UPDATED at 6:20 pm: Kansas Lawmakers Draft Plan to Hike Taxes $1.2 Billion While Senate Conservatives Push a "No Tax" Plan
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP / KPR) — Kansas legislators have drafted a new proposal for raising income taxes to fix the state budget and provide additional funds for public schools. House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a measure that would raise $1.2 billion over two years. The House planned to debate the proposal around 7 o'clock tonight (MON). The measure would raise income tax rates and eliminate an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. The plan would undo most of the past income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. But rates would remain lower than they were before the tax-cutting started in 2012. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019 and the state Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's education funding is inadequate.
Meanwhile, conservatives in the Kansas Senate are pushing a bill that would balance the state budget without raising any taxes. The proposal eliminates all new spending, sells off part of an annual tobacco settlement payment and assumes a higher growth rate for state revenues. It also diverts more money from highway projects. Republican Representative Chuck Weber says with this plan, they can balance the state budget with no tax increase. The top Democrat in the House, Jim Ward, says lawmakers have made efforts to control spending. He says undoing some of the tax cuts made in recent years is necessary to put the state on solid financial ground. The new plan doesn't take into account adding any new money for K-12 schools to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling.
Stepmother of Slain KCK Boy: "Pain Compliance Does Not Work"
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Records show that the stepmother of a Kansas boy whose father killed him and fed his remains to the family's pigs talked on a private Facebook group about restraining the child with handcuffs, ace bandages and splints. A search warrant released Monday shows that 31-year-old Heather Jones also made a reference to having "no problems" with having the boy, Adrian Jones, "look at flowers." The quote was a reference to the TV show "The Walking Dead" in which a woman fatally shoots a child after telling her to "look at the flowers." Jones also described Adrian as a "psychopath" and said "pain compliance does not work." Jones and the boy's father, Michael Jones, have been sentenced to life in prison. Adrian Jones' remains were found in November 2015, weeks after he died.
Kansas AG Asks Police for More Info in Water Slide Probe
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked Kansas City, Kansas police for more investigative material surrounding the death of a boy last year on a water slide. Schmidt said in a statement Monday that his office is still reviewing the case and that he didn't know when the inquiry would conclude. The Wyandotte County district attorney asked Schmidt's office in December to review the case and determine whether anyone should be charged with a crime related to the death of Republican Rep. Scott Schwab's 10-year-old son, Caleb. Caleb's death on the "Verruckt" water slide at Schlitterbahn Water Park spurred lawmakers to ramp up oversight of amusement parks. Neither Schmidt's office nor the Kansas City police would say what additional information Schmidt requested.
(news from earlier in the day)
Kansas Lawmakers Resume Talks on Tax Hikes to Fix Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators plan to resume negotiations over raising income taxes to fix the state budget and provide additional funds for public schools. House and Senate negotiators were meeting Monday. Both chambers scheduled afternoon sessions to allow them to take up any plan emerging from the talks. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019, and the state Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's funding for its public schools is inadequate. Lawmakers have been looking at rolling back past income tax cuts enacted at Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's urging to raise $1 billion or more over two years. They've also discussed proposals to boost other taxes. Legislators were supposed to end their annual session Wednesday on its 100th day but were likely to work longer.
Kansas Lawmakers Still Struggling on Taxes, School Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - As Kansas legislators return to the Statehouse today (MON), they are still facing most of the same major issues they confronted last week. The legislators did not hold any debates in either chamber last week on a plan for boosting spending on public schools or proposal to increase taxes to pay for it and also fix the state budget. They held no late-night or evening House and Senate sessions and haven't worked any weekends since returning this month from their annual spring break. When they reconvene this (MON) morning, they'll be only days away from the 100th day of their annual session and what is supposed to be their last. They're still struggling with the question of whether t0 pass tax legislation first to set the upper limits of what they can spend or do pass a school funding plan first to set a revenue-raising target.
