Kansas GOP Representative Lynn Jenkins to Retire After 5 Terms
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins says she will retire from Congress when her current term expires in two years. The 53-year-old Jenkins is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. That panel will be in the middle of this year's GOP effort to recast former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and revamp the federal tax code. She announced her decision Wednesday on her campaign's Facebook page. She said she will not seek any office in 2018. That surprised some Republicans in the state who anticipated she might run for governor. Jenkins is serving her fifth House term. She said she will seek private sector opportunities.
Kansas Congresswoman Jenkins Creates Political Shakeup
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Representative Lynn Jenkins's announcement that she has no plans to seek office in two years shakes up the Republican gubernatorial race in which she had been expected to run. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas Republican Party executive director Clay Barker says Jenkins's decision to return to the private sector when her term ends came as somewhat of a surprise. Barker says the decision could set up wide-open primaries up and down the ballot in 2018. Although no one has made any announcement, names mentioned on the Republican side, either for governor or Congress, have included Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. If either of those opt to run for another office, that would set up open primaries for those seats.
Kansas Lawmaker Pursuing Transgender Bathroom Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker has introduced a bill to prevent transgender students in public schools from using facilities associated with their current gender identities. Republican state Representative John Whitmer of Wichita introduced the bill Thursday in the House. He argues the measure would protect students. Under the bill, schools could not allow transgender students to use bathrooms or locker rooms associated with the gender opposite of theirs at birth. The policy also would apply to overnight accommodations when student groups travel. Schools could provide "alternative facilities" for transgender students. Those who think a school has violated the policy could file complaints with the attorney general's office, which would be allowed to take the school to court. LGBT advocate Tom Witt decried the bill as giving the attorney general unfettered prosecutorial power.
In Kansas, Gun Rights Supporters Face Pushback from Campuses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — With university communities pushing back and a political shift in the Legislature, gun-rights advocates who've enjoyed a string of victories in Kansas are facing a new test of their clout. Lawmakers are considering the repeal of a law that will allow concealed guns on campuses starting in July. A state Senate committee will have a hearing Thursday on a bill that would give universities, colleges and public hospitals and clinics a permanent exemption from a 2013 law that allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons into more public buildings. The law granted the universities, colleges and hospitals a four-year exemption. The National Rifle Association says Kansas is among eight states allowing concealed weapons on campus. Gun-rights advocates still have a powerful ally in Republican Governor Sam Brownback.
Kansas Lawmaker Leaves Loaded Gun in Statehouse Room
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator has confirmed that he inadvertently left a loaded handgun under a table in a Statehouse committee room that is open to the public. Republican Representative Willie Dove, of Bonner Springs, told reporters Thursday that the incident occurred after Tuesday afternoon's meeting of the Kansas House Education Committee. A secretary found the gun minutes later. Dove says he has a concealed carry permit and that he took the gun out of his leg holster because of a swollen ankle. He says he'll start using a shoulder holster and will be more careful. Firearms are allowed in the Statehouse. Earlier this month, a New Hampshire lawmaker's loaded gun fell from her waistband at a meeting but did not go off.
Kansas Republicans to Pick 4th Congressional District Nominee February 9
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republicans are meeting February 9 to pick their nominee for the congressional seat formerly held by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The special GOP convention in the 4th Congressional District will be in Wichita at Friends University and starts at 7 pm. The choice will be made by 126 precinct committee members in the 17-county district. Governor Sam Brownback has called an April 11 special election to fill the seat. Democrats also will have a special convention to pick their nominee but have not scheduled it yet. Republicans expressing an interest in the seat include State Treasurer Ron Estes, former congressman Todd Tiahrt and Donald Trump campaign adviser Alan Cobb. The Democratic candidates are former State Treasurer Dennis McKinney, Andover police officer Charlie Walker and Wichita businesswoman Laura Lombard.
First Hearing on 2018 Farm Bill to Be February 23 in Manhattan
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts says the first hearing on the 2018 farm bill will be held in Manhattan in February. Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, is chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry. He announced Wednesday that the first hearing in the country on the farm bill will be February 23 on the Kansas State campus. In a news release, Roberts says agriculture officials want to come to Kansas to talk directly to producers. He says lawmakers need clear direction from producers on what is working and what isn't working in farm country. In December, Roberts said believes the current farm bill is too complex but he was hesitant about changing the bill too much.
