Kansas Governor Sees 'Anti-Incumbency Sentiment'
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's chief spokeswoman says the results of Kansas's primary election show that the state is experiencing the same "anti-incumbency sentiment" at play elsewhere in the nation. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said in a statement Wednesday that the governor looks forward to working with strong Republican majorities after the November election. Republican moderates had made the election a referendum on the state's ongoing budget problems and battles over education funding. At least 11 conservative GOP legislators lost primary races. They included Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Nickerson. Retired Hutchinson Community College President Ed Berger defeated Bruce and made the state's budget problems the focus of his successful campaign.
Top Kansas Democrat Sees Chances for Ousters
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate's top Democrat says results in Republican primary races have bolstered his belief that Democrats can defeat GOP incumbents in November. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said there are multiple general election races in which Democratic challengers should be competitive against Republican senators. Democrats will be looking to cut significantly into the GOP's 32-8 majority in the chamber. Hensley said, ``I believe that we will be able to change the makeup of the Senate dramatically.'' Six conservative Republican senators lost their seats in Tuesday's GOP primary including Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Nickerson. Even if the GOP retains a big Senate majority, the chamber will be less conservative. Hensley called the results a repudiation of Governor Sam Brownback's tax and budget policies.
Huelskamp Blames Outside PACs for Loss in Kansas 1st District
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp is calling the Kansas primary ``a wave election against conservatives.'' The Republican incumbent also blamed spending by outside super PACS for losing the GOP nomination to Roger Marshall, a political newcomer who had the backing of powerful farming and business groups. But Huelskamp noted in a conference call with reporters that 11 conservatives also lost their seats in the state Legislature during Tuesday's primary, calling that a shocking number and saying conservatives had a tough night. He says conservatives did poorly all across the state, adding that the poor economy and the bad poll ratings of the state's current governor would have dragged down any conservative.
Dr. Roger Marshall Loaned Own Campaign $80,000 in Final Days of Kansas Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Finance records show that challenger Roger Marshall loaned his campaign an additional $80,000 only four days before the Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas. The transaction last week put Marshall's total personal loans to his campaign at $364,000 going into the final days before Tuesday's primary. Marshall is a Great Bend obstetrician who unseated U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp in the primary. The incumbent's reports show no personal loans to his campaign. Huelskamp's reports show that he raised more than $805,000 in contributions, compared with $732,000 for Marshall outside his personal loans. Campaign finance reports also show that independent groups also spent more than $2.8 million, favoring Marshall by a significant margin.
Kansas Statistician Runs Exit Poll at Wichita Voting Station
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A mathematician whose legal effort to audit voting machine results was rebuffed in court surveyed primary voters outside a Wichita polling station Tuesday to see if the official count falls within her survey's calculated margin of error. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson set up the anonymous Citizens Exit Poll to validate the accuracy of voting machines used at a polling station in the state's primary elections. Clarkson went to court to get access to the paper audit trails from voting machines in 2014 after she found what she called inexplicable discrepancies between results of large and small voting stations. A district court ruled Clarkson couldn't have access to those paper trails. Clarkson then decided to create her own paper trail with an exit poll. Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says she welcomed the exit poll.
County: Grand Jury Petition on Voter Registrations Valid
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A county official says enough signatures were gathered to allow a grand jury to criminally investigate Secretary of State Kris Kobach's handling of Kansas's online voter registration system. But even Kobach's harshest critics say they've seen no evidence he committed a crime. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said Thursday that the petition has more than the required number of verified signatures. The next step is a judge's review. Kobach didn't immediately return messages for comment. The petition seeks an investigation into whether his office committed election fraud and voter suppression by deleting registration data. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing Kobach over voting rights issues, says it's seen no evidence of criminal conduct. Under a rarely used Kansas law, grand juries can be assembled by citizen petitions.
Kansas School Board Approves $7.2M in Extra Aid to Districts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education has approved a total of $7.2 million in additional state aid to 31 public school districts. But it's not clear how much money the districts actually will receive after the board's action Thursday. Legislators financed the "extraordinary needs" aid with proceeds from selling off an economic development agency's assets. The sale must generate $38 million for districts to get all their funds, and state officials aren't sure it's possible. Thirty-four districts applied for a total of $8.4 million. All but three received some funds. The largest allocations were nearly $849,000 for the Spring Hill district in Johnson County to help it deal with increased numbers of students, and nearly $687,000 for the Wichita district to help it deal with an increase in refugee students.
Lawmakers Question KanCare Contractor About Big Backlog
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers were critical of the service provided by a contractor for the state's Medicaid program during a tour of a program clearinghouse in Topeka. An official with the contractor, Maximus, said the company is determined to improve service, particularly a backlog of applications. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that members of a KanCare oversight committee toured the clearinghouse Thursday, as part of a legislative effort to examine problems with the privatized Medicaid program in Kansas. Committee members said their constituents complain that it takes too long for their applications to be processed, the documents are often lost and Maximus doesn't communicate with them. A Maximus general manager, Ilene Baylinson, told lawmakers the company hired 70 new people this year to reduce the backlog and plans to do more.
