GOP Leader Pushing for Change in Kansas Constitution on Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Republican legislator is drafting a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent Kansas courts from shutting down public schools in lawsuits over education funding. Republican Governor Sam Brownback has called a special session for lawmakers to address a Kansas Supreme Court decision that said the state's education funding system is unfair to poor schools. The court said schools will be unable to reopen after June 30, if lawmakers don't act. The Kansas Senate's vice president, Senator Jeff King, outlined his proposed amendment today (THUR) and said he plans to have the Senate Judiciary Committee review it next week. The Republican chairs the committee, which will meet with its House counterpart before the special session starts June 23. If lawmakers approve King's proposed amendment, it would go on the ballot in
Kansas Disability Rights Advocates Fear Loss of Services
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback has announced a special session for legislators to discuss school funding beginning on June 23, but some GOP legislators say they're unsure what the courts will accept. The state Supreme Court ruled last month that the Legislature failed to adequately fund the state's poor public schools and gave the lawmakers until June 30 to find a solution, otherwise schools could close. Among the concerns about school closures, some educators worry that special education students will not receive summer services. Public schools are federally mandated to provide free and appropriate special education to children with disabilities. The state could risk losing about $105 million in federal funding if schools close on July 1 and special education students lose summer programs.
Kansas Governor Sets Date for Special Session; Backs $38 Million Fix for Public Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is embracing a $38 million increase in state funding for Kansas school districts ahead of a special session of the Legislature. Brownback issued a proclamation Wednesday calling lawmakers back to the Statehouse on June 23 to respond to last month's state Supreme Court order on education funding. He said he's looking for legislators to meet a single day to fashion a plan for providing the extra money to poor districts. But he also said he's willing to consider a variety of ways to raise the funds that include shifting it from other parts of the Legislature's school funding proposal. He said he's willing to consider education policy proposals to help gain support for the additional aid for poor districts. But, Brownback says there will be no discussion of raising taxes to come up with the funding. #MyKPR's public affairs show, KPR Presents (Sunday at 8pm) will provide a preview of the upcoming special session this weekend. Here, take a sneak listen to Kansas Statehouse reporters Stephen Koranda, Bryan Lowry and Peter Hancock as they discuss what's likely to happen.
Kansas Legislature's Special Session Could Cost at Least $43,000 Per Day
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state official says the Kansas Legislature's special session on education funding will cost at least $43,000 a day. Legislative Administrative Services Director Thomas Day said Wednesday that lawmakers' salaries and expense payments will be most of the cost. He said the Legislature would operate with a skeleton staff. Governor Sam Brownback called a special session that will begin June 23 to respond to a state Supreme Court order. Last month, the court rejected changes in school finance laws made earlier this year. It warned that schools will not be able to open after June 30 unless legislators make the education funding system more equitable for poor districts. When lawmakers are in session, they receive $88.66 in salary and $140 for expenses each day, for a total of $228.66.
Fort Riley Soldier Shot in Apartment; Suspect Arrested
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City police say a 25-year-old Fort Riley soldier was shot during a disturbance at an apartment. Officers called to an apartment early this (THUR) morning found evidence a shooting had occurred. The victim then called officers to report he had been involved in the shooting. The solider was flown to a Topeka hospital, where he underwent surgery. A 32-year-old Junction City man was arrested and jailed facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated burglary. He is being held on no bond pending his first appearance in the Geary County District Court.
Retired Military Officer Dis-invited from Prayer Breakfast
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A controversy is brewing at Fort Riley after a highly decorated retired officer was disinvited from a prayer breakfast because of complaints about his outspoken Christian conservative views. Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin was scheduled to speak Monday at the northeast Kansas military base as part of the 1st Infantry Division's "Victory Week." Boykin spent 36 years in the Army and led the elite Delta Force in attempts to recover hostages in Iran, apprehend Manuel Noriega and track drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. But he also has drawn attention for claiming Islam doesn't deserve First Amendment protection and that President Obama subliminally supports al-Qaeda. Boykin was disinvited from the prayer breakfast after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation protested his appearance. The event has been rescheduled
Expert: Hesston Workplace Shooter Had Very High Level of Meth and Alcohol
HESSTON, Kansas (AP) - The man who killed three people before Hesston, Kansas, police fatally shot him in February is estimated to have had more than 135 times the standard dose of methamphetamine in his system. The Wichita Eagle reports that Cedric L. Ford also had three times the legal limit of alcohol for driving in his system. An autopsy shows Ford died from gunshot wounds after the shooting spree that started along a highway and ended inside his workplace, Excel Industries. Forensic expert Jonathan Lipman says methamphetamine tends to have a strong, psychotic impact on people who already suffer from mood disorders. Ford had been served a protection order at work hours earlier.
Wichita Police Investigating Death of 30 Egrets
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Wichita police department is investigating the deaths of about 30 egrets which were found dead in a residential area. Egrets are protected by federal law and that it's illegal to kill or injure the birds. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita police have been working on the case with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Authorities say they spent Wednesday investigating and that more information is likely to be released today (THUR). Egrets had been known to roost in a residential neighborhood north of where the dead birds were found, sometimes irritating residents.
