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Headlines for Sunday, February 1, 2015

Brownback Proposes Linking Performance to School Funds

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has said he wants to tie school funding to student performance.The Wichita Eagle reports that Brownback discussed the concept Friday while speaking to the Agri-Business Council of Wichita. Brownback said earlier this month that he wanted to ditch the current school-finance formula and fund the state's districts with interim block grants for the next two years. In his speech, Brownback elaborated on his plans. He said possible performance markers include whether high school graduates are prepared for college or the workforce. He said that's what schools are "supposed to get done" and that she should be penalized if they fail. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, questioned the wisdom of rewarding high-performing school districts, which also tend to be the richer ones.

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Bill Preserves Statehouse Room for Prayer, Meditation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas would protect a room set aside in its Statehouse for prayer and meditation from being converted to another use under a measure advancing in the Legislature.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill to designate the set-aside second-floor space as the Capitol Meditation Room so that it remains as it is permanently.The measure goes next to the House for debate.Legislators considered but didn't approve a proposal in 2012 to create an all-faiths chapel. Governor Sam Brownback then stepped in, making available a room that had been assigned to his staff.The room now has soft chairs and low-light lamps. But earlier this week, it also had a painting that depicted Jesus praying.

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Kansas Lawmakers Divided on Hate Crime Bill 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The fatal shooting of three people last year outside a Jewish community center and retirement complex in Overland Park is renewing calls for tougher hate crime legislation.A bill currently being discussed in the Kansas legislature would double the sentences for those convicted of a hate crime. Senator David Haley, a Kansas City Democrat, said the shootings reinforce the need for harsher punishments against those who are motivated by prejudice. But, opponents of the legislation are skeptical that increased penalties will deter such criminals.Kansas police departments reported an average of 81 hate crimes per year from 2003 to 2013, although a Justice Department study suggests that such crimes often go unreported and the true numbers could me much higher.

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KS Court Reverses DUI Conviction Over Improper Test

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has reversed the drunken driving conviction of a Wichita man who was asked to take a breath test after failing a common field sobriety test that has been determined inadmissible in court.William Molitor was stopped in February 2009 after leaving a Wichita bar and failing to use his turn signal. Officer Jeremy Diaz says Molitor struck the curb with his tire and had bloodshot eyes. There also was a strong odor of alcohol coming from his vehicle.But Molitor had no problem producing requested documents or getting out of his vehicle. Diaz says he asked Molitor to take a breath test after he failed the horizontal gaze test.The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that the gaze test wasn't evidence that Molitor was impaired.

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Wichita Woman Found Dead After Suspected Abduction

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating after a woman's body was found in a parked car.The Wichita Eagle reports that police think the victim is 23-year-old Sabryna Guerrero-Newman. Wichita police Captain Brian White said Guerrero-Newman was seen being carried from a home Friday morning. Neighbors had reported hearing gunshots beforehand.Lieutenant James Espinoza says officers who responded to the 911 call Friday morning found "signs of a disturbance inside the home." Police say a suspect is being questioned.

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Naked Driver Leads Officers on High-speed Chase

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a naked Lawrence man crashed into a tractor-trailer while fleeing from troopers in western Kansas.The Salina Journal reports that the 21-year-old suspect is accused of throwing clothes and cash out of his car windows Thursday afternoon during the pursuit on Interstate 70.Trooper Tod Hileman says the man fled when a trooper tried to pull him over west of Russell for speeding. The chase lasted about 10 minutes until the car's tires were punctured near Victoria with stop sticks. Hileman says the westbound car kept going on its rims until the driver turned into the median and hit the eastbound semi.Hileman says the rig had slowed to about 30 mph before the collision. The suspect has been taken into custody.

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2 Critical in ATV Crash Near Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two people have suffered critical injuries in an all-terrain vehicle crash in rural Douglas County.Douglas Country Sherriff's Office public information officer Steve Lewis says a 22-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were thrown from the ATV after it struck a deer. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a driver found the ATV on its side early Saturday about five miles south of Lawrence and called for help. The man and woman were unconscious when deputies arrived, and first responders described their injuries as critical.The man was taken to Overland Park Regional Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition. The woman was taken to the University of Kansas Hospital. Lewis says her condition is listed as serious.

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