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Headlines for Friday, May 2, 2014


UPDATE: Kansas Senate Adopts Budget Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas senators have approved a budget that completes spending for state agencies for 2015, including bonuses for state workers and funds to shrink a waiting list of disabled people needing health services. The Senate's 22-18 vote Friday sends the bill to the House, which was to vote later in the day. The bill also includes more than $360 million for the Department of Corrections for the fiscal year starting July 1. It's the last major spending bill standing between legislators and adjournment of the 2014 session. Negotiators finished the bill Thursday, shaking off the previous day's report that Kansas collected $92 million less in taxes than expected in April. Republicans blamed changes in the federal tax code. Democrats argued the budget bill is irresponsible and unsustainable.


Kobach Won't Keep Roberts Off Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he has no power under Kansas law to keep U.S. Senator Pat Roberts off the ballot in the state's Republican primary. Roberts filed Friday for his fourth, six-year term in the Senate. He submitted the necessary paperwork shortly after tea party challenger Milton Wolf called on Kobach to reject any filing from Roberts. Wolf argued that Roberts shouldn't appear with him on the August 5 primary ballot because Roberts doesn't truly live in Kansas. Roberts said the argument is without merit. Roberts owns a home in Alexandria, Virginia, but votes under a Dodge City address. Kobach says under Kansas law, a filing is valid unless someone files a formal objection. Then a state board led by Kobach would decide the matter.


Kansas House Blocks Repeal of Green Energy Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House is blocking debate on a new proposal for ending a mandate that utilities rely on wind and other renewable resources to generate some of their electricity. House members Friday voted 63-60 against allowing both chambers to consider the measure drafted by House and Senate negotiators. Supporters said they might try again. The measure would repeal a requirement for utilities to have renewable resources cover 20 percent of their peak generating capacities by 2020. Renewable resources still would have to cover 15 percent of utilities' generating capacities, but that requirement would disappear in 2020. Environmentalists are fighting the proposal. It has the backing of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, who contend that the mandate raises electric rates.


Moody's Lowers KS Bond Rating

Moody's Investor Services has downgraded the state's bond rating over concerns about long-term pension obligations and further reduction of state ending balances necessary to cover expenses.  Moody's lowered the state's bond rating yesterday (THUR), citing concerns about the state's economic recovery, which has been sluggish compared with other states.  The rating cut came as Kansas officials announced April revenue collections came in $92 million less than expected.  


Kansas Lawmakers to Consider Prairie Chicken Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are preparing to consider a bill declaring that the federal government has no authority to regulate prairie chickens in the state. The measure up for debate in both chambers Friday is a response to the federal government's listing in March of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. The action allows federal oversight of state conservation efforts. The bill covers the lesser prairie chicken and the larger, darker and more abundant greater prairie chicken. It allows the attorney general to file lawsuits to block federal attempts to regulate the birds and their habitats. State officials fear that the federal government will restrict farming, ranching and oil and natural gas producers. Environmentalists say the state should concentrate on increasing the bird's population instead of protesting.


Funds for KU Bioscience Research Rejected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A tentative deal on a final Kansas budget does not include $2 million to fund an effort for a new bioscience research and development center at the University of Kansas. Gov. Sam Brownback had urged legislators to include funding for the proposed Kansas Institute of Translational Chemical Biology but he didn't include the proposal in his budget amendment. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Gene Suellentrop, a Republican from Wichita, said Thursday budget negotiators felt the proposal needed further study. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the institute would promote research and drug development and encourage collaborations with pharmaceutical companies. University officials also said it would attract businesses interested in working with scientists doing research on new drugs.


KS Public Broadcasting Money Survives

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A state grant of $600,000 for Kansas public TV and radio stations has been preserved in a budget agreement reached yesterday (THUR) by House and Senate negotiators.  The money is the same amount allotted in the current year, but down from the $3.8 million the state provided as recently as 2008.  The funding bill for the fiscal year that starts July 1st now goes to the full House and Senate.  The state provides only 1 percent of funding for public broadcasting stations in Kansas City and Lawrence. At High Plains Public Radio in Garden City, state funding of about $89,000 is about 9 percent of its $1 million budget. At Smoky Hills Public Television in Bunker Hill, about $209,000 _ about 12 percent _ of its $1.7 million budget comes from state grants.


