Governor Laura Kelly Vetoes 2nd GOP Tax Relief Plan
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed a tax relief plan from the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature for the second time in two months. Kelly's action Friday is likely to lead to an effort by GOP lawmakers to override her veto on May 29, their last day in session this year. She said the measure would "decimate" the state budget. The bill was designed to provide relief to individuals and businesses that have been paying more in state income taxes because of changes in federal tax laws at the end of 2017. It would save taxpayers roughly $90 million during the budget year beginning in July and about $240 million over three years. It was less than half the size of a GOP tax relief plan that Kelly vetoed in late March.
State of Kansas Again Keeping Foster Kids in Offices
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Abused and neglected children are again sleeping overnight in the offices of Kansas foster care contractors because homes cannot be found for them quickly enough. According to the Department for Children and Families, more than 70 children have been kept overnight in the offices of the two nonprofit agencies providing foster care services beginning in January. That's when Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly took office. Her Republican predecessor's administration kept children from sleeping in offices during its final months. The state agency provided statistics in response to questions from The Associated Press after it received a tip that the practice had returned. Kelly, legislators and child welfare advocates have repeatedly cited the practice as a sign of serious problems in the child welfare system since it came to light in 2017.
Kelly Cancels No-Bid Contracts Worth More than $110 Million
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly's administration is canceling two no-bid contracts valued at more than $110 million that were negotiated by Kansas Revenue Department officials from previous administrations. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the 10-year contracts with CGI Technologies were awarded to overhaul and outsource its information technology systems. The state has paid $28 million to CGI under the agreements reached while Republicans Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer were governor. Revenue Secretary Mark Burghart said CGI didn't adequately perform its contractual obligations. Kelly said the no-bid contract process produced agreements that weren't in the state's best interests. She said the bidding process ensures contracts are transparent. The governor sent a letter terminating the contacts Thursday but her administration had been reviewing IT operations in the revenue department since taking office in January.
Kansas Prison Cancels Visits to Inmates to Combat Drug Use
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state prison in western Kansas is not allowing inmates to have visitors this weekend in hopes of combatting the flow of contraband drugs that are being blamed for a death there. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jeanny Sharp said Friday that the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility is trying to determine how drugs are getting into the institution and visitors are one possible source. Four inmates died at three prisons in late April, including one in Larned. Corrections officials believe all the deaths were tied to contraband drugs, though they are not sure specifically what substances. Sharp said another Larned inmate was hospitalized this week, and 20 Larned inmates have been found to be under the influence of drugs during the past 30 days.
Regents Frustrated by Universities' Request for More Tuition
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Despite an increase in state funding for higher education, four the Kansas' six major universities are asking for tuition increases for next year. During a meeting Wednesday, some members of the Kansas Board of Regents expressed frustration with the university administrators for seeking increases. The board will vote on the proposals in June and it is unclear if there are enough votes to approve them. University officials said the proposed increases would be the smallest in decades. The University of Kansas and Wichita State are asking for a 1 percent increase for Kansas residents. Emporia State requested a 2.5 percent increase and Kansas State is seeking a 3.1 percent hike. Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State did not ask for higher tuition.
KBI Completes Investigation of KCK Police Chief
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation of the police chief in Kansas City, Kansas, and turned over results to the Wyandotte County District Attorney's office. A spokeswoman for the KBI says that the bureau wrapped up the investigation last week. It's unclear when prosecutors will decide whether to file criminal charges against Chief Terry Zeigler. The investigation centers on whether Ziegler "double dipped" when he took paid time off work while also charging the county government for work he did on a lake house. The Unified Government allowed Ziegler to pay little rent on the house on Wyandotte Lake Park if he made repairs on the property. Officials put the lease in writing after a citizen inquired about it.
Missouri Lawmakers Pass Bill to Place Statue of Former President Harry Truman at U.S. Capitol
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri lawmakers have passed a measure that could send former President Harry Truman back to the U.S. Capitol. The measure given final approval Thursday would put Truman's statue in place of one of former U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who was instrumental in the nation's westward expansion. State lawmakers passed something similar last year. But it was vetoed by Governor Mike Parson because the version sent to him mistakenly referenced the accomplishments of Benton's great-great nephew, Thomas Hart Benton, a famous painter by the same name. All states are allotted two statues in the Capitol. Missouri's other Capitol statue features former U.S. Senator Francis Preston Blair Jr., who was instrumental in keeping Missouri out of the Confederacy. The likenesses of Blair and Benton both have been on display in Washington, D.C., since 1899.
Five States, Including Kansas, File Suit over Opioids
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Five states have announced new lawsuits seeking to hold the drug industry accountable for an opioid overdose and addiction crisis. Including the newly announced suits from Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin, 45 states have now taken legal action against the maker of OxyContin. They say Purdue had "ample opportunity" to reach a settlement with the states. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma says states "invented overbroad legal theories to try to hold the company responsible for the opioid crisis. Still, a company lawyer says Purdue is interested in settling the flood of litigation against it.
Judge: Jury to Decide Merit of Kansas Abortion Stalking Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge will mostly leave it to a jury to decide whether the operator of a Wichita abortion facility had reasonable grounds to seek a protection-from-stalking order against an abortion protester. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Broomes partially granted the request from clinic operator Julie Burkhart to throw out some claims in the lawsuit filed by anti-abortion activist Mark Holick. The controversy stems from anti-abortion protests in 2012 and 2013 near Burkhart's home. She subsequently got a temporary protection-from-stalking order against him that was dismissed two years later. Holick then filed a federal lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution and abuse of process. Broomes dismissed the claim the petition seeking protection from stalking was an abuse of process, but left it to jurors to decide whether the facts constituted malicious prosecution.