Earthquake Reported in North Central Kansas; No Damage
MANKATO, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says five earthquakes have been reported in Kansas in May. The latest earthquake was recorded late Saturday about eight miles southeast of Mankato in north central Kansas. The Hays Post reports the Jewell County Sheriff's office says it received no reports of damage or injuries from the quake, which measured a 3.4 magnitude. On Friday, two small earthquakes were reported in Harper County. The USGS says a 2.7 magnitude quake hit 10 miles northwest of Conway Springs May 10 and a 3.5 magnitude quake was recorded in Harper County May 5.
1 Dead, 1 Injured in Manhattan Shooting
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Riley County police are investigating a shooting that left one person dead and another injured in Manhattan. Police spokesman Alexander Robinson said the shooting occurred Sunday evening. The victim was identified as 39-year old German Gonzalez-Garcia. The injured man was hospitalized in critical condition but he's expected to survive. Investigators are looking for a suspect who fled in a late 1990s or early 2000s white truck. The truck has black front and back brush guards, a silver Craftsman toolbox and 20 inch rims.
Roofing Executive Sentenced in Kansas City-Area Case
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former executive of a Kansas City-area roofing company has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for employing people living in the country illegally. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says 71-year-old Tommy Keaton, of Shawnee, Kansas, was sentenced Monday. He will serve a year of supervised release after he leaves prison. Federal prosecutors say Keaton was indicted in June 2016 for using the workers for Century Roofing to install roofs in the Kansas City metropolitan area. In a plea agreement in February, he admitted harboring up to 24 people in the country illegally for roofing projects for Century. Keaton also was ordered to forfeit $1.4 million. Two other people have been sentenced. A total of more than $2 million was forfeited in the case.
Kansas Juror's Impartiality Questioned Before Acquittal
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) - Unsealed transcripts show that prosecutors during a Kansas trial in which a man was acquitted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl questioned the impartiality of a juror after her husband posted online that the case was a "witch hunt." The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the juror was kept on the Jackson County panel that last month cleared Jacob Ewing of sex charges. The newspaper said unsealed transcripts of a closed-door meeting with the judge show that a prosecutor voiced concerns about the juror and the town where the trial took place. Allegations against the Ewing man have divided 3,300-resident town of Holton. Transcripts show the juror admitted that she didn't want to be on the panel out of fear of being confronted in Holton by people involved in the case.
Kobach to Announce Plans on Governor's Race Within 2 Months
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he'll declare within the next two months whether he's seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Kobach said during a recent Associated Press interview that he's looking at the race very seriously. Governor Sam Brownback is term-limited. The Kansas secretary of state was considered a candidate for a job in President Donald Trump's administration. But he says he turned down positions in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security because he and his family wanted to stay in Kansas. Kobach began advising Trump on immigration early last year during the presidential campaign and has been appointed by the president to a new commission on election fraud. Kobach said he's not interested in running for Congress or state attorney general.
Leavenworth Catholic High School Closes
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Leavenworth's Immaculata Catholic High School will close Wednesday, ending Catholic secondary education in Leavenworth after more than 100 years. The Leavenworth Times reports the first graduating class was in 1913 for what was known as Catholic High School in Leavenworth. The Board of Directors of the Leavenworth Regional Catholic School System recommended in January that the school be closed because of declining enrollment. About 60 students in ninth through 12th grade attended the school this year. The school will host a Legacy Event on June 2-3, when alumni will be allowed to tour the school and obtain items such as uniforms, trophies and banners. The building will be turned over to the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, but its future use is still uncertain.
Kansas Defense Attorneys Worried About Sessions' Directive
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Defense attorneys say they worry that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' directive to pursue the most serious charges and longest sentences possible is likely to thwart recent efforts to address heavy-handed practices by some federal prosecutors in Kansas City, Kansas. Sessions' directive impacts federal prosecutions across the nation, but it has raised particular concerns about the Kansas City office where a yearslong struggle has been underway to curb what the defense bar calls prosecutorial abuses. Sessions says violence in some big cities and the opioid epidemic show a need for a return to tougher tactics. Critics call it a return to failed drug-war policies.
