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Headlines for Monday, July 3, 2017

Kansans Will See Effects of Tax Hike on Paychecks This Month

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans will see the bite from an income tax increase with their first paychecks this month. Business owners legally can avoid the bill until next year but the state is advising them to start paying up this fall. Legislators enacted the tax increase over Governor Sam Brownback's veto. It is expected to raise $1.2 billion over two years to help balance the budget and provide additional money for public schools. The law took effect Saturday but applies retroactively to the beginning of this year to raise revenue faster. The new law largely rolls back past income tax cuts championed by Brownback. It increases rates and ends an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners.


Kansas College Campuses Brace for New Concealed Guns Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law that allows concealed guns on state university and college campuses beginning Saturday has resulted in a flurry of new policies, fact sheets, online guides and videos about the handling of weapons. Administrators say they can't predict how many people will carry concealed weapons on campuses or how many complaints their police might receive about potential violations of the keep-weapons-hidden policies. For example, administrators are telling students that if they keep a handgun in a backpack, the backpack has to stay with them if they're called to the front of the class to answer a question. The law allows people 21 or older to carry concealed weapons on campus and into buildings that don't have adequate security such as metal detectors and armed guards.


Fines Increase for Seat Belt Violations in Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Drivers in Kansas now have more incentive to buckle up. Starting Saturday, the fine for driving without a seatbelt increased to $30 from $10. State lawmakers approved legislation in May to increase the fines for anyone 18 and older. The extra $20 will go to a fund for the Seat Belts Are For Everyone program. That's an advocacy program working to persuade Kansas students to use seat belts.


Kansas Legislators Question Kobach's Claims of Statehouse Corruption

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some state lawmakers want Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to explain his claim that corruption exists at the Statehouse. Kobach said recently he is running for governor to end the "culture of corruption" in the Legislature. He suggested term limits for legislators. House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab, a Republican from Olathe, said Kobach's comments insult the Legislature. He says he gets nervous when someone with prosecutorial power accuses others of violating the law without being specific. Schwab suggested the Legislative Coordinating Council, a seven-member group of the top leaders from both parties in the House and Senate, write a letter to Kobach asking him to explain his remarks. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kobach's office said he would respond when he sees the letter.


Kansas Collects $72 Million More in Taxes than Expected in June
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says it collected $72 million more in taxes than anticipated in June. The Department of Revenue reported Monday that the state took in $609 million in taxes last month. That's 13.5 percent more than the official projection of $537 million. It was the last month of the state's 2017 fiscal year. Tax collections for the 12-month period exceeded $5.8 billion. Through May, tax collections had been in line with estimates. Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said unemployment is low and wages appear to have grown. Lawmakers had expected to end the 2017 fiscal year with cash reserves of $50 million after they approved internal borrowing and some other moves to close a projected budget shortfall. Legislators increased income taxes to help balance the budget for fiscal 2018 and 2019.


Federal Court Rejects Ex-AG's Lawsuit Against Kansas Court 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court is refusing to revive a former Kansas attorney general's lawsuit against the state Supreme Court over its indefinite suspension of his state law license. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Monday against ex-Attorney General Phill Kline. The anti-abortion Republican was disciplined over allegations of misconduct arising from investigations of abortion providers as attorney general from 2003 through 2006 and Johnson County district attorney in 2007 and 2008. Kline has strongly denied wrongdoing. A federal judge dismissed Kline's case last year and said lower federal courts can't take up the case because only the U.S. Supreme Court can review state supreme court decisions. The federal appeals panel agreed. The nation's highest court refused in 2014 to consider Kline's case.


Appeals Court Spurns Challenge to Kansas Pesticide Rules 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has spurned a lawsuit challenging a Kansas regulation on pesticide treatment. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Monday sided with a lower court in upholding its decision to throw out a lawsuit filed by filed by pest control applicator Ralph Rogerson. Rogerson had claimed in his lawsuit that a Kansas Department of Agriculture regulation requires excessive pesticide treatment in preconstruction applications. At issue is a state rule requiring both horizontal and vertical application of termite pesticides. His lawsuit complained the Kansas regulation endangers humans and the environment because it requires unnecessary use of dangerous pesticides. He also argued it stifles competition by requiring all applicators to apply too much pesticide when some could reduce their prices by applying only necessary amount.


Douglas County Deputy Finds Body in Burning Vehicle 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Douglas County sheriff's deputy found a body inside a burning vehicle just northeast of Lawrence. Sergeant Kristen Channel says the deputy discovered the vehicle on fire shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday. It had apparently left the roadway and struck an unoccupied farm truck. The Lawrence Journal-World reported Monday that authorities have not yet confirmed the identity of the body or determined what caused the vehicle to leave the roadway. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.


Man Who Drowned in Lake Afton Identified 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who drowned at a southern Kansas lake has been identified has been identified. Authorities say 21-year-old Javon Barber of Wichita drowned Saturday night in Lake Afton. Divers found his body more than two hours later. Officials say Barber and an acquaintance had been swimming out to a buoy when they decided to turn around and swim back to shore. That's when Barber began struggling and disappeared under the water's surface.


