Kansas Lawmakers to Meet in December to Discuss School Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A special Kansas legislative committee on public school funding is having its first meeting next month to start work on a response to a state Supreme Court order to boost funding. The committee is scheduled to convene December 4 at the Statehouse. The Supreme Court ruled in October that state aid to public schools remains constitutionally inadequate even with a new law phasing in a $293 million increase over two years to make it $4.3 billion annually. The court directed lawmakers to enact a new law before July. The committee's chairman is Republican Representative Blaine Finch of Ottawa. He also is the House Judiciary Committee's chairman. The panel's 11 members include the Senate majority and minority leaders and the chairs of the House and Senate budget committees.
Kansas Lawmakers Call for Transparency
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers from across the political spectrum say they'll push to fix the state's culture of secrecy after a newspaper highlighted alarming levels of opacity in state and local government. The Kansas City Star reports that Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer pledged last week to address the problem of transparency. Colyer is set to take over if Governor Sam Brownback is confirmed as an ambassador in the Trump administration. The Star's series on secrecy highlighted examples of state and local agencies hiding information from the public. Colyer didn't weigh in on specific questions raised in the series, nor did he offer policy moves he'd pursue to increase transparency, as some of his competitors for the 2018 Republican nomination have done.
Police Shootings and Other Kansas Criminal Cases Cloaked in Secrecy
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas police departments do not identify officers involved in fatal shootings and body camera footage from the incidents may never become public. Records in unsolved criminal cases can remain closed indefinitely, even to victims' families. The Kansas City Star reports that grieving families can wait years to get answers about relatives who've been killed, and weak state transparency laws can allow law enforcement agencies to avoid public scrutiny. Kansas is less open than other states, including neighboring Missouri. Kansas in 2014 became the last state in the nation to open affidavits spelling out the details behind arrests, though judges in some counties still seal them. Authorities defend keeping records closed by citing the need for thorough investigations or to protect officers.
Prosecutor: Police Shooting Video Isn't His to Release
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor says it's not up to his office to allow a public viewing of body camera footage of the fatal police shooting of a black man unless a court proceeding makes the video part of the public record. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay says the video could "affect people's opinions" of the September shooting of Dominique White in a Topeka park. The family's attorney, Gillian Cassell-Stiga, says the city of Topeka had agreed to privately show the footage to White's parents before saying they couldn't. The city cited a Kansas law that allows only heirs and executors access. City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield says officials are working with White's family to get an executor in place who could have access to the video.
Attorney: Video Contradicts Police Account of Kansas Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The widow of a Kansas man killed last month by an undersheriff has asked a court to release video and audio recordings that her attorney says show her husband was unarmed and trying to obey instructions when he was shot. Attorney Michael Kuckelman says recordings he viewed are troubling and the public has a right to see them. He told The Associated Press on Thursday that the video captures the Barber County sheriff telling the undersheriff minutes before Steven Myers was shot with a bean bag round on October 6 that with "a little luck and he'll just pass out and die." The sheriff disabled his body camera after the shooting and instructed a deputy to disable his camera. The sheriff's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Tyson: Plans for Chicken Plant in Kansas Remain on Hold
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Tyson Foods Inc. says its plans for a chicken plant in Kansas remain on hold while it moves forward with its Tennessee project. The Springdale, Arkansas-based company announced Monday it would build a $300 million chicken production complex in Humboldt, Tennessee, that is expected to create more than 1,500 jobs when it begins operations in 2019. Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said Monday the company still has an interest in Kansas and will continue to consider potential sites in the state for expansion of its poultry business. Tyson had previously announced a $320 million chicken plant outside Tonganoxie in northeastern Kansas in September, but local officials withdrew their support amid public opposition. Tyson then started looking elsewhere. Officials in Sedgwick County, Cloud County and in Coffeyville then pursued the project.
Another Conservative Leads Kansas Governor Race After Crisis
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A year ago, many voters concluded that Kansas would abandon deep-red politics after Governor Sam Brownback's experiment in cutting income taxes ended in failure. But instead of moving back toward the political center, the state now has an even more aggressively conservative figure who could win next year's race for governor. He is Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The Harvard-, Yale- and Oxford-educated lawyer leads a large field of likely candidates after building a national reputation as hardline provocateur on immigration and voter ID laws. His visibility rose sharply after President Donald Trump appointed him to help lead a commission on election fraud. Kobach's solid base on the right helps him in a crowded race, and no other candidate has his national profile.