Garden City Man Accused of Kidnapping Judge Held on $1.3M Bond
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) - A 33-year-old man accused of holding a county judge hostage is charged with terrorism and is jailed on $1.3 million bond. A criminal complaint says Jason Linn Nichols was charged Tuesday with one count of terrorism and that he could also face up to seven other counts including kidnapping and making a criminal threat. He's accused of holding Finney County Judge Wendel Wurst hostage in Wurst's Garden City home on May 31. Police say Nichols was upset over a custody case that Wurst handled. The judge was released unharmed after several hours. The Kansas attorney general's office says a terrorism conviction in Kansas carries a possible life prison sentence. Nichols first court appearance is scheduled for June 15.
Kansas City Hearing Focuses on EPA's Plan to Boost Ethanol Use
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Advocates and opponents on all sides of the ethanol and biofuels debate are getting the chance to weigh in on a federal agency's proposal to boost the amount of renewable fuels blended into gasoline. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding a hearing today (THUR) in Kansas City, Missouri. The agency announced a new initiative last month to boost output of biofuels as well as biomass-based diesel levels for 2017 and 2018. The EPA's final rule is expected by the end of the year. Next year's target of 18.8 billion gallons of renewable fuels, mostly ethanol, is less than the 24-billion-gallon threshold set in a 2007 renewable fuels law. Ethanol advocates in farming states want the target raised. Oil companies counter that the market, not the government, should determine how much ethanol is blended into gas.
Saline County Investigates High Lead Levels in 30 children
SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas health officials say they are investigating after 30 Saline County children were found to have high levels of lead in their blood. Saline County Health Department Director Jason Tiller says routine blood testing discovered the high lead levels between January 2015 and March 2016. He says investigators have not found an obvious cause or connection between the cases. The Salina Journal reports that the state health department is planning a public hearing June 21 to discuss the investigation. Health officials say no obvious symptoms indicate lead poisoning and there is no way to correct lead's health effects.
Spirit Aerosystems CEO Lawson to Retire in July
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Spirit AeroSystems has announced that the aviation company's CEO is retiring next month. Larry Lawson, president and CEO of Wichita-based Spirit, plans to retire July 31. Lawson has been with Spirit since 2013. The Wichita Eagle reports that Tom Gentile, Spirit's chief operating officer, will replace Lawson. Spirit said in a release that Gentile joined Spirit earlier this year after holding leadership positions at GE. A Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday showed Lawson will be retained as a consultant to the company for two years at an annual salary of $150,000 and will receive separation payments totaling $1.3 million and a cash award of $1.1 million for 2016. Spirit employs about 14,800 people worldwide and in 2015 recorded $789 million in net income on revenue of $6.6 billion.
Measure to Improve Kansas City's Jazz District Stalls
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A proposal to invest up to $27 million to improve Kansas City's 18th and Vine jazz district stalled after it didn't get sufficient support from a city council committee. After a four-hour debate Wednesday, an attempt to send the measure out of committee failed on a 4-4 vote. Supporters say the public funds would help the historic district become a national destination. But critics wanted more assurance that the money would be well spent. The Kansas City Star reports that supporters sought $27 million in bond funding over three years for a dozen key projects, including major investments in streetscape and a gateway plaza to connect 18th and Vine with the Crossroads Arts District and downtown. The vote means the proposal will stay in committee for further discussion the future.
Latest Kansas Scenic Byway Designated in Northwest Kansas
The Kansas Department of Transportation has announced that the Kansas Byways Program has grown by one - with the addition of the newly- designated Land and Sky Scenic Byway in northwest Kansas. Land and Sky is the 12th Kansas byway to receive official designation from KDOT. The byway covers parts of Wallace, Sherman and Cheyenne counties. “We are excited to extend the byway program into northwest Kansas with the Land and Sky Scenic Byway,” said Kansas Transportation Secretary and Director of the Kansas Turnpike Mike King. The 88-mile route on K-27 begins in Wallace County in Sharon Springs, runs north through Goodland in Sherman County, and ends in Cheyenne County north of St. Francis at the Kansas/Nebraska border. The byway is also the only one in the state that focuses on agriculture and features thousands of acres of rotating crops, livestock and wildlife along the route. “With its unique land formations and strong agricultural roots, we feel the Land and Sky Scenic Byway can help tell the story of agriculture to an increasingly urbanized nation,” Secretary King said. “Those driving along the byway will be able to see where some of their food is grown and maybe better understand the work of Kansas farmers and ranchers.” Want to see and read more? Click here.
Orioles Shut Out Royals, 4-0, Win Series
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Kansas City Royals extended their losing skid to seven games with a 4-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles last (WED) night. The Orioles complete their first three-game sweep of Kansas City since May 2011..Baltimore has now won four straight games and seven of its last eight. Baltimore's Chris Tillman (8-1) pitched effectively into the eighth inning to earn his seventh consecutive win, The right-hander is unbeaten in 10 starts since April 14. The Orioles took control with a four-run fifth inning against the Royals' Edinson Volquez (5-6). The Royals take a day off before starting a three game series versus the White Sox in Chicago Friday night.