Rubio Adds 2 Additional Events in Kansas Before Caucuses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is planning two additional rallies Friday in Kansas ahead of the state's presidential caucuses. Rubio's campaign confirmed Thursday that it will have a Friday morning event in Topeka and a Friday evening event in Overland Park. They'll sandwich an afternoon rally in Wichita previously announced by the Florida senator's campaign. The event in Topeka starts at 10:15 am at the Topeka Regional Airport south of town. The Wichita event is at 1:45 pm at Jabara Airport. The Overland Park event is scheduled for 6:30 pm at the Marriott hotel and convention center. GOP rival and Texas Senator Ted Cruz had a campaign stop Wednesday evening in Olathe and a rally at nearby Johnson County Community College. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is holding a rally Thursday evening in Lawrence.
Bill Would Allow Kansas Supreme Court Justices' Impeachment
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill before a Kansas Senate committee sets out several impeachable offenses for Kansas Supreme Court justices. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from supporters and opponents of the bill Thursday. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the state constitution currently uses high crimes and misdemeanors as grounds for removal from office. The new proposal would allow impeachment of Supreme Court justices if they usurp the authority of the Legislature, or for reckless judicial conduct, personal misconduct and failure to properly supervise judicial personnel. The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Mitch Holmes, says the court has made several decisions recently that overstepped its authority, such as school funding rulings. Opponents say the proposal attacks fair and impartial courts and singles out Supreme Court justices for treatment not applied to executive and legislative branches.
Kansas House Committee OKs Bill to Oversee Refugee Resettlement
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has approved a bill addressing concerns about refugees settling in the state. The bill approved Thursday would allow local governments to seek a one-year moratorium of refugee resettlements if the community doesn't have the capacity to handle the influx. It also would create a state office for refugees and authorize Governor Sam Brownback to name a state refugee coordinator. The Wichita Eagle reports that opponents say the bill is unconstitutional, discriminatory and un-Christian. Supporters say the bill would coordinate local and state governments work with federal authorities to resettle refugees, while giving the state a way to oversee the process. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, only the federal government has authority to manage refugee resettlement.
Kansas Senate Panel Considers Family Planning Tiered System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has considered legislation to make permanent a provision that would create a tiered system for family planning funds. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bill would prioritize federal funds for family planning services, sending them to state, county and local health departments before abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. The legislation was introduced by 27 Republican senators, a majority of the Senate. All Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee have signed on as bill sponsors. The tiered system in the bill has been in place for several years. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has blamed it for the closure of Ellis and Ford County clinics. The committee didn't take action on the legislation Wednesday.
Kansas Tax Committee Considers Financial Donation Option for Local Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill has been proposed in the Kansas Legislature that would allow taxpayers to donate money to local schools. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a House tax committee held a hearing about the proposed bill Wednesday. If passed, the bill would place options for $1, $5, $10 and empty spaces for taxpayers to write in their donation of choice and unified school district of choice on state individual income tax returns. State Representative Joe Seiwert, who created the bill, said that his constituents often ask how they can make small donations to their school district. Renwick USD 267 Superintendent Tracy Bourne said at the hearing that the bill does not resolve concerns with the overall issues of school funding, but does provide some potential new revenue sources. The committee took no action on the bill on Wednesday.
Bill Would Give State Panel Authority over Kansas Bioscience Authority Sale
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state panel would have the power to sell the assets of a privatization-bound state economic development agency under a bill discussed in a Kansas Senate committee. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Bioscience Authority's board made the decision to become a private institution in December after its funding was cut and withheld by legislators. The measuring giving the State Finance Council authority to sell the authority's property and assets was discussed Wednesday in the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee. No action was taken. Governor Sam Brownback has already budgeted $25 million in revenue from the sale into the 2017 fiscal year budget. KBA president and CEO Kevin Lockett said approval of the measure would allow the agency to move toward "finding a long-term solution."
U.S. Will Pay Boeing $32.2 Million for Pollution at Kansas Plant
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The federal government has agreed to pay Boeing $32.25 million to settle a dispute over pollution at the company's old aircraft plant in Wichita. The proposed settlement comes in a joint consent decree filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas over past and future costs for cleaning up soil and groundwater contamination at the facility. Payment is subject to availability of funds. The agreement culminates more than two years of negotiations and represents what the parties call a "pragmatic solution" to cut costs and risks of litigation. Boeing contended in its lawsuit that the government controlled military aircraft production and waste handling through regulations, contractual requirements, military specifications and inspections. The company said the cleanup costs are necessary to address a threat to human health or the environment.
Bulk of Kansas Higher Education Cuts Coming from KU, K-State
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents says the bulk of Republican Governor Sam Brownback's higher education cuts will come from the state's two largest universities and their affiliated programs. The board released figures Wednesday showing that the University of Kansas and its Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, together will lose almost $7.2 million. Kansas State University, its veterinary school and its agricultural extension research programs will lose $4.9 million. Brownback on Tuesday imposed $17.2 million in cuts in the universities' current budgets after state tax collections in February fell nearly $54 million short of expectations. The universities must make the cuts between now and June 30. The regents said Wichita State University will lose $2.2 million; Pittsburg State, almost $1.1 million, Fort Hays State, $992,000 and Emporia State, almost $922,000.
