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Headlines for Monday, October 2, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Supreme Court Says Hike in School Aid Not Sufficient 
 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that legislators did not increase spending on public schools enough this year and ordered a bigger increase. The high court on Monday rejected the state's arguments that a new law phasing in a $293 million increase in funding over two years was enough to provide a suitable education for every child. The state is projected to spend about $4.3 billion on aid to its 286 school districts during the 2018-19 school year under the new law. The court ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts and told lawmakers to write a new school funding law before July 2018. The districts argued that the increase approved by lawmakers was at least $600 million short of what was necessary.

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Kansas Governor: Schools Decision 'Regrettable' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Republican Governor Sam Brownback is calling a Kansas Supreme Court decision on school funding "yet another regrettable chapter in the never ending cycle of litigation" over education funding. Brownback issued his statement Monday after the court rejected a school funding law enacted earlier this year. The law phased in a $293 million increase in spending on schools over two years, and the court said the spending is inadequate to provide a suitable education for every child. But Brownback said the court should not have substituted its judgment for the Legislature's.

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Kansas Schools' Lawyer Calls Ruling Bittersweet 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  An attorney representing four Kansas school districts that sued the state over education funding says a state Supreme Court ruling is bittersweet. Attorney Alan Rupe said the decision Monday by the Supreme Court confirms that public schools in Kansas are significantly underfunded. He said the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, districts proved that during a lower-court trial four years ago. But Rupe also noted that the court directed legislators to fix the problem before July 2018 and that three of its seven members would have mandated quicker action. Rupe said significant damage has been done as the state has ignored its obligations under the Kansas Constitution. Republican Governor Sam Brownback said his office is reviewing the decision and will comment after a full review.

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Top Kansas Democrat: Schools Ruling No Surprise 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  The Kansas House's top Democrat says a state Supreme Court ruling against a new school funding law is no surprise. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita said Monday that many lawmakers in both parties identified some of the same flaws cited by the seven-member court. The law phased in a $293 million increase in spending on public schools over two years, and the court said the spending is inadequate to provide a suitable education for every child. Ward and other Democrats had argued the increase was far too low. The court also said rejected the new per-student formula for distributing aid as being unfair to poor districts. Ward is running for governor next year. Fellow Democratic candidate Joshua Svaty praised the ruling and called for higher teacher salaries.

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GOP Kansas Leaders Defiant After Schools Ruling 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Top Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate are defiant in the face of a state Supreme Court ruling saying the state's education funding remains inadequate. Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita, Vice President Jeff Longbine of Emporia and Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park issued a joint statement Monday saying the court is making what they called an "unrealistic demand" for more spending. An education funding law enacted this year phased in a $293 million increase in spending on schools over two years, and the court said the spending is inadequate to provide a suitable education for every child. The three GOP leaders said the court showed "clear disrespect for the legislative process." They also vowed to oppose raising taxes as lawmakers did this year.

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Kansas Tax Collections $57M More Than Expected in September 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected $57 million more in taxes than anticipated in September. It was the fourth consecutive month that tax collections have exceeded projections from the state's official fiscal forecast. The state Department of Revenue said Monday that nearly $603 million in taxes was collected last month. That was 10.5 percent more than the official estimate of $545 million. Since the fiscal year began July 1, the state has collected $73 million more than anticipated, with tax collections of $1.5 billion exceeding expectations by 5.1 percent. Legislators in June rolled back past individual income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback to help balance the budget. Individual income tax collections are exceeding expectations but so are corporate income and sales tax collections.

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2 Men Recovering After Lawrence Shooting That Killed 3 Others 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — One man is hospitalized and another has been treated and released after a shooting in downtown Lawrence that killed three others. The Lawrence Journal-World reported Monday that the college town's interim police chief says a 19-year-old Topeka man is still in the hospital but is in stable condition. A 28-year-old Topeka man was treated and released after the early Sunday shooting, which happened in a popular restaurant and bar area downtown. Victims of the shooting who died include 22-year-old Leah Elizabeth Brown of Shawnee. Topeka residents 20-year-old Colwin Lynn Henderson and 24-year-old Tre'Mel Dupree Dean also died. Lawrence police Sergeant Amy Rhoads told the newspaper that police believe the shooting was not random and stemmed from an earlier altercation. She says a few people were innocent bystanders.   Police officers are seeking the public's help in identifying the shooting suspect or suspects involved.  Police are requesting anyone with information to contact the Lawrence Police Department at (785) 832-7509 or Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at (785) 843-TIPS. Tips made to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous.

