Kansas Senate Rejects 'Flat' Income Tax Proposal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposal to raise additional revenue with a "flat" personal income tax that had Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's endorsement. The vote Thursday was 37-3 against the bill. The only yes votes came from Republicans, Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita, Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park and Senator Gene Suellentrop of Wichita. The proposed budget fix would have imposed a 4.6 percent rate for all filers starting next year. That is the top rate for higher-income earners, and the bill would eliminate the 2.7 percent rate now in place for lower-income filers. It would have ended an exemption championed by Brownback for 330,000-plus farmers and business owners. The measure would have raised about $652 million over two years.
Kansas House Panel Agrees to $750 Million Increase in School Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has drafted a plan to phase in a $750 million increase in state aid to public schools over five years. A special panel on education funding agreed Wednesday to a proposal to increase school funding by $150 million annually for each of the next five years under a new per-student funding formula. The committee hasn't yet voted on the measure because some lawmakers want an attorney to look over the proposal to ensure that it will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court. The court ruled last month that the state's education funding is inadequate. Republican Representative Melissa Rooker of Fairway says she's glad the committee agreed on a multi-year influx of new aid but can't say whether schools would get the money fast enough to satisfy the court.
Kansas Senate Approves Bill Extending Property Tax for Public Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that would continue a statewide property tax for public schools for another two years. The vote Thursday was 39-1 and sends the measure to the House. The bill would raise $635 million for schools during the 2017-18 school year and another $663 million for 2018-19. Kansas has imposed the tax since 1992 but the state constitution allows requires lawmakers to consider it every two years. The only no vote came from freshman Republican state Senator Dinah Sykes of Lenexa. She said she couldn't vote to renew the tax without a new school finance law or a fix for the state's budget problems. The tax is $20 for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. The first $20,000 of a home's value is exempt.
Kansas House Approves Sale of Beer by Grocery Stores
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has voted to give grocery and convenience stores the right to sell full-strength beer in exchange for liquor stores' right to sell more non-alcoholic products. The bill passed 80 to 45 Thursday. Most of the opposition came from lawmakers who were concerned that competition with large grocery chains would put liquor stores out of business. Lawmakers have debated the issue for years. But associations representing some liquor stores and some grocery and convenience stores found a potential compromise. Under the bill, groceries could sell beer with as much as 6 percent alcohol. Now they can sell cereal malt beverages with no more than 3.2 percent alcohol. Liquor stores could sell merchandise such as mixers, shot glasses, lottery tickets and cigarettes. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Judge Tells Kansas Secretary of State to Produce Plan Taken to Trump
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Kansas's top elections official to produce a plan on homeland security issues that he took to a meeting with President Donald Trump. U.S. Magistrate James O'Hara ruled Wednesday that the document from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could be relevant to a federal lawsuit challenging a state law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering. O'Hara also ordered Kobach to produce a second, related document. The magistrate plans to review both privately. Kobach was ordered to produce them by today. Kobach met with Trump in November. An Associated Press photo showed Kobach holding a paper outlining a plan that could include changes in federal voting laws. The second document Kobach must produce is an internal proposal for changes in federal voting laws.
National Republicans Pouring Money into Kansas House Race
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic candidate James Thompson has accused national Republicans of trying to buy the House seat vacated by CIA Director Mike Pompeo with nearly $100,000 in last-minute television and digital advertising just days before the nation's first congressional election. His comments came following a candidate forum at Wichita State University where Republican Ron Estes failed to show up. The National Republican Congressional Committee this week bought more than $67,000 in local television advertising along with $25,000 for digital advertising. Thompson says it shows how desperate they are. He says rather than have a candidate who will actually get out and work and listen to people, the Republicans are trying to buy the campaign. But Estes's campaign countered that he attended an earlier candidate forum, and predicted that Estes will win Tuesday's election.
Kansas Education Department Faces Delays in State Testing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — School districts all over Kansas are experiencing delays in state assessment testing this week, forcing some to shut down the tests altogether. Kansas State Department of Education spokeswoman Denise Kahler tells the Topeka Capital-Journal that state education officials have been in contact with the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation to determine the delays' cause. The center is a University of Kansas entity the education department contracts with to host the tests. Kahler says she's been told the issues are with the center's information technology arm, the Kansas Interactive Testing Engine. The Testing Engine says the problem is with the servers, not the tests themselves. The newspaper was unable to reach Testing Engine officials. Annual state reading and math tests for third- through eighth-graders and 10th-graders is March 14 through April 28.
