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Headlines for Monday, April 21, 2014

Brownback Signs Kansas School Funding Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a school funding bill that restores aid for poor districts but also ends the current teacher tenure process. The measure signed Monday is intended to satisfy a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court with a $129 million funding increase for the next school year. Legislators approved the bill on April 6. It now goes back to a three-judge district court panel for review. The bill restores aid payments that equalize spending for school districts by giving poor districts additional funds for operations and capital improvements. The measure also includes provisions ending existing procedures for teacher tenure process and targeting additional spending for higher education. Brownback praised the measure for providing more education spending and property tax relief to school districts.


New Law Prevents Expansion of Medicaid in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is not going to expand its Medicaid program anytime soon as part of the federal health care overhaul. But advocates aren't giving up on the idea. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved still plans to pursue the issue. Spokeswoman Katrina McGivern said the group has prepared to work on educating legislators about the benefits of expanding Medicaid. The program provides health coverage for the poor and disabled. Republican Governor Sam Brownback and many GOP legislators are vocal critics of the 2010 federal health care law. Lawmakers last year included a ban on expanding Medicaid in budget legislation, but it expires in July 2015. The GOP-dominated Legislature passed a bill earlier this month extending the ban indefinitely. Brownback signed it this week.


Kansas Voter Program Checks National Rolls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach compares voter registration records among participating states to check for duplicate voter registrations and possible double voting. The program, called Interstate Crosscheck, or "The Kansas Project," goes through more than 100 million voter records from 27 participating states and works to clear up registration rolls. Kobach told The Lawrence Journal-World that most double registrations are unintentional and result from a person moving from one state to another and re-registering to vote. But he said the computer program works to find voters who may have voted in two separate states. Most of the 27 participating states are solidly Republican or lean Republican. There are nine that are solidly Democratic or lean Democratic.

Kansas Schools Resume State Testing After Glitches

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Schools in Wichita and surrounding districts are resuming state testing this week after many of the bugs in the new assessments appear to have been worked out. The Wichita Eagle reports that school districts across the state have reported technical glitches with the rollout of the new state tests, which began March 10. Because of those problems it's now unlikely that all students required to take the tests will take or complete them. This year's tests are viewed as a trial run for a new type of assessment that reflects Common Core state standards. The State Board of Education said last month all public schools in Kansas will remain accredited next year regardless of how well their students fare on the tests.


Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Dozens of Kansas elected officials and other admirers have helped former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole kick off a three-day homecoming tour. The former U.S. Senate majority leader began his tour Monday with a reception at the local GOP headquarters in Overland Park. About 75 people attended, including Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Congressman Kevin Yoder. Dole sat in a cushioned, wing-backed chair as he greeted well-wishers and posed for pictures with them. His itinerary included nine other receptions and open houses in northeast Kansas this week. The 90-year-old Dole represented Kansas in Congress from 1961 to 1996, when he left the Senate to run against Democratic President Bill Clinton. His political career began after he overcame disabling combat wounds sustained during World War II.


Bob Dole: US Should Send Weapons to Ukraine

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole says the U.S. should send weapons, including tanks, to Ukraine to help it resist Russia's moves on its territory and to send Russian President Vladimir Putin a strong message. The 90-year-old Republican Party icon and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader said Putin considers Democratic President Barack Obama to be a weak leader. Dole made his comments during a reception at the local GOP headquarters in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, the first of 10 homecoming appearances in his native state over the next three days. He discussed Ukraine at the prompting of Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Dole said that he'd not only send tanks and other weapons to Ukraine but put a missile defense system in Poland.


Reward Posted in Salina Firearms Theft

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have posted a reward of up to $5,000 for help in solving this month's theft of more than 100 firearms from a Salina business. Salina police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced the reward from the ATF on Monday. Employees of Cleve's Marine and Sporting Goods discovered the burglary the morning of April 14. Salina police reported the stolen items included about 140 guns, 10 knives and several rounds of ammunition. The total loss was estimated at $50,000 or more. The thieves are thought to have entered the store through a garage door and disabled the building's alarm system. The reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who committed the burglary.


2-Car Crash Near Topeka Results in Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 40-year-old Topeka man is shot in the neck and a second was taken into custody after what police suspect could be a case of road rage. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the accident happened at 6:23 pm Sunday on U.S. 24 about a quarter-mile before the exit ramp to K-4. Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones says that after the collision, two men driving the vehicles got out and one shot the other. Jones says the victim had a nonlife-threatening wound and was talking and alert. The names of the people involved weren't immediately released. Jones says there were multiple passengers in both vehicles, and that several were taken into custody for questioning. He says a gun was retrieved from a bush on the side of the highway.

