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Headlines for Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kansas Man Faces Hate Crime Indictment in Olathe Bar Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man charged with fatally shooting an Indian national at a suburban Kansas City bar has been indicted on federal hate crime and firearms charges. The Justice Department announced yesterday (FRI) that Adam Purinton, of Olathe, was indicted by a federal grand jury. Purinton allegedly killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounded Alok Madasani on February 22nd at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe. A third man, Ian Grillot, was shot and wounded when he intervened. The indictment alleges Purinton shot Kuchibhotla and Madasani because of their perceived race, color, religion and national origin. The Justice Department said in a news release that it will decide later whether Purinton will face the death penalty.


Kansas Lawmakers Considering Pay Raises in Budget Talks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are trying to resolve their differences over pay raises for state employees and settle their last remaining budget issues so they can end their annual session. House and Senate negotiators met for a second day yesterday (FRI) to draft a final version of the state budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1st and the fiscal year starting in July 2018. Lawmakers cannot adjourn their annual session without finishing work on the spending blueprints for state government. A key issue was pay raises for state employees. The Senate approved a 2 percent pay raise for all workers. The House approved pay raises averaging 11 percent for workers in the court system other than judges. The judicial branch has said its pay lags well behind market rates.


Kansas Health Officials Note First West Nile Case of 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first reported case of West Nile virus this year. The health department said in a news release yesterday (FRI) that the infected person lives in Barton County. The agency also said preliminary tests found the West Nile virus in four Culex species mosquito pools collected from traps in Johnson, Reno, and Shawnee counties. Two birds in Shawnee County also tested positive for West Nile virus. The Culex species is known to transmit West Nile but does not transmit the Zika virus. West Nile symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain or brain tissue and in rare cases, death. Last year, 34 cases of West Nile were found in Kansas. Of those, 21 people were hospitalized and five died.


Kansas Lawmakers Pass Bill Creating Foster Care Task Force

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have approved a bill that would set up a task force to provide greater oversight for the state's foster care system and recommend changes. The votes yesterday (FRI) were 105-10 in the House and 33-6 in the Senate. The bill goes next to Governor Sam Brownback. A three-part state audit found that the Department for Children and Families and its private contractors weren't collecting enough documentation or data to oversee the program and ensure that abused and neglected children were placed in safe, appropriate homes. The final part of the audit published in April also said some parts of the state didn't have enough foster homes. The task force would have 16 voting members who would include six legislators. It would make recommendations on changes in January 2019.


KCMO Man Freed after 17 Years in Prison for Robbery

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man who spent nearly 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery is free after supporters found another man who looked like him and lived near the crime scene. Richard Anthony Jones, of Kansas City, Missouri, was freed Thursday. He always maintained he didn't commit the robbery in Roeland Park and, after a hearing on Wednesday, a Johnson County judge ordered him released. The Kansas City Star reports witnesses at Wednesday's hearing, including the robbery victim, testified they could no longer say if Jones committed the crime after seeing pictures of the two men. Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty then ruled the new evidence made it unlikely that another jury would convict Jones of the crime. The other man testified Wednesday that he didn't commit the robbery.


Kansas Lawmakers Delay Part of Amusement Park Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have approved a bill that would delay part of a new law that toughens regulations for amusement park rides. Provisions of the law that include stricter inspection requirements and more oversight of rides still would take effect July 1st. The bill would delay a provision that creates criminal penalties for operating a ride without a license until January 1st. The bill goes to Governor Sam Brownback. The Senate passed it yesterday (FRI) on a 33-6 vote. The House approved it Thursday, 107-14. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the amended law also would prohibit the Department of Labor from enforcing penalties until new rules are published. The initial law was enacted in April after the death of Republican Representative Scott Schwab's son, Caleb, last summer at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas.


Kansas Coal-Fired Power Plant to be Demolished

RIVERTON, Kan. (AP) — Empire District Electric Co. plans to demolish its coal-fired power plant near Riverton, Kansas, sometime this month. The Joplin Globe reports the company isn't announcing the date of the demolition because it doesn't want to attract crowds. Empire said Thursday the $6.5 million project will demolish three units of the plant. The demolition comes after the utility opened its natural gas-powered generating unit in 2016. The parts of the plant being razed were all constructed around 1950. They were converted from coal-burners to natural gas in 2012 and retired in 2014 and 2015. Blake Martens, vice president of electric operations, says the natural gas unit is more efficient and uses cleaner fuel. Empire says the demolition is not expected to cause any service interruptions.


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