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Headlines for Monday, July 8, 2019

Kobach Announces Run for US Senate in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate next year. Kobach filed paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission forming a campaign committee and made his formal announcement in Leavenworth. He is seeking the Republican nomination for four-term GOP Sen. Pat Roberts' seat. Roberts is not seeking re-election in 2020. Some Republicans do not want Kobach to run for the Senate because he lost the governor's race last year to Democrat Laura Kelly. Kobach is an advocate for tough immigration policies. He was an early and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump in 2016 but has frequently alienated GOP moderates. Kobach is joining a potentially crowded race. At least 16 prospective candidates have expressed an interest in running.

(earlier reporting)

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is planning to give a speech after months of considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year.  Kobach scheduled his event for Monday afternoon in Leavenworth. His announcement of the event did not provide any details about the topic.  But Kobach confirmed in January that he was considering running for the Republican nomination for four-term GOP Sen. Pat Roberts' seat. Roberts is not seeking re-election in 2020.  Some Republicans do not want Kobach to run for the Senate because he lost the governor's race last year to Democrat Laura Kelly.  He has a national profile as an advocate of tough immigration policies. He was an early and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump in 2016 but has frequently alienated GOP moderates.

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Former Sebelius Aide Running for Congress in Kansas 2nd District

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A one-time speechwriter for former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says she will begin a campaign on Tuesday for an eastern Kansas congressional seat. The Kansas City Star reports that Democrat Abbie Hodgson will seek the party's nomination to challenge freshman GOP Rep. Steve Watkins in Kansas's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lawrence, Topeka and Leavenworth. The 37-year-old Hodgson is a former Kansas House Democratic staff member who has spent the past two years working in Washington, D.C., for Pew Charitable Trusts. She has moved back to Kansas and says she will step down from her position with Pew's State Strategy Group. Hodgson said her campaign will focus on health care, agriculture, trade policy and the financial well-being of Kansans. The 42-year-old Watkins defeated former state legislative leader Paul Davis last year.

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Kansas Judge Won't Give Go-Ahead for Telemedicine Abortions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state court judge declined Monday to give a Kansas clinic permission to provide telemedicine abortions. Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson rejected a request from the Trust Women Foundation for an injunction that would have blocked the state from enforcing laws against telemedicine abortions. She did so despite another judge's ruling that no ban can be enforced and a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in April that access to abortion is a "fundamental" right under the state constitution. The foundation operates a Wichita clinic that in October began providing pregnancy-ending medications to patients who conferred with off-site doctors by webcam. But the clinic stopped Dec. 31, saying it the legal climate was too uncertain. The Legislature has passed three laws aimed at banning telemedicine abortions since 2011, but all were put in limbo by legal challenges. Trust Women said the local district attorney and the state medical board wouldn't promise in writing that the clinic is allowed to do the abortions. Watson's decision is the first lower-court ruling on abortion since the state Supreme Court's sweeping ruling protecting abortion rights.

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Kansas in Shrinking Minority of States Without Measles Cases

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The national measles outbreak has not hit Kansas yet, but it has come close with cases reported in neighboring Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado.  Kansas health officials say they think a case in Kansas looks nearly inevitable given that more than 1,000 measles cases have been reported so far across the nation. Kansas is in a shrinking minority of states without cases.  KCUR Radio reports that the state's annual survey of kindergartener vaccination rates suggests some counties do better than others at getting children their potentially life-saving shots.  Kansas requires shots against illnesses such as measles, whooping cough and polio for school attendance. But the survey shows 15% of kindergartners last year weren't up to date on those vaccines.

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Bat from Shawnee County Tests Positive for Rabies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bat found in northeastern Kansas has tested positive for rabies.  Topeka television station KSNT reports that the bat was found in Shawnee County. The Shawnee County Health Department is urging residents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of rabies and the steps to take if exposed.  Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that is typically transmitted by raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes.  Health officials those who suspect they've been exposed to the disease should seek immediate medical treatment. Once a person begins to exhibit signs of disease, survival is rare. Symptoms include general weakness or discomfort, fever or headache and progress to confusion, agitation and delirium.

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Kansas Expands Medicaid Support for Brain Injury Victims

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is expanding its Medicaid support for people with brain injuries to include those acquired through internal forces such as strokes or tumors, following years of advocacy for change.  A quirk in Kansas' Medicaid statute had meant the only patients to qualify were those with a traumatic brain injury from a blow to the head.  But the Kansas City Star reports that a bipartisan coalition of legislators approved the inclusion of an "acquired brain injury," which went in to effect July 1. Those injuries are due to internal forces such as strokes, tumors or asthma attacks.  Lawmakers also voted to extend services to children under 16 starting in October.  Advocate Janet Williams says the expansion will save money for Kansas in the long term.

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Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Going Slower than Normal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows Kansas growers are still far behind in bringing in this season's winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 61% of wheat in the state has been harvested. That is well behind the 84% typically cut by this late in the season. About 92% of the wheat in Kansas has matured. The agency said about 58% of the wheat out in the field is in good to excellent condition. About 27% is rated as good with 15% in poor to very poor shape.

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Man Dies After Fight in Salina McDonald's Parking Lot

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Salina man has died after a fight in a fast-food restaurant parking lot. The Salina Journal reports that police Capt. Gary Hanus said in a news release that officers were dispatched Friday afternoon to a McDonald's for a report of an unconscious person. Thirty-two-year-old Scott McMurray was transported from the scene to the Salina Regional Health Center, where he died later that night. Witnesses said that a 29-year-old man had punched McMurray during a physical altercation, causing McMurray to fall to the pavement. The 29-year-old was questioned and booked into jail before he was released early Sunday with no charges filed. The investigation is ongoing, and autopsy has been ordered to determine McMurray's exact cause of death.

