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Headlines for Monday, January 2, 2017

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

Two GOP Leaders Call for Quick Repeal of Kansas Income Tax Break

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two new Republican leaders in the Kansas Legislature say they want to move quickly to repeal an income tax break for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. The policy was championed by Governor Sam Brownback and passed by lawmakers in 2012. House Taxation Committee Chairman Steven Johnson, a Republican from Assaria, says he hopes a bill to repeal the tax break can be passed within weeks of lawmakers convening on January 9th. Incoming Senate Majority Leader, Republican Jim Denning of Overland Park, also would like to see a quick repeal to help address the state's budget problems. Repeal of the tax break is expected to raise about $260 million a year.

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Kansas Lawmakers' Work to Be Shaped by Big Fiscal Questions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Big questions about taxes and spending will shape the Kansas Legislature's work after its annual session opens January 9. But the biggest question might be how much GOP moderates work with conservatives and how often they seek deals with Democrats. Lawmakers and Governor Sam Brownback must close a projected shortfall of more than $345 million in the current budget and estimated gaps in funding for existing programs that total almost $1.1 billion through June 2019. It's not clear whether the Republican-controlled Legislature will increase taxes or pressure Brownback to rethink income tax cuts he championed in 2012 and 2013. And with a Kansas Supreme Court ruling on education funding expected soon, lawmakers will face pressure to provide more money for public schools.

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Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Casino Project Arguments

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit involving a southeast Kansas casino in January. Arguments in the suit over the Kansas Crossing Casino are scheduled to begin on January 25. The casino was awarded the Southeast Zone license, for the final of four state-owned casinos by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission in July of 2015. Cherokee County and investors in another proposed casino project, the Castle Rock Casino, filed suit. The plaintiffs claim the Kansas Gaming Facility Review Board didn't follow state law when it chose Kansas Crossing over the much larger Castle Rock project.

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Kansas Appeals Court: PTSD-Affected Investigator Entitled to Benefits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas appeals panel says a former detective with post-traumatic stress disorder is entitled to disability benefits. The case involved Paul Hudson, a former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after four years investigating hundreds of cases involving sex crimes against children. He was diagnosed with PTSD after retiring. In 2012, Hudson applied for disability through the Kansas Police and Firemen's Retirement System, a division of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. But KPERS denied the claim. An administrative law judge later upheld KPERS' decision, but Hudson then appealed to Shawnee County District Court, which reversed KPERS' decision. KPERS then sought the review by the appeals court, which ruled unanimously in Hudson's favor.

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Kansas Agency Increases Number of Revoked Officer Licenses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An independent state agency has more than quadrupled the number of law enforcement officer's licenses it has revoked each year since 2011. The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training has increased the number of actions it takes from about eight a year to about 35 a year. The Wichita Eagle reports that last year the agency took action against one in about every 200 officers employed in the state. In one case, an officer issued a traffic ticket but then took it back after the offender contacted his wife about an affair the officer was having. In another, a sheriff was convicted of distributing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Officials say the increase in disciplinary actions can be in part attributed to more funding.

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Westar Increases Use of Drones in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Westar Energy says the increasing use of drones is helping it work faster, save money and improve safety for its employees. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the company sends drones to inspect equipment, navigate remote areas and manage some emergency situations. The state's largest utility worked with Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus to offer an unmanned aircraft systems program and now has one of the nation's largest enclosed drone flight facilities on the Salina campus. Westar recently began deploying drones commercially. Jason Klenklen, supervisor of transmission maintenance, says the drones currently are used primarily in rural areas to inspect transmission lines. Drones also will be used to inspect boilers, which will allow employees to see the inside of boilers while being able to stay outside.

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Northwest Kansas Woman Dies in House Fire 

HOXIE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Fire Marshal is investigating to determine the cause of a fire that killed a northwest Kansas woman. Sheridan County authorities say 61-year-old Linda Cook died in a fire at her home about 12 miles south and just east of Hoxie. KAKE-TV reports when firefighters arrived, they were told a person might be inside the home. Cook's remains were then found.

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2 Killed When Car Hits Kansas City Building 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say two people died when their car crashed into a building. The accident occurred early Monday at the Samuel H. Rogers Health Center. Police say two people were in a vehicle when the driver lost control of the car, which ran over a bus stop bench and two fences before hitting the building. Police believe the driver was speeding. The passenger died at the scene and the driver died later at a hospital.

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Salina Woman Leaves Bequest to Smoky Hill River Festival

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina woman has left more than $300,000 to support an arts festival in the central Kansas town where she's lived for about three decades. Jeri Sparks, who died in March, left a $321,975 bequest from her trust fund to the Smoky Hill River Festival. The Salina Journal reports the bequest was announced at the Greater Salina Community Foundation. Sparks, who moved to Salina in 1986, graduated from Brown Mackie College in 1988 and worked for Brown Welding Supply as a staff accountant and payroll clerk. She continued in various administrative capacities after Airgas USA bought Brown. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2013.