Suit Alleging Detective Pushed to Drop Rape Probe Dismissed
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that claimed a Kansas sheriff fired a detective for refusing to end an investigation into a man who faces sex crime charges from five women and a teenage girl. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that U.S. District Senior Judge Sam Crow took the action Friday. Former senior detective Al Dunn alleged in the suit that Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse tried to suppress an investigation into Jacob Ewing of Holton. Dunn's lawsuit claimed Morse faced complaints from family and friends of Ewing who believed they could influence Morse's bid for re-election. Court filings claimed Morse pressured Dunn to back off of the investigation. Dunn sought about $150,000 for lost salary and mental and emotional distress. But Crow found "no viable constitutional" violations.
Champion Cyclist Stephen Tilford Struck by Semi, Dies
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A highway crash involving two semitrailers and a van near the Utah-Colorado border has killed two people, including champion cyclist Stephen Tilford. Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Todd Royce says the first semitrailer drifted off Interstate 70 Wednesday and then overcorrected before rolling onto its side and blocking all eastbound lanes. A Mercedes-Benz van struck the semitrailer and 57-year-old Tilford, of Topeka, exited the van. He had been standing next to the vehicle when he was hit and killed by a second semitrailer. The Salt Lake Tribune reports the driver of the second semitrailer, 70-year-old Stanley Williams of Grand Junction, Colorado, also died in the crash. Tilford won a U.S. National Mountain Bike championship, four National Cyclocross titles and several other championships throughout his career.
Human Remains Found in Missouri Identified as Missing Kansas City Woman
BELTON, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say they have identified one set of human remains found in rural western Missouri as those of a 21-year-old woman who disappeared in September. The Cass County Sheriff's Office says a medical examiner identified the remains as Jessica Runions, of Raymore, Missouri, who was last seen on September 8 leaving a gathering in south Kansas City. Her burned vehicle was found two days later. Runions left the gathering with 27-year-old Kylr Yust, who was later charged with burning Runions' vehicle. A judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. The remains of a second person found in the same area have not been identified. A mushroom hunter found the remains Monday in an area south of Belton and a second skull was found nearby Tuesday.
Topeka Developer Indicted on New Perjury Charge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Topeka real-estate developer has been indicted on a new charge of lying under oath in an effort to hide assets in a bankruptcy. The U.S. attorney's office says grand jurors returned the indictment Wednesday in the case against 65-year-old Kent Lindemuth, of Topeka. Besides the new perjury count, he faces more than 100 other federal charges, including bankruptcy fraud, money laundering, and possession of firearms while under indictment. Lindemuth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2012. He has entered not guilty pleas to many of the charges. But in September, Lindemuth was convicted of one count of making a criminal threat to an Oklahoma trucking company owner in 2014, although Lindemuth denied threatening to kill or shoot the owner.
Kansas Woman Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Selling Meth
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who sold methamphetamine after being told to by a jail inmate has been sentenced to four years in prison. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says that 21-year-old Kraysalias Lynn Bernhardt, of Clearwater, was sentenced Wednesday for selling a pound of meth. Prosecutors say Bernhardt sold the drugs in January 2016 after talking by phone to Samuel Below, who was an inmate at the Sedgwick County jail. Below was storing the drugs at Bernhardt's home. Bernhardt pleaded guilty to one count of using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking. Below was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison for his role in the drug sale.
Kansas City's World War I Museum and MemoriaL Observes WWI Centennial
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dignitaries from around the world are converging on Kansas City, Missouri, and its towering World War I monument to observe the 100th anniversary of the day the U.S. entered "The Great War." A sellout crowd of 3,000 onlookers also snapped up tickets for the daylong observance today (THUR). The event on the grounds of the Liberty Memorial — the nation's official WWI monument — featured patriotic music, speeches and readings from the time America declared war on Germany. As president and CEO of the city's National World War I Museum and Memorial, Matt Naylor says the event "is commemorating, not celebrating" the day the U.S. was drawn into war.
