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Headlines for Friday, April 4, 2014


UPDATE: Kansas House Advances School Funding Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a plan for boosting aid to poor school districts after Governor Sam Brownback urged fellow Republicans to support it. The House's 84-36 vote Friday advanced the measure to final action, which was expected later Friday. The vote came after Brownback praised the plan in a meeting with Republicans. Final House approval would clear the way for negotiations with the Senate, which approved its own school funding plan early Friday. Both are designed to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court order last month directing lawmakers to increase aid to poor districts. The House plan provides an additional $141 million during the next school year, offsetting the cost with budget adjustments elsewhere.


Kansas Senate to Debate Plan for Health Compact

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate is taking up a bill to bring the state into a compact with other states hoping to become exempt from the federal health care overhaul. Senators hoped to vote on the bill Friday. If they don't make any changes in the measure and pass it, it will go to Governor Sam Brownback. The House approved it last month. The compact would let participating states remove themselves from all federal health regulations if Congress consents. Many Republican lawmakers strongly oppose the federal health care law championed by Democratic President Barack Obama and see it as intrusive and burdensome. Critics call the measure symbolic and say Congress wouldn't approve a compact. A Texas-based group pushing the compact says eight other states have enacted similar laws, including Missouri.


Kansas House Blocks Wichita Gambling Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House members have rejected a proposal that would prohibit slot machines at a closed dog-racing track outside Wichita, even though residents voted in 2007 against having them at the south-central facility. The 55-67 vote Friday leaves the bill in limbo. The Senate approved the bill in March and the measure could be negotiated by the two chambers. Supporters want to postpone a second vote for slots at Wichita Greyhound Park until 2032, citing concerns that the machines would violate a state contract with operators of the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. Voters narrowly rejected slots at the race track, but owner Phil Ruffin has said he would push for a new vote. Critics say the measure is retribution against Ruffin for supporting moderate Republicans in 2012 elections.


Kansas Seeks Appeal Costs from Planned Parenthood

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has asked a federal appeals court to award it the costs of its appeal against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. The state's Friday filing with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeks nearly $1,530 for expenses such as transcripts incurred in the appeal. The court ordered Planned Parenthood to respond by April 21. The filing comes one week after an appeals panel ruled Kansas can strip two clinics of federal family planning money while Planned Parenthood moves forward with its challenge of a state law it says is retaliation for its advocacy of abortion rights. At issue in the case is money distributed to states under a federally financed family planning program. Kansas appealed a lower court's order to fund the clinics until the case was resolved.


State Sued After Death of Kansas Toddler

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The father of an 18-month-old El Dorado girl who died while living in a meth house is suing the state, saying investigators did not do enough to protect his child. Jayla Haag died in March 2012 in El Dorado. Her mother, Alyssa Haag, pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter after originally being charged with first-degree murder. The girl's father, Steven T. Watters, sued the Kansas Department of Children and Families last month. He alleges the department was told Jayla was being abused while living in the meth house and did nothing to protect her. The Wichita Eagle reports a spokeswoman for the state agency says the legal division was reviewing the lawsuit and the state would have no further comment.


Wichita Plant to Close, Costing 54 Jobs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita plant that makes metal carts for audio-visual equipment plans to close this summer, meaning a loss of 54 jobs. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Advance Products plant will close at the end June. The company's owner, Da-Lite, said the Wichita facility will remain open until then. Da-Lite spokeswoman Melissa Rone said the Wichita operation was no longer sustainable because the demand for AV equipment carts has fallen with the declining use of overhead projectors and VCRs. Cart manufacturing will move to the company's headquarters in Warsaw, Indiana. Da-Lite, a maker of projection screens, bought Advance Products and the Wichita plant in 1995.


ASU Student Was at Banned Frat's Party Before Fall

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say an Arizona State University student who died after falling from the 10th floor of a Tempe apartment building had earlier attended an off-campus party sponsored by a banned fraternity. Tempe police still are investigating the death early Sunday of 18-year-old Naomi McClendon. Investigators believe the Kansas native was intoxicated when she was taken to the high-rise apartment complex. They say it appears she walked on to the balcony, lost her balance and plunged to her death. Police say the party, sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Pi, encouraged binge drinking because those who attended paid a $30 fee for unlimited drinking. Officers raided the party, shut it down and issued seven alcohol citations but McClendon already had left. Police say Alpha Epsilon Pi isn't officially recognized by ASU after past sanctions.


Judge Sets Hearing in Kansas Airport Bomb Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge scheduled a new hearing for a man accused of plotting a suicide bombing at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot set an April 28 date for a status conference in the case of Terry Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician facing terrorism-related charges. Such proceedings are routinely used to keep the judge apprised of progress in the litigation. Loewen was arrested December 13 after allegedly trying to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at the airport, where he worked. The arrest followed a months-long federal sting operation. He has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use an explosive device to damage property and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.


