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Headlines for Friday, May 9, 2014


Kansas Loosens Rules on Circulating Petitions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is ending a ban on non-residents circulating election petitions that hasn't been enforced for almost four years because a federal judge declared it unconstitutional. Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill Thursday repealing the requirement that petition circulators be Kansas residents. The change takes effect next week. Members of political organizations can circulate petitions to gain party recognition from the state so their candidates can have the affiliation listed on the ballot. People also circulate petitions to recall elected officials, and some candidates circulate petitions to get on the ballot. The residency requirement was challenged in 2010 by members of the Constitution Party, and a federal judge said it violated their right to free association. The attorney general's office also had concluded that the law was unconstitutional.


AFP Leader Admits Link to New Kansas Energy Group

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state director of Americans for Prosperity says he helped a new Kansas group find an attorney to organize opposition to renewable energy standards. Jeff Glendening on Wednesday said AFP had nothing to do with postcards sent out opposing the standards. But on Thursday, Glendening told The Wichita Eagle he forgot to mention that he helped link attorney W. Robert Alderson with Virginia Crossland-Macha, the founder of the Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance. He says he simply responded to a request from Crossland-Macha and not as a representative of AFP. The alliance sent mailers to House members last week supporting repeal of the state's standards, which require utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.


Court Issues Emergency Stay over Voter Citizenship

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal appeals court has temporarily suspended an order that requires Kansas and Arizona residents to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote with a national form. Yesterday (THUR), the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the emergency suspension request sought by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and voting rights groups. The decision means Kansas and Arizona voters can continue to register to vote using the federal form without having to document their citizenship. At issue is the order by U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren, requiring the agency to immediately modify a federal voter registration form to add instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about proof-of-citizenship requirements. Yesterday's (THUR) decision temporarily stays Melgren's ruling, giving Kansas and Arizona until Tuesday to respond.


KS District Named in Immigration Status Report

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Education says it's received four complaints about a northeast Kansas school district alleging improper barriers to enrolling children brought into the U.S. illegally. The federal agency says the complaints received since 2011 involve USD 500 in Kansas City, Kansas. Details of the complaints, which are being investigated, were not disclosed. The Kansas City, Kansas district has about 17,000 students. No other Kansas districts were cited. Federal officials issued new national guidance yesterday (THUR) reminding schools of a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing children brought into the country illegally the right to a K-12education. The officials said improper actions by districts in other states included requiring information about a child's visa status or date of entry into the U.S.

KS Company Pleads Guilty to Visa Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas information technology firm has admitted bringing foreign employees into the U.S. under a specialty worker program when it didn't have work readily available for them. Overland Park-based iNEX Technologies pleaded guilty yesterday to visa fraud in a deal with the government to pay more than $552,000 in restitution and a $30,000 fine. In a separate case, the government also deferred prosecution of company owners Preetham Kodiripaka and Sudhir Dodda.


KS Board to Review Complaints Against Pat Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A state board will meet on Monday to consider allegations that Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is not truly a Kansas resident and shouldn't be allowed to seek re-election. Secretary of State Kris Kobach scheduledthe meeting of the State Objections Board after four citizens filed objections to listing Roberts on the August 5th Republican primary ballot. GOP tea party challenger Milton Wolf contends that Roberts lives in Alexandria, Virginia, wherethe senator owns a home. Roberts and his wife own a duplex unit in Dodge City but rent it out. Roberts says he lives and pays taxes in Kansas. The Objections Board is made up of Kobach, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. All three Republicans have endorsed Roberts.


Kansas Wheat Crop Forecast to Be Smallest Since 1996

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The government's first forecast of season anticipates the smallest winter wheat crop in Kansas since 1996. The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated production this year at 260.4 million bushels, based on May 1 crop conditions. The report was done before this week's searing temperatures descended on the already drought-stressed crop. The production estimate is down 18 percent from last year. Forecast average yields are forecast to be 31 bushels per acre, down seven bushels an acre from last year and also the lowest since 1996. The official estimate is in line with last week's prediction from the Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour of 260 million bushels in Kansas. Nationwide, wheat production is forecast at 1.4 billion bushels, down 9 percent from a year ago.