Wichita Police Bureaus to Hold More Neighborhood Gatherings
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are planning more cookouts with the public in August. Police Sergeant Nikki Woodrow says the patrol west and south bureaus plan "Kids, Cops and Cars" cookouts at city parks on August 13. The Wichita Eagle reports that similar events are planned later in August at the two other patrol bureaus but specifics aren't set. Woodrow says the events are a way for the public to meet and interact with police in a relaxed setting. The gatherings come after Wichita received national attention for holding a First Steps Community Cookout last month shortly after police officers were shot and killed in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Police Chief Gordon Ramsey and Wichita activists agreed to replace a protest with a cookout to promote dialogue. Nearly 2,000 people attended.
Judge Grants Class Action Status to Jail Postcards Lawsuit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has granted class action status to a lawsuit filed against the Wilson County sheriff over his jail's policy of allowing inmates to receive and send only postcards in the mail. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Thursday granted the request for class certification. The class would cover at least 40 people, the average daily inmate population at the southeast Kansas jail. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective sued Sheriff Pete Figgins in April alleging the policy violates the free speech and due process rights of prisoners and the people who write to them. Figgins has defended the policy saying some people use coded language or plant a letter in sealed envelopes meant for someone whom they're not supposed to contact.
Kansas Endowment Takes in $1.66 Billion in Fundraising Campaign
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Endowment Association says it raised more than $1.6 billion in its five-year fundraising campaign. The endowment said this week it raised $1.66 billion in the campaign, which ended June 30 and sought to raise $1.2 billion. The largest single gift, $58 million, came from late alumni Al and Lila Self, but most of the donations were from individuals donating $500 or less. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the endowment says the money will help fund several new buildings or campus renovations, as well as new professorships and 735 new scholarships and fellowships. Endowment President Dale Seuferling says the focus of the new scholarships is to offset the rising cost of rising tuition.
Amtrak Chief Heralds Southwest Chief Route in Kansas
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — The head of Amtrak celebrated the salvation of Newton's passenger rail service and said there's a possibility Wichita could get passenger rail service. Joe Boardman, Amtrak's president and CEO, was in Newton on Thursday and called the Southwest Chief, which runs through Newton, a "critical link." The Southwest Chief carries about 350,000 people a year from Chicago to Los Angeles. The route was threatened in Kansas by aged track. The Wichita Eagle reports Boardman said Amtrak has invested about $40 million on area rails, which are owned by a railroad. He says Amtrak is also considering the possibility of restoring rail service from Newton through Wichita to link up with Oklahoma and Texas trains. But he says that depends on whether states and communities are willing to support it.
KU Grad Student Accused of False Visa Claims
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old former University of Kansas graduate student has been indicted on charges accusing him of making false claims on his visa application. The U.S. Attorney for Kansas said in a release that a grand jury Wednesday indicted Goran Sabah Ghafour of Lawrence on charges alleging he falsely claimed on a visa application that he served as a translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq. The office says he's charged with visa fraud and aggravated identity theft. Court document show Ghafour's accused of submitting fake letters about his service for the U.S. military when he applied for a visa while he was a graduate assistant in the university's journalism department. His lawyer didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment. The Kansas City Star reports that he graduated in May.
OSHA Proposes $105K Penalty After Missouri Worker's Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Kansas City has proposed $105,000 in penalties for a Warrensburg aluminum foundry where a worker was crushed to death. OSHA says the 57-year-old maintenance worker, who wasn't identified, died in February when a 4,000-pound machine part fell on him while he was working at Stahl Specialty Company in Warrensburg. Stahl Specialty, which is based in Kingsville, was also cited in January for a serious violation after a worker suffered an amputation injury two months earlier. OSHA said in a release Thursday it found Stahl didn't use certain machine safety procedures to prevent the February accident. OSHA cited the company for one repeated and five serious safety violations. Stahl, which can contest the OSHA penalties, didn't immediately respond to a message Thursday evening.
Woman Injured in Home Explosion, Fire in Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson fire officials say a woman was burned in an apparent explosion and fire at her home. Battalion Chief Jeremy Unruh says the firefighters found the house engulfed in flames when they arrived early Thursday. KAKE-TV reports witnesses told Unruh that someone ran into the home and helped the woman who lived there. She was taken to a Wichita hospital with burns on her face, chest and arms. Her condition was not released. Unruh says the cause of the fire is under investigation. The home is considered a total loss.
Alaska Airlines to Fly to Seattle, Indianapolis from Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Alaska Airlines plans to start flights between Wichita and Seattle next spring. The airline announced Wednesday that the first non-stop flight would be April 13. The airline will use 76-seat Embraer E175 regional jets on the Wichita-Seattle route. Those airplanes will be operated by SkyWest Airlines. Alaska Airlines also announced Wednesday that it plans a new non-stop service from Wichita to Indianapolis beginning May 11. The Wichita Eagle reports Alaska Airlines, based in Seattle, has been aggressively expanding it service to new cities and now flies to more than 110 cities with an average of 970 daily flights in the U.S. It also flies to Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico. The airline also is in the process of acquiring smaller carrier Virgin America.
