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Headlines for Monday, June 2, 2014


KanCare Inspector's Background Scrutinized

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former state lawmaker appointed to identify fraud in Kansas's privatized Medicaid system has a background that doesn't include a college degree or career experience in insurance, but does include a business bankruptcy and a DUI conviction. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Phil Hermanson, a Republican who resigned from the Kansas House in 2013, started as inspector general for the $3 billion-a-year KanCare health care network in April. He declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1998 amid closure of his print company and pleaded no contest in 2010 to driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Hermanson says he's learned from his mistakes. He says his preparation for the inspector general's job came from time in the U.S. Navy and private business, as well as five years in the Kansas House.

Train Derails in NE Kansas; No Injuries Reported

FRANKFORT, Kan. (AP) — Marshall County sheriff's officials say a train derailed in the northeast Kansas town of Frankfort, causing some traffic problems. No injuries were reported after the derailment Monday morning. KSNT-TV reports that the 137-car Union Pacific Railroad train was carrying coal from Wyoming to Texas when 12 cars derailed. Crews plan to work through Monday to remove the cars and repair the track. The Kansas Department of Transportation said all lanes of Kansas 9 were closed after the derailment. Kansas 99 reopened after being closed briefly. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

Kansas Candidate Filing Deadline Passes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The filing deadline for candidates seeking a spot on the August 5th Kansas primary has passed with no additional Republicans joining the U.S. Senate race. State Senator Dennis Pyle did not file for the race by Monday's noon deadline. The conservative Republican from Hiawatha spent the past few weeks gauging support for a potential challenge to incumbent GOP Senator Pat Roberts. Another Republican, Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf, filed to run against Roberts in January and is endorsed by tea party groups. Pyle had asked conservatives whether he should join the race, and if he or Wolf would be stronger competition for Roberts. Numerous candidates did file for the state House of Representatives. All 125 House districts are up for election this year.


Kansas Independent to Run for US Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas businessman is planning to challenge Republican Senator Pat Roberts in November as an independent candidate. Greg Orman of Olathe ran briefly against Roberts in 2008 as a Democrat. He said Monday he plans to run this time as an unaffiliated candidate. Orman has until August 4 to submit 5,000 signatures from registered voters to the secretary of state's office to get on the November 4 ballot. Roberts faces three Republican primary challengers in his bid for a fourth Senate term. Two Democrats, including Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, have also filed for the office. Orman runs a boxing equipment company in Lenexa. He plans formal announcements of his Senate bid around the state Wednesday and Thursday.


Kansas Democrats File Complaints in 2nd District

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democrats have filed two federal complaints against Republican congresswoman Lynn Jenkins alleging she violated ethics and campaign rules because a staff member also serves as an unpaid re-election spokesman. The Kansas Democratic Party said Monday the complaints were filed last week with the U.S. House's Office of Congressional Ethics and the Federal Elections Commission. They deal with Jenkins campaign spokesman Bill Roe, who is also her district director. Jenkins's office said the allegations are without merit. The complaints were filed by Jason Perkey, the Kansas Democratic Party's executive director. Perkey contends that Roe's dual roles violate rules designed to keep congressional staffers from being involved in politics. Jenkins's staff said ethics rules allow staffers to do volunteer campaign work on their own time.


KS Governor Decries EPA Carbon Emissions Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says a new federal rule for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is a "war against middle America" that will increase energy costs. The Republican governor criticized the rule Monday after the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator unveiled it in Washington. It gives states goals for reducing emissions but allows flexibility in meeting them. According to the EPA, the Kansas target would be a 23 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 from 2012 levels. The unveiled the rule three days after Kansas gave the go-ahead for a new, $2.8 billion coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas. Environmentalists said the plant would hinder Kansas's efforts to comply with the EPA rule. Brownback defended the decision on the power plant, saying its construction develops clean coal technology.


Kansas Utilities Worry EPA Rule Will Raise Costs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas utilities say they're worried that the federal government's new rule for curbing carbon emissions from power plants will raise costs for consumers. Spokeswomen for Topeka-based Westar Energy and Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corporation said Monday the companies are still reviewing the 645-page rule outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both said it's too early to tell what the effects will be. But Westar's Gina Penzig said tougher environmental regulations have increased the company's costs and have been a major factor in rate increases over the past decade. Sunflower's Cindy Hertel said it is always concerned that regulations will increase costs. The new rule sets goals for states for lowering carbon emissions. Kansas would have to cut its emissions from 2012 levels by 23 percent.


