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Headlines for Monday, February 20, 2017

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

Kansas House Committee Tables Medicaid Expansion 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers won't vote on expanding Medicaid until at least April 3. The House Health and Human Services Committee voted Monday to table the bill right before the deadline for committees to pass bills onto the floor. That could kill the bill for this year. Committee Vice Chair Susan Concannon says she will try to get House Speaker Ron Ryckman to exempt the bill from deadlines so that it can be considered later this year. Expanding Medicaid would give coverage to people who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. It has support from health care advocates, providers, business groups and patients. Conservative think tanks and a state agency overseeing the program oppose the bill.

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Former Wichita Mayor Enters Kansas Governor's Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is entering the race to be the next governor of Kansas. Brewer, a Democrat, announced his candidacy Monday. He plans campaign stops in Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City. The 59-year-old Brewer said in a news release that he has the experience and passion to "get the state of Kansas back on track." Brewer was Wichita mayor from 2007 to 2015 and also served six years as a city councilman. Since leaving the mayor's office, he has been in government relations at Spirit AeroSystems. Brewer pledged to visit every corner of the state. He says he offers new leadership that will restore confidence in state government. Republican Governor Sam Brownback, who is in his second term, cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering legalizing medical marijuana for certain medical conditions. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee heard the bill Monday. If it passes, Kansas would join 28 other states that have some type of medical marijuana program. Supporters say medical marijuana could help patients who have exhausted available medicine options. Melissa Ragsdale, whose 7-year-old son suffers from seizures, told the committee industrial hemp cannabidiol helped her son but it only stops certain seizures and that broader access could help. Supporters also say marijuana would be better than potentially harmful prescription narcotics. Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Lobbyist Ed Klumpp argues marijuana should go through a vetting process like other prescription drugs. He says legalizing usage for some people makes stopping illegal marijuana use more difficult.

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Kansas Lawmakers Wary of Projected School Spending Savings 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are skeptical of estimates for projected savings in spending on public schools included in Republican Governor Sam Brownback's budget proposals. The debate over the numbers came as legislative committees had hearings Monday on proposals for elements of a new education funding formula. Brownback's budget proposals assume that two measures would save the state $47 million during the fiscal year that begin in July and $89 million in the fiscal year beginning in July 2018. One measure would have all 286 school districts participate in a single health insurance plan for their employees and another would centralize the purchase of some supplies and services. Brownback's figures are based on a 2016 efficiency study commission by the Legislature. But both districts and legislative auditors have questioned the numbers.

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Secretary of State Investigates Douglas County Sheriff for Possible Voter Fraud 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Secretary of State's office is investigating Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern is being investigated for helping his mother obtain a ballot to vote even though she may live in another county. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Secretary of State's office is looking into McGovern's actions but Director of Elections Bryan Caskey says the sheriff's actions may not violate Kansas law. He says the law allows someone to vote in a county where they don't live as long as they intend to return to that county. More than a year before last year's primary election, Lois McGovern sold her house in Lawrence. It appears that she is living in a nursing home in Johnson County.

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Refugee Populations Drawing Doctors to Rural Kansas

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) - Somali refugees who have settled in a Kansas meatpacking town are the cornerstone of an innovative recruiting effort to entice new doctors to rural hospitals. It's an effort that grew out of the realization that many millennials graduating from medical schools have a burning passion for international humanitarian work. Hospitals that are involved in the effort are encouraging doctors to work with immigrant populations and learn the language and culture before heading overseas. They also offer generous time off for medical trips abroad. Twenty-five Kansas doctors have joined a loose network of physicians working across western Kansas. 

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USDA to Survey Farmers About What They Intend to Plant 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Agriculture Department is preparing to survey farmers about what they are planning to grow this year. The USDA will survey about 84,000 farmers nationwide about their plans. The survey will form the basis for the USDA's annual prospective plantings report. That report is scheduled to be released March 31. The USDA's Dean Groskurth says this report is important because it is the basis for the projections officials will make about this year's crop.