Kansas Counties, Cities Go to Topeka to Object to Tax Lid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of groups representing Kansas counties and cities are arguing for the repeal or overhaul of a state-imposed property tax lid. The Hutchinson News reports that they made their case this week to lawmakers. The tax lid took effect in January and requires voters to approve property tax increases above the rate of inflation. The law contains exceptions for bond payments, spending on court judgments and other items. It is meant to limit the growth of cities and counties. But Kansas Association of Counties executive director Randall Allen notes that the oil and gas downturn has affected a lot of counties. Greg Wellbrock is the county appraiser for several southwest Kansas counties, and says he's hoping they can just ride out the storm. He described the loss as "dramatic."
Police Investigating Alleged Rape of Teen at KU Dorm
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Campus police are investigating the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl at a University of Kansas dorm housing the men's basketball team. Five members of the team are listed as witnesses on the police report. No charges have been filed and no suspects have been identified. Police say the alleged assault occurred sometime between December 17 and December 18. They say the teen was visiting friends who are residents in the building. The police report cites other possible offenses as contributing to a child's misconduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia. University officials declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Self: No Player Discipline Yet as Campus Rape Probe Continues
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self says a police investigation of an alleged rape at his team's dorm has given him no reason yet to discipline anyone as the second-ranked Jayhawks prepare to play at number 4-ranked Kentucky. Self on Thursday publicly acknowledged the investigation of the alleged sexual attack last month of a 16-year-old girl at McCarthy Hall has become a "major distraction" heading into Saturday's showdown. No charges have been filed, and police have not publicly identified any suspects. Five of Self's players are listed as witnesses on the police report. Self is deferring to police in declining to publicly discuss what any of the players have confided in him about the matter he says he learned about from the athletics department the day it was reported December 18.
Police Investigate Northeast Kansas Bank Robbery
OSAGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a bank robbery in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the robbery happened Wednesday morning at the Landmark National Bank in Osage City. The bearded suspect fled the scene in a white pickup truck with an aftermarket front bumper. Anyone with information is urged to call law enforcement.
Kansas Casino Competitors Make Final Attempt to Stop Project
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two casino developers and Cherokee County have presented legal challenges to the Kansas Supreme Court for a state-owned casino as a final attempt to stop the high-stakes project. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the state's Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board chose a $70 million Pittsburg facility called Kansas Crossing in June 2015 when considering three proposals to build a casino. Wichita entrepreneurs Brandon and Rodney Steven, along with Cherokee County commissioners, filed lawsuits in an attempt to block the casino. They appealed to the Supreme Court after a Shawnee County judge dismissed the suits. Attorneys for the Steven brothers and for Cherokee County say the gaming board sided with Kansas Crossing without properly determining why. The Stevens had also proposed a casino to the gaming board called Castle Rock further south in Cherokee County.
Kansas University President Says $15K Degree is Possible
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas university official has accepted Governor Sam Brownback's challenge to make it possible for a higher education student to receive a bachelor's degree for $15,000 or less. The Hutchinson News reports interim Fort Hays State University President Andy Tompkins says that depending on the field of study, a student can get a degree for that cost if two years are spent at a community college and two years are spent at the university. Tompkins, along with the presidents at Wichita State University and Emporia State University, spoke on the challenge to the House Higher Education Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday. Brownback says his budget "fully funds 50 student scholarships to the institution that first accomplishes the $15,000 degree."
Police Charge Kansas City Man After Apparent Road-Rage Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man has been charged with abandoning his girlfriend's body after she was apparently shot accidentally during a road-rage confrontation. Jackson County prosecutors say the abandonment and unlawful firearm possession charges against 25-year-old Eric Marquez stems from the fatal shooting of Brenda Vera. Authorities say Marquez told his brother that the shooting happened when another driver brandished a gun after a collision. Marquez told his brother he was firing at the driver when he accidentally shot Vera. The Kansas City Star reports that investigators don't know when or where the shooting happened. Vera was found dead last week inside a truck that had been stolen from Kansas City, Kansas. Marquez was gone when officers searched for him at his home and is not in custody.
Eaton to Close Hutchinson Plant, Eliminate 100 Jobs
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Eaton Hydraulics says it plans to close its plant in Hutchinson by October, eliminating 100 jobs. The Hutchinson News reports that employees were told Wednesday about plans to shut down the plant. The plant makes components for piston and gear pumps for use in mobile and industrial hydraulic applications. It primarily serves construction and agriculture markets. Eaton spokeswoman Kelly Jasko says production of components made in Hutchinson will move to Mexico. She says agricultural equipment production has declined 21 percent and construction equipment production dropped 16 percent since 2013. Jasko didn't say when the layoffs will begin. In 2006, Eaton announced plans to close the Hutchinson plant but reconsidered after local and state officials offered $3.5 million in incentives and employees took wages cuts and freezes.
