Kobach Nominated to Trump Voter Fraud Commission
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump has named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to help lead a voter fraud commission. But Kobach won't be leaving his post in Kansas. Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence will lead a commission to review alleged voter fraud and suppression. But Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter says he does not plan to end his term as secretary of state early. Kobach also is considered a top likely contender in the 2018 Kansas governor's race. Kobach championed Kansas's tough proof of citizenship requirement as a way to keep noncitizens from voting. He has stood by Trump's unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in November. He also advised the Trump transition team and has been ordered to turn over proposals he took to a meeting with Trump.
Kansas Lawmakers Disagree on Next Step in Tax and Budget Debate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators disagree about their next step after the Senate rejected a plan for fixing the state budget with a big income tax increase. The Senate voted 22-18 on Wednesday against a bill that would have rolled back past income tax cuts promoted by Governor Sam Brownback. It would have raised more than $1 billion over two years. Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, an Emporia Republican, said lawmakers must consider smaller proposals and work toward a plan that Brownback would sign rather than toward a bigger tax hike with veto-proof support. Several Democrats rejected the idea and said a plan must provide additional funds for public schools. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2017 and the state Supreme Court has said education funding is inadequate.
Kansas May Delay Implementation of Amusement Park Inspection Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators are asking for an extra year to implement new amusement park rules that lawmakers passed in reaction to a boy's death last year on a water slide. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee met Thursday afternoon and advanced a bill making tweaks to the new law. The bill also would delay the law's implementation until July 1, 2018, rather than this July. Committee Chair Representative John Barker says the Department of Labor and some county fair operators were concerned about implementing the law so quickly. GOP Governor Sam Brownback signed the law less than three weeks ago. It requires that amusement rides be inspected annually by a qualified, outside inspector. Department of Labor Communications Director Barbara Hersh said late Thursday afternoon that the agency would comment later.
Kansas House Committee Rejects Race Track Slot Machines
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas House committee rejected a measure Wednesday that would have let Sedgwick County decide whether to put slot machines at the Wichita Greyhound Park. Some lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee said they were concerned that allowing the tracks to operate slot machines would break state contracts with casino owners. Supporters say having the machines at tracks would bring in revenue and provide jobs. The committee's chairman, Republican Representative Troy Waymaster, says he has horse and greyhound breeders in his district who would like to race in Kansas but can't. He challenged the tracks and casinos to come up with a compromise.
Judge Orders Kansas Official to Disclose Plan Taken to Trump
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has told Kansas's top elections official to disclose proposed changes to federal voting laws that he took to a meeting with President Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson says she reviewed the materials and found no error in the magistrate's earlier ruling that required Secretary of State Kris Kobach to turn over the documents. Robinson ordered Kobach to produce them by tomorrow (FRI). The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering. An Associated Press photo of that November meeting showed Kobach holding a paper outlining homeland security issues. The order also requires him to produce a related internal document about proposed changes to the National Voter Registration Act.
Kansas Lawmakers Increase Penalties for Human Trafficking
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas senators have unanimously passed a bill that would toughen the state's laws on human trafficking. The bill approved on Thursday creates new crimes related to trafficking and toughens some existing laws. The House passed it unanimously on Monday. It now goes to GOP Governor Sam Brownback for a signature. The bill would create new crimes related to human trafficking, such as using communication devices to facilitate human trafficking or knowingly selling travel services connected with human trafficking. It also would create the crime of internet trading child pornography. Attorney General Derek Schmidt backed the bill and told lawmakers in written testimony that Kansas's response to human trafficking has improved. According to Schmidt's testimony, victim offices served 463 victims of human trafficking last fiscal year. His testimony says it served two in 2009.
Kansas Education Official Outlines Plan for School Redesign
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas education commissioner wants to choose seven school districts to participate in a major redesign of their systems based on the state board of education's "Kansans Can" vision. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Commissioner Randy Watson told board members Tuesday the intent of the redesign project is to the help districts "determine what makes a successful high school graduate." Watson says the schools will base their redesign on the five goals of the "Kansans Can" vision for the students' success. Those are locally measured social and emotional growth; kindergarten readiness; individual study plan focused on career interest; high school graduation rates; and postsecondary completion and attendance. Inspired by the Mercury 7 astronauts, each district will be named after each astronaut. Watson says the districts will be chosen by September.
Wamego Public School District Approves Student Drug Testing
WAMEGO, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas school district announced plans to randomly drug test students who participate in athletics and some other activities such as debate. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the policy takes effect this fall at Wamego Public Schools. The school board voted 6-1 to approve an amended random drug testing policy. The policy will affect students involved in Kansas State High School Activities Association events. The amended policy lowered penalties for first-time violations from a 90-day suspension to 45 days, second- time violation penalties from a 180-day suspension to a 90-day suspension, and a third-time violation from a 365-day ban to a 180-day ban. Suspended students can still practice, but they aren't allowed to participate in games or competitions.
KU Police Finish Probe of Alleged Rape at Athletes' Dorm
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas police have completed their investigation of a reported rape at a dorm for basketball players and other male students and sent their findings to the county prosecutor's office. Douglas County District Attorney spokeswoman Cheryl Wright Kunard said Wednesday that that office received the investigation but hadn't decided whether to file any charges. She says the office won't name any persons of interest. A report from the university's police department lists five current and former Kansas men's basketball players and two women as witnesses. Police found drug paraphernalia during a search of the dorms as part of the rape investigation. Former Jayhawk player Carlton Bragg was charged in Lawrence Municipal Court with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and later entered a diversion agreement .