Fort Riley Overhauls Sexual Assault Program

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley has revamped its services for sexual assault victims in the military, streamlining the process in a bid to make it easier for victims to report assaults. The fort's new Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention Center on the base near Junction City, opened earlier this month and gives alleged victims a one-stop shop for services. Before the center was opened, victims who wanted to speak with a lawyer in the staff judge advocate's office needed to go to separate buildings. The Kansas City Star reports that the offices now share the same hallway in a low-traffic building, allowing people to enter discreetly. Posters and banners around Fort Riley also encourage victims to "Speak Up." Fort officials also managed the change in about two weeks.


MO Mayor's Anti-Semitic Statements on City Agenda

MARIONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Officials in the southwest Missouri community of Marionville were expected to discuss anti-Semitic statements made by the city's mayor in support of a white supremacist accused of killing three people at Jewish community sites in Kansas. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Mayor Dan Clevenger's support of 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross resulted in the resignation of Alderwoman Jessica Wilson and City Attorney Paul Link. The city's Board of Aldermen was planning to discuss a resolution about his statements Monday night. Cross is accused of fatally shooting 69-year-old William Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, on April 13 in Overland Park, Kan., and 53-year-old Terri LaManno at a nearby Jewish retirement complex. Clevenger told the News-Leader last week he believes Jews have played a role in hurting the American economy.


KC Highway Shootings Suspect Makes 1st Court Appearance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 27-year-old Missouri man accused of shooting at several vehicles along busy Kansas City highways and wounding three drivers will be appointed a public defender after telling a judge he can't afford to pay for an attorney. KCTV-5 TV reports that Mohammed Whitaker of Grandview appeared in Jackson County (Missouri) court Monday with his hands shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. He is being held on $1 million bond on 18 felony counts stemming from highway shootings that started in early March. Police say they had Whitaker under surveillance for about a week before arresting him Thursday night in Grandview, only a few miles from an area where many of the shootings occurred. His preliminary hearing on the charges is scheduled for May 1.

Woman Killed, Several Hurt in 2-Car Collision

NORTONVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman has died and several people were taken to a hospital with injuries after a two-car crash just south of Nortonville. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 71-year-old Don Schuler of Nortonville was southbound on Osage Road at 4:30 p.m. Sunday when he failed to yield at a stop sign at Kansas Highway 4 and collided with a northbound Buick Park Avenue driven by 15-year-old Alyissa Berglund of Atchison. A passenger in Schuler's car, 71-year-old Margaret Schuler, was killed in the collision. Don Schuler, Berglund and five passengers in her car — including three between the ages of 1 and 9 — were taken to a Topeka hospital, where three of Berglund's passengers remained hospitalized Sunday night.


Brownback to Attend KU Medical Center Event

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback and other officials are expected to gather at the KU Medical Center to applaud budget enhancements that include $25 million in bonds for building a proposed $75 million health education building. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Fred Logan are also expected to attend the event Monday at the medical center. A bill passed by the Legislature includes $25 million in state-backed bonding authority for a new building. KU officials say a new health education building is needed in part to train more doctors. With the new building, KU will increase the class size by 25 to 200 students. The university has identified $15 million in internal funds for the project, but needs $40 million more.


Topeka to Allocate 6 Tickets to Each Graduate for First Lady's Speech

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka school district is allotting up to six tickets each to graduating seniors whose commencement next month will feature Michelle Obama. Topeka Unified School District 501 spokesman Ron Harbaugh says graduating seniors will receive up to six tickets each for the joint commencement ceremony scheduled for May 17th, the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's watershed ruling in Brown versus Topeka Board of Education. The ceremony will include all five of the district's high schools, Highland Park High, Topeka High, Topeka West, Capital City and Hope Street Academy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports about 1,300 people will be on the floor of the Kansas Expocentre and nearly 6,500 seats will be available in the regular stands.


Kansas Judge to Rule on Supervision

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — A Butler County judge is expected to decide if a former Augusta police officer convicted of a sex crime will be subject to lifetime post-release supervision. The Wichita Eagle reports that 45-year-old Jerry Ballinger was ordered to 59 days of house arrest, 60 months' probation and sex offender treatment when he was sentenced April 7th on one count of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The judge is expected to rule Monday on whether Ballinger will also have to submit to post-release supervision for the rest of his life. Ballinger was a longtime Augusta police department employee. Kansas law requires certain sex offenders be supervised in the community for the remainder of their lives after serving the incarceration portion of their sentences.