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Texas Man Pleads Guilty in Deaths of Kansas Fair Vendors

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Texas man has pleaded guilty in the deaths of a couple who were killed at a Kansas fair after one suspect ordered the killings as part of a "carnival mafia" initiation. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office said in a news release that 36-year-old Rusty Lee Frasier of Aransas Pass, Texas pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the 2018 deaths of Alfred "Sonny" Carpenter and Pauline Carpenter at the Barton County Fair, where they were vendors. The bodies of the Wichita couple were discovered in a national forest near Van Buren, Arkansas. Prosecutors said 32-year-old Thomas Donald Drake of Van Buren, Arkansas, also pleaded guilty Monday to one count of obstructing apprehension. Their sentencing has not been scheduled. Investigators say there is no "carnival mafia."

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Ex-Kansas Juvenile Corrections Head Pleads in Battery Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former top administrator of Kansas' juvenile correctional facility accused of grabbing and shoving a female worker has pleaded no-contest to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kyle Rohr entered the plea Friday in Shawnee County District Court to bring an end to the criminal case. He had been found guilty last year of battery by a municipal court, but appealed to the district court for a jury trial. That trial has been set to begin Monday.  Rohr was effectively fired last year following the municipal conviction. Rohr was accused of twice grabbing Michelle Valdivia in 2017 at the Topeka juvenile complex and shoving her into a cubicle. Rohr reportedly was upset with the planning of a holiday event for incarcerated juveniles.  Valdivia is suing Rohr, the Kansas Department of Corrections and the state of Kansas for an undisclosed amount, saying Rohr was inadequately supervised.

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KC Police Investigating 4 Deaths, Including Shooting Death of Woman in Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Missouri, are investigating four recent deaths as homicides, including the shooting of a woman riding in a vehicle.  Police said 25-year-old Ki'essence Pelton was pronounced dead at a hospital early Sunday morning. They said the driver of the vehicle in which she was riding took her there after realizing she had been shot.  The Kansas City Star reports that her death was part of a violent Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Police found 30-year-old local rapper Mack Jones' body on Saturday morning in a parked vehicle, days after he was reported missing.  Also, the body of 30-year-old Gregory Payton Jr. of Kansas City, Kansas, was found in parked vehicle the same morning.  And 48-year-old Lynn Armstrong's body was found inside an apartment Friday morning.

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Fire Damages Church in KCK, 2 Firefighters Injured

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are working to determine what caused a fire that damaged a church in Kansas City, Kansas, and injured two firefighters.  The Kansas City Star reports the fire started early Sunday morning in the basement of the Wyandotte Tabernacle Church. It was reported shortly before 2 am.  When firefighters arrived, the church was engulfed in flames.  Assistant Fire Chie Morris Letcher says the roof partly collapsed and firefighters shifted into defensive mode. More crews were called in to help extinguish the blaze.  Two firefighters suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital for treatment.

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2 KC Firefighters Injured in House Fire Blamed on Fireworks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City, Missouri, believe fireworks are to blame for a Fourth of July blaze at a home that sent two firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries.  Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Walker said two firefighters received burns on their ears and necks in fighting a fire at a two-story home early Thursday. They were treated at a local hospital and released.  The Kansas City Star reports that an elderly resident safely fled the home.  It's unclear when the fire began. Walker said the fireworks could have been smoldering long before igniting the home. He believes they came from a neighbor, not the resident of the home.  He said, "That's why fireworks are illegal in the city."  Walker said another home was damaged Wednesday in a fireworks-related fire.

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Kansas City Man Found Shot to Death Inside Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say a man has been found shot to death inside a vehicle at an apartment complex on the city's east side.  Police say officers were called to the scene around 5:30 am.  Saturday for a report of a shooting after a security employee found the man inside the vehicle. Police say the man was pronounced dead at the scene. His name has not yet been released.  No arrests had been reported by midafternoon Saturday, and police were asking for information from the public on the homicide.

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Wichita Getting National Help Amid High Violent Crime Rate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A violent crime rate about twice the national average has prompted Wichita law enforcement officials to join a national program that aims to drive down crime.  The Wichita Eagle reports the city is among 10 selected this year to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice National Safety Partnership.  Wichita cited the latest figures published by the FBI and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in its application for the program. Shootings have climbed steadily since 2014. Murders, rapes and aggravated assaults all ticked up between 2016 and 2018. And domestic violence now accounts for nearly half of all aggravated assaults reported in the city. The partnership will provide training and technical assistance to the department at no cost.

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Highway Patrol Says Kansas Boy Killed in ATV Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 7-year-old boy has died after an ATV crash in western Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Highway Patrol says Kanon Michael Bowles of Syracuse died Saturday. Investigators say Bowles was driving an ATV in Hamilton County when it began to spin off the road. Troopers say the ATV rotated multiple times over the driver's side and Bowles was thrown from the vehicle. Emergency crews took Bowles to Hamilton County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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Officials Rebut Legislator's Claim that Wichita is Sanctuary City

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County officials are pushing back against an area legislator's erroneous assertion during a public meeting that Wichita is a sanctuary city for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.  The Wichita Eagle reports that freshman state Representative Cheryl Helmer, a Mulvane Republican, made the claim this week during a town hall meeting with Kansas Senator Jerry Moran.  Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell said the city regularly cooperates with federal agencies on immigration enforcement.  A group advocating strict immigration limits included and then removed Sedgwick County from a list of so-called sanctuary counties last year after Sheriff Jeff Easter complained.  Helmer even suggested she had been robbed twice because of "that sanctuary city law." She later backed off that statement and offered no evidence that Wichita is a sanctuary city.

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