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Lawrence Triple Homicide Victims Include Recently Freed Man 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The victims of a triple homicide in downtown Lawrence include a recently freed man and a woman whose mother thought her daughter would be safer in the college town than a popular Kansas City, Missouri, entertainment area. The Kansas City Star reports that Gretchen Brown, urged her daughter, Leah Elizabeth Brown, of Shawnee, to go to Lawrence because of recent violence in Westport. The 22-year-old was among the victims. Also killed was 20-year-old Colwin Lynn Henderson, who pleaded guilty last year to aggravated battery and criminal discharge of a firearm. His mother, Novel Carter, says her son was trying to turn his life around after being released. The third victim was 24-year-old Tre'Mel Dupree Dean. His grandmother, Birdie Dean, said it "sounded like he was in the wrong place."

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ACLU Launches National Campaign in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) —The ACLU launched a national voting rights campaign in Lawrence last (SUN) night. The group says it’s going on the offensive and it was no coincidence that the ACLU decided to hold the kickoff event in Kansas. The ACLU wants the strict voting laws Secretary of State Kobach has championed to be repealed, including the proof of citizenship requirement for registration in Kansas. ACLU Political Director Faiz Shakir says they would prefer to make changes nationally through Congress but that seems unlikely to happen in the present political climate so the group plans to campaign state by state for more early voting, simplified registration and nonpartisan redistricting. Last week, Kobach said he doubts it will prompt any changes in Kansas. He says the state’s voting rules have broad support.

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Kansas Democrats Vote to Recall Top State Party Official

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democrats have decided to remove one of their top state party officials after a contentious debate. The Wichita Eagle reports the party's state committee voted 121-54 Saturday to recall Party Secretary Casey Yingling. The conflict centered on a vote Yingling took as part of the party's executive committee to give Democratic congressional candidate James Thompson's campaign $20,000. Yingling was accused of having a conflict of interest because she is part of the political consulting firm working for Thompson. Party officials decided there were enough votes to meet the two-thirds standard to remove Yingling, but some questioned that interpretation.

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Regents Appointments Headed to Kansas Senate 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A legislative committee has signed off on Gov. Sam Brownback's reappointments of three members of the Kansas Board of Regents whose terms expired in June. Brownback reappointed Shane Bangerter of Dodge City, Ann Brandau-Murguia of Kansas City, and Helen Van Etten of Topeka to four-year terms. The reappointments were approved last week by the Kansas Senate Confirmations Oversight Committee. The full Senate will consider the reappointments when it convenes in January. Nine regents serve on the board, which oversees 32 higher-education institutions in the state. That includes six universities, along with several community colleges and technical colleges.

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Overall Enrollment at State Universities in Kansas Shows Slight Drop

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents says enrollment at public universities fell less than 1 percent this fall. Newly released figures show a 1.1 percent increase in fall enrollment at the University of Kansas compared with last fall. Kansas State University reported the largest enrollment drop, of 4.1 percent. Enrollment increased more than 3 percent at Fort Hays State University and at Wichita State University. Emporia State's enrollment declined 2.6 percent and enrollment was down 2.7 percent at Pittsburg State. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports cumulative enrollment at the six state universities was down 239 students, or 0.25 percent. The 19 community colleges in Kansas reported 1,500 fewer students enrolled, while the state's technical colleges added nearly 1,000 students.

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Kansas Working on Real ID License Issues

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is about two months into issuing new driver's licenses that comply with the federal Real ID Act, but some residents aren't bringing the right documents. Starting October 1st, 2020, residents who use their driver's licenses to board domestic flights in the U.S. and enter some federal facilities such as military bases will need to have upgraded identification. Kansas Department of Revenue's driver's license manager Breana Berroth says that some residents looking to renew their licenses haven't brought the proper documents. Residents seeking to upgrade their licenses must show proof for their Social Security number and provide a birth certificate or U.S. passport. Those who've changed their name should also bring documents proving the legal name change. New licenses cost $8 dollars.

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Kansas Man Sentenced in Kidnapping of Woman Who Was Slain 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man was sentenced to 16 years in prison after admitting in federal court his role in the abduction of a woman who was later killed. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced the Monday sentencing of 27-year-old Drexel Woody. The former Fort Riley military base resident pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping resulting in death. Witnesses reported seeing 24-year-old Amanda Clemons of Junction City being placed in a car outside a Junction City motel the night she disappeared in 2014. Prosecutors allege Clemons was beaten over comments she made on social media. Prosecutors say Clemons was taken to a bridge, broke free and jumped from the span before her assailants fatally cut her throat. Two co-defendants were sentenced to 28 years in prison. Two others await sentencing.

