Huelskamp Skeptical of Ryan's Bid for Speaker
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp is resisting Paul Ryan's appeals for GOP lawmakers to rally behind him as House speaker and questions the Wisconsin Republican's interest in the job. Huelskamp says conditions Ryan has outlined for taking the job leaves the impression with him that Ryan doesn't really want to be speaker. Huelskamp is a tea party favorite who represents the 1st District of western and central Kansas. He is among the hard-line GOP conservatives who forced House Speaker John Boehner to announce plans to retire at the end of the month. Boehner stripped Huelskamp of plum committee assignments late in 2012. Ryan is insisting on Republican unity and rules changes before he formally seeks the speaker's job. Huelskamp said, "I don't think they are all reasonable demands."
Kansas Joins Federal Lawsuit on Insurance Company Fees
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas and two other states are suing the federal government over fees imposed on insurance companies as part of the Affordable Care Act. In a news release issued Thursday, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the state is seeking a $32.8 million refund from the federal government. The lawsuit, which was filed with Texas and Louisiana, also seeks to stop the collection of fees from insurance companies that manage the states' Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance programs. States are required to reimburse the private insurance companies for the costs of the fee. The lawsuit argues the Affordable Care Act did not give clear notice to states that they would have to reimburse the fee as a condition of receiving federal funds for their Medicaid and CHIP organizations.
Kansas Court Speeds Handling of Lawsuit Over Abortion Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals is taking the rare step of having all of its judges hear a legal challenge to a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure to speed up the court's review. Supporters and critics of the law say the court is signaling that it views the case as important and wants it to go quickly to the Kansas Supreme Court to settle whether the state can enforce the ban. The law was supposed to take effect in July, but a Shawnee County judge blocked it while a lawsuit against it proceeds. Attorney General Derek Schmidt appealed. Oral arguments in the case are set for December 9th. Court officials believe it is the first time since 1989 that all judges will participate in such a hearing. Usually, cases are reviewed by a three-judge panel.
Secretary of State Dismissed from Voting Machine Lawsuit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The top election official in Kansas was dismissed as a defendant from the lawsuit filed by a Wichita mathematician seeking voting machine tapes after finding statistical anomalies in election counts. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a statement Thursday he was pleased but not surprised. The move leaves Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, whose office actually has the tapes, as the only defendant in the case. Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson wants the tapes to do a statistical model by checking the error rate on electronic voting machines used at a Sedgwick County voting station during the November 2014 general election. Kobach says the law is clear regarding auditing procedures and contends he should have never been a party to the lawsuit in the first place.
Ex-Worker Sentenced for Assisted Living Center Thefts
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former information systems director has been ordered to repay more than $1.2 million he stole from a company which owns assisted living centers in Kansas and Missouri. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten also sentenced on Thursday Brent Shryock of Augusta to three years in prison, as the parties had proposed in their plea deal. His ex-wife, Lori, faces sentencing Monday. Both pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Marten said he was troubled that Shryock stole the money not out of some need, but to finance his own lavish lifestyle. The indictment alleges the thefts occurred while Brent Shryock was employed as information systems director for Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, where he was in charge of purchasing equipment. Prosecutors allege the couple created four fictitious companies to submit fraudulent invoices.
Kansas Man Sentenced in Crash That Killed Woman, Baby
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has received three years of probation in a Wichita crash that killed a pregnant woman and the premature baby she delivered before dying. Zachary Brown was sentenced Wednesday in the death of 21-year-old Trevadawn Pauley and Aniyiah Saiz. Brown had pleaded no contest to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated battery. Prosecutors say Brown was weaving in and out of traffic on Aug. 19, 2014 when he crashed into the vehicle that Pauley was riding in. According to prosecutors, Brown thought he had been cut off by another motorist. Pauley, who was seven months pregnant, was rushed to the hospital and gave birth via emergency cesarean section before dying. Her daughter died a week later due to trauma from the crash.
Longtime K-State Worker Claims School Violated Civil Rights
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A longtime Kansas State University employee has filed a lawsuit claiming the school discriminated against him because he is an Iranian-born Muslim who was in line for promotion to an associate vice president post. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Abdullah "Abe" Fattaey worked at Kansas State from 1971 until 2014. A federal lawsuit filed earlier this month claims he was terminated after a concerted effort by top university officials to get rid of him. Fattaey was the school's director of campus planning and facilities management when he was nominated in April 2013 to become associate vice president for campus planning and facilities management. He says that instead of the promotion he was given a "terminal contract" and was told he would be dismissed in 12 months.
Kansas Board of Regents Names New President for Emporia State
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has chosen an administrator at a private university in Texas to serve as the next president of Emporia State University. The board announced the appointment of Allison Garrett on Thursday. She's currently executive vice president at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She was one of two finalists for the Emporia State job. The other was Petra Roter, the vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Garrett takes over as Emporia State's 17th president in January. She has been Abilene Christian's executive vice president for three years. Michael Shonrock left the Emporia State presidency in April to become president at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. Retired Butler County Community College President Jacqueline Vietti has served as interim president since May.
KBI Opening New $55M Topeka Crime Lab
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is opening its new $55-million Topeka crime laboratory next month, replacing a facility that opened in the 1980s. KBI Director Kirk Thompson says the previous Topeka lab space didn't meet accreditation standards, and the new lab located at Washburn University will allow for more efficiency in processing evidence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the new lab is one of four operated by the KBI. Others are in Kansas City, Pittsburg and Great Bend. But the new lab will be the only one with facilities for all of the various forensic science disciplines. Members of the Legislature's Joint Committee on State Building Construction toured the site Wednesday. The committee has overseen the project since it was authorized in the state's 2013 budget.