Census: Number of Kansas Farms Shrinks, Size Grows

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows the number of Kansas farms is shrinking while those that remain are getting larger. The Agriculture Department on Friday released its final 2012 Census of Agriculture showing Kansas had 61,773 farms that year, down 6 percent from the 2007 census. Kansas land in farms was unchanged at 46.1 million acres. But the size of the average Kansas farm grew 6 percent over the five-year period to 747 acres, an increase of about 40 acres. The report also said Kansas farmers are getting older, with principal operators averaging 58.2 years old in 2012. That compares with an average age of 57.7 five years earlier. The 2012 market value of production was up 28 percent from 2007, at $18.5 billion.


Traffic Stop Leads to Dozens of Stolen Weapons

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Two Salina men have been arrested in connection with the theft of more than 100 guns from a local sporting goods store after police found two of the guns during a traffic stop. The Salina Journal  reports that 68 of 118 guns stolen from Cleve's Marine and Sporting Goods on April 14 were found in the apartment of a 32-year-old Thursday night. Police Captain Mike Sweeney says investigators were led to the apartment after two stolen guns were found hidden in an area where a driver was arrested Wednesday. Police found the two guns after arresting a 27-year-old who walked away from the traffic stop. Information from the stop led to the other man's apartment. The Saline County attorney's office declined to say Friday whether any charges had been filed.


KU Breaks Ground on Home for Hoops Rules

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas broke ground Friday on an $18 million facility connected to Allen Fieldhouse that will serve as the permanent home to James Naismith's "Rules of Basket Ball." The 32,000-square-foot DeBruce Center will include a new training table for the Jayhawks' basketball programs, along with an activity center and meeting space that will make the building into a student union for the south part of campus. The centerpiece, of course, will be a hall featuring the rules of basketball. KU alumnus David Booth purchased the documents on which Naismith recorded the original rules of basketball at auction for $4.3 million in 2010 and offered to display them at the school.


KU Signs Guard Graham After Tharpe Departure

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas signed touted point guard Devonte' Graham on Friday, one day after starter Naadir Tharpe announced he would be transferring closer to his home in Massachusetts. The 6-foot-2 Graham originally signed with Appalachian State but did not enroll, instead playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. His stock skyrocketed during his season at the prep school, and Graham wound up with offers from major schools. He ultimately picked Kansas over North Carolina State. KU coach Bill Self said that Graham would be "an immediate impact guy for us. That's not to take away from the other guards we have but this is a situation that we just got a lot better." Graham averaged 17.2 points and 5.0 assists for Brewster Academy.


Over 50,000 Kansans Sign Up for Obamacare

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The government says 57,000 Kansas residents have signed up for coverage using the federal health insurance marketplace. That's about 4,000 more than officials predicted before the marketplace opened in October.  Kansas Republicans who oppose the health care law kept the state from setting up its own marketplace.


Kansas Wheat Already Stressed as Hot Weather Looms

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The heat and dry weather forecast for Kansas this weekend are expected to strain a winter wheat crop already battered by drought conditions and early spring freezes. The National Weather Service says temperatures across most of southern Kansas are expected to climb into the mid-80s on Saturday and the low 90s by Sunday, with some places along the Kansas-Oklahoma border reaching the high 90s. A slight chance of rain is forecast for Wednesday. The onset of hot weather comes after a winter wheat tour forecast on Thursday that this year's production will be 260 million bushels, with an average estimated yield of 33.2 bushels per acre. Statistics from 2000 to 2013 show the tour tends to overestimate yields and production.


Forecast: Smallest KS Wheat Crop Since 1996

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Participants in this year's winter wheat tour are estimating the 2014 Kansas wheat crop will be the smallest since 1996.  The experts predict a winter wheat crop of 260 million bushels.  Last year's crop was about 319 million bushels.  If the prediction holds up... it would be the smallest wheat crop harvested in 20 years.