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Search for Teenager Whose Boat Capsized in Douglas County Now a Recovery Effort 

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say efforts to find a 17-year-old boy who has been missing since a boating accident Saturday have gone from a rescue to a recovery effort. The teenager was on a boat that capsized on the Douglas County Lake late Saturday. Another 17-year-old boy on the boat was able to surface and swim to campers, who called 911. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says a boat was found Monday afternoon but authorities haven't determined if it is the boat the teenagers were on. Douglas County underwater divers and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks are helping with the search.

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Kansas Honor Flight Surprised with $15,000 Donation 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A group that takes Kansas war veterans on trips to Washington D.C. is celebrating a new donation. KAKE-TV reports that Kansas Honor Flight was expecting a check for $5,000 from Allmetal Recycling. But a big response to fundraising efforts meant the organization received a $15,000 donation on Monday. Allmetal owner Clint Cornejo says the fundraising shows Wichita supports its veterans and the military. Kansas Honor Flight takes war veterans to Washington D.C., to visit war memorials. It costs $700 to send one Kansas veteran on an honor flight.

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Neighborhood Association Raises Money for Kansas City Man After Arrest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A group of homeowners is raising money for a man who was arrested in their neighborhood after a neighbor called police on him. The Kansas City Star reports the Waldo Tower Homes Association is helping 27-year-old Brandon Robins who was arrested last week on a warrant for a minor traffic offense. The association's president Angie Lile says a neighbor followed Robins in her vehicle and took his picture as he walked through the neighborhood to pick up his son and stepdaughter from school. The neighbor posted the photo online and said she thought Robins looked suspicious.Lile says she thinks the neighbor crossed the line. Robins says he is trying to use the incident to raise awareness about discrimination. He spent about three hours in jail before being released.

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Kansas Game Warden Official Says Facebook Page Is Helpful

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas game wardens are getting help from a Facebook page that has more than 42,000 followers. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism game warden Dan Melson tells Wichita Eagle that the social media page is helpful. Melson, who created the page in 2014, says he came up with the idea after seeing other states doing well with theirs. Melson says the page was crucial to the understaffed law enforcement group. Officials are hoping the social media exposure will help as a recruiting tool. Melson says the department has six vacancies for field officers. The game wardens' Facebook page is the second-most followed law enforcement page in Kansas.

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4 People Die in Western Kansas Crash 

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say four people died after a semi collided with a minivan in western Kansas while trying to pass another truck. The Wichita Eagle reports the crash happened Saturday evening around 8 pm on U.S. Highway 50 east of Dodge City. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the semi was trying to pass another truck when it crossed the centerline and struck the 2002 Chrysler minivan. The driver and three children in the minivan died at a Dodge City hospital. Authorities say 29-year-old Anakary Romero, 12-year-old Edward Reynaga, 7-year-old Emily Reynaga and 1-year-old Edwin Reynaga all died. They were all from Dodge City. 

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EPA Conference in Manhattan Will Focus on Radon Risks 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A conference next month will focus on the best ways to raise awareness about the dangers of radon gas. The Environmental Protection Agency is working with health officials in Kansas and several other Midwestern states to stage the conference in Manhattan on March 7. The odorless colorless radon gas is the nation's second-leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking, and is the most common cause in nonsmokers. The meeting will highlight ways to help the public reduce radon exposure. Organizers say anyone interested in attending the free meeting should register before Tuesday online at http://svy.mk/2kOzd96 .

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Missouri Truck Driver Pleads Guilty in Fatal Car Accident

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A truck driver from Springfield was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty in a crash that killed a Kansas City, Kansas, woman. Forty-one-year-old Adam Shaw pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter in the October 2013 death of 49-year-old Catherine Nienaber. The four-year prison term was part of his plea agreement. Prosecutors said Shaw's tractor-trailer truck struck the minivan Neinaber was in on Missouri 45 in southern Platte County. Shaw also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault related to injuries suffered by Neinaber's son and the driver of another vehicle. Authorities say Shaw was speeding and crossed the center line, hitting Neinaber's vehicle. His blood alcohol reading was .116, nearly three times the .04 limit for commercial truck drivers.

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