Boehner Names Pompeo to Benghazi Panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner is putting together the special committee that will investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, while Democrats debate whether they want to participate. Boehner named the six Republicans today who will serve on the panel chaired by South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy. They are Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. Democrats aren't sure they want to be part of a probe that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calls a "political stunt." After a meeting today with Democratic members, Pelosi said negotiations with Boehner are continuing. Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland indicated after the meeting that a Democratic boycott is still possible. He says, "We don't want a kangaroo court." Another Democrat, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said, "If you're going to have a hanging don't ask me to bring the noose." But fellow Democrat Henry Waxman of California says Democrats -- in his words -- "ought to be there every day, recording why it's a sham. Republicans insist the Obama administration hasn't come clean on what happened during and after the attack, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.


Planned Parenthood Drops Kansas Funding Challenge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has dropped its legal challenge to a Kansas law that stripped two of its Kansas clinics of federal money for family planning. The organization filed a stipulation of dismissal Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas. An appeals court ruled in March that Kansas could strip clinics in Wichita and Hays of the funds while Planned Parenthood pressed its lawsuit contesting a state law it calls retaliation for its advocacy of abortion rights. Friday's filing ends the litigation. Kansas is among several states that have sought to defund Planned Parenthood. The federal family planning money targets low-income people seeking reproductive services such as birth control, pregnancy testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. The funds cannot be used for abortions.


Bob Dole Returns to KS Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole resumes his Kansas tour next week with stops including Wichita and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. It's the second leg of a planned series of visits by the 90-year-old Dole to his home state this year. Dole has said he's making the trips from his current home in Washington, D.C., to visit with friends and former supporters.


Monk to Sing National Anthem at NASCAR Race

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Benedictine monk from northeast Kansas will be in the national spotlight when he sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a NASCAR race Saturday night. KAIR-AM reports that Father Meinrad Miller caught the attention of Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren after singing the national anthem for a military ball. Warren contacted Miller a few days later, and the monk will perform ahead of Saturday night's Sprint Cup 5-Hour Energy 400 at the track in Kansas City, Kansas. Miller lives at St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison and teaches theology at Benedictine College. He says he's a bit nervous about singing before more than 75,000 spectators and a national TV audience, but is looking forward to the opportunity.


Shooting Range Near Dodge City Drawing Support

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A gun club's proposal to build a shooting range in western Kansas is gaining support. The Santa Fe Trail Gun Club is in the process of planning a shooting range near a landfill in Ford County. It would be the first shooting range in the county, home to Dodge City. Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush, Dodge City Police Chief Craig Mellecker and the county commission this week gave informal support to the range, if it's is properly supervised. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that the gun group has created bylaws, elected a board and is accepting dues. The proposed range would also be open to law enforcement agencies and Dodge City Community College. Organizers hope to have it open sometime this year.


Lawrence Man Convicted of Raping KU Student

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man has been convicted of raping a University of Kansas student 17 years ago. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a Douglas County jury returned the verdict Friday afternoon against 41-year-old Robert E. Grey. Grey had been convicted once previously in the case and given a 26-year sentence. But the Kansas Court of Appeals overturned the 2009 conviction, finding that prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of a fair trial. The crime occurred on May 11, 1997. Grey was accused of driving the student from a campus parking lot and raping her in a secluded area near Lawrence High School. District Judge Michael Malone scheduled sentencing for June 20. Grey's attorney indicated she would file motions before then.


Kansas City Entertainment District Sues Attorneys for Defamation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owner of the Kansas City Power & Light District has filed a defamation lawsuit against attorneys who claimed in an earlier lawsuit that the district discriminated against minority customers. Cordish Companies and two related entities filed a defamation suit this week against two attorneys who filed the earlier lawsuit on behalf of Glen Cusimano. Cordish claims that Cusimano's attorneys knowingly made false statements to the news media that damaged the district's reputation. Cusimano alleges that the district employed white people to provoke confrontations with black people as a way to eject minorities from district clubs in 2012 and 2013. Cordish denies it used that tactic. The Kansas City Star reports that Cusimano's lead attorney, Linda Dickens, reaffirmed the allegations against Cordish on Thursday.


Wyoming City Settles with Anti-Abortion Protester

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) _ The town of Jackson paid $10,000 to settle a federal lawsuit over the arrest of a Kansas anti-abortion protester. Mark Holick, a pastor with Spirit One Christian Ministries in Wichita, Kansas sued the town and police officials following his 2011 arrest on the town square. The town released records showing its settlement payment in response to a request from The Associated Press. Holick's arrest came shortly after Jackson officials secured a state court order barring anti-abortion protesters from appearing on the town square. His lawsuit charged that the arrest violated his civil rights. The State of Wyoming earlier announced that it had paid $60,000 in the case to settle claims against two Jackson police officers while the Local Government Liability Pool said it paid $155,000 in the case.