Post Office Won't Reconsider Topeka Office Closure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The U.S. Postal Service says it will not reconsider its decision to close the main post office building in downtown Topeka.  The postal service notified the city this week that it will relocate services at the building to another location, which hasn't been determined. The downtown building has served postal customers since 1932.


Site Recommended for Planned Dodge City Water Park

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — An advisory board has recommended a site for a proposed $10 million water park in Dodge City. The Community Facility Advisory Board recommended Wright Park over three other possible sites for the park. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that Wright Park's bid was helped by a proposal from a development group to build a 90- to 120-bed hotel near the water park at Wright Park. Joint city and county commissions will make the final decision. The proposal is still in the early planning stages. Wright Park also is within the city's "heritage district." That makes it eligible for STAR bonds, which allow property developers to offset the cost of infrastructure development. City officials say if all goes as planned the park could open in May 2016.


Former Kansas Man Convicted of Mortgage Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas man has been convicted in Missouri for his role in a $2.7 million mortgage fraud scheme. The U.S. Attorney's office says a federal jury in Kansas City took about 90 minutes Friday to find 48-year-old Terrence Matthew Brown guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud. Brown is a former Wichita resident now living in Round Rock, Texas. Prosecutors said Brown took part in 2006 in a conspiracy that defrauded mortgage lenders in 10 separate loans for five properties. The loans totaling $2.7 million were used to buy properties in western Missouri and the northeast Kansas communities of Leawood and Overland Park. Evidence showed Brown lied to lenders about his income and other information. He also received more than $200,000 in kickbacks from the scheme. All of the properties were later foreclosed.


Virginia State University Dean Named New President of FHSU

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The dean of a business school at Virginia State University will be the new president of Fort Hays State University. The Kansas Board of Regents announced Friday that Mirta Martin would become the ninth president of Fort Hays State, beginning July 1. Martin has been dean of the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business at Virginia State since 2009. She has held several leadership positions during her career, including special assistant to the chancellor and executive vice president. Martin was one of five finalists for the job. She will succeed Ed Hammond, who will retire at the end of a June. Hammond led Fort Hays State since 1987 and is the longest-serving current president or chancellor in the state university system.


Man Guilty in Death of Salina Toddler

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Saline County jurors found a man guilty of felony murder and child abuse in the death of his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter.  The verdict was returned Thursday against Troy L. Love II for the April 2012 death of Bre'Elle Jefferson. He was found not guilty of a second count of child abuse for injuries the girl suffered before she was fatally injured.  Love will be sentenced June 30.  The Salina Journal reports Love faces a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years served before becoming eligible for parole on the murder charge.  


Couple Gives $3 Million to K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ A couple who graduated from Kansas State has donated $3 million to the university to support a new leadership program and a welcome center.  K-State announced yesterday (THUR) that David and Ellie Everitt, currently of Marco Island, Florida, designated $2 million to the Leading Change Institutes and $1 million to the welcome center.  David Everitt is a Concordia native who graduated with an industrial engineering degree in 1975.  His wife, Ellie, is a 1973 graduate who earned a degree in clothing and textiles.  The Leading Change Institutes which opens in the summer of 2015, will bring together leaders and scholars to discuss ideas for confronting global and everyday challenges.  The welcome center will provide student career services and a gathering place for students and employers.  


Salina Cop Walks to Raise $ for Cancer Research

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A retired Salina police officer has announced plans to walk across Kansas to raise money for cancer research.  Dean Bonawitz, who is also a cancer survivor, plans to walk 400 miles across Kansas on a "Cops for a Cure'' journey.  His trek will begin May 12th at the Kansas-Colorado border and is expected to end in June.  


Naadir Tharpe Leaving Kansas Jayhawks

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _  Naadir Tharpe -- a point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks -- is expected to transfer to another school.  Tharpe started 30 games during last year's Big 12 title run.  He was suspended for last season's opener after playing in an unauthorized summer league game.  Tharpe was also seen in a lewd photograph that circulated on social media.





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