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Headlines for Friday, January 12, 2018

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

Colyer Leads Kobach in Fundraising in Kansas Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer raised more money than any candidate in the 2018 elections for governor, including Kris Kobach, who is generally considered the front-runner in the GOP race. Campaign finance reports show Colyer, a Republican, raised $632,068 in 2017. In campaign finance reports filed Wednesday, Kobach reported raising $354,732. Two other GOP candidates, Wichita businessman Will Hartman and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, reported having more money but both men made substantial personal contributions to their campaigns. Greg Orman, a Johnson County businessman who is running as an independent, reported raising $452,931, mostly from outside contributions. Former Representative Josh Svaty of Ellsworth led fundraising in the Democratic race, with $192,545. Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka, who entered the race less than three weeks ago, reported raising $155,691.

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Kansas Legislator Proposes Measure Ending Anonymous Bills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would end the Legislature's practice of bills being proposed that do not publicly name the sponsor, but some lawmakers say it is unlikely to pass. Lawmakers can keep their names off bills by introducing them through committees. The Kansas City Star reports that during last year's session, 94 percent of bills passed had no named sponsor. A proposal from Republican Representative Stephanie Clayton, from Overland Park, would require bills introduced by a committee to include the name of the person who proposed it. The name would follow the bill through the legislative process. The Star reported earlier that more than 90 percent of the laws passed in the last decade stemmed from bills whose authors were anonymous, which means the public doesn't know who sponsored a bill or that person's motivation. Most states require that every bill contain the name of the lawmaker sponsoring it.  But some lawmakers have defended the use of anonymous bills, saying bills proposed by an entire committee carry more weight because it indicates wider approval. Senate President Susan Wagle has said anonymity gives legislation a better chance of passing. "If I want a bill passed, I always want it to be a committee bill," said Wagle, a Wichita Republican. 

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Jeff Andersen Named Secretary for Health and Environment 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has named an insurance executive to be acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The administration announced Friday that Jeff Andersen will oversee environmental management and the state's Medicaid program. The Kansas Senate must approve the nomination. Andersen has worked in various segments of the health care industry for 30 years. Most recently, he has been a vice president at Vizient/VHA where he worked with an insurance company and managed care contracting program. Before that, he was president/CEO of Mid-America Services Solution, which owned 10 hospitals and served 200 hospitals. Andersen will begin the job January 16. He replaces Susan Mosier, who resigned in November.

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Kansas Attorney General Nominates KanCare Inspector General

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The nominee to be inspector general for the state's Medicaid program would take a job that was left vacant for years by Governor Sam Brownback's administration. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Thursday recommended Lawrence attorney Sarah Fertig become the first inspector general in the state since June 2014.The Brownback administration outsourced the state's Medicaid program to three for-profit insurance companies, calling the program KanCare. The inspector general was set up in 2007 to oversee the program. The position was abolished in 2014 and has been left vacant.The 2017 Legislature made Schmidt's office responsible for naming an inspector general. Fertig has been an assistant attorney general for six years in the Schmidt's office. She previously was an inspector general for the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority.

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Topeka Police Veteran Bill Cochran Named City's Police Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veteran Topeka police officer will now lead the department. City Manager Brent Trout announced Friday that Bill Cochran, who has been with the department since 1987, will become the new chief. Cochran has been interim chief since November and will take over the department immediately.He has worked in several areas in the Topeka department, including homicide, patrol and criminal investigations. He also was an officer for 20 years in the Kansas Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq.Trout will earn $135,500 per year. The new chief takes over a department that saw a record number of homicides last year and unrest caused by the fatal shooting of Dominique White by a police officer.

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Lawmakers Worried After Lawrence Releases Contaminated Water 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers want to be better alerted after short notice that a city was authorized to release nitrogen-contaminated water into the Kansas River. Republican Sen. Rob Olson of Olathe said Thursday that he wants Lawrence's contaminated water releases to not become normal operating practice. He also said there should be better notification along the river for such releases. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment authorized the city to release up to 30 million gallons (113 million liters) of nitrogen-contaminated water from November to April to help clean up a former nitrogen fertilizer plant. People raised concerns after a downstream water district was notified only after the releases began. The city and the department defended the limited notification, saying the river would dilute the nitrogen-contaminated water to safe levels.