Illinois to Stay in Controversial Voter Database for Now
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois election officials have decided the state will remain in a multi-state voter registration database that critics claim is inaccurate and could lead to security breaches. The motion to withdraw from the Kansas-run Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program failed on Monday after the State Board of Elections voted 4-4. Five votes were needed for it to pass. However, the issue could come before the Illinois board again or through the Legislature, as some advocates have promised. Groups including the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights have raised concerns about the program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who's also a vice chairman of President Donald Trump's election fraud commission. Kansas's director of elections Bryan Caskey says officials are working on new security guidelines. Over two dozen states participate.
Wichita to Reconsider Camera Traffic Tickets
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city manager in Wichita, Kansas, says the city will likely cut back its use of candid-camera security video for writing tickets for minor traffic violations in the Old Town area of the city. The Wichita Eagle reports that he video tickets were part of a pilot program that is ending after about three weeks. City Manager Robert Layton says he'll meet with Police Chief Gordon Ramsay this week to discuss how to use the camera system going forward. The ticketing system has led to a firestorm of criticism. The 70-camera network gives police observers nearly 100 percent video coverage of the Old Town bar and nightlife district. But Layton says the purpose isn't to generate revenue, but to help ensure public safety.
Report: Winter Wheat Condition Mostly Good in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The condition of the emerging winter wheat crop in Kansas is mostly good but rain would be welcomed to help the crop. That is the latest assessment Monday from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The agency reported that 12 percent of the wheat is in poor to very poor condition. About 32 percent is rated as fair with 51 percent in good and 5 percent in excellent shape. About 90 percent of the crop has now emerged. Harvest is wrapping up for the state's other fall crops. Soybean harvest is 96 percent complete and soybean harvest is 94 percent finished. About 86 percent of the sorghum has also been cut, along with 83 percent of the sunflowers.
Teen Killed in KCK Laundromat
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — School officials say a teenager found fatally shot inside a Kansas City, Kansas laundromat was a high school sophomore. The Kansas City Star reports that police are investigating the shooting as a homicide and asking the public for information. Police haven't released the teen's name, but Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools officials said Sunday he was a sophomore at J.C. Harmon High School. Police were called to the laundromat in the Argentine neighborhood after the body was discovered Saturday morning. Police said they think the shooting occurred Friday night.
Hunter Accidentally Shoots 11-Year-Old Son in Face in Kansas
PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man accidentally shot his 11-year-old son in the face while they were hunting in south-central Kansas. The Reno County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that the accident happened shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday as the father hunted with his son and a 9-year-old nephew at a walk-in hunting field near Pretty Prairie. The Wichita Eagle reports that the father told the sheriff's officers that his son had walked a little ahead. He said that when he swung his 12 gauge shotgun to the left to shoot at a flying bird, some of the birdshot struck the boy in the face. The boy suffered superficial wounds and was taken to Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital in Wichita.
Governor's Christmas Tree Arriving at Cedar Crest
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The governor's Christmas tree is arriving tomorrow (TUE) at Cedar Crest on a horse-drawn coach. The arrival is planned for 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The event is used to promote Kansas Christmas tree farms. The home to the governor is the focal point of a 244-acre estate overlooking the Kansas River. The recently renovated estate features several ponds, gardens and hiking trails.
Earthquakes Rattle North-Central Oklahoma Sunday
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded two earthquakes that struck central Oklahoma early Sunday. Both temblors hit just east of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond. The first quake had a preliminary magnitude of 3.7 and struck at 2:12 a.m. The second quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 2.9, followed soon after, hitting at 2:20 a.m. There were no immediate reports of injury or severe damage. Thousands of quakes have struck Oklahoma in recent years, many linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. Researchers have also linked earthquakes in Kansas, Texas and other states to wastewater injection. Several oil and gas producers have been directed to close wells and reduce injection volumes in others, including two near the recent temblors.
