Kansas Lawmakers Adjourn Session, Await Ruling on Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —Kansas legislators have adjourned their annual session and are waiting for a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding later this summer. The House and Senate met briefly Monday to formally end the session weeks after passing an income tax increase and a plan to boost spending on public schools. The Supreme Court plans to hear arguments from attorneys July 18 on whether the new school funding law is adequate under the state constitution. It phases in a $293 million increase in education funding over two years. Some lawmakers believe the court will rule that the funding increase isn't large enough and force legislators to return for a special session. But Kansas Association of School Boards officials praised the new school finance law Monday as a good start.
Kansas Legislators Let Governor's Vetoes Stand
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have allowed Republican Governor Sam Brownback's vetoes of a lottery bill and three budget items to stand. Lawmakers didn't attempt to override the vetoes Monday before adjourning their annual session. Brownback rejected a bill that would have allowed vending machine sales of Kansas Lottery tickets to help fund community mental health services. He then vetoed two budget items that mandated spending on specific services tied to new lottery revenues. He also vetoed a budget item blocking his administration from consolidating programs providing in-home services for the disabled and elderly. Supporters argue the move would make delivering those services more efficient but advocates fear cuts would follow. The Senate adjourned its brief session before House Democratic Leader Jim Ward of Wichita could attempt an override of the home-services veto.
Kansas Governor Brownback Signs $15.6 Billion State Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a state budget for the next two years that will use a $1.2 billion income tax increase to fund government and schools, but he complained about "excessive spending." Brownback signed the $15.6 billion budget bill on Sunday. It will provide raises of up to 5 percent to state workers who haven't had any in recent years. He vetoed two items that imposed some limits on programs for people with disabilities and mental health programs. Lawmakers will have a chance to override those vetoes today when they meet for their annual, session-ending ceremony. Brownback already had signed a separate plan to increase school spending to meet a state Supreme Court mandate. He vetoed a bill that rolled back tax cuts, but lawmakers overrode that veto.
Kansas House Democrat to Step Down This Fall
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democrat in the Kansas House plans to resign this fall and is citing family reasons for leaving the Legislature. Representative John Wilson of Lawrence announced Monday that he would step down. He is the father of two young sons and said serving as a lawmaker and campaigning for office forced him to take too much time away from his family and outside job. He was first elected to the House in 2012 and is the ranking Democrat on its Health and Human Services Committee. Wilson made his announcement the same day Rep. Jason Probst of Hutchinson took his oath of office. Probst was selected last week by fellow Democrats in his south-central Kansas district to replace the late Rep. Patsy Terrell. She died June 7.
New Kansas Law Forms Task Force to Review Child Welfare
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed into law a measure that creates an independent task force to review the state's child welfare system. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the measure was in response to the deaths of a number of children who had been in state custody. It also followed a series of audit reports that were critical of the Kansas Department for Children and Families' management of the state foster care system. The measure calls for a 19-member panel to examine all aspects of the state's child welfare system. The task force will include lawmakers, people involved in family court services and social welfare, and law enforcement. The group will file a progress report at the 2018 legislative session's start, with a final report due in January 2019.
More Than 200 Investigators Search Kansas City Jail
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Roughly 200 federal investigators have searched the county jail in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of what the FBI calls an ongoing investigation. As the FBI's special agent in charge of the Kansas City office, Darrin Jones declined to divulge details of what he labeled a "very carefully coordinated," search that began shortly after 3 a.m. this (MON) morning. He said court documents expected to be filed later Monday would provide more specifics. The investigators from various agencies were bussed to the Jackson County Detention Center, where previous searches have uncovered drugs, weapons and other contraband. An FBI investigation that began two years ago initially focused on excessive use of force by guards on prisoners before expanding to other areas.
A Jackson County official says jail administrators are cooperating with an investigation that led to contraband smuggling charges against two corrections officers, an inmate and a fourth person. Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. said in a statement that it's a priority to "operate a safe and secure jail." He says those who break the rules must be held accountable "if we want to make forward progress." One of the corrections officers is no longer a county employee, while the other is on unpaid leave. Charges against the four suspects were unsealed Monday after their arrest and an hourslong search of the Jackson County Detention Center. The search began after thoroughly 200 law enforcers from several agencies were bussed to the jail.
Central Kansas Man Accused of Killing Wife Last December
LARNED, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man is jailed on $100,000 bond after being accused of killing his wife late last year. Pawnee County prosecutors on Friday charged 27-year-old Jacob Ohnmacht of Larned with second-degree murder, three counts of felony interference of law enforcement, and a misdemeanor count of interference of law enforcement. Ohnmacht is accused of killing 21-year-old Kayla Dawn Parret last December 21 at the couple's home in rural Pawnee County. Jacob Ohnmacht's preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 6.
Man Killed in ATV Wreck in Northeast Kansas
HAVENSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a northeast Kansas man died after an all-terrain vehicle on which he was riding went into a ditch and hit a power pole. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 49-year-old Alex Blow of Havensville died in the accident shortly before 7 pm Saturday in Pottawatomie County. Havensville is about 50 miles northeast of Manhattan, Kansas. Funeral arrangements are pending.
