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Headlines for Monday, April 3, 2017

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

Kansas Lawmakers Fail to Override Veto of Medicaid Expansion 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have sustained Republican Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill that would have expanded the state's Medicaid program. The House voted 81-44 Monday to override the veto shortly after the conservative governor announced it. Backers of the measure fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary to overturn a veto. The bill would have extended the state's health coverage for the poor, disabled and elderly under former President Barack Obama's health care law to cover up to 180,000 more adults. Brownback is a critic of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. He argued in his veto message that expanding Medicaid would burden the state with what he called "unrestrainable" costs. Supporters said it would be a net plus for the state.

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Kansas Tax Collections Nearly $12 Million Short of Expectations in March 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that its tax collections in March fell nearly $12 million short of expectations. The Department of Revenue said Monday that the state collected almost $429 million in taxes last month when it had projected it would take in more than $440 million. The monthly shortfall was 2.7 percent. The state had seen tax collections that had exceeded expectations the previous four months. Even with the shortfall in March, the state's tax collections are still nearly $57 million ahead of expectations for the current fiscal year that begin in July 2016. Legislators had seen the previous greater-than-expected tax collections as a positive sign as they consider raising taxes to fix the state's serious budget problems. Kansas is facing budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019.

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Kansas Budget Fix Requires Tax, Spending, School Aid Bills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are expected to spend this week working to solve a complicated puzzle to fix the state's serious budget problems. They're trying to decide how much to increase taxes without being certain about how much they'll spend on public schools or government programs. Lawmakers hope to make progress toward closing projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019. They expect to increase income taxes but are still debating exactly who would have to pay higher rates. Lawmakers are struggling with the size of the tax hike because they're still working on spending plans. They can't finish those blueprints until they agree on how much they must increase aid to schools to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court decision last month. All the pieces must fit together by July 1.

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Kansas House Could Debate Concealed Guns in Colleges, Hospitals
 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Opponents of concealed carry at Kansas hospitals and universities hope an eleventh-hour gun debate will give them a chance to change the law that is set to kick in this summer. On Tuesday, the House will decide whether to debate a bill requiring recognition of out-of-state concealed carry permits. But lawmakers on both sides of the debate would like to amend the bill to enable a broader gun policy discussion. Lawmakers in 2013 passed a law allowing concealed guns in public buildings that do not have security such as metal detectors, but they gave colleges and several medical facilities until July 1 of this year to comply. Opponents on campuses and at hospitals have sought to change the law even as they prepare to implement it this summer.

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Kansas House Passes Amusement Park Regulations After Boy's Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The death of a Kansas House member's son has spurred wide support for strengthening inspection requirements for amusement rides. Lawmakers voted 124-1 Monday to increase regulation on amusement parks as an emotional Representative Scott Schwab presided over the House. Schwab's son, Caleb, died on a water slide at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kansas last year. Schwab and a clerk were both choked up as the House got ready to vote. The House advanced the measure unanimously by voice vote last week. But Representative Jack Thimesch voted against the bill during Monday's final action vote. He says owners of carnival rides in his district told him the law could put them out of business. Schwab said last week he wouldn't hold it against anyone who voted against the bill.

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Kansas Senator Steve Fitzgerald Declares Intention to Run for Congress 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative state Senator Steve Fitzgerald is running for the congressional seat that incumbent Lynn Jenkins will vacate when her term expires. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Fitzgerald, of Leavenworth, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. He also told supporters in an email Saturday that he will seek the 2nd District seat Jenkins is vacating in January 2019. Fitzgerald briefly sought the same Republican nomination in 2014 but dropped out before the primary. Fitzgerald is a strong abortion opponent who called Planned Parenthood "much worse" than a Nazi concentration camp last month. He also has proposed legislation to ban sex-selective abortion and create death certificates for unborn children. In November, Fitzgerald bested Democratic challenger Bill Hutton by 508 votes to narrowly win re-election. 