Dean of KU School of Social Welfare Resigns
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The embattled dean of the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare is resigning to return to the faculty. Paul Smokowski says he is resigning because of declining finances for the program and his desire to do more research. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that student protesters have demanded Somokowski's resignation, citing inequities within the school affecting students of color. He said the school is working hard on social equality issues and he hopes his resignation will make that process easier. His resignation will take effect July 1 but until then he will relinquish his duties as dean to focus on special research initiatives. Stephen Kapp, social welfare professor and associate dean of academic programs, will be acting dean for the remainder of the academic year.
Kansas Sheriff's Detective May Have Falsified Information
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Shawnee County sheriff's detective may have falsified information in charging affidavits. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Shawnee County district attorney's office sent a notice to defense attorneys. The notice says the detective stated she had spoken with people with whom she hadn't actually talked and that the information was used in a charging affidavit. It wasn't immediately clear which case was tied to the allegation of misconduct. Prosecutors are required to notify defense lawyers about witnesses, including law enforcement officers, whose credibility may be in question because of misconduct. Sheriff Herman Jones said only that "an individual" has been placed on paid administrative leave, and his office is investigating. A Kansas Bureau of Investigation spokesman says the agency is looking into a matter in Jones' office.
KBI Takes over Investigation of Swim Team Assault Allegation
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is now handling the investigation of an alleged sexual assault aboard a bus carrying the Great Bend High School boys swim team in February. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said the case went to the KBI because of questions about jurisdiction. The bus drove across Saline, Ellsworth and Barton counties when the alleged assault occurred on February 3 when a swim team member reportedly assaulted a 15-year-old boy. The Hutchinson News reports a second claim of assault occurred after a team bus ride on February 6 from Manhattan to Great Bend. Ellsworth County is investigating that claim. Authorities have not discussed the alleged incidents in detail. Family members and students protested in Great Bend in February, criticizing the district's response to the reports.
Former Wichita State Official Sues University over Firing
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita State University vice president has sued the university alleging he was fired in retaliation for voicing his concerns about the handling of a rape accusation made against a basketball player. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Wade Robinson, the former vice president of student affairs, also names as a defendant Wichita State President John Bardo. It alleges violations of a Title IX, a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination. It stems from an incident involving an alleged rape of a female student in April 2013 by a men's basketball player after the Final Four NCAA tournament. No charges were filed. Wichita State's general counsel David Moses says in a statement the lawsuit's claims are without merit, and the university welcomes the opportunity to set the record straight.
2 Charged in New Year's Day Slaying
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City couple has been charged in the killing of a man and the wounding of a woman after a New Year's Day party. Twenty-nine-year-old Ramon Boyd and 19-year-old Destynie Wright were charged Wednesday with second-degree murder in the death of Sederick Jones. They're also charged with first-degree assault in the wounding of Wright's friend. Bond is set at $250,000 each. It wasn't immediately known if they had attorneys. Court records say the victims were found in a parking lot near an event hall where the party was held. Police later linked a blood-spattered vehicle to Wright. She told authorities Jones had showed up unexpectedly and tried to get her friend to leave with him. Cell phone records show Wright then urged Boyd to "come get him now!!!!!!"
Man Charged in Fatal Shooting of 26-Year-Old in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old man has been charged with fatally shooting a 26-year-old man in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that Travis Montez Johnson was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder in the killing of JaRon V. Sanders. Sanders was shot once in the head last month when an argument broke out as he stood in the street in front of his house after a party. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Other charges against Johnson include criminal possession of a firearm and a probation violation. While appearing Wednesday in Sedgwick County District Court via a video link from the jail, he answered "yes, sir" and "no, sir" in response to questions from the judge. Bond was set at $400,000. He is due back in court March 16.
Topeka Man Sentenced for Using Online Ad in Carjacking
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for luring a carjacking victim to a motel with an online advertisement and robbing a store. The U.S. attorney's office says 26-year-old Wesley Lavern Harris was sentenced Wednesday for carjacking and robbery. He admitted to leaving the victim in the Topeka motel's bathtub after taking the man's keys, money and car. Harris and others had lured the victim to the motel in June by advertising sexual services online. Harris also admitted that the next day, he robbed a Lawrence store and threatened to kill an employee.
Victims of Sewage Trench Collapse Identified as 2 Hays Men
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have released the names of two workers who died in a sewage trench collapse in Hays. The city said that sewer line repairs were taking place in the area at the time of Tuesday's trench collapse. The victims have been identified as 44-year-old Aaron Pfannenstiel and 66-year-old James "Jake" Jacobs, both of Hays. Another worker was injured in the collapse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
Kansas Couple Says Son's Ashes Stolen from Albuquerque Motel Lot
ALBQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Kansas couple who recently lost a son to a California hiking accident says their son's ashes were stolen from an Albuquerque motel parking lot. KRQE-TV reports that Steven and Kathy Hunt reported the theft on Monday. They had stopped to rest at a Hampton Inn in Albuquerque after picking up their son's remains in California. That's when they say someone broke into their son's car and stole the ashes. The car was attached to a moving truck. Authorities say the couple's 32-year-old son, Kyle, was killed in a hiking accident two weeks ago. The couple was on a 1,500 mile trip back to their small hometown in Wamego, Kansas. Albuquerque police are investigating the case.