5 Midwestern States Face Moderate Storm Risk Tuesday

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An unsettled weather pattern has five Midwestern states facing a moderate risk of severe storms on Tuesday. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, warned Monday that portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois are at a heightened risk of severe storms with hail, high winds and possibly tornadoes. The weather service says the tornadoes could be strong, if they occur. Greg Carvin, lead forecaster for the Storm Prediction Center, says numerous thunderstorms will be fueled by warm, moist air in the upper Midwest. Localized rainfall may not be too great because the storms will be so fast-moving, but Carvin says the risk of flash flooding exists.


Storms Leave Minor Damage in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A storm that swept through parts of Kansas downed power poles and caused mostly minor damage. No serious injuries were reported. The National Weather Service says Sunday's storm included possible tornadoes touching down briefly one mile west of Courtland in Republic County, downing several tree limbs. Other tornadoes touched down near Ottawa, also downing trees and power lines. The storms developed Sunday afternoon in western and northwest Kansas and moved east through the evening. KAKE-TV reports a Comanche County official said at least 24 power poles were blown down east of Coldwater along U.S. 160. Minor damage from wind and hail was reported in Stanton and Ford counties, as well as Hays and Dodge City. Some minor flooding was reported on streets in Wichita.


Authorities Investigating Hanging Dummy in Obama Mask

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City area authorities are investigating after a life-size dummy with a President Obama mask was found hanging from an interstate bridge. Jackson County (MIssouri) Sheriff spokeswoman Sergeant Ronda Montgomery says authorities were notified early Monday by several motorists who saw the dummy with the Obama mask hanging from a bridge over U.S. Interstate 70 near Grain Valley, which is about 20 miles east of Kansas City. Montgomery says authorities closed the highway in the area for a few minutes to remove the dummy. She says authorities also found an item attached to the dummy that prompted them to call an area bomb and arson squad, but no explosives were found on the dummy. Montgomery says the department is working with federal authorities in the investigation.


Kansas Man Killed in Confrontation with Deputy

DEXTER, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas sheriff says a deputy was dragged by a vehicle he tried to stop before the motorist was shot and killed. Cowley County Sheriff Don Read released details Monday of Saturday night's incident near Dexter. KWCH-TV reports that the driver has been identified as 22-year-old Tayler Rock, of Arkansas City. Read says the deputy pulled over the car for a traffic violation, then approached the vehicle. The sheriff says Rock tried to drive away, dragging the deputy through a ditch and running him over. At some point, shots were fired, but the sheriff would not say who opened fire. Rock was pronounced dead at a hospital. The deputy was treated for injuries to his lower legs. A 1-year-old girl who was in Rock's car was unhurt.


Suspect Arrested in Topeka Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 24-year-old Topeka man is scheduled to make his first court appearance today (MON) in connection with a shooting that left one man dead and two others injured. Shawnee County officials say the suspect was booked into jail Sunday evening facing counts of first-degree murder and aggravated battery. The victim of the shooting Saturday in Freedom Valley Park has been identified as 20-year-old Germaul Rayton of Topeka. Police say the victim and suspect knew each other. The two survivors were treated and released Saturday. Saturday's homicide was the second in Topeka this year.


Candidates File as KS Primary Deadline Approaches

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) Kansas Democrats have announced their party’s candidate for state treasurer and a Republican state senator has filed to run for insurance commissioner. The announcements came ahead of today's noon deadline for candidates to file for the August 5th primary ballot. Democrats completed their slate for statewide offices when Carmen Alldritt, a former Department of Revenue official filed Friday for state treasurer. Meanwhile, Republican State Senator Clark Shultz of Lindsborg officially filed for insurance commissioner joining four other Republicans and one Democrat running to replace outgoing Commissioner Republican Sandy Praeger. One question remaining ahead of today's (MON) noon deadline was whether state Senator Dennis Pyle would join the race for U.S. Senate. The conservative Republican from Hiawatha has spent the past couple of weeks gauging support for a potential challenge to incumbent GOP Senator Pat Roberts. Another Republican, Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf, filed to run against Roberts in January and has drawn endorsements from tea party groups. Pyle has been asking conservatives whether he should join the race as well and whether he or Wolf would be the stronger threat to Roberts.