Feds Settle Equal Pay Lawsuit with Kansas School District
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled its lawsuit against a Kansas school district that paid a female principal less than it paid the man she had replaced and less than the man who succeeded her. A consent decree filed Thursday in federal court requires the Unified School District 245 Leroy-Gridley in Coffey County to implement policies prohibiting pay inequity. It requires it to collect wage data by sex for all employees and report it each year to the commission until 2012. The lawsuit stems from the commission's lawsuit last year alleging the school district violated the Equal Pay Act in its compensation of Julie Rosenquist as principal of Gridley Elementary and Southern Coffey County Middle School. The decree requires the district to pay Rosenquist an additional $11,250.
Two People Dead Following a Fiery Crash Near Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Two people are dead following a fiery crash near Topeka. Authorities say that the accident happened around 3:30 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 70 when a car and a box truck collided. Both vehicles left the roadway and the car caught fire. Officials on the scene said two people in the car died. The truck driver is hospitalized with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.
Autopsy: Topeka Man Fatally Shot by Trooper Was on Drugs
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy report says a Topeka motorist who was fatally shot by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper in November was under the influence of methamphetamine. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Coroner Ransom Ellis said the autopsy found methamphetamine, amphetamine and marijuana in the system of 35-year-old Jarmane Logan. He died of a single gunshot wound. Investigators say the trooper and a Topeka police officer were being dragged through the snow by Logan's vehicle when he was shot. Logan was trying to drive away with two women the officers were trying to take into custody. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said in January that the shooting was justified. The trooper's name hasn't been made public.
Survey: Region's Bankers Losing Confidence in Farm Economy
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A monthly survey of rural bankers in parts of 10 Plains and Western states shows they're rapidly losing confidence in the region's farm economy. The Rural Mainstreet survey for May, released Thursday, shows the survey's overall index dropping from 50 in April to 48.5 this month. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, blames trade tensions and tariffs, saying they're contributing to losses suffered by grain farmers _ although livestock producers are faring better. Still, Goss says, bankers believe ``the negatives far outweighed the positives.'' The survey's confidence index, which gauges bankers' expectations for the economy six months out, plummeted from 50 to 38.2, its lowest level in almost two years. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
Missouri Offers Truce to Kansas in Business Incentive Battle
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are renewing a truce offer with Kansas in a long-running battle over businesses in the Kansas City area. Legislation given final approval Friday would prohibit Missouri tax incentives from being used to lure businesses from the Kansas side of Kansas City to move across the state line. But it would take effect only if Kansas adopts a similar policy within the next two years. Missouri passed a similar measure in 2014, but Kansas never agreed, and the offer expired in 2016. Since then, both states have continued to battle for businesses in the Kansas City area. The Missouri bill now goes to Gov. Mike Parson. It would apply to businesses in Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.
Deputy Gets 1-Year Suspended Sentence in Chase-Related Wreck
RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) - A Jackson County sheriff's deputy whose vehicle collided with a motorist after running a red light during a chase has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. Deputy Sean Stoff was charged with misdemeanor careless and imprudent driving after the 2018 crash seriously injured 30-year-old Christopher Reed, of Raytown. The Kansas City Star reports Stoff was given a suspended one-year jail sentence on Thursday and will be required to perform 40 hours of community service and attend traffic school. Investigators said Stoff, who still works for the sheriff's department, was driving 71 mph in a 45 mph zone after the chase was officially taken off an emergency status. He was pursuing a vehicle believed to be attached to a warrant in a missing person case.
Son Admits to Elder Abuse, Agrees to Pay Restitution
HAYS, Kan. (AP) _ A Hays man who spent his mother's money on himself while serving as her power of attorney has agreed to pay nearly $40,000 in restitution to her estate. The Kansas attorney general's office said in a news release that 43-year-old Matthew Hayes pleaded no contest to a felony count of mistreatment of an elder person. He agreed to pay the restitution as part of his plea. The release says that Hayes used her money for his ``personal benefit'' from December 2016 through September 2018. His sentencing hasn't been scheduled.
Wounded Man Found Outside Burning Kansas City Area Home
RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities are investigating after a wounded man was found outside a burning Kansas City area home. Raytown police said in a news release that officers responded to the home around 10:30 p.m. Thursday and applied tourniquets to the man. The release says he was conscious when he was taken to a hospital, but his condition wasn't known. Fire crews also were called to the home to battle the blaze. Police didn't immediately release any suspect information.
Kansas Department of Insurance's Topeka Office Closed Until Monday
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Insurance's Topeka office will be closed for the rest of the week after the air conditioning quit working during unusually high temperatures. Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt said Thursday the office will reopen Monday, using a temporary portable swamp cooling system. The Wichita Eagle reports the air conditioning has been out since Monday but temperatures Monday and Tuesday were in the 60s and low 70s. When temperatures outside hit 86 Wednesday, they reached into the 90s inside the agency's Topeka office. Highs Thursday and Friday are expected to be in the mid-90s. Because the department is in a building constructed in 1924, employees couldn't even open the windows to catch a breeze. It will take four to six weeks to put in a new air conditioning system.
2 Charged in Stabbing Death of Wichita Man
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two people are charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a man whose body was found inside a vehicle taken from his home. KAKE-TV reports 25-year-old Royce Thomas and 24-year-old Micaela Spencer, both of Wichita, are both charged in the death of 50-year-old William Callison. Police say friends reported they last saw Callison on Sunday evening. On Monday afternoon, they called police to report someone was driving Callison's truck. Investigators later found the truck and a connected recreational vehicle in the driveway of a private home. Callison's body was inside the RV. Thomas and Spencer made their first court appearances Thursday. They both also face two counts of theft and other charges. They each remain jailed on $500,000 bond.