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Suspect in Fatal Hoax Call in Wichita Makes Court Appearance

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A California man accused of making a hoax emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man in Kansas has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Twenty-five-year-old Tyler Barriss made his first court appearance in Kansas Friday following extradition from California. He was also charged with giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. Bond was set at $500,000. Barriss did not immediately return a message left Friday at the jail. Prosecutors allege Barriss was in Los Angeles when he called police on Dec. 28 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at a home in Wichita. Police responded to the address, where an officer fatally shot 28-year-old Andrew Finch after Finch opened his door.

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Judge Temporarily Blocks New Topeka Tobacco Ordinance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Shawnee County judge has temporarily blocked a new Topeka ordinance that banned tobacco sales to people younger than 21, citing potential conflicts between the ordinance and state law. Kansas law allows tobacco sales to people 18 and older. In December, the Topeka City Council passed an ordinance barring people under 21 from purchasing tobacco products. The ban was scheduled to take effect yesterday (THUR). Two Topeka businesses on Wednesday sued the city over the ordinance. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the city is instructing employees not to enforce the ordinance until the legal questions are resolved. The Kansas Vapers Association, which supported the lawsuit, said the temporary injunction ensures Topeka businesses that sell tobacco won't lose money while the case is in court. A hearing on the temporary injunction is set for February 1.  

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Missouri Governor Fighting for Political Life After Affair Exposed

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Governor Eric Greitens appears to be bracing for a fight to preserve his political life after admitting to an extramarital affair but denying anything more. Greitens met Thursday with Cabinet members and placed calls to rally support while his attorney issued firm denials to allegations related to the affair. Among other things, Greitens' attorney is denying any violence, revealing photos or attempted blackmail. Republican political consultants say that for Greitens to survive politically, the facts must remain as he initially said - that he had an affair but nothing more. At least two Democratic lawmakers have called upon Greitens to resign. But Republican officeholders have generally been more measured with their responses so far. Many have said they want to first see all the facts.

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Drunken Driver Who Killed Johnson County Deputy Sentenced

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A drunken driver who killed a Johnson County sheriff's deputy will spend years in prison and then be deported. The Kansas City Star reports 39-year-old Adrian Espinosa-Flores was sentenced Friday to 12.5 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed. Prosecutors say Espinosa-Flores was driving a pickup truck that hit Master Deputy Brandon Collins' patrol car in Overland Park in September 2016. The patrol vehicle was pushed into a vehicle Collins had pulled over. A fire broke out and three people in the vehicle were injured. Espinosa-Flores pleaded guilty in October to reckless second-degree murder and three counts of aggravated battery. Tests found his blood-alcohol content after the wreck was .160, twice the legal limit in Kansas. Espinosa-Flores was in the country illegally and will be deported after completing his prison sentence.

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Kansas Woman Charged in Beheading Not Competent for Trial

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled a Kansas woman accused of decapitating her ex-boyfriend's mother is not competent to stand trial. Judge Faith Maughan on Friday ordered 35-year-old Rachael Hilyard of Wichita back to continue treatment at Larned State Hospital. Her status will be re-evaluated after 90 days. Hilyard is charged with first-degree murder in the April 2017 death of 63-year-old Micki Davis, the mother of Hilyard's ex-boyfriend. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said a hospital evaluation found Hilyard could regain competency if she continues treatment. Prosecutors say Davis was attacked when she went with her 9-year-old grandson to collect some belongings from a home. The boy was able to run away and call 911. Davis's decapitated body was found in the garage and her head was in the kitchen sink.

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Kansas Woman Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Bomb Threats

WELLLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who made bomb threats because she wanted her son to stay home from school and her fiancé home from work has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison. KAKE-TV report s 32-year-old Helen Leckrone of Wellington was sentenced Thursday to five years and nine months in prison. She pleaded guilty in November to two counts of aggravated criminal threat. Prosecutors say the woman called in bomb threats to Eisenhower Elementary in Wellington and Triumph Accessories in February 2017 so they could stay home for the day. The elementary school and the business both were evacuated and Leckrone's son and fiancé were sent home for the day.

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Woman Sentenced in Theft of Vehicle with Girl Inside

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A woman has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for stealing a car from a Kansas City, Kansas, gas station as a 3-year-old girl slept in the back seat. The Kansas City Star reports that 30-year-old Karri Reich was sentenced Friday for attempted kidnapping. She pleaded no contest to the charge last month in Wyandotte County District Court. KSHB-TV station crew aboard a helicopter spotted the abandoned vehicle in nearby Tonganoxie about an hour after the July theft. Video showed the girl as she ran to an officer. Police say the girl wasn't hurt but went to a hospital as a precaution. A co-defendant seen on surveillance video pointing the car out before the theft was previously sentenced to three years and eight months in prison.

