State Health and Environment Officials Hear Complaints
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's administration has gotten a preview of what working with a less conservative Legislature could be like. It came Friday in the form of an oversight committee's angry, bipartisan scolding over issues within the state's Medicaid program.The public dressing-down of Department of Health and Environment officials came only three days after the state's primary election. Voters showed their unhappiness with Brownback by ousting at least 11 conservative Republican incumbents in the Legislature. Members of the House-Senate oversight committee were upset about budget-balancing cuts in payments to pharmacies, doctors and hospitals providing services to Medicaid participants.They also were frustrated with a backlog in Medicaid applications and angry that the state is still pursuing some changes opposed by many advocates and legislators.
Osawatomie State Hospital Seeks Recertification
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A state official says Kansas hopes to increase the capacity of its mental hospital in Osawatomie by 60 beds by the end of the year.Secretary Timothy Keck of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said Friday that the key issue for Osawatomie State Hospital is staffing. At the end of July, 89 of the hospital's 422 positions were vacant, or 21 percent. But that's a significant improvement since December, and Keck said new hiring continues. KDADS dropped the hospital's capacity to 146 beds from 206 beds last year to accommodate renovations meant to satisfy the federal government. But federal officials decertified the hospital in December over safety issues after the rape of an employee.The department last week applied to have part of the hospital recertified.
Officials Say Wait List for Disabled Now Eliminated
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas says it has eliminated a waiting list for physically disabled residents who are seeking in-home services such as help with bathing and feeding. Secretary Tim Keck of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services told a legislative oversight committee Friday that the last 438 people on the list as of mid-July have been offered services.The services allow physically disabled Kansas to continue living independent or with family members rather than in a nursing home. About 6,000 physically disabled people receive services. Keck acknowledged that going forward people may wait for services after initially seeking them. But the agency sees eliminating the years-old waiting list for the physically disabled as a major accomplishment.In mid-July, nearly 3,400 intellectually disabled Kansans were still on a waiting list for services.
Apollo 11 Bag at Center of Legal Battle
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A bag carried to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft and used for the first sample of lunar material is at the center of a legal fight after the government mistakenly sold it during the criminal case against the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. The bag was flown on Apollo 11 in June 1969 and has lunar material embedded in its fabric.The government this week asked a federal judge to rescind its sale. It contends that as result of misidentification the National Aeronautics and Space Administration- which loaned it to the Cosmosphere - was not properly notified.Cosmosphere founder Max Ary was convicted in 2005 for stealing and selling museum artifacts. The bag was found in his garage during execution of a search warrant.
Kansas Farm Real Estate Values Drop
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new government report shows the value of land and buildings on Kansas farms fell 7 percent last year.The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Friday farm real estate value in 2016 averaged $1,880 per acre. That is down $150 per acre compared to the previous year. Cropland values fell 7 percent to $2,050 per acre. Cropland with irrigation averaged $3,000 an acre, down $270 per acre. Cropland without irrigation averaged $1,940, down $150 an acre.Pastureland was valued at $1,290 per acre, down $100 per acre.The agency said cash rents paid to landlords for cropland was mixed with irrigated land up to $129 an acre, while dryland cropland was down to $56 per acre. Pasture rented for cash was down to an average $19 an acre.
Tillman Blames Campaign Mailer for Defeat
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A retired court services officer blames a mailer paid for by the Kansas Democratic Party for his defeat in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary. The Wichita Eagle reports that Robert Tillman lost the primary Tuesday to attorney Dan Giroux by 549 votes. Tillman won 14 out of the district's 16 counties, but lost Sedgwick County by 872 votes.The state Democratic Party sent out a mailer on Giroux's behalf the weekend before the primary vote. Tillman said it cost him the election. Kansas Democratic Party executive director Kerry Gooch says the party extended an offer to each of their congressional candidates, "and Dan was one of the only ones who took it up."Gooch says the mailer shouldn't be seen as the party endorsing Giroux over Tillman.Tillman says he wasn't extended an offer.
61 Kansas School Districts Face Superintendent Turnover
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - More than 20 percent of Kansas' school districts, including some of the larger districts will have new superintendents this fall. Dale Dennis, deputy education commissioner of Kansas, said 61 Kansas school districts, including Topeka, Olathe, Lawrence and Manhattan, have new leaders this year. Some veteran superintendents in rural districts are also going elsewhere. The departures follow at least two straight years of record-breaking turnover, which Dennis and others said has taken a toll on districts and the state.The Wichita Eagle reports that the average tenure for a superintendent in Kansas is about five years.The Kansas Association of School Superintendents recently stepped up its efforts to mentor superintendents, pairing veteran or retired leaders with new ones and hosting a monthly "Phone a Friend" video conference to share strategies.
Crawford Murder Suspect Captured in Missouri
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a suspect in a killing at a Topeka hotel has been captured in Missouri.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that authorities are working on the extradition of the 26-year-old man. He was captured Wednesday in Platte County, Missouri. Topeka police spokeswoman Amy McCarter said Thursday that the man initially was identified as a person of interest in the death of 18-year-old Sarah Crawford but is now considered a suspect. Crawford was found Saturday in a room at the Ramada West hotel. Police said they believe Crawford died after an argument and that she and the suspect are thought to have been acquaintances.