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Kansas State Fair Board Discusses Master Plan Options

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State Fair board members are discussing a master plan that would eliminate the century-old racetrack. The Hutchinson News reports that's one suggestion in a master plan that's been presented to the board. The plan would replace the southern curves of the track with a new horse exhibition area and practice arena. Fair Manager Susan Sankey acknowledges that removing the track will be unpopular with some people. But she says it's a business decision designed to modernize the fair and generate revenue. The master plan also includes a permanent stage for entertainment and a new dirt area for demolition derbies and tractor pulls. The next step is for board members to choose priorities for the plan and set a timetable. None of the proposals are close to being approved yet.

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Survey Reveals Low Morale Among KU Faculty and Staff

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A recent survey found serious morale problems among faculty and staff at the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that results of a "climate" survey on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses found more than half of the faculty and staff have "seriously considered" leaving the university in the past year. Top concerns among the faculty were salary, benefits and persistent worries about state funding. They also cited dissatisfaction with, what an executive summary called, "the increasing presence of the state government in managing the institution."  Staff concerns included an "overwhelming workload" caused by fewer employees, inequities in scheduling and workload and quality of supervision. Minority and disabled employees reported higher percentages who say they strongly considered leaving the university. The survey, which included written comments and numerical data, was conducted in fall 2016 by Rankin & Associates. University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said the survey would be used as another tool to help the university improve.

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University of Kansas to Start Liquor Sales at Campus Events 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is piloting the sale of alcoholic beverages at some on-campus events in order to compete with off-campus experiences. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that beer and wine are now being sold at performances held at Lied Center and Murphy Hall. The sales are part of a trial that is likely to expand in the future. Other than the sales at the two centers, which began in fall 2016, university policy prohibits alcoholic beverage sales to individuals on campus. Policy does allow alcohol service at approved university events, and alcohol consumption at events like tailgating at football games. Unions director David Mucci says that as of January 1, 13 Lied events brought in about $4,300 in alcohol sales revenue. He says no problem behavior or underage drinking has been observed so far

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Grant Will Help Greensburg Fund New Airport

GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Ten years after Greensburg was nearly destroyed by a tornado, officials are planning a new airport. The Kansas Department of Transportation will award Greensburg a $1.08 million grant to develop an airport northeast of town. It is the largest of 26 grants, worth more than $4 million, announced by the agency for airport improvements around the state. The Hutchinson News reports the Greensburg grant will fund grading and drainage to allow a grass runway about 3 miles east of town. But that's the first step of what city officials hope is a three-phase, $3.6 million project to build a lighted, 3,200-foot concrete runway that could accommodate medical planes. In 2007, an EF5 tornado killed 11 people and wiped out most of the western Kansas community.

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Kansas Wind Farm Developers Optimistic About Market 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wind energy officials say the push for more wind farms in Kansas won't slow down despite the biggest wind energy buyer halting for now. The Wichita Eagle reports that various local, state and corporate officials, as well as local landowners will gather Wednesday in Kingman County to dedicate the Kingman and Ninnescah wind farms. Westar, the company generating about 40 percent of all Kansas wind power, recently increased operations on its Western Plains wind farm near Dodge City. Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig says that for the time being, the company is done purchasing. Bryan Garner, spokesman for wind farm developer NextERA, says the wind energy market is still strong. He says the company, which developed the Kingman County wind farms, is "very bullish about renewable energy" and will keep investing in Kansas.

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Kansas Officer Hurt When Alleged Thief Steals Patrol Car

IOLA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a Kansas police officer was hurt when his patrol vehicle was stolen yesterday (SUN) morning. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the theft happened in Allen County. The patrol says the Iola police officer was injured after letting go of the stolen vehicle and skidding down the road. The vehicle came to a stop when it hit a tree about three miles south of Iola. The officer and the suspect, listed in the police report as an Oklahoma resident, were both taken to a local hospital. Authorities haven't said what led up to the vehicle theft.

