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Headlines for Saturday, April 23, 2016

KU Minority Students Seek Independent Government

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Minority students at the University of Kansas are pushing for an independent governing body to represent their interests — and have won recognition and funding to start the long process that could let them do so. Students insist they're not trying to set up a wholly separate student government. But they are frustrated by what they see as a lack of attention to issues they care about. They want a structure that focuses on social justice issues and multicultural students, with programs such as longer orientations for some students or funding for those with financial emergencies. They say it would complement the work of the traditional student government. Experts see the novel approach as the latest example of the impatience minority students feel after generations of exclusion from campus government.


Brownback's Tobacco Bond Plan Draws Criticism

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is facing strong bipartisan criticism over his proposal to use bonds backed by tobacco settlement funds to help plug short-term budget gaps. The Republican governor wants to sell off the rights to collect part of Kansas' annual payments from a national legal settlement in the 1990s between states and tobacco companies. Such a deal would generate a one-time cash payment of $158 million to the state. The governor outlined the plan this week as one of several alternatives for closing budget gaps totaling more than $290 million. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said the governor believes the proposal would do less harm to state programs than other proposals. But legislators in both parties see the plan as using long-term debt to fix budget problems over two fiscal years.


Kansas Court: Sex Offender Registry Constitutional

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A divided Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the lifetime registration for sex offenders does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Yesterday's (FRI) ruling comes in the case of Henry Petersen-Beard, who was convicted at age 19 of raping a 13-year-old girl. He had challenged the lifetime registration requirement as unconstitutional under the Kansas Bill of Rights and the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In an opinion written by Judge Caleb Stegall the court found the registration requirement was not a form of punishment. But three other cases released yesterday (FRI) — that had decided before Stegall took office — found the requirement constituted punishment and therefore a 2011 amendment to the law couldn't be applied retroactively. However, those rulings applied only to the three defendants in those cases.


Missouri Lawmaker Weighs in on Kansas Voting Policy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says an election official had no authority to unilaterally modify a federal voter registration form to require proof-of-citizenship documents to register to vote in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia. The Missouri Democrat yesterday (FRI) released a letter sent to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission saying the actions of its executive director, Brian Newby, could cause irreparable harm to the commission. Worse yet, she says, it could deprive tens of thousands of American citizens of their rights to cast a ballot. McCaskill asks commissioners to ignore Newby's illegitimate actions and revert to its prior policies. She says the changes requested by the three states are policy changes that must be publicly considered by the full commission. The EAC did not immediately comment on her letter.


Kobach Wins Second Conviction in Kansas Double-Voting

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A man who illegally voted in both Kansas and Colorado has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The conviction against Randal Kilian is the second under a new state law that gives Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach the power to prosecute election fraud allegations. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 62-year-old Kilian agreed to pay a $2,500 fine under a plea entered Thursday in Ellis County District Court. As part of the plea, two companion charges were dropped. Kobach says the fine shows how seriously the state takes voter fraud. Kilian was registered as a Republican in Hays when he voted illegally in 2012. He's now a Colorado resident. Another man pleaded guilty in December in Johnson County District Court to voting illegally in Arkansas and Kansas while moving.


Kansas Woman Admits to Aiding in Kidnap, Rape

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman has pleaded guilty to aiding a man convicted of abducting an 8-year-old girl from her Topeka home, then drugging and rapping her. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 24-year-old Michelle Lee Harris, of Topeka, admitted Thursday to reduced charges of attempted kidnapping and aiding a felon. As part of the plea, a third charge was dismissed. She testified against Jeremy James Lindsey at his trial earlier this year. Prosecutors said he removed a sleeping girl from her mother's Topeka home in 2014 and transported her in a car trunk. He raped her twice before calling Harris, who gave him and the girl a ride. Lindsey then raped the child a third time before she managed to free herself and escape. Harris' sentencing is scheduled for May 23.


Wichita Standoff Ends with Arrest in Fatal March Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a suspect in a fatal Wichita shooting after a standoff. Wichita police Sgt. Nikki Woodrow says the man was taken into custody Thursday in the backyard of house. The Wichita Eagle reports that he is being held on $250,000 bond. He's been identified as a suspect in the March 3 killing of 35-year-old Brandon Walters. Police have said that Walters was shot inside his home. The standoff began after officers received information about where a woman linked to the suspect lives. Woodrow said that as officers approached the home, the suspect was spotted leaving a detached garage. Woodrow says the suspect ran into the house when he saw the officers. During the standoff, four children and several adults exited the house.


Kansas State Presidential Search to be Closed to the Public

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The search for the next president of Kansas State University will be closed to the public. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Regent Dennis Mullin says a closed search process was selected to make sure the best candidates for the position are found.He discussed the search process this week with the Kansas Board of Regents. It's looking for a replacement for Kirk Schulz, who has been selected as the next president of Washington State University. Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is serving as Kansas State's interim president. Mullin says many qualified candidates won't allow themselves to be considered with an open search process. Schulz previously has said he only applied for the Washington State position because it was a closed search.

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