Robber Pleads Guilty in KS Stress-Related Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man has pleaded guilty to charges in an armed robbery that led to the elderly victim's death from stress. 27-year-old David L. White pleaded guilty Thursday in Sedgwick County court to voluntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery. His plea agreement allows prosecutors to request a sentence of more than 29 years in prison. White admitted robbing 73-year-old Byron Shipman at gunpoint of his wallet and two rings in March 2013. Shipman told his wife several hours later he was upset and frightened. He then died of what a medical examiner concluded was an aneurysm caused by the stress of the robbery. White was captured after another person he robbed the same day gave police a partial number of his license plate.

Towers Will Study Wind in Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Douglas County commissioners have approved a plan to erect two meteorological towers in a rural area to study wind patterns. The towers will be installed by NextEra Energy Resources, the nation's largest wind energy developer. The conditional use permit approved by the commission is good for six years.


Kansas Toughening Penalties for Defrauding Elderly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Starting in July, Kansas will punish security fraud more severely if it's committed against the elderly. Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill Thursday to increase the penalties for securities fraud if the victim is 60 or older. Legislators approved the measure last week by unanimous votes in both chambers. The new law increases penalties across the board when the victim is elderly. Currently, for a first-time offender convicted of securities fraud causing a loss of less than $25,000, the presumed sentence is two years' probation, but up to 19 months in prison is possible. Under the new law, if the victim is 60 or older, there'll be no presumption that the offender will avoid prison, and the time could be between 31 and 34 months.


Massage Parlor Manager Pleads Guilty in Kansas Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A massage parlor manager has admitted in a court document to recruiting a woman living in China to come to Wichita to work at the business and engage in prostitution. The U.S. attorney's office says Yan Zhang pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge of transportation for prostitution under a deal with the government for a recommended sentence of time served. The 50-year-old Wichita woman has been in jail since her arrest in September. Her plea comes a day after her husband, Gary Kidgell, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and harboring an immigrant living illegally in the United States. The couple are accused of recruiting women to come to Wichita to work at massage parlors, then coercing them into prostitution. Sentencing is August 4.


2 Commissions Approve Proposed College Merger

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Dodge City and Ford County commissions are officially supporting a proposed merger of Dodge City Community College and Fort Hays State University. The commissions approved resolutions this week at separate meetings saying they support the merger. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports the resolutions of support were not necessary for the merger to proceed. But the commissions were urged to pass the resolutions to show the Kansas Board of Regents the merger has local support. The merger would create an Institute of Applied Technology on the Dodge City campus, with Fort Hays State offering some four-year degree programs. Fort Hays administrators would run both campuses. The plan must be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents, the state Legislature and the governor.


Hutchinson Community College Picks New President

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Carter File, a vice president at Hutchinson Community College, has been promoted to president of the college, beginning July 1. The college's Board of Trustees announced File's promotion Thursday. File has been vice president of finance and operations for the last 8½ years. He will replace Edward Berger, who became president of the college in 1991. The Hutchinson News reports File will be paid a base annual salary of $130,000, with additional reimbursements. He signed a two-year contract. The college says 27 applicants originally sought the job. A search committee interviewed seven people and called four back for second interviews.


Wyoming Man Missing After Moving for Marijuana Industry

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a Wyoming man who went missing after moving to Colorado to become involved in the marijuana industry. Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania said Friday that 50-year-old Carl Shull has been missing since Nov. 28, and investigators suspect foul play in his disappearance. Shull, who was last seen in Aurora, may have been driving a Chevrolet S-10 pickup with Wyoming plates that he bought in the Casper area before moving to Colorado. Police do not know its color or the license plate number. He was traveling with his blue heeler dog named Bez. Shull is white, 5-foot-10 and weighs 170 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. Fania says Shull has family in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Wyoming.


Body Found in Car in Maize Identified

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a body found earlier this week in a car at a Maize apartment complex parking lot has been positively identified as that of a missing Wichita man. Maize Police Chief Matt Jensby said Friday that the body was that of 54-year-old Adam Sabri, owner of the Timeout Sports Bar and Grill in McPherson. He says the identification was made using dental records. Jensby said an autopsy did not determine the cause of death. Sabri's body was found Monday morning in a 2008 Saturn Aura at the Fieldstone Apartments complex. Officers found the body after a resident reported a strong smell around the car. Sabri's daughter reported him missing on February 9 at Timeout Sports Bar and Grill.



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