Atheist Group Complains About Prayer at Western Kansas High School Games

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An atheist group is raising questions about prayers at high school basketball games in Western Kansas, but school officials are defending their practices. The Wichita Eagle reports the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters to the Cheylin and Weskan school districts complaining about basketball players praying after games in January with coaches participating. Weskan Superintendent Dave Hale says the coaches did not lead the prayer. It was student driven, but he will make sure his coaches are not in the area in the future. Chris Line with the foundation says the group considers the issue resolved. Both districts said they would ensure that staff members don't participate in or encourage future prayers.


Kansas City Zoo's Chimpanzee Program Passes USDA Inspection

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal officials say the Kansas City Zoo was not at fault when a chimp died there last month. The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected the zoo's chimpanzee program after a 31-year-old chimpanzee died June 21. The chimp, Bahati, died after falling from a tree and being attacked by other chimpanzees. Zoo officials say other chimps had chased Bahati up the tree and he fell. The chimpanzees beat Bahati and he died of internal injuries. A zoo spokeswoman said chimpanzees often skirmish to maintain social hierarchy. The Kansas City Star reports the federal agency said it found the zoo was compliant with the Animal Welfare Act, which covers the treatment of zoo animals.


$1M Bond for Kansas Man Accused of Estranged Wife's Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka, Kansas, man has been ordered jailed on $1 million bond on charges that he abducted and killed his estranged wife. WIBW-TV reports that a Shawnee County judge set the bond Monday for 38-year-old Pedro Enriquez during the man's brief court appearance on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery. Enriquez is to appear in court next on Thursday, and it was not immediately clear whether he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. Enriquez is accused of abducting 33-year-old Viviana Vazquez on June 7 from a Topeka home, where their 10-year-old son says he saw Enriquez drag her outside by the hair. Viviana Vazquez's body was found the next day. Enriquez was arrested Friday in Jefferson County.


Kansas Barn Blaze Kills Pregnant Mare; Fire's Cause Unclear

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are trying to determine what sparked a weekend blaze in a southern Kansas horse stable, killing a pregnant mare. C-Arrow Stables owner Barry Cole tells The Wichita Eagle that he managed to save eight of the nine horses from the barn in Maize near Wichita after finding the structure on fire about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. But Cole says a mare named Midnight did not escape the fire that destroyed the barn, the tack inside and a tractor. The property offers riding lessons, training and horse rentals along with boarding services, as well as youth camps each spring and summer. Cole says a rodeo camp scheduled to take place later this month will go on.


Healthy Growth Expected in Midwest, Plains States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy will pick up over the next few months in nine Midwest and Plains states because manufacturing remains strong. The overall economic index for the region increased to 62.3 in June from May's solid 55.5. Any score above 50 suggests growth. 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, while a score below that suggests decline. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate hike didn't dampen business leaders' confidence in the economy. The survey released Monday covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Wichita Truck Driving School Ordered to Refund Student Tuition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a former Wichita truck driving school will return $6,000 to each of the school's students after admitting to making false claims about the school's credentials. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said that Wichita Truck Driving School claimed to be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents and was a member of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce. Neither claim was true. Making such false claims violates state law. The $6,000 represents refunds of tuition to students. The company and its owner, Tandy McKenzie, also agreed to pay court costs related to the case.


Kansas City Area Man Found Dead, Nephew Arrested

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) - Police in a Kansas City suburb say a 77-year-old man is dead and a younger relative has been arrested. Blue Springs police say the man was found dead Friday at a home where officers were investigating a report of an assault. No names have been released. Police also have not said how the man died. When officers arrived at the home, a man told them he was assaulted by his nephew, who then drove away from the home in the deceased man's truck. Officers searching the home found the elderly man's body. A Jackson County Sheriff's deputy later spotted the suspect in the truck and arrested him after a chase.


Homicide Rates Declining, but Still High in Kansas City 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Homicide rates have declined in Kansas City over the past two decades, but remain among the worst in the nation and are decreasing at a slower rate than most of the country. The Kansas City Star reported that homicide rates in Kansas City are still worse than Chicago, which is notorious for its violence. Kansas City's 130 homicides last year were its highest since 2008. So far this year, Kansas City has counted 69 homicides, putting it on pace to top the previous year. Kansas City has generally grown safer over the past 20 years, but some demographics are more likely to be victims than others. At most risk are young black men.


Royals Remain Hot, Beat Twins 6--2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Royals' Alcides Escobar had two hits and two RBIs and pitcher Scott Alexander picked up his first major league victory as the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Sunday. The Royals have won 15 of 21 games to move a game above .500 and into a tie with the Twins for second place in the American League Central. Escobar went 7-for-16 with four extra-base hits, including a home run, with seven RBIs and scored four runs in the four-game series. Twins' starting pitcher, Travis Wood, was pulled after 81 pitches and four-plus innings. Wood was removed in the fifth after facing three batters and retiring none. Minnesota's Brian Dozier and Robbie Grossman had RBI-singles in the inning.

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