Kansas Lawmakers Working on New Income Tax Proposals
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas are working on new proposals for raising income taxes to fix the state budget that include a plan similar to one Governor Sam Brownback vetoed. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said Wednesday that fellow GOP senators are drafting a plan to retain separate rates for lower- and upper-income earners. He said another plan would return Kansas to three tax rates. The governor vetoed a similar bill in February. Brownback told reporters Wednesday that he still likes the idea of a single rate for all filers. Republican lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging. But the state is facing budget shortfalls totaling $889 million through June 2019. Lawmakers resume their annual session Monday.
Kansas Governor Seeks $24M to Ban Guns at State Hospitals
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is proposing an additional $24 million in spending over two years on extra security measures to keep concealed guns out of state hospitals. The Republican governor unveiled the proposal Thursday among other budget measures he recommended to the House and Senate budget committees. A 2013 law will require hospitals to allow people to bring in concealed guns starting July 1 unless the buildings have extra security such as metal detectors and guards. Some lawmakers want to change the law banning concealed weapons at hospitals. Brownback's proposal includes $810,000 for metal detectors for the state's two hospitals for the mentally ill and two for the developmentally disabled. Most of the cost would be hiring a total of 180 new employees that would include "armed personnel."
Governor Sees No Reason for Topeka Hospital to Close
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback says there's no reason for a financially troubled Topeka hospital to close because a California nonprofit group is interested in taking it over. Brownback told reporters Wednesday that Prime Healthcare Foundation is a legitimate potential buyer for the 378-bed St. Francis Health hospital in Topeka. The governor said other options for keeping St. Francis open could emerge. The Topeka-based Stormont Vail Health system has also expressed an interest. The owner of St. Francis is Denver-based SCL Health. It has said it will stop operating St. Francis this summer whether it has a buyer or not but is willing to donate the hospital to another organization. St. Francis's problems have reignited a debate over expanding the state's Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act.
University of Kansas Hospital Interested in Topeka Facility
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Health System is interested in acquiring a financially troubled nonprofit hospital in Topeka. System President and CEO Bob Page told Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in a letter Thursday that it would submit a proposal for the 378-bed St. Francis Health hospital in Topeka. Page said the University of Kansas system would partner with Nashville-based Ardent Health Services. It operates hospitals in six states. St. Francis is owned by Denver-based SCL Health. It plans to stop operating St. Francis this summer whether it has a buyer or not. The University of Kansas system operates the private hospital spun off from the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1998. The California-based Prime Healthcare Foundation and the rival Topeka-area Stormont Vail Health system also have expressed an interest.
LaTurner Takes Office as Kansas State Treasurer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Former Kansas state Senator Jake LaTurner has been sworn in as the new state treasurer. LaTurner took the oath of office Wednesday from Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall in a ceremony at the Statehouse. Dozens of family, friends and colleagues watched. The 29-year-old Pittsburg Republican was appointed last week by Governor Sam Brownback to replace former Treasurer Ron Estes. The 60-year-old Estes won a special congressional election in the 4th District in south-central Kansas after fellow Republican Mike Pompeo was appointed CIA director. LaTurner will serve the remainder of Estes' four-year term as treasurer and plans run for the office in 2018. Republicans in LaTurner's former legislative district in southeast Kansas will pick a new senator Sunday to serve until a special election next year.
Kansas Police: 2 Found Dead in SUV Died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say two people found dead in a sport utility vehicle last weekend succumbed to fumes from the vehicle's faulty exhaust system. The Kansas City Star reports that police have ruled the deaths of 26-year-old Carolyn Williams-Cottier and 30-year-old Trevor Roth of Dodge City as accidental. Their bodies were found Sunday in a vehicle parked outside a retail store. Police said it appeared the vehicle's exhaust system wasn't working properly, causing toxic, invisible and odorless carbon monoxide to build up inside the vehicle.
Wastewater Injection Well Application Triggers Opposition
BURDICK, Kan. (AP) — An application to inject wastewater from oil and natural gas operations into a well in an area that's near a fault zone and national park is garnering opposition. Some of the critics demonstrated this week at Emporia State University. The Kansas Corporation Commission is gathering public comment through June 15 on the application from the Quail Oil and Gas. An official with the company didn't immediately return a phone call or email message from The Associated Press. His company's proposal calls for pumping up to 5,000 barrels of wastewater per day into a Morris County well that would be near the Nemaha Ridge-Humboldt fault zone. That's a relatively small amount. But concerns have arisen that a new well could trigger earthquakes because the fault zone is among the state's largest.
2 Former Missouri Detainees Sue over Jail Conditions
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two men once detained at the Jackson County jail in Kansas City, Missouri are separately suing over the lockup's conditions they say included serious sewage issues that threatened the health of inmates. The Kansas City Star reports one federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by Joshua Riechmann alleges his jail cell smelled like a sewer. He alleges that when inmates in adjoining cells flushed toilets, urine and human excrement backed up into Riechmann's toilet. Another federal lawsuit last month by Nicholas Ayers alleges he had to lug water to his second-floor cell to get his toilet to flush. He says he was injured when he fell carrying a plastic trash can full of water. A county spokesman says the detention center has roughly 1,000 toilets and hundreds of showers and sinks, making leaks and clogs routine.
34-Year-Old Man Sentenced for Stealing Mail in Rural Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for stealing mail while working as a mail carrier. The U.S. attorney's office says 34-year-old Gary Yenzer, of Derby, was sentenced Wednesday for one count of theft of U.S. mail. Investigators learned Yenzer looked for birthday and anniversary cards while delivering mail last year in rural Sedgwick County. Prosecutors say he kept the cash he removed and sold some of the gift cards for cash, but he did not use the gift cards for fear of them bring traced to him.
Emporia State University Faces Child Abuse Investigation
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Emporia State University's Center for Early Childhood Education is being investigated for alleged child abuse. Emporia State spokeswoman Gwen Larson, tells the Emporia Gazette that the Kansas Department for Children and Families is investigating reported child abuse at the center. The center provides an early childhood environment for children of university students, faculty and community members. It also serves as a practicum and observation site for students training to be early childhood teachers. Parents and staff at the center received an email Monday from center director Keely Persinger informing them of her resignation in the midst of the investigation. Children and Families Department spokeswoman Theresa Freed says the agency cannot currently comment on the case. Parents say the agency has told them the investigation will likely finish mid-May.
Police: Bicyclist Killed by Vehicle in Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police in south-central Kansas' Hutchinson are investigating the death of a bicyclist who was hit by a vehicle at an intersection. KWCH-TV reports that 29-year-old Jerry W. Johnson of Hutchinson died at the scene of the accident about 5:40 a.m. Thursday. There was no immediate word about any arrests or charges.
White Sox Top Royals and Sweep 3-Game Series
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Wednesday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep. Chicago won its fourth straight game, while Kansas City dropped every game on their seven-game road trip. White Sox starter Jose Quintana (1-4) had a season-high 10 strikeouts in six innings. He allowed five hits and two runs — one earned — and walked two. Avisail Garcia's two-run homer, his fourth of the season, went to deep center field in the sixth inning to give Chicago a 4-2 lead. Leury Garcia put a line drive over the fence in right to close the scoring in the seventh. Royals' right-hander Nathan Karns (0-2) took the loss.