FAA Authorizes Night Drone Flights at Kansas State Salina Campus
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Drones can now fly after dark at the Kansas State Polytechnic Campus in Salina. The university says in a news release that the campus' Applied Aviation Research Center has received a Federal Aviation Administration waiver that will allow flights of unmanned aircraft systems at night. The night flights will be used to train students. The research center's executive director, Kurt Carraway, says being able to fly at night will be a "significant asset to our program." Uses for nighttime drone flights include search and rescue, aerial photography and agricultural mapping.
Authorities Investigate Bomb Found in Central Kansas Field
ALLEN, Kan. (AP) - Authorities in east-central Kansas' Lyon County are investigating a small bomb they say was found in a field. The Lyon County Sheriff's Department tells the Emporia Gazette that the improvised explosive device was found shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday near Allen by a person who was renting the field. Sheriff's officials contacted an Army bomb squad from Fort Riley, which responded to the scene and disabled the device.
Polarizing Sexual Assault Accusations Divide Kansas Town
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The northeast Kansas town of Holton will be torn again this week as the second in a series of trials starts for a well-known local man accused of sexually assaulting several women. The polarizing accusations against 22-year-old Jacob Ewing in this community of some 3,300 people have prompted his supporters to put up signs in their yards and to pack court proceedings wearing T-shirts emblazoned with messages of support. An advocacy group for the women called "I Support the Victims of Jacob Ewing" is also organizing volunteers to sit in the courtroom. Ewing was acquitted in May of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, but faces trials on rape accusations levied by five adult women. The trial that begins today (MON) is on charges of rape and aggravated criminal sodomy involving two women.
Man Accused in Hutchinson Shooting Death
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A man accused in connection with a shooting death in southern Kansas' Hutchison has turned himself in to police. KFDI reports that 19-year-old Leo Wells surrendered about 5 p.m. Sunday on a charge of second-degree murder. Wells is accused of fatally shooting 24-year-old Kenneth Thompson, who was found wounded on a street early Saturday. He later died at a hospital. It was not immediately clear if Wells had an attorney.
Kansas Getaway Driver Was Wearing Monitoring Device
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has admitted to driving a getaway vehicle from the scene of a convenience store robbery while wearing a monitoring device from a previous crime. The U.S. attorney's office says 26-year-old Christopher Allen Bush, of Topeka, pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and abetting a commercial robbery. Bush had past convictions that included aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. He was on post-release supervision and wearing a monitoring device when co-defendant Marsoleno Devon Ryland robbed a Casey's General Store in Topeka. Data from the GPS device showed that Bush picked up Ryland near the store. Bush then drove until reaching an area where police located the two men. Ryland pleaded guilty earlier this month. Sentencing is set for September 25 for Bush and September 18 for Ryland.
Kansas Nun Eager to See Slain Brother Become a Saint
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nun says she is surprised that her slain brother could become a saint, but that it "couldn't happen to a nicer guy." Marita Rother tells the Wichita Eagle that Stanley Rother was tireless and that he taught her "how to live and how to die in dignity." Marita Rother belongs to the Wichita Center of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, where a small statue of Stanley Rother stands. He was killed in 1981 after three men broke in to his Guatemala rectory. He was declared a martyr last year and will be beatified in September — the final stage before canonization as a saint. Rother is the first American-born martyr and would be the first U.S. priest to be beatified.
Kansas City-Area Teen Dies After Fight
NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police say a weekend fight among teenagers in North Kansas City, Missouri resulted in a 17-year-old boy found dead on a driveway and and a car crashed into a garage. The Kansas City Star reports that the victim died at the scene early Sunday. His name was not immediately released. The car's driver was taken into custody for questioning. Clay County prosecutors are reviewing the case, and there was no immediate word Monday about any charges. An autopsy on the victim was planned.
Bombs Found in Montana Home After Kansas Fugitive's Arrest
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana authorities say they found homemade bombs in a home after the arrest of a man accused of shooting at a Kansas state trooper. Richard Gathercole of Roundup, Montana, was arrested Tuesday at a gas station in Lexington, Nebraska, a day after a man fired at the trooper on Interstate 70. The trooper wasn't injured. A jailhouse phone call transcript shows that Gathercole asked his mother to clear his Montana home of guns after his arrest. The transcript of the call was submitted to a judge by federal officials seeking a search warrant for the home. Authorities found numerous homemade explosives inside the home on Saturday. Gathercole is in jail in Nebraska and is accused of shooting at a Kansas state trooper with an AK-47 rifle a week ago. According to the transcript, Gathercole tells his mother to get all the guns out of the house. She agrees, then reminds him that the call is being recorded.
Toronto Beats KC 8-2 to Avoid Series Sweep
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna struck out three in a scoreless ninth inning Sunday in Kansas City as Toronto avoided a sweep by beating the Kansas City Royals 8-2. Toronto's Jose Bautista homered and drove in a season-high four runs and Francisco Liriano earned his 100th career victory. Bautista hit a two-run, 450-foot homer in the fifth that tied the game. He walked with the bases loaded in a five-run sixth and singled home Kevin Pillar, who had three hits, in the seventh. Liriano (4-3) allowed two runs on six hits while pitching into the seventh. Kansas City Reliever Scott Alexander (0-2) took the loss. The Royals travel today and start a three-game series against the Tigers in Detroit tomorrow (TUE) night.