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Headlines for Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Senate VP Won't Seek Re-Election, Cites Political Climate 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Republican in the Kansas Senate says he made a mistake in supporting Governor Sam Brownback's 2012 income tax cuts and will not seek re-election because of the state's political climate. Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff King of Independence was the only member of Senate leadership to vote this week against a budget that will require Brownback to make more cuts in order to balance. The Wichita Eagle reports that King played a major role in reforming the state's pension system during the governor's first term. He strongly objected to the Legislature's decision to delay a $96 million payment to the pension fund to help fix the current budget. He says blindly following the status quo is not governing, but rather political cowardice that can't be rewarded. 


Kansas Halts Medicaid Reimbursements to Planned Parenthood 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is cutting off Medicaid reimbursements to a Planned Parenthood affiliate largely based on allegations against affiliates in other states. The state Department of Health and Environment sent a letter dated Tuesday informing Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri that it was terminating its status as a provider under the state's Medicaid program. Department spokeswoman Cassie Sparks confirmed the action Wednesday, as did the group. Planned Parenthood affiliate President and CEO Laura McQuade called the action "outrageous." Documents obtained through an open records request show KDHE first informed Planned Parenthood it intended to cut off Medicaid reimbursements in a letter in March. That letter cited allegations against Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas and Oklahoma, including from videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group about the handling of fetal tissue.


Planned Parenthood Sues Kansas for Ending Medicaid Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Two Planned Parenthood affiliates have filed a federal lawsuit over Kansas's decision to cut off Medicaid reimbursements to the abortion provider. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region against the state Department of Health and Environment's top administrator.  The lawsuit contends that Kansas has "no possible legitimate basis'' to cut off Medicaid funds. The state health department sent a letter Tuesday to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri informing it that it would cut off Medicaid funding as of next week. The St. Louis affiliate is involved in the lawsuit because its Joplin, Missouri, clinic sometimes serves participants in the Kansas Medicaid program. The state health department's spokeswoman said the agency had not seen the lawsuit.  


Some Top Kansas Republicans Say They'll Back Trump; Some Won't

 TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Republican Party's chairman and other top GOP officials say they'll support Donald Trump as the party's nominee for president. But not all Republicans are ready to back the brash billionaire now that he is the presumed GOP candidate. State GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold predicted Wednesday that Kansas Republicans who've opposed Trump's bid for the nomination will "come home'' during the general election.  Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the state's caucuses to claim 24 of its 40 convention delegates. Arnold is one of those delegates but said he will support Trump. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts reiterated promises to support the GOP nominee. But state Representatives Amanda Grosserode of Lenexa and Brett Hildabrand of Shawnee said they never can support Trump. They supported Cruz. 


Huelskamp Foe to Run in Kansas 1st District as Independent 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An educator and farmer who previously ran against congressman Tim Huelskamp as a Republican is now planning to run in the 1st District of Kansas as an independent candidate. Alan LaPolice of Clyde announced Thursday that he is leaving what he called a failed political system to run as an independent. He said outsiders must get elected to change Washington. LaPolice also said he's never been truly welcomed into the Kansas Republican Party. He received 45 percent of the vote against Huelskamp in the Republican primary in 2014. But this year, Great Bend physician Roger Marshall already has filed to run against Huelskamp in the GOP primary. Huelskamp is a tea party favorite who is seeking his fourth term in the 1st District, which covers western and central Kansas.


KU Chancellor Vetoes Fees for Multicultural Student Government 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has vetoed student funding for a parallel government for minority students. The chancellor said in a letter to the Student Senate Wednesday that she could not recommend a $2 student fee because the revenue would be collected during the next academic year, even though the new government is not in place. The Student Senate approved the Multicultural Student Government in March but details of how it would be structured and work with the current student government were not decided. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Trinity Carpenter, who helped lead the effort to create a second government, said the work to secure funding will continue. She says minority students want an equal body that would work with the Student Senate, not as a separate body.