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Wichita Records Second-Highest Average Temperature and Most Rainfall in 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says 2016 was one of the wettest and warmest in Wichita's history. The Wichita Eagle reports Wichita got 50.6 inches of rain last year, the second-most precipitation in the city since records began in 1888. The highest amount was in 2008, when 53.82 inches of rain fell. The only other year on record that Wichita received at least 50 inches was 1951, when it had 50.48 inches of rain. The city's average temperature last year was 60.6 degrees, also the second-highest average yearly temp on record. The highest average temp was 61.4 in 2012. And 1954's 60.1 was the only other time the average temperature was above 60.

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Pilot Injured as Small Plane Crashes in Lee's Summit

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) - A small aircraft crash landed shortly after taking off from a suburban Kansas City airport, seriously injuring the pilot. A spokesman for the Lee's Summit Police Department told the Kansas City Star the single-engine light aircraft crash landed in a parking lot of a Lee's Summit park early Saturday. The pilot had taken off from the Lee's Summit airport a few minutes before. The pilot was taken to a hospital with injuries that were serious but not life-threatening. Authorities say there was one other person on board, and no other injuries were reported. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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Kansas Residents Turn to Airbnb for Extra Income
 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents are increasingly finding a new source of income in Airbnb, which allows travelers to rent space in private homes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Airbnb says Kansas residents hosted 20,000 guests in 2016. That's a 175 percent increase from 2015. And the number of Kansas residents hosting visitors doubled to 600 in 2016, with half renting out an extra room in their homes and others renting entire homes or providing a shared room. The company brought in $2.1 million in Kansas last year. Airbnb says Lawrence residents made $440,000 being hosts through Airbnb last year, the highest amount in the state. Overland Park had the second highest Airbnb income at $307,000. Worldwide, Airbnb has more than 2 million listings in about 34,000 cities and 191 countries.

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KCMO Police: 3 Separate Triple Shootings During Holiday Weekend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City, Missouri police are investigating three separate triple shootings in a violent New Year's holiday weekend. Police say one man was killed and two other people were injured in a shooting Saturday evening. Witnesses said the victims were walking when several men shot at them. In a separate incident Saturday, police found three other people who had been shot and then driven to a local hospital. The three said they were shot as they drove in a car. None of their injuries were considered life-threatening. Early Sunday, officers found two victims with life-threatening gunshot wounds at another address. After they were hospitalized, a third shooting victim arrived at a hospital. They also said they were in a car when someone in another car shot at them.

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Kansas City Chiefs Beat Chargers, 37-27, to Win AFC West Title 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West title and a first-round playoff bye with a 37-27 victory Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs (12-4) clinched the division with the win combined with Oakland's loss at Denver. San Diego fired coach Mike McCoy after the game. Smith, who went to nearby Helix High in La Mesa, scored on a 5-yard scramble early in the second quarter to tie the game at 10 and then threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Charcandrick West later in the quarter to put the Chiefs ahead 17-10. That followed the first of two interceptions by Philip Rivers that led to 10 points for the Chiefs. Smith was intercepted once, on a deflected pass that Jahleel Addae returned 90 yards for a touchdown to pull the Chargers (5-11) to 20-17 in the third quarter. Smith came right back and threw a 2-yard scoring pass to West, who again was wide open. Rookie Tyreek Hill showed some fancy footwork in returning a punt 95 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter.

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No. 3 Baylor Routs Kansas 90-43 

WACO, Texas (AP) — The Number 3 ranked Baylor University Lady Bears overcame a sluggish start to beat the Kansas University Jayhawks 90-43 on Sunday. The Lady Bears (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) shot 60 percent from the floor and limited Kansas to 22.4 percent. Baylor also controlled the boards, 58-30. The Jayhawks (6-7, 0-2) stayed in the game early, thanks in large part to Jessica Washington, who scored 11 of her 18 points in the first quarter. Baylor turned the ball over six times in the opening quarter but still led 28-19 midway through the second. It was all Baylor after that, as the Bears outscored Kansas 41-7 over the next 11 minutes. Beatrice Mompremier had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Baylor, and Kalani Brown added 11 points.

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Kansas State Women Hand No. 12 West Virginia First Loss of Season

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Breanna Lewis had 23 points and nine rebounds, Kindred Wesemann made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points as the Kansas State Wildcats' women's team knocked off the previously unbeaten No. 12 West Virginia 86-71 on Sunday. West Virginia entered with the nation's best field-goal percentage defense at 29 percent but Lewis was 10-of-15 shooting and the Wildcats made 54.7 percent overall. Kansas State used a 13-2 run to build a 17-point lead with 4:09 left in the third quarter and the Wildcats' lead didn't drop below 14 the rest of the way. Shaelyn Martin and Kaylee Page each added 10 points for Kansas State (11-3, 1-1 Big 12), which had a season-high point total in beating West Virginia for the second time in 10 tries. Chania Ray made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 23 points with seven assists for West Virginia (13-1, 1-1). But the loss ended the Mountaineers' fifth-longest winning streak in the program's history. 

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