12. The former Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee already scheduled events next week in 10 communities in northeast Kansas, starting with one Monday in Overland Park. His second tour will begin May 12 with stops in Seneca, Marysville, Washington, Clay Center, Westmoreland and Manhattan. Dole said he'll visit Junction City, Abilene, Salina, McPherson and Newton on May 13 and Wichita, El Dorado and Emporia on May 14. He plans to end the tour May 15 with events in Topeka and the Kansas City area.


Man Pleads Guilty in Salina Woman's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 25-year-old Salina man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman last April. The Salina Journal reports that Joel Heil entered his pleas Friday to the murder charge and attempted robbery for trying to steal purses from two women. Kristin Tyler was killed on the night of April 25 or early morning of April 26, 2013. Heil testified earlier this month in the murder trial of a co-defendant, 33-year-old Dane DeWeese, in exchange for prosecutors dropping lesser charges and agreeing not to seek a Hard 50 sentence. DeWeese's girlfriend, 21-year-old Megan Wells, pleaded no-contest on Friday to a charge of obstructing apprehension for prosecution for helping DeWeese escape arrest. DeWeese was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy after a two-week trial.


2 Boys in Protective Custody After Wandering Alone

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two young children have been taken into protective custody after they were found wandering around outside a Wichita home. The Wichita Eagle reports that a police officer saw the boys, ages 3 and 4, just after 4 pm Thursday, with the older boy naked from the waist down. No adults were at the home at the time, but police Lieutenant Dan East said a 30-year-old woman arrived later. Preliminary police reports didn't describe the woman's relationship with the children. The boys were checked out at Wesley Medical Center before being taken by police to the Wichita Children's Home.


Fire Closes Camp in Barton County for Summer

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas camp will remain closed into the fall after a fire heavily damaged the dining hall. The cause of Saturday's fire at Camp Aldrich in Barton County is still under investigation. Joe Vinduska, spokesman for Barton Community College, which owns the camp, says investigators determined the camp is unsafe for the public. The camp also does not have power, water or utilities in some areas. No one was injured in the fire. The Hutchinson News reports that Camp Hope, a camp for children dealing with cancer, will be held this year but the location hasn't been determined. The event has been held at Camp Aldrich for more than 30 years. However, the closing means the annual Barton Foundation sporting Clay Shoot on May 4 is cancelled.

Change of Venue Sought in Girl's Electrocution Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A company that is being sued in the electrocution death of a 12-year-old Salina girl wants the trial moved to another county. Devonheir, doing business as Hope Electrical Products, has asked a judge to move the trial in a lawsuit filed by the parents of Jayden Hicks to Ottawa County. The company argues it cannot get a fair trial in Saline County. Jaymie Hicks died in December, months after she fell onto an electrical box while playing with friends in the rain in downtown Salina. The Salina Journal reports that her parents are seeking $10.5 million in damages from Hope Electrical and the city. They claim the city-owned electrical junction box wasn't properly grounded.

Kansas Vet Headed to DC on Honor Flight

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An 83-year-old Lawrence resident is heading to Washington to see national war memorials, thanks to the Honor Flights Network. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that John McCoin is scheduled to fly to Washington on Friday with a group of other veterans and high school students courtesy of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that organizes trips for veterans to see national war memorials, including the World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004. McCoin, a Marine Corps veteran, served during the Korean War, when he was an aircraft mechanic at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C. He came to Kansas in the 1980s to work as a supervisory social worker at the Veteran's Administration hospital in Leavenworth.

Man from Wichita Fitness Center Shooting Moved

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity after a shooting at a Wichita fitness center will be moved to a residential care home. A Sedgwick County judge ruled Thursday that 53-year-old Gary Cox is still mentally ill but is stable enough to be moved from a state hospital to a care home near Fredonia. The Wichita Eagle reports Sedgwick County prosecutors did not oppose the move. Cox opened fire on a group of men at a Nautilus Fitness Center in February 1987, killing 18-year-old Michael Turnbull. He was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic after he said was hallucinating before the attack. After being found not guilty by reason of insanity, he was committed to Larned State Hospital in 1987 and transferred to Osawatomie in September 1994.

Wichita State Researchers Seeking 'Grandfamilies'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Wichita State University researchers are seeking grandparents and grandchildren of all ages for a study on "grandfamilies." The Wichita State University assistant professors from the Elliott School of Communications in Wichita want to conduct interviews with families in which grandparents are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren. Assistant professors Jessica Bertapelle and Jennifer Tiernan are doing the study. Interviews would be either in person or by phone, depending on preferences and locations. Persons interested in participating can contact Bertapelle at 316-9878-6129.


Wichita Man Gets 2 Life Sentences for Sex Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old Wichita registered sex offender has been given two life sentences for committing sex crimes against a 14-year-old girl. The Wichita Eagle reports Gerrian Green was sentenced Friday for criminal sodomy and sexual exploitation of a child. Sedgwick County District Judge Bruce Brown ordered the sentences to be served consecutively and without the possibility of parole. District Attorney Marc Bennett says Green is a documented gang member who committed the crimes in June when the girl was visiting his residence. He was on parole at the time. Kansas Department of Corrections records show Green has been in and out of prison since 2000 on convictions that include aggravated battery and intimidation of a witness. He also was convicted of aggravated indecent solicitation of a 12-year-old girl in 2008.




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