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Headlines for Saturday, February 4, 2017

Lawyer: Man Shot Former KC Chief in Self-defense

GRETNA, La. (AP) — A lawyer for the man accused of fatally shooting Joe McKnight says his client shot the former NFL running back in self-defense. In an email sent to The Associated Press late Thursday, Matthew Goetz wrote that "information provided from our sources" indicate the 28-year-old McKnight was shot while threatening 55-year-old Ronald Gasser and trying to climb into Gasser's car through the passenger-side window. He did not elaborate on the sources or immediately return a phone call yesterday (FRI). Gasser was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Authorities have said both men were driving erratically and yelling at each other before they stopped. Goetz says McKnight drove from behind Gasser's vehicle and blocked him in. McKnight played for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Strengthening Open Government Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two bills before a Kansas Senate committee would make government meetings and records more accessible to the public. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee heard the bills Tuesday. One bill, introduced by Lawrence Senator Marci Francisco and Louisburg Senator Molly Baumgartner, clarifies a law that requires government bodies to justify going into private meetings. The reason for the private meeting would have to be recorded in public minutes. The other bill reduces how much government entities can charge for public records. It caps the price per page and requires staff time be charged at the lowest hourly rate for a qualified employee. Committee Chairman Jacob LaTurner says the bills will be further discussed next week. LaTurner has advocated for legislation that would curb the costs of getting public records.

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Cowley College Accepts $15,000 Degree Program Challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A community college has accepted Governor Sam Brownback's challenge to develop a degree that costs only $15,000. Brownback and Cowley County Community College officials announced yesterday (FRI) that the Arkansas City school will try to develop a program that would lead to a $15,000 degree. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the proposal would require students to complete two years of courses at Cowley County while still in high school, then transfer to Fort Hays State University. However, the Legislature still has to appropriate scholarship funding and tuition rates haven't been set for Fort Hays. Brownback issued the challenge in his State of the State speech in January. He said he would award $1 million in scholarships to the first Kansas college or university to set up such a program.

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Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A divided Kansas Supreme Court has upheld a man's death sentence in the 2004 slayings of a woman and her boyfriend. The Wichita Eagle reports the 4-3 ruling yesterday (FRI) let stand the Barton County sentence of Sidney Gleason in the killings of Mikiala "Miki" Martinez and Darren Wornkey. The Kansas court had overturned Gleason's sentence, but the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned that decision and ordered Kansas' high court to review Gleason's case. The Kansas court's majority yesterday (FRI) rejected Gleason's claim that his sentence was unconstitutional because it was more severe than the sentence of 25 years to life that accomplice Damien Thompson got. Martinez was a potential witness against Gleason in a previous robbery in which he was involved.

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Company to Bring Plant, Jobs to Kansas

EDGERTON, Kan. (AP) — A Wisconsin-based hardware and home improvement company plans to consolidate two distribution plants into a single facility in Edgerton. The Kansas Commerce Department says the move by Spectrum Brands Hardware and Home Improvement will bring 315 jobs to Kansas. The department said yesterday (FRI) that Spectrum will consolidate existing distribution centers in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Mira Loma, California, into one distribution building in Edgerton. Spectrum says it will begin transitioning operations immediately and plans to start receiving inventory in Edgerton in March and will start shipping out of Edgerton in April.

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Kansas Health System Seeks Exemption from Concealed Carry

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Health System is seeking an exemption from a state law that that would allow adults to carry concealed handguns in its medical school and attached hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Officials from the health system testified Thursday before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. Without the exemption, the hospital and medical school will be required to allow concealed weapons in its buildings on July 1st, unless it provides security measures. The Lawrence Journal-World reports hospital officials and the chief of the hospital police force testified for the exemption, saying allowing guns would make the hospital less safe, not more secure. But some lawmakers raised concerns about taking concealed carry rights away from 10,000 employees and suggested the exemption was too broad.

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Former Great Bend Coach Charged with Sexual Exploitation

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A former Great Bend High School track coach is charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a child. Barton County prosecutors charged 55-year-old Todd Kaiser on Thursday. Kaiser was arrested June 6th after investigators received a report of abuse against a juvenile. Barton County authorities say they served a search warrant for electronic media and the case involves sexting. Kaiser taught physical education and coached in the Great Bend District for 29 years. Kaiser posted a $50,000 bond after being booked in Barton County Jail. His first court appearance is scheduled for March 6th.

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Lawrence Plans to Expand Concealed Carry Exemption

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A resolution exempting Lawrence from the state's concealed carry law until January 2018 still stands, even though an amendment with a closer expiration date was added last year. Assistant City Attorney Maria Garcia tells the Lawrence Journal-World that the resolution was submitted before the amendment's July 2017 expiration date was added to the law, so the exemption will continue for another 11 months. Universities and municipalities were allowed to submit resolutions declaring an exemption to the state concealed-carry law that took effect in July 2013. The concealed carry law allows people to have concealed firearms in public buildings that don't already provide security measures.

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