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Headlines for Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kansas Lawmakers to Reconvene to Resolve Conflict on Tax Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators aren't quite done with their work for the year because they inadvertently enacted two conflicting versions of a new law aimed at holding down local property taxes. House Speaker Ray Merrick's office said yesterday (FRI) that legislators will reconvene June 26th to pass a bill addressing the problem. Spokeswoman Rachel Whitten described it as a technical fix. Legislators already were scheduled to have a brief adjournment ceremony that day.The issue is a new law limiting the authority of cities and counties to spend increases in property tax revenues without getting voters' approval. Lawmakers intended the limits to take effect in 2018. They passed two bills raising taxes to balance the budget. One measure said the limits on property taxes would start in July and the other, in 2018.


Kansas State President Giving Salary Increase to Staff

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The president of Kansas State University says he's giving the money he would make in a raise to be used elsewhere at the university. WIBW-TV reports that President Kirk Schulz announced on the university's website he won't keep the 2 percent raise approved by the state's Board of Regents on Thursday. Schulz thanked the Regents for the raise and credits them with backing his K-State 2025 initiative. But he says he's turning the raise over because the university couldn't provide faculty and staff raises too. He says he'll put the amount of money of his raise toward supporting the University Support Staff Awards program. Students at most state universities in the state will also see their tuition and fees increase by no more than 3.6 percent this fall.


Senate Committee Approves Grouse Amendment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. Senate committee has approved an amendment that prohibits a federal agency from enforcing protections for a rare grouse. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the amendment to a $30 billion appropriations measure. The amendment by Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran bars the use of funds to enforce the threatened species listing of the lesser prairie chicken. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the "threatened" listing for the lesser prairie chicken is needed because of steep declines in the bird's populations. The birds are found in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Opponents of the threatened listing say it leads to unfair fees and restrictions on farmers, ranchers and oil companies.


Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Conviction in Daycare Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a daycare provider in the 2007 accidental death of an infant. Michelle Bolze-Sann was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for her role in the suffocation death of the 6-month-old baby. The child died July 2, 2007, after rolling off a bed and becoming trapped between the mattress and the bed's footboard. In a ruling released yesterday (FRI), the state Supreme Court upheld the Shawnee County court verdict. Prosecutors said Bolze-Sann violated state laws requiring napping children under 18 months of age to be in cribs or playpens with narrowly placed slats and protective bumpers. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the justices rejected Bolze-Sann's claim that the state failed to present sufficient evidence establishing that she acted recklessly.


Kansas Supreme Court Overturns DNA Testing Denial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is again overturning the denial of DNA testing in a second-degree murder case. The justices ruled yesterday (FRI) that a Wyandotte County judge erred in refusing the testing for Jerome Cheeks. He wants evidence from the scene of the 1992 Kansas City, Kansas, killing tested to support the claim that he wasn't the one who fatally beat his wife. In 2013, the justices ruled that a Kansas statute that limits post-conviction DNA analysis to cases involving only first-degree murder or rape is unconstitutional. Subsequently, a Wyandotte County judge found Cheeks still couldn't get testing because he had been paroled and didn't meet the requirement of being "in state custody." In the latest reversal, the justices said Cheeks was in custody when he filed his original petition.


Kaw Nation to Hold First Powwow Near Council Grove

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. (AP) — An American Indian tribe is poised to hold its first official powwow for the first time in 142 years on its own land near Council Grove. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kaw Nation, also called the Kanza, is scheduled this weekend to hold the powwow, with more than 300 dancers. The Kaw Indians had claimed a territory that covered parts of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, but by the mid-19th century it was forced into what's now Oklahoma. The tribe's legacy and culture is ingrained in Kansas history. The state took its name from the tribe, and a Kaw warrior stands atop the dome of the state Capitol. The Kaw Nation in 2000 purchased more than 145 acres of land along the Little John Creek near Council Grove.

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