Records: Slain Boy Told Missouri Authorities About Abuse
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Missouri state records show an emaciated boy whose father later killed him and fed his remains to the family's pigs told authorities he was being abused. Adrian Jones was 5 years old in July 2013 when he told a Missouri Children's Division worker and police officer that a "little bone come out" when his father kicked him in the head. Two years later, Adrian was dead. Adrian's father and stepmother, Michael and Heather Jones, are serving life sentences in his death.The records released this week show Missouri welfare officials said in 2013 that they didn't think they could ensure Adrian's safety at home, but that a county juvenile officer suggested the family be provided more services. The family then moved to Kansas. Similar records remain under seal in Kansas, where welfare officials have said allegations against the family were "thoroughly investigated."
Judge: No Bond for Missouri Man Amid Terrorism Probe
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, man born in Somalia has been ordered detained on a passport-fraud charge while the FBI investigates whether he has terrorism links. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Hays declined bond Thursday for 21-year-old Isse Mohamud. The judge determined Mohamud could be a flight and public safety risk. Prosecutors allege Mohamud lied when he said on a passport application that he planned to use it to go to Canada. An FBI agent says in an affidavit that Mohamud ultimately went secretly last month to Egypt, where he was detained by authorities. The agent says that Mohamud's family reported him missing and expressed concern the travel was terrorism-related. Mohamud's public defender declined comment Thursday, saying she did not have authority from her client to speak to reporters.
Man Charged in Connection with Triple Homicide in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old man is jailed on $1 million bond after being charged in connection with the shooting deaths of three people in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors in Wyandotte County on Thursday charged Jason R. Tucker with capital murder, attempted burglary and violating a protection order. Tucker is also charged with attempted capital murder for allegedly wounding a man. Police have said that survivor was struck in the head and shot in the back late Tuesday at a home, where officers later found the bodies of 47-year-olds Bernadette Gosserand and Vincent Rocha, and 26-year-old Jeremy Rocha. Police say three children who were at the home during the shootings were unharmed. It was not immediately clear Thursday if Tucker has an attorney. He has no listed home telephone number.
Report: US Farmers Forecast to Harvest Smaller Wheat Crop
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Agriculture Department is forecasting a far smaller U.S. winter wheat crop than a year ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Wednesday predicted the 2017 crop would be down 25 percent to 1.25 billion bushels. Its forecast average wheat yield of 48.8 bushels per acre is down 6.5 bushels from last year's record yield. The outlook is down even more for the nation's hard red winter wheat. The agency forecast hard red wheat production would be down 32 percent from a year ago to 737 million bushels. Hard red is the type of wheat most commonly grown in Kansas. Kansas farmers are expected to harvest 289.8 million bushels this year with average yields of 42 bushels per acre. That compares to the 467.4 million bushels cut last year.
Teenager Charged in Kansas City Shooting Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 17-year-old has been charged in the drug-related shooting death of an 18-year-old near Kansas City's Zona Rosa shopping area. Dominic Pineda was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, attempted distribution of a controlled substance and armed criminal action in the death of Tim Durden. Bond is set at $500,000. KMBC-TV reports that Durden died at a hospital after he was found wounded Monday behind a home. Pineda was arrested inside the home. Court records say Pineda told investigators he was measuring out marijuana to sell when Durden grabbed a handgun from another person pocket, loaded it and threatened to shoot. Pineda said he then pulled a gun out of his own pocket and shot at Durden.
Southwestern Missouri Student, 18, Charged with Rape
FAIR GROVE, Mo. (AP) — An 18-year-old Missouri man has been charged with second-degree rape about three months after committing to play football at a college in Kansas. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Austin Fodge was charged Saturday. Investigators allege he forced himself on a woman in April. A message left with Fodge's attorney by The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday wasn't immediately returned. The Fair Grove High School senior signed in February to play football at Benedictine College. The college's coach, Larry Wilcox, said Wednesday he wasn't aware of the charge and declined to comment about how it might impact Fodge's future. Fodge was arrested Friday. Court records show he was released from jail on a $25,000 bond. If convicted, he could faces up to seven years in prison.
Tampa Bay Rays Slam Royals 12-1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay's Chris Archer pitched eight shutout innings Wednesday night for the Rays in a 12-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Archer (3-1) won for the first time in five starts since April 14 to help the Rays break a three-game losing streak. He scattered five singles and walked none. The Rays' Logan Morrison, Rickie Weeks Jr., and Colby Rasmus all hit home runs. It was Morrison's ninth homer of the season. Weeks followed with his second home run, putting the Rays up 4-0. Rasmus hit a grand slam off Royals' reliever Peter Moylan in the eighth, the sixth slam of his career. Everyone in the Tampa Bay lineup had at least one hit for the second straight day. Corey Dickerson had a triple and a single and scored three runs. Kansas City starter Jason Hammel (1-4) gave up six earned runs and 13 hits in seven innings, dropping to 0-6 in his last seven road starts.