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Headlines for Thursday, May 7, 2015

Storms Leave Damage Across 6 Kansas Counties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Storms that packed at least nine confirmed tornadoes, hail and heavy rain left behind damage in six Kansas counties but no fatalities or major injuries were reported. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management said in a news release Thursday that the storm moved from south to north Wednesday, leaving damage in Harvey, Sedgwick, Jewell, Lincoln and Republic counties. The worst damage appeared to be in Republic County, in north-central Kansas on the Nebraska border. Emergency management officials reported five homes and an ethanol plant near Scandia were damaged and a feedlot operation also was struck, killing up to 150 cattle. Other damage reports include one home destroyed and another damaged near Mankato in Jewell County, two homes damaged in Sedgwick County and damage to outbuildings, power lines and trees in other counties.

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Kansas House Panel Considers Sales Tax Hike 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers are considering increasing the state sales tax as the Legislature gathers proposals to close a looming budget deficit.  The House Taxation Committee held a hearing Wednesday on a measure that would increase the state sales tax to 6.5 percent from 6.15 percent. The move would raise an estimated $164 million in each of the next fiscal years, but much more would be needed to balance the state's budget. The projected shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1st is about $422 million. Taxation Committee Chairman Marvin Kleeb, a Republican from Overland Park, said that he expects the Legislature will begin building consensus next week on the combination of tax increases needed to close the gap.

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Hard Liquor Banned at University of Kansas Frat Houses

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Fraternity houses at the University of Kansas will ban hard liquor on their properties beginning this fall.  The move by the school's Interfraternity Council bans the presence or consumption of hard alcohol by fraternity members or guests on fraternity property. It does not include beer or wine.  The IFC, which approved the ban this week, said it includes an amnesty clause that encourages chapters to help anyone who needs medical assistance.  IFC president Chris Pyle said the council has been discussing ways to change the drinking culture within the "Greek" community and to create healthier and safer environments.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports a few of the university's 23 fraternity chapters already are dry, while others have specific rules about when alcohol can be consumed.  

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Wichita Says Pot Ordinance Should Stay in District Court 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita is asking the state's highest court to let the Sedgwick County District Court decide whether a voter-approved ordinance lessening criminal penalties for marijuana possession is legal.  Wichita requested in a filing Wednesday that enactment of the ordinance be put on hold until the court rules. The City contends the petition filed by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt at the Kansas Supreme Court should be dismissed or transferred to the district court.  The ordinance imposes a maximum $50 fine for first-time possession of a small amount of pot. That conflicts with state law which deems it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. 
 
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Kansas Officials Close Lake to Combat Invasive Species 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Lone Star Lake is being closed temporarily to the public so workers can apply an herbicide to fight an invasive species. The Lawrence Journal World reports the lake will be closed for at least 24 hours next week. The Douglas County Commission approved a measure Wednesday allowing the county's Public Works Department to use an herbicide to attack Eurasian Watermilfoil.  According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the species is a plant that forms a dense mat of vegetation on the surface of water. Public Works Director Keith Browning said the lake will close Monday and will reopen as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

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Haskell University Foundation Sets $70m Fundraising Goal 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A recently rejuvenated foundation for Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence is setting a lofty goal. The Haskell Foundation says it hopes to raise $70 million in the next 10 years. So far, it has $250,000. Executive Director Marisa Mendoza, who began the job in November, told the university's Board of Regents Wednesday that the foundation is working to get alumni reconnected to the school and to establish partnerships to help with advertising and fundraising. The foundation was revived last year after more than a decade of inactivity.  Haskell President Venida Chenault says two of the school's biggest priorities are a new science and technology building and renovating the currently closed Hiawatha Hall, possibly into a center for graduate studies.

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Kansas City Likely to Pay $1.5M to Settle Overtime Lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City is likely to pay another $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit over overtime pay for public safety workers. The City Council's finance committee approved the proposed settlement Wednesday of a lawsuit brought by 113 public safety workers who say they did not receive all required overtime pay. The settlement comes nearly a year after the city agreed to pay nearly $2 million to 123 paramedics and emergency medical technicians who once worked for the Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust. The paramedics and technicians said they should have been paid overtime after working 40 hours in a week but the city didn't pay them overtime until they worked more than 49 hours. The Kansas City Star reports the City Council is expected to approve the settlement Thursday.  

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Royals' Bats Quiet in 10-3 Loss to Indians

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just about everyone in the Cleveland lineup drove in a run Wednesday night as the Indians rolled to a 10-3 win over the Kansas City Royals. Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco (4-2)  pitched seven innings ending a three-game skid against the Royals. He gave up a two-run homer to Kendrys Morales, but otherwise shut down a Kansas City lineup that returned outfielder Lorenzo Cain from a two-game suspension. Cleveland had already taken a 4-0 lead when the Royals' Danny Duffy (2-1) was yanked in the second inning. The Royals' bullpen briefly slowed the onslaught, but the Indians added four more runs in the seventh to put the game away.

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