Kansas Gas Service Seeks $28 Million Rate Increase 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gas Service is asking the Kansas Corporation Commission for a $28 million increase in its net base rate. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that if the request is approved, the average residential customer's bill would increase by $4.34 per month. The utility's last rate increase was approved in 2012. In its rate request filed Monday, the utility also proposed a three-year pilot program of a rate mechanism called Cost of Service Adjustment. The utility says that would result in smaller annual rate changes, rather than the traditional infrequent but larger rate increases. It would reset rates annually based on the previous year's financial results. Utility spokeswoman Dawn Ewing says if the rate request is approved, it likely would take effect no earlier than January 1, 2017.


Officials Take Custody of Kids Who Went to Oregon Standoff 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Seven children who were taken to perform for occupiers during the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge earlier this year have been placed in the temporary custody of Kansas child welfare officials. The Kansas City Star reports that a judge made the placement Wednesday after finding probable cause that the children of Odalis Sharp had been abused. Sharp told The Star as she left the hearing that she didn't abuse her children. According to testimony from a 2½ hour hearing, five of her children bolted Friday as she climbed in the shower. They removed guns from the house before getting a ride from a neighbor to the Shawnee County sheriff's office. A child welfare worker says the children reported that their mother spanked them with a rod.


Topeka Man Charged with Lying Before Motel Shootout, Fire 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged with lying about the whereabouts of a robbery suspect who killed himself during a fiery shootout that injured three federal agents at a Kansas motel. The U.S. attorney's office says 36-year-old Quentin Kirk Lawton, of Topeka, was charged Wednesday with one count of making a false statement to a federal officer. He is in federal custody. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney. The indictment alleges that Lawton denied having seen 28-year-old fugitive Orlando Collins after visiting him last month in a room at the Country Club Motel in Topeka. Lawton left the motel shortly before fugitive task force member came under fire while trying to arrest Collins. Authorities said Collins killed himself after starting a fire that caused $350,000 in damage.


Topeka Man Plans to Plead Guilty in Fort Riley Bomb Case 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal court documents show that a 29-year-old Topeka man plans to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge in connection with a plot last year to bomb the Fort Riley military base. Alexander E. Blair's attorney filed a request Thursday to change the not guilty plea entered for him last year by a federal magistrate. A change-of-plea hearing is May 23. Blair is charged with helping 21-year-old John T. Booker Jr. of Topeka in planning to plant a bomb outside the Army installation in northeast Kansas to aid the Islamic State group. Blair could face up to three years in prison. Booker pleaded guilty in February to two charges under an agreement with prosecutors calling for him to spend 30 years in prison. He has not yet been sentenced.


Kansas Trial Nears End in Anti-Abortion Activist's Threat 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Jurors have gone home without reaching a verdict in the trial of a Kansas anti-abortion activist accused of sending a letter suggesting someone might place an explosive under the car of a doctor training to perform abortions. Deliberations will resume Friday in the trial of Angel Dillard. The lawsuit was filed under a federal law aimed at protecting access to abortion services. A government attorney said during closing arguments Thursday it constituted a threat because Angel Dillard intended to make the Wichita doctor afraid to offer abortion services. But a defense attorney portrayed the letter as simply a warning protected by the First Amendment. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division sued Dillard in 2011 for sending the letter to Dr. Mila Means. At the time, abortions were not being performed in Wichita in the wake of the 2009 slaying of Dr. George Tiller.


Illinois Man Named President of Land Institute in Salina 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Western Illinois University official will be the new president of The Land Institute in Salina. The institute announced Thursday that the new president will be Fred Iutzi, the manager of agriculture, energy and cooperative development programs for the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs at Western Illinois. His appointment is effective October 1. He will replace Wes Jackson, who co-founded the institute 40 years ago. The Salina Journal reports that Iutzi was formerly part of the institute's Fellows program and attended seven Fellows workshops. He holds a bachelor's degree in geography from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in sustainable agriculture and agronomy from Iowa State University.