Computer Issue Delaying Processing of Kansas Vets' Claims
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas agency says its workers are locked out of a computer program, delaying them from processing veterans' claims through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs uses a computer program that allows them to process hundreds of claims each month and send them to the VA's regional office in Wichita. But commission workers have been locked out of the program lately. Without the program, the claims have to be faxed or mailed, which can take weeks. Wayne Bollig, a deputy director at the commission, says the outage began Tuesday, and if the issue isn't resolved soon, the agency will receive a flood of claims at the end of the month. The VA didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment Thursday.
Pedestrian Killed in Kansas City Was Involved in Legal Issue
PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A 39-year-old pedestrian who died after being hit by a car was at the center of legal issue that arose after a suburban Kansas City councilman allowed him to spend the night in City Hall. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Kelley S. Malone was struck as he walked along a Kansas City road late Wednesday. The Kansas City Star reports that Malone was the homeless friend of Prairie Village Councilman David Morrison, who was ousted from office after allowing Malone to spend a few nights in City Hall in 2012. Morrison appealed. The Kansas Court of Appeals ordered him reinstated last year. The Kansas Supreme Court this month told the Johnson County judge to hold a new hearing to determine if Morrison acted with a "bad or corrupt purpose."
University of Kansas to Raze and Replace Burge Union
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas plans to raze Burge Union and replace it with a new union by the fall of 2018. The union project will be partially funded by a new student fee. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Student Senate on Wednesday approved a fee to be charged beginning next year through 2048. The move extends the current Student Union Renovation Fee — which would have sunset in 2020 — and increases it from $13.80 to $18.70. The fee will fund roughly two-thirds of the cost to rebuild the Burge Union and provide a revenue stream for several years. The new building will be built close to the existing Burge Union. The estimated cost is $8 million to $10 million, although construction plans aren't final.
Man Pleads Not Guilty in Deaths of Wichita Couple
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of two men charged with the shooting deaths of a Wichita couple pleaded not guilty to capital murder and other crimes. Steve Wade Edwards on Thursday also waived his preliminary hearing and asked for a jury trial. Edwards is charged with capital murder, or two alternative counts of first-degree premeditated murder, in the October 2014 deaths of Godofredo and Martha Moreno. He also faces four other charges. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett told The Wichita Eagle that he won't seek the death penalty. Edwards is accused of shooting the Morenos while trying to collect a debt from the couple's son. The other suspect, Carlos Delacadena-Edwards, is scheduled for a November 30 jury trial on two counts of first-degree felony murder and one count of aggravated robbery.
Police: Man Clad Only in Underwear Approaches Kansas Students
VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after they say a man wearing only underwear approached a group of 5th grade students in Valley Center. Officials at Valley Center Intermediate School say the man approached the students Wednesday afternoon when they were outside on the tennis courts during a physical education class, and asked them to leave the fenced area and come with him. The students notified teachers, who informed school officials and police. An alert was sent out to parents about the incident. According to Valley Center Police Chief Mark Hephner, police did not find anyone that fit the description of the man but officer patrols around the school will be increased for the rest of the week.
3 Former Secretaries of State Join Eisenhower Memorial Panel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Three former secretaries of state have joined the advisory committee of the Eisenhower Memorial. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission announced Wednesday that Henry A. Kissinger, Madeline K. Albright and Condoleezza Rice have joined the committee. The advisory committee is working to have a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower built in Washington. The memorial project has won design approvals from key agencies. But some in Congress have called for halting the project over the design.
Sedgwick County Commissioner Shuns Bilingual Spanish TV Reporter
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita television station says one of its reporters has been defamed by a county commissioner who refused to be interviewed by her because he believes she is an advocate for people living in the country illegally. The Wichita Eagle reports Beatriz Parres is a bilingual television reporter who covers news for both Spanish-language KDCU and English-language KWCH. On Monday she approached Sedgwick County Commission chairman Richard Ranzau to ask him about a recall effort in which a pro-immigrant group and others want him removed from office. Ranzau told her he wouldn't talk to her but would allow a reporter who works only for KWCH to interview him. KWCH news director Brian Gregory said Parres is a reporter and it is unfortunate an elected official would make such baseless comments.
Impostor Spared Prison in Bizarre ID Theft Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An immigrant who changed the legal name of his identity theft victim to his own was spared from federal prison in a case even the federal judge called remarkable. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced 82-year-old Ramon Perez-Rivera on Wednesday to the one night in jail he had already spent when arrested. Prosecutors say Perez-Rivera also changed the victim's birth record to his own name and used the identity to obtain food stamps and Medicaid, a U.S. passport and a driver's license. His defense attorney says his client is uneducated and received some very bad advice from a California notary about changing the victim's name. Perez-Rivera told the court that he thought he was legal. He pleaded guilty in August to possession of unlawfully obtained documents and other charges.
22 Dead Rabbits Dumped on Wichita Neighborhood Driveways
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say someone deposited 22 dead rabbits on individual driveways in a neighborhood on the city's east side, but they don't know much else about the incident. Police spokesman Lieutenant James Espinoza told The Wichita Eagle it looked like the rabbits were thrown onto the driveways, rather than strategically positioned. He said the rabbits looked like they had been shot with more than a pellet gun. Officers think the incident happened early Wednesday morning, and that the rabbits were wild. Espinoza says he hasn't seen any cases like it. He says Wichita Animal Control is in charge of investigating the incident, but the lieutenant who oversees animal control was out of the office Wednesday.