Agency Says Effort to Gain Custody of Girl Denied at County Level

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor says one of his assistants made the right call in 2011 to not to pursue custody of an 18-month-old girl who died five months later from injuries and malnourishment. The Wichita Eagle reports the state Department for Children and Families says it filed an affidavit October 17, 2011, with the Butler County attorney's office seeking custody of Jayla Haag. An assistant prosecutor thought the state lacked evidence and declined to pursue custody. Butler County prosecutor Darrin Devinney says that was the right decision, based on information available at the time. An autopsy report shows Jayla had "multiple contusions of the head, trunk and extremities," and her six lower teeth had been forcibly removed. Jayla's father is suing DCF for failing to protect his daughter.


Canadian Who Used Dead Brother's ID Gets 4 Years

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Canadian citizen who used his dead brother's identity to enter the U.S. unlawfully has been sentenced to four years in federal prison. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 58-year-old Leslie Lyle Camick also was ordered Monday to pay restitution of more than $15,000 to a former business partner. A Kansas jury found Camick guilty in January of aggravated identity theft, obstruction of justice, mail fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors say Camick started using the identity of his brother, Wayne Bradly Camick, starting in 1997. Wayne Camick died as an infant in 1958. He used that name to remain in the U.S. for at least 10 years, obtain a Canadian Social Insurance card and driver's license in the Caymen Islands, and sign documents to purchase real estate in Winfield, Kansas.


12 States Continue Ban on Sodomy, 10 Years After Court Ruling

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books 10 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they are unconstitutional. One such state is Louisiana, where gay rights groups contend police have used anti-sodomy laws to target gay men. But state lawmakers sided with religious and conservative groups in refusing to repeal the law last week. Sarah Warbelow is legal director for the gay rights advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign. She says that out of 14 states that had anti-sodomy laws, only Montana and Virginia have repealed theirs since the Supreme Court ruling. Warbelow says that in addition to Louisiana, anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.


Kansas City Man Admits 2007 Bank Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who spent several years as a fugitive has admitted stealing nearly $39,000 during a 2007 bank holdup. The U.S. Attorney's office says 40-year-old Marlon Jaye Larry pleaded guilty Monday to armed bank robbery and using a firearm in a violent crime. Larry admitted entering a Bank of America branch on Kansas City's State Line Road the morning of June 27, 2007, and threatening employees at gunpoint. Tellers filled a trash bag with nearly $39,000 in cash before Larry drove off in an employee's car. A search of a female acquaintance's home the same day turned up a handgun and trash bag containing more than $28,000. Larry was charged in 2008 but remained a fugitive until his arrest in Pennsylvania in March 2013.


Kansas Students Attend Prom by Robot

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two Lawrence students danced with friends at their prom thanks to a couple of robots. The Lawrence Journal World reports Olivia Ledezma attended the Lawrence Virtual High School prom last Saturday while she was in California. She got to the prom by using a telepresence robot, which is essentially an iPad on wheels. Ledezma and one other student, who was in Michigan at the time, used the robots on loan from Lawrence Public Schools. Each robot has a foot-long wheel at its base with an adjustable pole holding an iPad. The students on the other end controlled the robot through an iPad application. Monte Westfall, assistant principal of Lawrence Virtual Schools, says both students were out on the dance floor, and it was as though they were really there.


Wichita Putting Baseball Congress World Series Board of Directors in Place

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials have been working to put a board of directors in place to take over operation of the National Baseball Congress World Series. Wichita announced earlier they will take their tournament back from current operators, the Wingnuts independent league baseball team. This year's tournament, the 80th World Series, runs July 25th through August 9th. Profits generated by the tournament will go toward youth baseball programs. The board, which will run the new nonprofit NBC Baseball Foundation, will have authority to appoint new management for the tournament, negotiate a long-term agreement with an outside management group or negotiate a temporary agreement while longer-term management is sought. City Manager Robert Layton told the Wichita Eagle the board appointments could be on a May council meeting agenda.


AT&T Explores Expansion of Super-Fast Internet

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T says it will expand super-fast Internet services to as many as 100 additional cities in 25 metropolitan areas. The service's 1 gigabit per second speed is about 100 times what U.S. consumers typically get with broadband. That means faster video downloads and the ability for more devices to connect to the network without congestion. AT&T currently has such speeds in Austin, Texas, and has committed to offer the service in Dallas. A rival offering from Google Inc. is available in Kansas City and is coming soon to Austin and Provo, Utah. AT&T Inc. says the specific number of new markets will depend on discussions with local officials and assessments of potential demand. The company may start building some of the new networks by the end of the year.


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