Fort Riley Soldier Killed in Wrong-Way Crash on I-70
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A woman who was killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 70 has been identified as a Fort Riley soldier. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the military installation identified the victim Tuesday as Pfc. Coral Lynn Clark. The 24-year-old was a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist from Fort Worth, Texas. Clark joined the Army in March 2014. She was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Riley. The Kansas Highway Patrol says she was riding in a Honda Civic on Sunday when a Kia Sorento that was headed in the wrong direction collided head-on with the Honda. Clark died at a hospital from her injuries. Both drivers also were injured. The crash shut down the interstate for several hours.
Quapaw Tribe Seeks Dismissal of Gaming Suit Against Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for the Quapaw tribe has agreed in federal court documents that the tribe's gambling lawsuit against Kansas should be dismissed. The tribe, which operates Downstream Casino Resort in Oklahoma, sued Kansas in January, asking that a judge order the state to negotiate an agreement with the tribe within 60 days that would allow it to offer gaming in Kansas. The lawsuit could still pave the way for the tribe to ask the secretary of the Department of the Interior to issue guidelines for casino gaming on the Kansas side of Downstream's property. Currently, the Kansas side of the resort's property is used for parking lots. A spokesman for Kansas Attorney General's office says it will continue to oppose gaming on the land.
Kansas Senate Bill Seeks Municipalities' Traffic Ticket Revenues
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee is considering a bill that would require municipalities to give the state more of the money they receive from traffic tickets. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the measure would require cities to cough up any traffic ticket proceeds that exceed 10 percent of their annual revenues. The bill before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday also would require municipal courts to hand over 70 percent of all revenue they collect from traffic violations on highways. All of the money from the municipalities would go into the state's general fund. If a city refused to follow the new law, its municipal court would be temporarily shut down. A long list of opponents of the bill waited to testify Wednesday, while no one spoke in favor.
Fed Survey Finds Weaker Exports Hurting Manufacturers; Kansas City Regional Economy Flat
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says the economy was expanding in most of the country in January and February, helped by gains in consumer spending and home sales. But there were also rising headwinds from falling oil prices and a strong dollar that held back some sectors. The Fed's latest survey of business conditions in its 12 regions found moderate gains in most regions. Two areas — New York and Kansas City — described activity as flat. Kansas City, a region hurt by weakness in energy and farming, reported a modest decline. The Fed survey, which will be discussed at the central bank's next meeting in mid-March, says overall manufacturing activity was flat amid weaker exports.
Man Pleads Guilty to Vandalism at Missouri Congressman Cleaver's Office
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man pleaded guilty to a failed attempt to firebomb an office for U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver. Eric G. King on Thursday admitted that he threw to Molotov cocktails at the building in midtown Kansas City on September 11, 2014. One device didn't go into the building and the second did no damage. Cleaver was in Washington D.C. and no staff members were in the building at the time. King pleaded guilty in federal court to using an incendiary device to commit arson. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. Prosecutors say King had expressed anarchist beliefs on social media and was a potential suspect in other anti-government vandalism in the city. King's sentencing has not been scheduled.
KC Mother Convicted in 2-Year-Old Daughter's Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 37-year-old Kansas City woman has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office said Marie Chishahayo also admitted to injuring a 3-year-old child in Wednesday's guilty plea. Police officers were called to the family's home last March to investigate a call about a child with burn injuries. They found the 2-year-old dead with burns over her body. They also found a severely injured 3-year-old girl. Sentencing hasn't been scheduled.
Royals' Dyson to Miss Start of Season with Oblique Strain
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson is expected to miss the start of the season after straining his oblique while batting during the World Series champions' spring training opener. Dyson was removed from Wednesday's game against Texas and taken for an MRI that revealed the Grade 2 strain. That type of injury typically takes about six weeks to heal, and manager Ned Yost said Thursday that Dyson will likely begin the season on the disabled list. The speedy Dyson was expected to platoon with Paulo Orlando in right field. Orlando now becomes the front-runner for the everyday job, though the Royals have an abundance of other options. Veteran Travis Snider, hot prospect Brett Eibner and Reymond Fuentes each could earn time there.
Royals' Perez Gives $1 Million to Urban Youth Academy in KC
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez is donating $1 million to the Urban Youth Academy, a 21-acre development of playing fields and other park amenities near downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The news Wednesday came one day after Perez signed a $52.5 million, five-year contract that will keep him with Kansas City through the 2021 season. It also coincided with a City Council committee vote to endorse more than $2 million in city funds toward the $7 million first phase. Other funding has been supplied by the new MLB-MLBPA joint youth development initiative. Perez, who will have a field named after him, said he wanted to donate to the project to give back to Kansas City. The Royals signed him as a 16-year-old prospect out of Venezuela, and he's become a fan favorite while helping the franchise to the World Series title last year.