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Headlines for Monday, June 5, 2017

Here's what we know so far.

Kansas Governor Uncommitted on Schools, Tax Plan 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Kansas Governor Sam Brownback isn't saying whether he would sign or veto a bill that would raise income taxes and increase spending on public schools. Brownback told reporters Monday that he wants to maintain pro-growth tax policies even as Kansas raises new revenues to fix its budget and provide extra money to schools. But he wouldn't say what he would do if a bill backed by Republican leaders reaches his desk. The plan would increase raise more than $1 billion in new revenue over two years by increasing income taxes. The measure also phases in a $293 million education funding increase over two years. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million through June 2019 and the state Supreme Court ruled in March that education funding is inadequate.

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The Latest: Kansas Lawmakers Draft New $1.2B Income Tax Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have drafted a new proposal that would increase personal income taxes to raise $1.2 billion over two years. House and Senate negotiators agreed Monday evening on a measure that would raise income tax rates and eliminate an exemption for 330,000-plus farmers and business owners. It largely rolls back past tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The plan is a larger than one rejected by the House earlier Monday when the tax hike was tied to a school funding increase. Kansas faces budget shortfalls totaling $889 through July 2019. The House expected to vote on the new plan first. The measure would create a third income tax rate for the state's highest earners and set it at 5.7 percent. The current top rate is 4.6 percent.

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Kansas Lawmakers Separate Taxes, School Funding 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have separated a plan to boost spending on public schools from a proposed income tax increase in hopes of passing the education proposal more quickly. House and Senate negotiators agreed Monday afternoon on the details of a plan to phase in a $293 million increase in education funding over two years. It's a response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that the state's $4 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts is inadequate. Republican leaders had tied the same school funding plan to a proposal to increase income taxes to raise more than $1 billion over two years to help fix the state budget. Many lawmakers didn't like bundling the two big proposals together. The House voted 91-32 to reject the combined package.

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Kansas Governor Can't Recall Taking Position on Gun Bill 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback says he can't recall making definitive statements in talks with Kansas legislators about his plans for a bill designed to keep concealed guns out of public health facilities. Lawmakers passed the measure last week and delivered it Monday to the governor. He has until June 15 to act on it. Kansas law now says that starting in July, state hospitals, other public hospitals, mental health centers, other health facilities and universities must allow concealed guns into buildings without extra security such as guards or metal detectors. The bill gives public health facilities a permanent exemption. Gun-rights advocates wanted a narrower bill and several Republican legislators predicted a Brownback veto. The governor told reporters that it's possible he made statements that could be interpreted either way.

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Kansas Struggles with Osawatomie State Hospital's Future

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are struggling with short-term and long-term problems as they try to determine the future of the Osawatomie State Hospital and the people treated there.  The hospital lost its federal Medicare certification more than a year ago after a patient was accused of raping a staff member in late 2015.  It houses its patients in buildings that are decades old and suffering from neglect. Many other buildings on the campus are vacant.  The Kansas City Star reports the hospital can house 206 patients, but the population is capped at 146 because of short staffing.  Options being discussed include partnering with a private company to build a new hospital, spending millions on remodeling that would extend the hospital's usefulness for a few years, or continuing the current care.

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78-Year-Old Kayaker Found Dead at Kansas Reservoir

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 78-year-old kayaker has been found dead at a Kansas reservoir.  Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse said in a news release that the body of Dan Mehringer was discovered near the kayak around 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon at the Banner Creek Reservoir west of Holton. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Holton man was wearing a life jacket.  A county coroner pronounced him dead at the scene. Mehringer's body was sent for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.  Morse says Mehringer "is remembered as a kind and caring person, who helped others and always had something positive to say."

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1st Farmer Lawsuit on Deck Against Syngenta over China Trade

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A trial is poised to begin against Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its decision to introduce a genetically engineered corn seed variety to the U.S. market before China approved it for imports.  It's the first of tens of thousands of cases to go to trial over the issue. The proceedings are scheduled to start Monday in Kansas City, Kansas. The federal trial involves thousands of plaintiffs from Kansas. That trial and another soon in Minnesota are meant to provide guidance for how the complex web of litigation in state and federal courts could be resolved.  The lawsuits allege Syngenta wrecked China as an increasingly important export market for U.S. corn and caused price drops that hurt all producers.  Syngenta denies it caused farmers any losses.