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Kansas Officer Hurt When Patrol Vehicle Was Stolen

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas police officer was hurt when his patrol vehicle was stolen. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the theft happened Sunday morning in Allen County. The patrol says the Iola police officer was injured after letting go of the stolen vehicle and skidding down the road. The vehicle came to a stop when it hit a tree about three miles south of Iola. The officer and the Oklahoma suspect were taken to a hospital. Authorities haven't said what led up to the vehicle theft.

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Kansas Man Convicted in Roommate's Beating Death

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Overland Park man who said he beat his roommate to death because he thought she was a zombie was sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison. Christopher Duane Wallace was sentenced Monday for second-degree murder in the January 2016 death of 35-year-old Jennifer Lopez. The Kansas City Star reports court documents indicate Wallace was under the influence of methamphetamine and told police he attacked Lopez because he thought she was a zombie. He called police to the apartment after Lopez was killed. The 38-year-old Wallace pleaded no contest in February. He was sentenced Monday in Johnson County District Court to 16 years and 11 months in prison.

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Two Shot in Rural Sedgwick County in Apparent Robbery Attempt

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities say a man and woman were shot in what might have been an attempted robbery at a house in near Valley Center. Sheriff's Captain Mark Pierce says the shooting occurred Saturday morning. One victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition and the other is in serious condition. Authorities are looking for at least two suspects. Pierce said he didn't know whether the man and woman were tenants or owners at the house.

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Midwest Economic Survey Index Slips but Still Called Healthy

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers show a slight slip in the economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Monday says the overall economic index for the region dropped to 60.1 in March from 60.5 in February. It's the first index decline in five months. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the figures still point to a healthy regional manufacturing economy. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Creator of Rainbow Flag, Kansas Native, Died of Heart Disease

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City medical examiner's office says the creator of the gay-rights rainbow flag died of natural causes. A spokeswoman for the office says Gilbert Baker's death was caused by hypertensive heart disease. The 65-year-old Baker was found at his home on Friday. The artist and gay-rights activist was best known for creating the rainbow flag in 1978. Baker was born in Chanute, Kansas and served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972. He was stationed in San Francisco in the early days of the gay rights movement and continued to live there after his honorable discharge. Baker taught himself to sew and began making banners for gay rights and anti-war marches.

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Midwest Economic Survey Index Slips But Manufacturing Sector Still Improving

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers show a slight slip in the economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released this (MON) morning says the overall economic index for the region dropped to 60.1 in March from 60.5 in February. It's the first index decline in five months. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the figures still point to a healthy regional manufacturing economy. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Convoy Hauls Supplies to Wildfire-Hit Kansas Ranches

WEST BRANCH, Mich. (AP) — Nearly two dozen semi-trailers and other trucks are delivering grain, hay, fencing and other supplies from Michigan's Ogemaw County to ranches in Kansas that suffered damage from wildfires. The convoy left Michigan area Friday morning and was reached Ashland, Kansas, Saturday. Organizer Jock Kartes said the supplies were donated by farmers and businesses. Grass fires in early March charred more than 1,000 square miles in Kansas and Oklahoma, destroying miles of fencing on ranches and farms. A convoy of trucks carrying hay from Illinois set out Thursday to Kansas. Country music star and Oklahoma native Toby Keith partnered with the Ashland Community Foundation in southern Kansas to record a public service video asking for donations.

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KU Basketball Stand-out Frank Mason III Wins Another Player of Year Award

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — University of Kansas Jayhawks senior guard Frank Mason III has won the James A. Naismith Trophy as the top college basketball player. The award was announced yesterday (SUN) in Arizona near the site of this year's college basketball Final Four. Mason beat out Lonzo Ball of UCLA, Josh Hart of Villanova and Caleb Swanigan of Purdue in the voting by a panel of journalists and coaches.  Mason will add it to his collection of awards, having already won the Associated Press player of the year award last week. Mason led the Big 12 in scoring and averaging nearly 21 points per game. The Jayhawks were eliminated in the Elite Eight of the Tournament by Oregon.
 

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