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Headlines for Friday, May 19, 2017

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

Little Damage from Violent Storms in Central Kansas

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) - Little damage has been reported after a storm churned up several weak, short-lived tornadoes in central Kansas. The National Weather Service says the storm began producing tornadoes late yesterday (THUR) afternoon, including in Barton County. No significant damage has been reported.  There was some damage to fencing and roofing at the Salina Speedway, but meteorologists haven't yet determined whether a tornado or strong winds are responsible.  It's already become another active weather day in Kansas, with tornado warnings issued for parts of Reno and Kingman counties in south-central Kansas.

Tornadoes Touch Down in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Tornadoes touched down in three Plains states on Thursday during nasty spring storms featuring ominous cloud formations but there were no reports of major damage, serious injuries or deaths. The National Weather Service logged nearly 20 reports of tornadoes from the states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and numerous reports of high winds and hail. The weather service says tornadoes were reported in Barton, Barber and Ford counties Thursday afternoon. The twisters were reported near Larned, Medicine Lodge, Stafford and Great Bend. None of them caused significant damage. There was some damage to fencing and roofing at the Salina Speedway, but meteorologists haven't yet determined whether a tornado or strong winds are responsible. Heavy rains and hail were reported across much of the region, with flash flooding reported in Great Bend. The system also spawned several tornadoes Thursday in Oklahoma and Texas. It was the second day of storms in the Plains states and "intense" tornadoes were forecast for the Southern Plains throughout the rest of today (FRI) and into the evening hours. 

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As Session Drags On, Kansas Lawmakers Still Stuck on Major Issues

Kansas lawmakers have left the building... at least for the weekend, anyway.  They'll return to Topeka on Monday, as they continue to grapple with major policy issues -- taxes, the budget deficit and school funding.  The Legislature faces a court deadline to come up with a new school funding formula before the end of June.

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Kansas Lawmakers' Work Stalls on Undoing Brownback Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Work in the Kansas Legislature has stalled on a plan that would fully repeal past income tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback.  House and Senate negotiators failed to agree Thursday evening on a plan to raise taxes to fix the state budget and boost spending on public schools.  They reviewed a plan that would return Kansas to the income tax laws in place in 2012 before tax cuts touted by Brownback began. Rates would have risen and an exemption for farmers and business owners would have ended.  It was the most aggressive plan lawmakers have considered and would have raised $1.4 billion over two years.  Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019, and the state Supreme Court has ruled that education funding is inadequate.

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New Requirements for Kansas Abortion Providers Near Passage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A rule nearing approval in the Kansas Legislature would require abortion providers to give women information on their doctors' history in black, 12-point Times New Roman font.  Republican House and Senate negotiators agreed Thursday on the bill's language. They also took procedural steps to bypass committee Democrats, who say the bill treats abortion providers differently than other doctors. The bill would require that providers give women information about the physician performing the abortion at least 24 hours ahead of time. The information would include the doctor's credentials, start date at the clinic, malpractice insurance, hospital privileges, state of residency and disciplinary record.  The bill's supporters say women need the information to make an informed decision.  Abortion rights supporters say the bill is meant to discourage women from having abortions.

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Hit-and-Run Driver Strikes Stalled Vehicle, Injuring 4

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Police are searching for a driver accused of crashing into the rear of a stalled vehicle as two people tried to push it off a Lawrence road.  The hit-and-run crash happened just before 1 a.m. Friday. The two people who were pushing the stalled vehicle were taken to area hospitals in critical condition. Two people inside the stalled vehicle were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  Police say they found the truck, but are still looking for the driver.

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UMKC Cuts 30 Positions in Budget Crunch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - University of Missouri-Kansas City officials say the school plans to cut about 30 jobs as part of efforts to reduce the campus budget.  School officials say they must impose 8 to 12 percent budget reductions to prepare for an expected drop in state aid.  Missouri-Kansas City announced the layoffs Thursday but added no details about which jobs will be eliminated.  

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Haskell Cancels Upcoming Track & Field Season

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Haskell Indian Nations University has canceled its upcoming track and field season due to several factors, including cost, facilities and competitiveness.  The Lawrence Journal-World  reports that President Venida Chenault last month approved placing the program on suspension.  Haskell Board of Regents members say the program costs about $8,000 annually in addition to coaching salaries. They say the price is a small percentage of the school's overall athletics budget.  Chenault says the university often competes against schools that invest millions of dollars in their programs. The current collegiate standard for a track is eight lanes, but the university only has six. It also lacks high jump pit or a standard discus or javelin pit.  Chenault says the university doesn't have a permanent athletics director. She says it's unknown when the school will be able to hire one.

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Man Sentenced for 2009 Homicide in Emporia
 
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) - A man has been re-sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatally shooting another man in 2009 after an altercation hours earlier.  The Emporia Gazette  reports that Jimmy Dominguez apologized Thursday when he was sentenced for second-degree murder in the killing of Jose Leyva. Dominguez blamed drinking and said he wasn't in his "right mind." Another man was wounded but survived the shooting, which followed a wedding dance and party.  The re-sentencing came after years of delays, brought on by a cancer diagnoses, a 2010 mistrial and the reversal of his 2011 conviction because of jury instruction mistakes.  Dominguez is receiving palliative care after radiation treatment failed. He'll serve the remainder of his sentence at the infirmary at the Lansing Correctional Facility.