Former KU Football Player Sentenced for Robbery

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former University of Kansas defensive end who was dismissed from the football team without playing a game has been sentenced to three years' probation for robbery. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 22-year-old Chris Martin could go to prison for nearly three years if he violates terms of the sentence imposed Friday by a Douglas County judge. Martin pleaded guilty in February to felony robbery, admitting that he stole cash and marijuana during a May 2013 home invasion in west Lawrence. Martin transferred to Kansas as a junior in 2013 but did not appear in a game before his arrest. He's now enrolled at New Mexico Highlands University. Two other former Kansas football players and a fourth defendant were also charged in the robbery. All have been placed on probation.


Freight Transportation Focus of Kansas Panel

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization will hold a panel discussion next week on the future of freight transportation in the region. The free event is scheduled for April 8 at 3:30 pm in Wichita City Hall. The organization says the discussion will introduce the public to issues related to the movement of roughly $70 billion worth of freight through the region. Panelists will include officials from transportation provider YRC Worldwide, the Kansas Department of Transportation and Wichita State University's Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

Sheriff: Kansas Fugitive Arrested in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A traffic stop in New Mexico has resulted in the arrest of a Kansas fugitive. The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department says deputies working on an interstate criminal enforcement team arrested 39-year-old Patrick Close on a Kansas warrant accusing him of a sex crime involving a child under age 14. According to the Sheriff's Department, Close was in a vehicle stopped Thursday while traveling eastbound on Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque for failure to stay in a lane. The Sheriff's Department says it learned from investigators in Jefferson County, Kansas that Close was placed on Kansas's most-wanted list because it was feared he was headed to Mexico. He was arrested and jailed in Albuquerque while awaiting extradition back to Kansas.

Wichita Man in Custody in Beating of Elderly Mother

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man is in custody after his mother was beaten with a baseball bat and a machete. The beating was reported Thursday evening at her south Wichita home. KAKE-TV reports that police say the argument began when the 86-year-old woman confronted her 53-year-old son about his drinking. He allegedly hit her with the bat several times and then cut her with a dull machete. The woman is hospitalized in serious condition with several broken bones in her arms and hands, as well as cuts. 


Man Gets 10 Years in Prison for Deadly Drug Deal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was sentenced to just over 10 years for his role in a drug deal that turned deadly. Nineteen-year-old John E. Carter was sentenced Friday to 10 years and three months in the April 2013 shooting death of 33-year-old Ronald Betts. The Wichita Eagle reports that Carter pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery and attempted possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Carter was one of six people charged in Betts's death. Police said Carter and two other men tried to rob Betts after arranging to buy a quarter-pound of marijuana from him.


6 Suspended Amid Kansas City School Rape Allegations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Six Kansas City school employees are suspended and two students face charges in juvenile court in connection with a 14-year-old girl's allegations that a boy repeatedly raped her at school. The suspensions at Southwest Early College Campus came after school officials vowed to increase measures to protect students after an alleged rape in August at the same school. The girl in the latest case told authorities a 14-year-old boy raped her "on numerous occasions" over the last month while a 13-year-old girl stood in the hall as a lookout. The boy and the alleged lookout have been charged in juvenile court with one count each of rape and sodomy and ordered to remain detained. A district spokesman declined to identify the suspended employees or their positions at the school.


Antarctic Trench Named for KU Professor

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A trench in Antarctica has been named after a professor at the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the U.S. Board of Geographic Names recently named the "Gogineni Subglacial Trench" after Prasad Gogineni, who teaches electrical engineering and computer science. The trench is hidden under the Byrd Glacier in the Victoria Land region of Antarctica. Gogineni directs the university-based based Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, an international organization that works to predict effects of melting glaciers on sea levels. His research helped in discovering and describing the characteristics of the trench that's named after him.

Wake Forest Hires Danny Manning as Head Men's Basketball Coach

Danny Manning is leaving The University of Tulsa to take over as Wake Forest's basketball coach. Athletic director Ron Wellman announced Manning's hiring on Friday. The school says it will hold a news conference next week on its campus in Winston-Salem, N.C. Both Wellman — who also chairs the NCAA tournament selection committee — and Manning are in North Texas for the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament Final Four. Manning attended high school in nearby Greensboro before becoming an All-American at the University of Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to the 1988 national championship and playing 15 years in the NBA. He was 38-29 with two postseason berths in two seasons at Tulsa. His hiring ends Wake Forest's two-week search for a replacement for Jeff Bzdelik, who resigned under intense public pressure following four mostly unremarkable seasons.

University Hires, Quickly Fires Sports Spokesman

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The University of Great Falls has fired its director of sports information and marketing shortly after hiring him, saying it learned he had a criminal record that an initial background check failed to uncover. The Great Falls Tribune reported Thursday Todd Brittingham pleaded guilty in Kansas in 2011 to misdemeanor charges of endangering a child and furnishing alcohol to a minor. No phone listing could be found for Brittingham. The newspaper said he didn't return several messages left on his cellphone. The newspaper said it contacted school officials about that case shortly after the university announced Brittingham's hiring Thursday. Within two hours, the university said it had dismissed Brittingham. The university said it had conducted a criminal background check on Brittingham but it didn't turn up the Kansas case.

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