3 Suspects Wounded After KCK Police Ram Van
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Court records show that officers shot and wounded three suspects earlier this month in Kansas City, Kansas, after the suspects desperately tried to escape. Police surrounded the van November 6, and two different drivers then tried to ram their way out. After at least one of the van's occupants raised a firearm, five officers fired on the van. Officers had been following the van after shots were fired. No officers were hurt, and the suspects' injuries were minor. Twenty-seven-year-old Ernest Jones and 25-year-old Taurez Adams were charged in federal court last week as convicted felons in possession of illegal firearms or ammunition. Jones and two others in the van also are charged in state court with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
General Joseph Dunford Cancels Landon Lecture at Kansas State
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State says U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Joseph Dunford has canceled a speaking appearance because of a scheduling conflict. Dunford had been slated to speak November 27 as part of the Landon Lecture series. The series is named for former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who was the 1936 Republican nominee for president. The series was established in 1966 to bring in speakers to discuss issues facing business, politics and international relations. Dunford serves as the principal military adviser to the president, secretary of defense and National Security Council.
Manhattan-Ogden Schools Upgrades Could Cost $100 Million
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Consultants say it would cost more than $100 million to address crowding in Manhattan-Ogden schools. Consultant Clint Hibbs told the Manhattan-Ogden school board that nine of the school district's buildings are over capacity. The firm's baseline plan could cost the district $121 million. The study's top priorities include a new elementary school, expanding the middle school buildings to include sixth-grade, and upgrades at both Manhattan High School campuses. The plan also includes centralizing early childhood learning, improving safety at school buildings, and upgrading administration buildings. Board member Dave Colburn said security measures are his top priority. He said nine of the buildings have inadequate storm shelters, seven schools have inadequate or no entrance security measures and six schools have either unsecured or mobile classrooms.
Lawrence Teen Works to Provide Sanitary Pads for Homeless Women
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Lawrence teenager is working to provide her community's low-income and homeless women with safe and comfortable feminine care products. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 16-year-old Taylor Hamby launched the Re-Flow project in August as part of an extracurricular competition. Taylor will host an event Wednesday where people can turn bedsheets, towels and washcloths she collected into reusable sanitary pads. The pads would be distributed to local shelters, food pantries and women's organizations. Taylor hopes to make and give away at least 500 pads. She says that low-income and homeless women are more likely to use menstrual products for unsafe lengths of time, exposing them to health problems. The teen says that part of her mission is bringing awareness to a problem that remains taboo.
Missouri Patrol Finds $491,000 in Suspected Drug Money
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal authorities are working to seize more than $491,000 of suspected drug money found during a traffic stop by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration alleges the money was meant for illegal drugs, or was proceeds from an illegal drug deal. The traffic stop occurred in May on Interstate 35 in Daviess County. Documents filed in federal court say the DEA told a patrol sergeant that a tractor-trailer registered in Oklahoma might be involved in drug-trafficking. The sergeant stopped the truck and a search found plastic bags containing money in a gas can strapped behind the truck's cab. More money was found in plastic jugs in a storage compartment.
Hutchinson Man Dies After High-Speed Police Chase
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man has died in a crash in central Kansas that happened as he was being chased by a sheriff's deputy. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Friday night crash killed 25-year-old Angel Montiel. Officials say Montiel was fleeing a Rice County Sheriff's deputy in a chase that began in Rice County and extended into Reno County. Investigators say Montiel was driving a minivan south when it spun out of control, and Montiel was thrown from the vehicle. The patrol says he died at the scene.
Police: Teen Found Dead inside KCK Business
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after officers found a teenager dead inside a Kansas City, Kansas, business. Television station KMBC reports that officers were called to business Saturday morning to check on a person who had been shot. Arriving officers found the teen, who had been shot at least once, already dead. Police have not released the teen's name or another other details about the shooting. Police have asked anyone with information on the shooting to call the police tips hotline.
Kansas University Offers Basketball Lottery for Low-Income Students
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas Student Senate and Kansas Athletics is offering a lottery system to make games at Allen Fieldhouse more accessible for some underserved students. Kansas Athletics is offering a lottery system for 20 free tickets for every men's basketball game for low-income, first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients. Student body president Mady Womack says the system was meant to counterbalance an increase of about $25 in the cost of the student All-Sports Combo ticket package during the last few years. She says the senate is considering other ways to make student experiences more accessible. Spokesman Jim Marchiony said the new system is part of a larger plan to reduce student ticket prices by reallocating 420 seats previously reserved for students to Kansas donors.
Kansas City Chiefs Upset by New York Giants, 12-9, in Overtime
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 on a blustery, cold Sunday. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games. The winning 23-yard yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime came after Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch on a deep pass from Eli Manning. Few sports commentators expected the Giants to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2. The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points.