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Kansas Woman Dies After Being Hit by Her Car After Crash

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 22-year-old Olathe woman died when she was hit by her own car after it was struck by another driver. The patrol says Kendyl Walter was involved in an accident on Interstate 35 in Olathe Thursday evening, leaving her car disabled in the interstate. The patrol says a 59-year-old Overland Park man hit her car, which spun and hit Walter while she was standing near the highway. Walter died at the scene. The driver stopped and is cooperating with the investigation.

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Wichita Church Gets Baby Jesus Statue Back

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita church is celebrating the return of a baby Jesus that was stolen from its manger last week. The Church of the Blessed Sacrament said the statue was found Wednesday in a yard of a home and returned to the parish office. "Hallelujah! The Baby Jesus is back!" the church posted on Facebook. The church thinks the statue was stolen the night of Jan. 3 or early Jan. 4, prompting the church to say on its sign "This is why we can't have nice things." The Wichita Eagle reports pieces of the manger scene have been stolen in the past and some were not returned. A church member gave the 30-piece set to Blessed Sacrament nearly 35 years ago.

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Kansas Woman Gets Probation After $200,000 Embezzlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who embezzled more than $200,000 from her Sedgwick County employer was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to make restitution. The Sedgwick County district attorney said 36-year-old Misty Leiker, of Maize, has been sentenced for embezzling from ERI Solutions in Colwich. She pleaded guilty earlier to felony theft, computer crime and unlawful use of a financial card. Prosecutors say Leiker, who was an accountant at the firm, used a company credit card account to make $209,666 in unauthorized purchases such as antiques, tools and household items between June 2016 and April 2017. Leiker could serve nearly three years in prison if she violates her probation. She made an initial payment of $15,000 toward restitution this week and was ordered to make a minimum monthly payment of $500.

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Children's Mercy Receives $150 Million from 2 Donors

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A project to build a new pediatric research tower at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City has received $150 million in donations from two prominent donors. The hospital broke ground yesterday (THUR) on the tower construction. The Kansas City Star reports a $75 million donation from the Sunderland Foundation will go toward the estimated $200 million in construction costs, which will be paid through bonds and future fundraising. Another $75 million from the Hall Family Foundation will be used where needed, such as for construction or endowments to pay researchers. The project will build a mine-story facility where scientists will research childhood diseases. The project is expected to be completed by 2020 and will increase the hospital's research space from about 66,000 square feet to about 375,000 square feet.

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Missouri Man Sentenced for Stealing Woman's Underwear 

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) - A 63-year-old man has been ordered to serve 120 days in jail and five years of probation for breaking into a northwest Missouri woman's apartment while she was showering and stealing her underwear. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Ronald Traas faces up to seven years in prison if he violates the terms of his probation, which include not using the internet. Traas pleaded guilty last month to a felony charge of burglary. Court records say Traas was stealing underwear when the woman stepped out and saw him. Assistant Buchanan County prosecutor Kate Schaefer says police were at her apartment writing up a report when Traas sent her an email asking if she was lonely. Buchanan County authorities said Traas called the burglary a "panty raid" but the prosecutor said it was a serious offense and not a joke. 

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Topeka Man Killed After Argument at Westside Motel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are investigating a fatal shooting at a Topeka motel. Police Lieutenant Jennifer Cross said in a news release that the shooting happened late last (THUR) night at the Best Western Motel in west Topeka. Cross said 31-year old Jesse McFall was rushed to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. Cross said the shooting followed an argument and that the people involved knew each other.

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Wichita Couple Wins $1 Million Holiday Millionaire Raffle

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita couple has won the top prize in the Holiday Millionaire Raffle. KFDI Radio reports that the winner decided to remain anonymous, but the Kansas Lottery reports a Kwik Shop sold the winning ticket. After the ticket was scanned the clerk asked the winner to step behind the counter to look at the screen. The winner recalled thinking "something was wrong," adding that it "never crossed my mind that I maybe won something big!"  The winning couple put the ticket in a fireproof safe and called their financial adviser to start planning their next steps. They plan to put the majority of the winnings toward their future financial security
 

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