Olathe Republican Won’t Run for Re-election

Veteran Republican State Representative Lance Kinzer of Olathe announced that he would not seek a sixth term. Kinzer is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and has been one of the Legislature's most vocal opponents of abortion and gay rights. In recent years, he has helped draft new abortion restrictions and backed a provision to withhold state funding for the group Planned Parenthood. Kinzer also backed a failed measure that would have allowed businesses in Kansas to refuse service to same-sex couples if they claimed to have a moral or religious objection to doing so. He also authored an unsuccessful bill that would have banned local governments from establishing domestic partner registries. Kinzer was first elected to the State House in 2004.


Spencer Museum in Lawrence Gets World War I Art

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has been given a large collection of World War I era art. The university says in a release that the museum has received the collection belonging to Eric G. Carlson. The gift includes more than 3,000 pieces of graphic art, paintings and textiles largely from 1914 to 1918. The gift expands the museum's already significant collection of World War I art. The university says Carlson, who taught art history professor at other colleges and universities, is also a member of the International Fine Print Dealers Association.


Kansas Parole Officers Want to Carry Firearms

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas parole officers are asking the state to allow them to carry guns just like other law enforcement officers. The parole officers say they need to be armed because of their, sometimes dangerous, interactions with criminals. The parole officers supervise convicted felons after they get out of prison, and an attorney representing them says two recent incidents highlight the risks they face. A parole officer was attacked a few weeks ago by a man who had just gotten off parole and in December a man whose parole had recently ended broke out a window to get to a second-story ledge of the state parole office and fell to the sidewalk during a struggle with officers.


Kansas City Man Pleads in Water Threat Hoax

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 70-year-old Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to charges involving a hoax threat to contaminate water supplies in Kansas and Missouri. The U.S. Attorney for western Missouri says Manuel Garcia pleaded guilty Monday. He admitted making three telephone calls to authorities in October 2013 about the fake plot to contaminate water supplies in Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka. An FBI agent recognized Garcia's voice from a 2010 case in which he was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to making a phone call threatening to bomb the U.S. courthouse in downtown Kansas City. Garcia faces up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000.


Study: Tobacco Sellers Target Poor Wichita Neighborhoods

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A nonprofit anti-tobacco advocacy group's latest survey shows Wichita tobacco retailers have a heavier presence in less affluent parts of the city than in wealthier ones. The Wichita Eagle reports that Tobacco Free Wichita presented its findings at the Kansas Leadership Center. The study found six ZIP codes in Wichita with household incomes less than $39,000 have 38 percent of the city's tobacco retailers. Only 6 percent of the tobacco licenses were in the six wealthier ZIP codes in Wichita. The group says the research shows that life expectancy in the U.S. is more likely dictated by a person's ZIP code than genetic code.


National Shooting Competition Comes to Kansas

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) - A national championship in sporting clays shooting is expected to be an economic boost for southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri this week. The U.S. Open Sporting Clays Championship starts Monday and runs through Sunday at the Claythorne Lodge in Cherokee County. It is expected to draw shooters from 47 states and several countries. Labette County tourism director Jim Zaleski says the tournament will bring people to Parsons, Pittsburg, Joplin, Missouri and several smaller towns in the region. The Wichita Eagle reports sporting clays tournaments are set up on big courses that replicate hunting situations. Target throwers send out several sizes and colors of targets that duplicate such hunting scenarios as pheasants flying above treetops, quail being flushed from heavy growth or a rabbit running across the prairie.


KU Wants to Expand Business School Project

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas is asking to expand its new School of Business building before construction even begins. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the school plans to ask the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday for permission to expand the proposed building. The four-story building was expected to cost about $65.7 million. But the school of business is growing faster than expected, prompting the request for more offices and teaching space. The estimated cost of the addition is $6.8 million. The university is seeking private funds for the expansion. The project will be funded with $62.5 million in private funds and $10 million in university funds. The building is expected to be completed in time for the 2016-17 academic year.



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