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Headlines for Monday, August 1, 2016

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

Kansas Tax Collections $13M Short of Expectations in July 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that its tax collections fell nearly $13 million short of expectations in July. The Department of Revenue reported Monday that the state collected $425 million in taxes last month, compared with the state's official projection of nearly $438 million. The shortfall was 2.9 percent. Tax collections have fallen short of expectations for 10 of the past 12 months. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since Republican legislators slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 to stimulate the economy. A shortfall in tax collections in June prompted Brownback's administration to delay $260 million in state aid payments to public schools. It also diverted money for highway projects and funds within the Department of Corrections to avoid a deficit when the 2016 fiscal year ended June 30.


Budget Problems and Education Funding Big Issues for Kansas Voters

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Small-government Republican conservatives face a political backlash in Kansas because of the state's budget problems and battles over education funding. The epicenter is in sprawling Kansas City suburbs where residents have cherished public schools for decades. But the Democrats and GOP moderates hoping to lessen the grip Governor Sam Brownback's allies have on the Legislature must contend with a political paradox in Johnson County's affluent suburbs.  Johnson County voters regularly approve bonds and property tax increases for schools yet elect conservative legislators who've backed the governor's experiment in slashing state income taxes. More than two dozen conservative Republican legislators face challengers in Tuesday's primary. They include 11 incumbents in Johnson County, which is the state's most populous. Challengers there have made education funding a key issue.


Kansas Voters To Cast Primary Ballots Tuesday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —Republican Primary voters in Kansas head to the polls tomorrow (TUE) to decide whether to back their congressional incumbents, including two who are running unopposed for their U.S. House seats. The state's Democrats have slightly more choices on their primary ballot as they decide who they want as challengers for the November elections. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran faces a primary race with Della Jean "D.J." Smith, a former Osawatomie city council member, who is running against a sitting GOP senator for a second time. Democrats Patrick Wiesner of Lawrence and Monique Singh-Bey of Kansas City are vying for the chance to face Moran in November's general election. U.S. Representatives Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo are running unopposed in their GOP primaries.


Democrats See Big Jump in Kansas Voter Registration Numbers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The latest Kansas voter registration figures compiled by Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office contain some good news for downtrodden Democrats. Yes, the figures released Monday show that Republicans still enjoy a large advantage in registered voters. Nearly 772,000 of the state's 1.75 million registered voters are Republicans, or 44 percent. About 429,000 are Democrats, or 24.5 percent. Nearly 536,000 are unaffiliated, or 30.6 percent. There are about 13,700 Libertarians, or 0.8 percent of all voters. But the number of registered Democrats increased by 5 percent from August 2015, almost twice the rate of the increase in voter registrations. The number of registered Republicans rose 1.5 percent, and the number of unaffiliated voters grew 2.3 percent. Libertarians saw a 3.8 percent increase in their numbers.


Green Party Hopeful Seeks Spot on Kansas Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is seeking a spot on the Kansas ballot in November as an independent candidate. The Kansas secretary of state's office said Monday that Stein's campaign submitted petitions with about 10,000 signatures in hopes of getting her on the ballot. In Kansas, only recognized political parties can list their candidates' affiliations on the ballot. The state recognizes only the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties. To gain recognition, a party must submit petitions with the signatures of almost 17,400 registered voters. To keep it, a candidate for statewide office must capture at least 1 percent of the vote. Candidates of unrecognized parties must run as independents and file by petition. An independent presidential candidate's campaign must collect signatures from 5,000 registered voters.


Congressman's Combativeness Major Issue in Central-Western Kansas Race

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — The combativeness that's made U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas a tea party favorite has turned major agriculture and business groups against him. It could cost him his seat in the sprawling, largely rural 1st Congressional District in the state's Republican primary Tuesday. The three-term congressman is in a tough race against obstetrician Roger Marshall of Great Bend. Their battle in the 1st District of western and central Kansas is the state's most notable contest this year. Some conservatives fear it could resonate nationally if Huelskamp loses. A key issue is Huelskamp's loss of the state's seat on the House Agriculture Committee late in 2012 after ongoing disputes with GOP leaders over fiscal and farm legislation. Outside groups have spent more than $2.5 million in the race, most of it on Marshall's campaign.