For 4th Time, Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty to Clothing Theft
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman already facing sentencing for stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise has pleaded guilty to another shoplifting charge. Kelli Jo Bauer's plea Thursday to felony theft was the fourth time since 2008 she had pleaded guilty to shoplifting clothes from Kansas City-area stores. The Kansas City Star reports the 47-year-old Bauer was arrested for stealing five bras from a Lenexa Kohl's store in November, the day before she was to be sentenced for stealing more than $25,000 from stores. In that case, police recovered truckloads of clothing from her home in an exclusive Overland Park home. Bauer pleaded guilty in May to felony theft and two misdemeanor theft counts. Sentencing in both cases will be March 24. She was also convicted of theft in 2008 and 2013.
BNSF to Spend $125 Million on Kansas Rail Projects
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ BNSF Railway Company's capital expenses plan for 2017 includes spending $125 million in Kansas, most on lines also used by Amtrak's Southwest Chief route. BNSF spokesman Andy Williams says upgrades in Kansas include replacing railroad ties, putting in some new rails and adding ballast. The renovations will include tracks from Emporia east to Topeka and west to Newton and Garden City. The Hutchinson News reports those lines are used by Amtrak for the Southwest Chief. The future of the Chicago to Los Angeles passenger train had been uncertain for years because the tracks had deteriorated. Amtrak CEO William Boardman said the route was saved after several grants repaired lines in other states.
27 Students Have Minor Injuries in Wichita School Bus Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say 27 children suffered minor injuries and one was taken to a hospital for treatment after two school buses collided. Police Sergeant Kelly O'Brien says about 60 students were aboard the buses Thursday morning when one hit the other from behind as they slowed for traffic. Further details on the student taken to the hospital were not immediately released. The students were third- and fifth-graders from L'Ouverture Elementary school. They were driving back to school from a symphony concert when the accident occurred. Other buses were sent to the scene to pick up the students and parents were asked to go to the school to be reunited with their children.
Kansas Seeks Citizenship Proof from Longtime Voter
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney David Morantz has turned to Twitter to raise the public alarm after getting a notice from Johnson County election officials telling him he needed to submit proof of citizenship to register to vote. He tweeted a copy of it, asking "What's up with this," and noting he has been a registered Kansas voter since 2002. The county election office tweeted back Thursday telling him to disregard the letter, saying it was mailed in error. Deputy Election Commissioner Debbie Tyrrel says it was a data-entry error that affected only Morantz. Morantz says he has real concerns about what he calls "anti-voter laws," adding he wanted to alert others who got similar letters. The county has been sending out notices to people telling them to submit citizenship documents to complete registrations.
3-Year-Old Struck, Killed in Wichita Gas Station Parking Lot
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old boy has been killed after darting into the path of a pickup truck in a gas station parking lot. The Wichita Eagle reports that the boy's family stopped for gas Wednesday night in Wichita. Wichita police Lieutenant Dennis Wilson says the boy's father walked into the store after pulling up to the gas pumps. The boy was struck when he ran from the family minivan and toward the store. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Monkey Dies After Getting Loose on Wichita State Campus
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A diaper-clad monkey that got loose on the Wichita State University campus has died. University spokesman Joe Kleinsasser says the marmoset monkey was found unresponsive Wednesday morning outside Eck Stadium, one day after she apparently escaped from a student's car. The Wichita Eagle reports that the monkey was rushed to a veterinarian but didn't survive. Kleinsasser says it's not known whether exposure played a role. The temperature fell below freezing Tuesday night in Wichita. Kleinsasser says the monkey, named Beba, apparently stayed in a student's car while he was in class. Beba's owner previously told the student newspaper, called the Sunflower, that he bottle fed Beba after acquiring her about two years ago in Florida. He said he took her with him to greet international students coming off planes.
KU, K-State Women's Basketball Teams Lose
STILLWATER, Okla. - The University of Kansas women’s basketball team fell just short of its first Big 12 victory as Oklahoma State slipped by the Jayhawks for a slim 74-70 victory Wednesday night in Stillwater. KU guard Jessica Washington scored 23 of her game-high 26 points in the second half of the game, leading Kansas back from a deficit that grew as large as 18 points late in the first half. The Jayhawks (6-14, 0-9 in the Big 12) drew even with the Cowgirls (13-6, 3-5) three times in the second half but never took the lead. The Kansas State women's team also lost Wednesday night in Manhattan but by a much larger spread. Number 2 ranked Baylor slammed the 25th ranked Wildcats, 91-49. Baylor's Alexis Prince led the charge scoring a career high 25 points. Baylor (20-1, 9-0 Big 12) led 7-5 before scoring the next 21 straight points to blow the game open early in the first quarter. Karyla Middlebrook led Kansas State (15-6, 5-4) with 17 points on the night.