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Kansas Creates New $200K Wildfire Recovery Fund 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Landowners in nearly 20 Kansas counties destroyed by record-setting wildfires the past two years will be eligible to get money from a $200,000 cost-sharing recovery fund the state created. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the State Conservation Commission agreed during a September meeting to establish the Kansas Wildfire Cost Share Initiative. Under the initiative, local conservation districts will gather applications from landowners by October 31. State conservation division officials will consider recommendations submitted by counties and allocate $200,000 drawn from the state water plan before the end of the year. Dry conditions, low humidity and strong winds contributed to deadly fires that blackened more than 700,000 acres in March. About 400,000 acres burned last year when an Oklahoma blaze moved across state lines into south-central Kansas.

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Kansas Police Officer Recovering After Being Set on Fire 

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — A southeastern Kansas police officer is still hospitalized but is expected to recover after being set on fire when he responded to a reported assault. The Wichita Eagle reports that Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves on Monday said Baxter Springs officer Jimmy Hamilton is at a Springfield hospital and was in good spirits when the two spoke Sunday. A man threw fuel on Hamilton, another officer and a woman at her Baxter Springs home Saturday, setting all three on fire. The man allegedly had been assaulting 65-year-old Sharon Horn, who died Saturday. The man hasn't been identified. A third officer was injured after trying to put out the fires. The sheriff said officers Justin Butler and Darryl Nadeau were treated and released from a hospital in Joplin, Missouri.

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Transcripts Detail Plot to Bomb Somali Refugees in SW Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors allege that three men accused of conspiring to bomb a Kansas mosque and an apartment complex housing Somali refugees also discussed killing the refugees' white landlord because he rented to Muslims. The allegations are included in new court filings ahead of a Wednesday hearing to determine if one of the men, Gavin Wright, should be freed pending his trial. Wright's attorney says Wright wasn't aware that his co-defendants intended to actually carry out the attack and portrays him as a lonely man desperate to find friends after moving to Liberal in southwestern Kansas. But prosecutors submitted transcripts of profanity-laden recordings of the men discussing their plans that paint a more damning picture of Wright.

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Hundreds in Wichita Receive Doubled Water Bills by Mistake

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of Wichita residents have received bills that mistakenly doubled what they owed for water and sewer services. The city has confirmed that about 1,400 residents received the bills with the erroneous charges. The incorrect bills were sent out at the beginning of last week. The city attributed the problem to an error by a third-party printer handling its bills. The city said it is investigating the overcharges so that it can prevent them from happening again. The city also said it would send apology letters with corrected bills to affected residents today (MON).

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Survey Suggests Economic Growth Ahead for Midwest

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of business leaders suggests economic conditions are still improving for nine Midwest and Plains states. A report released this (MON) morning says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 58.2 in September from 57.5 in August and 56.1 in July. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says international sales, strong profit growth and low interest rates boosted the economic outlook among supply managers in the nine-state region. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Olathe Man Dies After Struggle with Police 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a man has died after struggling with police officers who were responding to an armed disturbance in suburban Kansas City. Police in Olathe, Kansas, said in a news release that the struggle happened early Saturday when an agitated 34-year-old man began to threaten officers with a blunt object. Police say officers were attempting to take him into custody when he suffered a "medical emergency." The man was rushed to a hospital, where he later died. The name of the man wasn't immediately released. A multi-agency group is investigating. Pending the investigation, the officers who were involved have been placed on paid leave, as is standard procedure.

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New Kansas State Fair Counting System Shows Lower Attendance 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Attendance at the Kansas State Fair appeared to be lower than normal this year. The Hutchinson News reports that Fair Manager Susan Sankey said in a news release that about 322,000 people were counted through the gates during the 10-day event. She notes that tickets were counted more accurately this year using a scanning e-ticket system. Previous tickets were weighed. Sankey told The News because of the previous way the fair measured attendance, there is no way to know if past totals are accurate or how this fair compares to others. The numbers for 2017 are coming off a busy 2016 Kansas State Fair, with nearly 360,000 visitors - the second-best attendance in at least 40 years. The new e-ticket scanning system allows the fair to digitally track fair traffic.

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Fans Say Farewell to Free Agents as Royals End Season with 14-2 Loss to Arizona 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar tipped their caps and likely said goodbye to Kansas City's fans, and then the playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks ended the regular season with a 14-2 win over the Royals on Sunday. The foursome joined the Royals in 2011 and keyed the team's run into consecutive World Series, including a championship in 2015. They are all eligible for free agency after the season. Manager Ned Yost pulled the group together with one out in the fifth inning. The players hugged behind the pitchers' mound, then waved their caps to the cheering crowd as they walked off the field. Salvador Perez, who also debuted with Kansas City in 2011, embraced the group on the top step of the dugout. The Royals played a video honoring the players after the game, and fans stayed and applauded.

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