2 Kansas Independents Hope to Run for Congress 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas secretary of state's office says two independent candidates for Congress have filed petitions in hopes of getting on the ballot in November. Clifton educator and farmer Alan LaPolice and Kiowa businesswoman Miranda Allen both met Monday's deadline for submitting petitions. LaPolice hopes to run in the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas for the seat held by Republican Tim Huelskamp. LaPolice lost a closer-than-expected GOP primary race to Huelskamp in 2014. Allen hopes to run in the 4th District of south-central Kansas for the seat held by Republican Mike Pompeo. She is CEO of an environmental health and safety consulting firm. An independent candidate for Congress must gather 5,000 signatures from registered voters. LaPolice put his total at 8,800, and Allen's figure was more than 9,000.


Kansas to Stop Applying for Federal Sex Education Funding 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two of Kansas's largest counties are looking for funding to keep their sex education programs going after state officials declined to apply to renew federal grants. The Kansas City Star reports that Wyandotte and Johnson counties have used money from Personal Responsibility Education Program grants since 2010 to provide sex education courses in area schools with the goal of preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Earlier this year, Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials told the two counties that the state wouldn't apply for the grants this year. Department spokeswoman Cassie Sparks says it opted not to apply for funds so it could stop operating as a middle-man by passing money along to local departments. Sparks says the local departments will have a transition period to apply for funds. Wyandotte and Johnson county officials say they weren't prepared for the transition.


Mourners Gather to Remember Northeast Kansas Firefighter

HOYT, Kan. (AP) — Mourners have gathered to remember a northeast Kansas firefighter who died after a fire truck overturned while it was headed to a parade. WIBW reports that dozens of agencies lined up Monday morning to honor 47-year-old Mike Schultz, of Hoyt, at his funeral. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Wednesday east of the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation Reservation. The patrol says Schultz was driving northbound on U.S. 75 when the truck blew a tire near Mayetta. The truck veered off the highway and crossed the median and the southbound lanes before striking and embankment and overturning. The patrol says Schultz was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The patrol says a second firefighter was injured.


July Brings Unusually High Level of Tornado Activity to Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas official says the high number of tornadoes seen in the state in July is unusual. The Wichita Eagle reports that eight tornadoes touched down in the state in July. Three tornadoes touched down in Greenwood County on July 7, including and EF-2. An EF-3 tornado also hit the county. One tornado touched down about four miles east of Syracuse in Hamilton County on July 15, but it didn't do enough damage to warrant a damage survey by the National Weather Service. Jeff Hutton with the Dodge City branch of the weather service says that it was officially recorded as an EF-1. Jeff Hutton of the National Weather Service's Dodge City branch says the EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes in Greenwood County and the one near Syracuse "were definitely stronger than you usually see in July."


Vandals Hit Police Lodge Building in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A prison parolee has used his own money to help pay for the cleanup of a vandalized police lodge building in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that someone who lives near the Fraternal Order of Police building called Sunday to report seeing someone spray-painting the building. The spray-painting included an obscene reference to pigs and gang-type symbols. Police spokesman, Officer Cameron Morgan, said the paint was barely dry Sunday night when people showed up to help with the cleanup. He says the parolee pitched in money for cleaning chemicals.


Body Found Identified as That of Missing Theology Student 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have confirmed that a body found in the Arkansas River is that of a missing theology student. Police said Monday that the body has been identified as that of 24-year-old Brian Bergkamp, a native of Garden Plain. He had been scheduled to enter his third year of theology study at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was found last week after being reported missing July 9 when the Arkansas River was swollen by recent rains. Fire officials say two men and three women in separate kayaks were floating on the river Saturday when they hit churning water. Officials said one of the women fell into the swirling water, and Bergkamp left his kayak to assist her. She and the other kayakers made it to shore.