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Kobach Says He Won't Pre-Judge Voter Fraud Panel's Findings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kris Kobach is preparing to help lead a new presidential commission on election fraud with the certitude that he's found significant evidence of problems in Kansas.  As Kansas secretary of state, he was the first state elections chief to gain a prosecutor's powers. Kobach said he's not pre-judging what might be happening in other states before the commission appointed by President Trump begins compiling hard data.  In Kansas, he has described the dozens of non-citizens on voter rolls and nine successful prosecutions as evidence of a significant problem.  Voting rights advocates have criticized the commission and Kobach's appointment. He has been advising Trump for months and said he talks to the White House each week. He is the new commission's vice chairman, with Vice President Mike Pence as the chairman.

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Kansas Board of Regents Says KU Must Rewrite Gun Policy 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents says the University of Kansas must change one clause from its concealed weapons policy. Kansas wanted to require anyone carrying a concealed handgun in a handbag, purse or backpack to keep those items physically with them at all times. The regents voted Wednesday that the university needed to remove that clause. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the university's policy will read "Each individual who lawfully possesses a handgun on any of the University campuses shall at all times have that handgun in the person's custody and control." Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the clause was meant to reduce the chance of accidental discharge or of others from gaining control of the weapon. Critics, including the National Rifle Association, said the clause unreasonably limited guns.

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Topeka Hospital to Continue Weapons Ban Under New Ownership
  
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Topeka hospital being purchased by the University of Kansas Health System plans to continue banning guns from its facilities. The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent Health are in the process of buying St. Francis Health in Topeka. That deal comes as the Kansas Legislature is debating whether guns can be carried into state-operated mental health and medical facilities, which includes the Kansas Health System. However, St. Francis Health spokeswoman Nikki Sloup says the Topeka hospital does not plan to change its policy banning concealed weapons. She says any new law would apply to public hospitals and St. Francis will not be a public hospital. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansas Health and Ardent will monitor the Legislature's actions to determine any effect on St. Francis.

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EPA Awards $5 Million to Quapaw Tribe for Superfund Cleanup in Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.

PICHER, Okla. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded nearly $5 million to the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma for continued cleanup efforts of the Tar Creek Superfund site. The tribe will use the money to continue cleaning up contaminated soils on tribal lands. The Tar Creek Superfund site is a 40-square-mile area in northeast Oklahoma that also included portions of Missouri and Kansas. It was once one of the world's most productive regions for lead and zinc. The EPA says more than $300 million has been committed to cleaning up mining-related pollution, including the 2009 federal buyout to the residents of Picher. The EPA says about 600 acres of private and tribal land are ready for reuse as a result of the cleanup efforts so far.

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Kansas City, Kansas Police Investigate Homicide 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities are investigating a homicide in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said in a news release that officers found the victim on a street Thursday night while responding to a report of a shooting. The victim had died from an apparent gunshot wound. Police said the victim was in his late fifties, but his name wasn't immediately released. Anyone with information is urged to call police or a tips hotline

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Bankers Survey Shows Midwest Rural Economy Improving 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More stable crop prices have improved the economic outlook for rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but bankers expect little growth in the next few months. The overall economic index for the region crept into positive territory above 50 at 50.1 in May from April's 44.6. This is the first time the overall index was above neutral since August 2015. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the slightly better commodity prices helped improve the outlook, but the bankers surveyed remain concerned about farmers. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Painting of Kansas Muslim Teen to Hang in U.S. Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A portrait of a Muslim teenager from Kansas painted by a schoolmate will soon be hung in the U.S. Capitol.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Topeka visited Washburn Rural High School on Monday to present a certificate to the artist, 18-year-old Claire Fallon.  The Kansas congresswoman says Fallon's oil painting is the only one from a Kansas artist that will be hung in the Capitol as part of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. Each representative picks a submission from a high school student in their congressional district.  Fallon says the painting, "Red, White and Blue,'' is a tribute to her friend and classmate, 18-year-old Noor Kyasa. Kyasa is a Muslim-American and was wearing a red, white and blue outfit the day she modeled for the portrait.  Fallon and her parents will visit the Capitol in June with the other contest winners.  

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Royals Top Yankees 5-1, Avoid Sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals'  starting pitcher Danny Duffy tossed seven innings of three-hit ball, Mike Moustakas hit a three-run homer and the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Yankees 5-1 on Thursday night to avoid a three-game sweep. Duffy (3-3) struck out a season-best 10 while walking two and earning his first win since April 14th. Reliever Mike Minor handled the eighth before Kelvin Herrera surrendered a run in the ninth. The Royals scored twice in the second inning off the Yankees' Jordan Montgomery (2-3) before Moustakas slammed his pitch into the right field in the fifth inning to break the game open.
 

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