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Headlines for Thursday, March 23, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Lawmakers Closer to Approving Medicaid Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are moving closer to approving an expansion of the state's Medicaid program to thousands of non-disabled adults, though the action could prove largely symbolic.  The state Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee endorsed a bill today (THUR) that would expand Medicaid's health insurance coverage to as many as 180,000 adults. The committee's voice vote advanced the bill to the full Senate for debate.  That's expected next week.  The House approved the measure last month.  But Republican Governor Sam Brownback opposes expanding Medicaid as encouraged by the federal health care overhaul of 2010. Republicans in Congress expect to repeal the law and a House GOP proposal includes a provision that would block the Medicaid expansion in Kansas.  Supporters of the measure said they can't predict what will happen in Congress.


Kansas-Based JobLink Hack Threatens Identity Security of Thousands 

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Officials say more than 200,000 people have been put at risk of identity theft following a breach of a Delaware Labor Department employment database. A spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Labor said Wednesday that the attack occurred after a hacker created a job-seeker account in the Delaware JobLink database and then exploited a vulnerability in the system. The database is managed by the Topeka-based company, America's Job Link Alliance, which also operates jobs software for Kansas and eight other states. Company officials say some records in those states may also have been compromised. The vulnerability has since been fixed, but officials believe personal information from about 200,000 accounts was potentially stolen. 


Kansas City Man Accused of Causing Crash that Killed His 2 Sons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, man is accused of causing a car crash that killed his two young sons.  Jackson County prosecutors have charged 41-year-old Brian Keith Moyer with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He's also charged with leaving an accident scene, driving with a suspended license and child endangerment.  The charges relate to the crash last Friday that killed 10-year-old Brian Moyer Jr. and 6-year-old Dustin Moyer.  Witnesses say the car went through a stop sign, hit a wooden utility pole and flipped before breaking through a chain-link fence.  The elder Moyer and a female passenger were injured.  Online court records don't show if Brian Keith Moyer has an attorney.


Kansas City Man Charged with Killing 2 After Rap Battle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities say a Kansas City man who was naked when he was arrested has been charged with fatally shooting two people and wounding a third after a rap battle erupted inside a minivan. Thirty-year-old Robert Townsend is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 33-year-old Marquis Clark and 37-year-old Shakeisha Urassa. He also is charged with first-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action. After Monday's shooting, the surviving gunshot victim walked into a hotel and collapsed. Court records say he told police that Townsend started shooting after an argument about rap and that ``everyone was dead.'' Townsend told investigators he heard shots before opening fire, but investigators found no evidence to support his claim.


Former Emporia Driving Instructor Sentenced to Probation

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ A former Kansas driving school instructor has been sentenced to three years of probation for having a 16-year-old student drive to a country road and inappropriately touching her. The Emporia Gazette reports that Robert Jones, of Emporia, also was ordered to register as a sex offender and repay the victim's family for the driving classes when he was sentenced yesterday (WED) for sexual battery. He faces a 12-month jail sentence if he violates the probation terms. The victim's mother said her daughter wanted to die after the August incident and was hospitalized after taking two handfuls of Tylenol. She says her daughter is in counseling. Jones said he was ``deeply sorry'' and that he "messed up on a lot of things.'' He was the director of the since-closed UDrive Kansas driving school.

Kansas Amusement Ride Bill Likely to Change Before Passage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are pushing to ramp up amusement ride inspection requirements after a boy was killed on a water slide last year in Kansas City, Kansas. But the bill first could face amendments.  The House Federal and State Affairs Committee heard a bill Thursday that would require amusement rides be inspected by a qualified outside inspector.  The move comes months after Representative Scott Schwab's son, Caleb, was killed last August on the Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn. Schwab didn't speak at the hearing and wouldn't comment afterward.  Kansas currently allows self-inspections, and the slide passed those.  Lawmakers and industry members support increasing oversight, but the committee could consider the industry's request that people with ride safety certifications be able to inspect rides.  
The committee will hear more testimony Friday.


Kansas Budget Problems Complicate Plans to Shore-Up State Pension System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are trying to avoid the kind funding moves with public employee pensions that previously clouded the retirement system's long-term financial health. But lawmakers are wrestling with the state's serious budget problems and are not sure whether the state could afford its full, annual commitments. Governor Sam Brownback has proposed freezing annual pension contributions at 2016 levels to help erase projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019.  The Senate budget committee has added a total of $330 million to its proposed budgets for the two fiscal years beginning in July 1 to keep contributions where they're supposed to be. Its House counterpart voted Wednesday to put off a decision. The annual contributions were set to increase to bolster the pension system's health.


Kansas Lawmakers Embrace Old Concepts in New School Formula

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators are moving toward distributing state dollars to public schools through a complicated per-student formula much like one they discarded two years ago. A special House committee outlined an education funding plan Tuesday that uses basic concepts from the state's previous funding formula. The panel plans to have hearings today (THUR) and Friday. The Kansas Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to enact a school funding law by June 30 after ruling that the state isn't spending enough on its public schools. Republican legislators in 2015 replaced the old formula with a system of ``block grants'' for school districts. The committee's proposal would set a funding amount for each student, then add extra resources for students with special needs. School districts would be required to impose local property taxes to help finance their operations. 


Kansas Governor Signs Sales Tax Break After Wildfires

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmer and ranchers are getting a sales tax break to rebuild fences after wildfires burned more than 1,000 square miles in the state.  Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill that would allow people to buy supplies to rebuild their fences without paying sales tax. The Legislature passed the measure unanimously.  Brownback says the tax break doesn't make up what farmers and ranchers lost but it could help ease the recovery. Lawmakers gave a similar tax break last year after a wildfire caused damage in two counties. Brownback also declared a state of emergency March 5 and signed an executive order to help bring in relief supplies.


Kansas Woman Found Mentally Unfit for Murder Trial

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A 50-year-old woman accused of killing her estranged husband in Leavenworth has been found mentally unfit to stand trial. The Leavenworth Times reports that a judge made that ruling after Barbara Frantz of Kansas City, Kansas, underwent mental competency testing. She'll be sent to the Larned State Security Hospital for treatment, and her proceedings will be suspended until a judge concludes her mental fitness for trial has been restored. Frantz is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 54-year-old Gary Frantz.  Police say Gary Frantz was shot several times January 27 at a Leavenworth parking lot. Barbara Frantz was arrested hours later in Burlingame.  Police have said the case involved domestic violence but did not offer further details.


Top-Seeded Kansas Takes on 4-Seeded Purdue in Sweet 16 Match-Up in Kansas City

As March Madness marches along, the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks are back in action tonight (THUR) in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.  KU takes on the 4th-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in a Sweet 16 match-up in Kansas City.  Tip-off is expected around 8:39 pm.  The Jayhawks ran roughshod through UC Davis and Michigan State to reach the round of 16.  The Jayhawks are 2-1 against Purdue while playing in the NCAA tournament.


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