Petition Urges Investigation into US Election Agency

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  More than 116,000 people have signed an online petition urging the inspector general to investigate what it calls voter suppression at a federal government agency entrusted with making voting more accessible. The progressive advocacy group CREDO Action said it planned to deliver petition signatures Wednesday to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's Inspector General Patricia Layfield. The commission referred any comment to Layfield, who said in an email that she had not yet received the petition. She said she was not willing to comment on any of her office's existing or planned projects. At issue is the unilateral action by Executive Director Brian Newby that without public notice required residents of Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to provide documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote when using a federal form.


Man Admits Voting in Kansas, Colorado in Same Election 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says a Wichita man who voted in Kansas and Colorado during the same election has agreed to pay $5,500 in fines. The guilty pleas from Ron R. Weems mark the fourth conviction Kobach has obtained since receiving prosecutorial authority from the Kansas Legislature last year. In exchange for those pleas, Kobach dismissed two felony charges of election perjury. Weems was convicted of two counts of voting without being qualified and one count of unlawful advance voting. The complaint alleges he voted illegally in Kansas in the 2012 and 2014 general elections, while also voting in Teller County in the same elections. Kobach says in a news release that the prosecutions demonstrate the commitment to ensuring Kansas has the most secure elections in the country.


KHP: Truck's Brake Not Set Before Southwest Kansas Train Derailment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Highway Patrol investigator says a truck driver failed to set the emergency brakes on a truck and likely caused an Amtrak train derailment west of Dodge City. The Wichita Eagle reports the truck owned by Cimarron Crossing Feeders rolled downhill, broke through two fences, crossed U.S. 50 and struck the railroad bed. That displaced ties and tracks on the railroad where a train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed shortly after midnight March 14. Six of the train's 10 cars derailed, injuring 28 of the 144 people on board. The KHP investigator wrote that the driver either didn't set the truck's parking brake or didn't completely apply it before it rolled down the hill. Damage from the derailment was estimated at more than $1.4 million.


Kansas Among GOP States Benefiting from Shift to Wind and Solar Energy 

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. investment in renewable energy projects has outpaced investment in fossil fuels for the second straight year. The U.S. Department of Energy says wind turbines and solar panels accounted for more than two-thirds of all new electric generation capacity added to the nation's grid in 2015. The remaining third was largely new power plants fueled by natural gas, which has become cheap and plentiful as a result of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The states of GOP lawmakers who have fought to protect coal-fired power plants are actually benefiting from the shift to renewable energy. Leading the way in new wind projects are GOP strongholds Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The cost of adding wind turbines has plummeted in recent years.


Suspect Charged in Fatal Wichita Parking Lot Stabbing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been charged with fatally stabbing a woman during a parking spot dispute. Thirty-eight-year-old Seth Collins made his first court appearance Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of 22-year-old Kayla Brown. The Wichita Eagle reports that Collins is jailed in Sedgwick County on $250,000 bond. A public defender will represent him. Collins is accused of stabbing Brown once in the neck and her twin sister in the arm Saturday night in the parking lot of an apartment complex where they all lived. Police have said the driver's door of Brown's car was open when Collins tried to park, preventing him from pulling into a stall. Brown died early Sunday morning at a Wichita hospital. Her sister's injuries weren't life-threatening.


Topeka Man Sentenced for ATM Robberies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison for robbing a man who stocked ATMs with cash. The U.S. attorney's office says 26-year-old Pattrick Towner, of Topeka, was sentenced Wednesday for one count of armed robbery. He admitted through his plea that he was the masked gunman who entered a Topeka convenience store in September 2014 just as the victim was beginning to fill an ATM. Towner took the money and the keys to the victim's van before escaping in the vehicle. A store clerk was previously sentenced to two years in federal prison for helping to plan the robbery by providing the date and time the victim would fill the ATM.