Sheriff: Kansas Toddler Dies After Making Way into Hot Car 

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas's Dickinson County say an 18-month-old girl died after being found unresponsive in a sweltering car that the sheriff says she climbed into at the family's rural home. Sheriff Gareth Hoffman tells the Topeka Capital-Journal that Olivia Ann Engstrom died Sunday at the family's home seven miles northeast of Abilene. Hoffman says the toddler had last been seen a few hours before her body was found, and that the girl had been playing outside with her siblings when she somehow got into a parked car. The sheriff says it's unclear how she managed to do that. Hoffman says no foul play is suspected, and he describes the matter as "horrible."


Suburban Kansas City Man Admits to Sending Fake IRS Letters 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to sending fake IRS letters to former girlfriends and business partners telling that they were under investigation for tax evasion. The U.S. attorney's office says that 56-year-old Jeffrey Nickerson, of Lenexa, Kansas, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of impersonating a federal employee. Nickerson sent letters on IRS letterhead that said the victims were under investigation as a result of reports being filed to the IRS Fraud Investigations Hotline. He knew a woman who worked at the IRS Service Center in Kansas City, Missouri, and admitted to using information gleaned from the IRS letterhead and publications she brought home with her. Nickerson faces up to three years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The sentencing date hasn't been set.


Harvey County Dedicates Memorial for Indigent Deceased

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas county has dedicated a new memorial that honors the homeless people who died there. The memorial along the Osage Nature Trail was dedicated to remember homeless and indigent people who died in Harvey County and whose remains were never claimed. The county has buried their ashes at the site. The memorial includes a large engraved stone on a concrete pedestal, with concrete benches on either side. Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton told The Hutchinson News that when someone dies and no one claims their remains, the county has the remains cremated. It had been storing the remains with his department's archives. Walton found that inappropriate, so he got to work raising money from the private sector to develop the memorial, which was paid for without public money.


Hays Police Investigating Death

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in western Kansas are investigating after a man apparently suffered fatal injuries in a fight. The Hays Police Department says it received a report of a possible disturbance late Saturday and when officers arrived they found an unresponsive male who appeared to have been involved in a fight. The Hays Post reports that the man was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The name of the victim hasn't been released. Police arrested a 25-year-old man at the scene on charges relating to the fight. Police say the investigation is ongoing.


Woman's Body Found in Topeka Hotel Room

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found in a motel room. Emergency crews were called to the hotel Saturday by a hotel guest reporting finding the body in a third-floor room. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that police identified the victim as 18-year-old Sarah Cheyenne Crawford. Police are searching for a 26-year-old Paola man who's considered a person of interest in the death, which is being investigated as a homicide.


Midwest Economic Survey Points Downward Again

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Figures from a survey of supply managers in nine Midwest and Plains states have dropped again and suggest slow or no economic growth ahead. A report issued Monday says the Mid-American Business Conditions index fell to 47.6 last month from 50.1 in June. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says global economic uncertainty, including Britain's vote to leave the European Union, was a significant concern for many of the supply managers in the survey. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Royals Lose 5-3, as Rangers Sweep Series

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers' Mitch Moreland homered for the fifth time in his last five starts and Lucas Harrell won in his Texas debut as the Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3 on Sunday to finish a sweep of the four-game series. Harrell (3-2) gave up three runs and four hits — including solo home runs to Eric Hosmer and Drew Butera — in six innings. Moreland's two-run homer was his 18th this season, the last five coming within 16 at-bats. Nomar Mazara also homered against the Royals, who have allowed an AL-high 141 homers this season. Eric Hosmer and Drew Butera homered for Kansas City, which has lost eight of its last nine games and 10 of its last 11 road games. The Royals' Dillon Gee (3-5) gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings.


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