Kansas Moves Toward Allowing Outdoor Drinking Districts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas cities may soon be able to designate districts where patrons can move among bars, restaurants and entertainment venues with their drinks in hand. Both the House and Senate have passed versions of a bill that would allow areas similar to Kansas City, Missouri's Power and Light District, where patrons can leave bars with their alcoholic beverages and move around a common area. Lawmakers are continuing to work toward a resolution between the two versions. Lenexa city leaders sought the bill so vendors could sell liquor at the city's new public market, which it plans to open this summer. Supporters say it will help create vibrant entertainment districts. Some lawmakers were concerned the bill would present a public safety problem and increase drunk driving arrests
Court Rules Much of Prisoner's Settlement Will Go to Victims in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - An appeals court says a former federal inmate who got a $200,000 settlement over a prison injury won't get to keep much of it. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district judge's ruling that more than $145,000 of Kappelle Simpson-El's settlement go toward the $433,000 in restitution he's been ordered to pay his victims. Simpson-El was sentenced in 2009 to six years in prison for being a leader of ring that resold cars stolen from dealerships in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. While imprisoned in Arkansas, Simpson-El tore his Achilles tendon and sued the government, alleging his injury wasn't properly diagnosed or treated. But even before Simpson-El settled, the government warned him it would seize any payouts to him and apply them to his court-ordered restitution.
Greeter injured in Kansas City Church Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say a man was shot while greeting people at a south Kansas City church. The shooting occurred Sunday at the House of Refuge Family Worship church. The greeter, Montell Bruce, was struck in the head and was treated for non-life-threatening wounds. Police say a suspect entered the church through a back door and fired multiple shots. Bruce told KCTV5 that he intervened after he saw someone pull a gun during an argument. He says he tried to get the gun and throw the suspect to the ground. Eventually he ran and fell through a window to get away. Bruce was the only person hurt in the shooting.
1 Killed, 7 Injured After Vehicle Strikes Bull Near Dodge City
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Highway Patrol says one person was killed and seven others were injured when a driver hit a bull standing in the highway. The patrol says 66-year-old Alma Bencomo, of Dodge City, died after her vehicle hit the bull Saturday on U.S. 400, about 26 miles east of Dodge City. The collision forced Bencomo's vehicle across the center line, where it hit a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Phouthavone Tony Thirakul of Wichita. Five people in Bencomo's vehicle were injured. Thirakul and a passenger in his car also were injured. A 7-year-old girl in Bencomo's car was flown to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. The others were treated at a Dodge City hospital.
Warmer Kansas Winters May Mean More Armadillo Sightings
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Residents in the Lawrence area are reporting more armadillo sightings, an occurrence that nature officials say could be due to the state's recent mild winters. Marty Birrell is the nature education supervisor for the Prairie Park Nature Center. Birrell tells the Lawrence Journal-World that the center is seeing two to three reports of armadillos weekly in and around the Lawrence area. The armor-plated mammal has a history of hitchhiking northbound trucks from the country's southeast region, where it's typically found. But Birrell says milder winters in recent years may mean more of those armadillos survive to live and potentially breed in Lawrence. The National Wildlife Federation says the animal's range has been expanding northward for more than a century, and climate warming will continue expanding its potential range.
Royals Split Double-Header in Minnesota, Lose Series to Twins
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Kansas City Royals split a double-header in Minnesota Sunday winning the afternoon game, 6-4 but losing the evening game to the Twins, 8-4. The Royals lost the weekend series two games to one. The teams played two games on Sunday to make up for a game postponed by rain on Saturday. In the Sunday afternoon opening match, the Royals' Mike Minor won for the first time since 2014 and Brandon Moss hit two of Kansas City's four home runs, leading the Royals over the Minnesota Twins 6-4. On Sunday evening, the Royals lost to the Twins to finish the series by dropping two games and winning one. Kansas City will continue a challenging road trip starting in New York tonight with a 4-game stand at Yankee Stadium before traveling to Cleveland for a weekend series versus the Indians.