Officers Shoot, Wound Suspect in Southeast Kansas

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say police have shot and wounded a suspect after a southeast Kansas chase. Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said in a news release that the chase started Tuesday after a Columbus man threatened violence against several people, including an animal control officer. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that the man also is accused of discharging a firearm. A deputy saw the suspect swerve at an oncoming motorist and tried to stop him. The man is accused of speeding through the towns of Columbus, Cherokee and Girard before his tires were punctured. It wasn't immediately clear what led up to the shooting that sent the suspect to a hospital. No one else was hurt. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation.


Police: Man Fatally Shot Outside Wichita Apartment Complex 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man is dead after a shooting outside a Wichita apartment complex. KSNW-TV reports that police identified the victim Thursday as 55-year-old Gifford Carter. Wichita police Captain Brian White said authorities responded to a 911 call at Calvary Towers apartments about 4:15 pm Wednesday. Carter was pronounced dead at the scene. Another man is jailed on suspicion of manslaughter. An investigation is ongoing.


Wichita Car Dealership Resolves Deceptive Sales Complaint

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita used car dealer that was accused of deceptive sales practices has agreed to pay more than $7,000 to resolve a complaint. The Sedgwick County prosecutor's office announced Wednesday that its consumer protection division had reached an agreement with the Numak Dealership. Prosecutors alleged that Numak was listing cars for sale on Craigslist without identifying the seller as a car dealer. The dealership also is accused of failing to disclose that a vehicle it sold had a salvage title and improperly attempting to limit warranties. The agreement doesn't constitute an admission by Numak of the allegations. The dealership has paid the $7,000 in civil penalties and $747 in investigative expenses and court costs. 


Missouri Auction of Seized Vehicles Raises Over a Million Dollars 
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A fleet of expensive cars and motorcycles seized from a Kansas City-area accountant has sold for more than $1.4 million. The U.S. Marshals Service announced the results of last week's auction on Wednesday. The Kansas City Star reports that more than 700 bidders from 30 states participated. The machines that were sold had belonged to Thomas Hauk, who defrauded more than $4 million from clients. Hauk, of Overland Park, Kansas, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty last December to federal fraud charges linked to his on-the-job theft at a financial services company. The highest winning bid at the auction was $285,000 for a 2006 Ford GT. Most of the money raised during the auction at KCI Auto Auction in Kansas City, Missouri, will be returned to the theft victims.


GM to Resume Production at Fairfax Plant, 3 Others

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ General Motors is on track to resume full operations at four North American plants where vehicle assembly was halted because of supply chain interruptions caused by earthquakes in Japan last month. Manufacturing that was put on hold on April 25 is expected to resume on Monday at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Work will also resume at plants in Spring Hill, Tennessee; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Canada. U.S. workers covered by the United Auto Workers contract with GM receive about three-quarters of their gross wages while assembly is idled. The powerful earthquakes that struck southwestern Japan killed 49 people and disrupted manufacturing and logistics. Union leaders at the Tennessee facility told reporters last week that parts affected by the disrupting are ``integral electronics'' that are only made in Japan.


Kansas City Streetcars Return After 6-Decade Hiatus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A city that once had one of the nation's largest streetcar networks is preparing to launch a smaller, modern version that supporters say will shape development for years to come. Kansas City is celebrating the opening of its 2.2-mile streetcar line on Friday with street parties, speeches and fireworks. The starter line runs from Union Station near Crown Center to the River Market, a few blocks from the Missouri River. Advocates say the $102 million project will draw people to the city's downtown and boost development. City officials plan to add three extensions if they can find a way to fund them. At its height in the 1920s, Kansas City's streetcar network featured more than 700 registered streetcars traveling on 300 miles of track. Its last streetcar quit running in 1957.


Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Kansas City 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a man has been killed in a Kansas City shooting. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting was reported around 5 pm Wednesday. Police were looking for a man and a woman who drove away in a black four-door vehicle. The death marked the 52nd homicide in the Kansas City area this year and the 32nd homicide in Kansas City. No other details were immediately available.


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