World War I Centennial Commemoration Speaker: US Still Lives in 'Long Shadow' of WWI
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The head of a panel behind the commemoration of the day the U.S. entered World War I credits the American involvement and its military might with ending the bloodshed. Retired Army Colonel Robert Dalessandro of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission told a crowd of thousands Thursday on the Kansas City, Missouri, grounds of the nation's official World War I memorial that "we still live in the long shadow of (that conflict) in every aspect of our lives." Dalessandro added that "America entered the war to bring liberty, democracy and peace to the world after almost three years of unprecedented hardship, strife and horror." Thursday's daylong observance titled, "In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace," included patriotic music, readings from the time America declared war on Germany, and a flyover by planes that left plumes of red, white and blue smoke.
Judge Lets Attorneys Withdraw from Kansas Bomb Plot Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge says he is reluctantly granting the request from defense attorneys to withdraw from the case of a Kansas man accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex filled with Somali immigrants. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren said Wednesday new court-appointed counsel would be selected for Patrick Stein while he continues efforts to hire his own private attorney. Stein and co-defendants Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen are accused of conspiring to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where Somali immigrants live in Garden City. Stein told the judge his court-appointed attorneys have limited criminal experience to handle a case of this magnitude when the rest of his life is on the line. He says lawyers quoted him prices of between $100,000 and $1 million to represent him.
Lawsuit Claims KU Professor Sexually Harassed Theater Student
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former University of Kansas theater student is suing the school, alleging it failed to investigate claims he was sexually harassed. The Kansas City Star reports the lawsuit alleges a professor invited the then-student to his home for dinner in 2015, wrongly telling him other students would also be in attendance. The man alleges the professor was intoxicated, forcefully kissed him and grabbed his genitals. The lawsuit says a university investigation of the incident was never completed, and that the professor was eventually fired. The university says it can't comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit accuses the school of creating an unsafe environment in violation of a federal law established to prohibit gender discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual assault.
State Contractors Could Not Boycott Israel Under Kansas Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is on the path to join a growing number of states who won't award contracts to companies waging an "economic attack" on Israel. But pro-Palestinian groups say the law discriminates against businesses that practice their right to boycott. The House passed a bill 116 to 9 on Wednesday that would prohibit the state from participating in anti-Israel boycotts and contracting with businesses that participate. Supporters say the bill protects Kansas and Israel's trading partnership. The Kansas Department of Commerce says Israel hovers around the top 20 trading partners the state has each year. But so far, the department hasn't found any companies in Kansas publicly boycotting Israel. Opponents say the bill restricts companies' ability to protest Israel for its occupation of Palestinian-claimed lands.
Former Kansas High School Coach Enters No Contest Plea
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas high school coach has pleaded no contest to sexual exploitation of a child after a nude picture of a minor was found on his cell phone. The Great Bend Tribune reports that 55-year-old Todd Kaiser entered the plea Thursday in Barton County District Court. Barton County Attorney Amy Mellor says authorities obtained a search warrant in June and found the nude picture. At the time, Kaiser was a physical education teacher at Eisenhower School. He also was a head cross country coach, winter weights coach, track head coach and driver's education teacher for the Great Bend district. He had worked for the school system since 1987. Sentencing is set for June 23.
Twins Beat Royals 9-1, for Second Win of Season
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) —The Minnesota Twins scored 6 runs in the 7th inning Wednesday leading to to a 9-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Twins' starting pitcher Hector Santiago (1-0) gave up one run and four hits and struck out four in five innings for the Twins. After starting last season 0-9 to set the stage for a miserable 103-loss season, the Twins are 2-0 for the first time since 2007. The Royals' starter Ian Kennedy (0-1) gave up three runs and three hits with five strikeouts and five walks in five innings. Paulo Orlando drove in the lone run for the Royals, who walked nine Twins batters on the day. Kansas City will try to avoid a series sweep as they play the Twins again this afternoon in Minneapolis. The Royals then travel to Houston for a weekend series versus the Astros then they return to Kauffman Stadium for the season's home opener against the Oakland A's on Monday.
Sophomore Forward Carlton Bragg Jr to Transfer from KU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. is transferring from the University of Kansas, ending a rocky tenure with the Jayhawks marked by legal trouble off the court and underwhelming play. The school said Thursday that the former five-star prospect from Cleveland had decided to leave the program. Bragg did not say where he intends to transfer. Bragg was briefly suspended this past season when he was accused of pushing a woman down a flight of stairs, though video evidence showed that he was acting in self-defense. He was suspended again when drug paraphernalia was uncovered in the program's dormitory during an unconnected investigation. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds this season, and he did not play in the Jayhawks' loss to Oregon in the Midwest Regional finals in the NCAA Tournament.