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Kansas Program to Help Immigrants Navigate Driving Exams

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is launching a project to help immigrants get driver's licenses in a meatpacking town by offering free translators during the driving exams.  The effort stems from an agreement between Kansas driver's license officials and Kearney County Hospital in Lakin.  Meatpacking plants are the largest employers in western Kansas and have drawn a diverse population to the region. But the state offers exams only in English or Spanish.  Starting June 21, a pilot project will offer free translators when people take their written and behind-the-wheel driver examinations in Garden City. The translators will help prospective drivers take the tests in Somali, Arabic, Sudanese, Burmese, Swahili, Filipino and Ethiopian.  The project costs the state nothing because translators are volunteers. The state says it will help bolster safe driving.

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Family of Late Pittsburg State Player Sues NCAA 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The family of a former Pittsburgh State college football player who killed himself in 2014 is suing the NCAA, questioning the governing body's handling of concussions including more than 100 they say factored into Zack Langston's death. The federal lawsuit filed Friday in Kansas City, Kansas, also accuses the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association of negligence. It seeks unspecified damages. The lawsuit alleges Langston was concussion-prone while playing at the Division II school. Langston later endured behavior and mood swings after his football career ended, and at 26 he fatally shot himself. A private, post-mortem examination of Langston's brain showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a type of brain damage. A message left Monday with an NCAA spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

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Museum Honoring Daredevil Evel Knievel Opens in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new Kansas museum is giving enthusiasts of late motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel a jump on appreciating his death-defying, bone-breaking exploits.  The $5-million, 13,000-square-foot homage to the man famous for rocket-powered and motorbike stunts before his 2007 death has opened in Topeka.  As president of the two-story museum attached to his Harley-Davidson dealership, Mike Patterson says Knievel memorabilia includes his motorcycles, leathers and helmets. There also are a virtual reality motorcycle jump, an interactive showing Knievel's actual X-rays, and an exhibit in which visitors choose their own variables in planning a virtual jump.  Knievel's Kansas ties include that he traced his career choice to the time he saw George "Joie" Chitwood's Auto Daredevil Show at age 8. Chitwood, who died in 1988, got his racing start in Kansas.

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Political Shift, Hospital's Fears Hand NRA Defeat in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers' approval of a measure meant to keep concealed guns out of hospitals is a testament to how much the Republican-controlled Legislature shifted to the left in last year's elections.  Kansas has been a testing ground for gun-rights advocates' favored policies. But state lawmakers this past week bucked the National Rifle Association by rewriting a 2013 concealed-carry law.  The action also shows that even some conservatives who normally vote with the NRA paid particular attention to the concerns of the University of Kansas Health System.  Like other health care facilities, it faced a July 1 deadline to make potentially expensive security upgrades or to allow concealed guns. It sought a change. Its worries featured prominently in the debate.

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Algae Bloom Forces Closure of Central Kansas Reservoir

MARION, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas reservoir is indefinitely closed because of high levels of potentially harmful blue-green algae.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have announced the closure as of Thursday of the Marion Reservoir. That does not include Marion County Lake.  Officials say people, pets and livestock should not drink the water and should avoid swimming, wading or skiing.  There is a restriction on all recreational and camping sites within 100 feet of the water at the reservoir.

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Kansas City Police Visit Aspiring Officer's Lemonade Stand 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dozens of police officers in North Kansas City have made a surprise visit to the lemonade stand of a 3-year-old girl whose dream is to be an officer. The Kansas City Star reports that Hannah Pasley held a lemonade stand last Friday and Saturday to raise money for her own police uniform. After buying it Saturday morning with her aunt, Ashly Rooks, Hannah continued her lemonade stand in the afternoon wearing her new uniform. When no one was stopping by the stand, Rooks and her friend Sierra Moore posted to Facebook to encourage an officer to visit. Moore wrote another post later saying "50 plus police officers" showed up to buy lemonade. Hannah was given a Kansas City Police Department patch and a Clay County Junior Deputy badge.

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Indians Pound Royals 8-0 to Avoid 3-Game Series Sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Roberto Perez and Daniel Robertson helped the Indians batter Royals pitcher Eric Skoglund before a long rain delay washed out both starters, and Cleveland went on to beat Kansas City 8-0 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.  Perez and Robertson ripped two-run doubles off Skoglund (1-1) in the second inning before rain moved in during the bottom half. Lightning went off in the distance, and the tarp was pulled onto the field for 1 hour, 50 minutes.  When the game resumed, the Indians quickly tacked on runs to put it away.  Dan Otero (1-0) replaced Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer after the delay and allowed one hit over 2 1/3 innings to earn his first win since Sept. 22, when he also got the decision in relief against Kansas City.  Jason Kipnis homered and drove in two for the Indians. Robertson finished with three RBIs.

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