Cargill Picks Architect for New Wichita Headquarters
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Agribusiness giant Cargill has chosen an architect for a new Wichita facility to house its protein operations. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas City-based HOK has been selected. Wichita is home to the company's beef business and its turkey and cooked meat business, which includes deli meats. Its processed-protein services, such as its North American egg business and food distribution, also are located in Wichita, where Cargill employs about 900 workers. Cargill spokesman Mike Martin says multiple sites within the city limits are being considered.
3 Kansas Deputies Cleared in Stun-Gun Death
WAKARUSA, Kan. (AP) — Investigators have cleared three Kansas sheriff's deputies in connection with the 2015 death of a man who collapsed after the deputies shocked him with stun guns during a domestic dispute. Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones has released the findings of the probe by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Osage County Sheriff's Office in the death of 47-year-old Kenneth Schick. Authorities have said deputies who responded to a reported domestic dispute in October of last year used stun guns and pepper spray to gain control of Schick. Schick later died at a Topeka hospital. The report says the investigation of the confrontation found no credible evidence the deputies used unreasonable force on Schick. The report also says Schick placed two deputies in potentially life-threatening situations.
Mistrial Declared in Haskell Rape Trial
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A mistrial has been declared in the trial of a former Haskell Indian Nations University student accused of rape. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a Douglas County jury couldn't reach a verdict in the case on Wednesday. District Court Judge Paula Martin declared a mistrial. It's the second such result in the reported rape of a Haskell Indian Nations University student. A 21-year-old man was accused with another man of raping a 19-year-old freshman in a university dorm last November. Both men were expelled from Haskell. The other suspect's trial also ended without a unanimous verdict.
Shots Fired into Unoccupied Kansas Sheriff's Patrol Car
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City police say several shots were fired into an unoccupied patrol car belonging to the Wyandotte County Sheriff's office. The sheriff's department says the patrol car was parked in an off-duty deputy's driveway in Kansas City, Kansas, when the shots were fired Wednesday. No one was injured in the incident. The Kansas City Star reports that someone who lives nearby called authorities to report hearing gunfire. The sheriff's office says it appears about a half dozen shots were fired into the car. Kansas City, Kansas police are investigating.
Student Sues over Sexual Battery at Wichita High School
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A student who was sexually battered in the bathroom of a Wichita high school is suing the principal and school board for negligence. The Wichita Eagle reports that the suit filed in Sedgwick County District Court cites unsafe security practices at Wichita East High School, where the student was assaulted in September. Twenty-nine-year-old Guy Harris is awaiting sentencing for sexual battery after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor last month. Police have said Harris groped an 18-year-old female student after entering the school and following her into the restroom while classes were in session. District spokeswoman Wendy Johnson said in an email that the district is "committed to the safety of all Wichita Public Schools students and staff."
Sedgwick County Deputy Accused of Using Excessive Force
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy is under investigation amid allegations that used excessive force against an inmate. Sheriff Jeff Easter said Wednesday the deputy faces accusations of excessive force in his handling of an inmate in the Sumner County Jail in Wellington. Easter says the incident is alleged to have occurred when prisoners were being loaded for transport to Wichita. Sumner County Sheriff Darren Chambers said that jail staff saw what they felt was ``excessive force.'' The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the inmate wasn't injured. The case is being investigated by Sumner County and will be presented to the Sumner County attorney, who'll decide if charges will be filed.
Man Accused of Killing 5 in Kansas, Missouri Gets New Judge in Missouri Murder Trial
MONTGOMERY CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 40-year-old man accused of killing a Missouri man and four Kansas residents earlier this year will get a new judge in his Missouri trial. Pablo Serrano-Vitorino has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the March 8 shooting death of Randy Nordman in New Florence. Missouri prosecutors have announced plans to seek the death penalty in the case. Serrano-Vitorino also is charged in Kansas with killing a Kansas City, Kansas, neighbor and three other men at the neighbor's home on March 7. At a hearing Wednesday, a Montgomery County judge granted Serrano-Vitorino's request for a new judge. Serrano-Vitorino also asked for a change of venue, but that request will be taken up by the new judge, who has not been assigned yet.
No Injuries in Kansas City Police Copter Emergency Landing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri police say no one was injured when a police helicopter made an emergency landing in the middle of Independence Avenue in the city’s Northeast neighborhood Wednesday night. The Kansas City Star reports that a police spokeswoman said the pilots landed the helicopter upright just before 8:30 p.m. after it experienced a mechanical problem. A tow truck carried the helicopter away from the scene shortly after 11 p.m.
Tampa Bay Rays Rout Royals, 12-0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Rays' Jake Odorizzi had his third consecutive scoreless start and Steven Souza Jr. homered for the first time in two months as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 12-0 Wednesday night. Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier also homered for the Rays, who are 7-25 against the Royals since the start of the 2012 season. Odorizzi (6-5) allowed two singles, walked two and had six strikeouts in six innings. After Evan Longoria had a sacrifice fly, Souza put the Rays up 4-0 on his three-run shot off Edinson Volquez (8-10) in the first. Souza had gone 109 at-bats without a homer since June 4.