Report: Kansas Lags Behind Nation in Job Growth
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows Kansas job growth is lagging well behind the nation but predicts the employment outlook will be better next year. Wichita State University's Center for Economic Development and Business Research on Thursday released its employment forecast for the Kansas and the Wichita metropolitan area. It shows that while employment nationwide grew by 1.9 percent nationally in the last 12 months, Kansas jobs increased by just 1 percent. It forecasts employment statewide will grow next year by 23,239 jobs, for an anticipated employment growth of 1.7 percent. The strongest growth is expected to be in the service sectors such as education and health with a growth rate of 2.6 percent. The Wichita economy is projected to improve next year but still grow more slowly than the national average.
Same-Sex Marriage in Limbo in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The wedding plans of gay couples across Kansas remain in limbo, with all but one of the state's 105 counties refusing to issue marriage licenses. Same-sex couples began heading to county marriage license offices around the state Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the way for its expansion. On Wednesday, Johnson County announced plans to issue licenses to gay couples, setting up a potential showdown with a conservative-led state government. Attorney General Derek Schmidt and his spokeswoman didn't immediately return phone calls or emails seeking comment Thursday. The general counsel for the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration is suggesting that county clerks accept applications and let judges decide whether to issue licenses. Meanwhile, the ACLU is planning to file a lawsuit, but not until next week.
Same-Sex Marriage Applications Stream into Johnson County
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Same-sex couples are lining up for marriage applications in Johnson County after a judge cleared the way for what could be the first gay marriage in Kansas. District court clerk Sandy McCurdy said 42 same-sex couples had applied for licenses by late Thursday afternoon. McCurdy said the stream of applicants was "pretty steady" in the first full day after Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered the county to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples. McCurdy says the earliest a same-sex couple could pick up a marriage license is Friday. The state requires a three-day waiting period before marriage licenses can be issued. Although Moriarty issued his ruling Wednesday, the county accepted one application Tuesday from a same-sex couple. Two women applied Wednesday, and all the others applied Thursday.
In Kansas Senate Debate, Orman Defends Independence
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts is insisting that his stronger-than-expected independent opponent is a liberal Democrat in disguise. But Greg Orman has donated to both Democrats, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Republicans, such as former Senator Scott Brown. Orman pitched domestic policy ideas during the debate that both parties have championed, and again refused to say which party he would usually vote with if elected. However, Orman says he contributed to Brown's 2010 Senate campaign to halt the advance of the health care law, which he says he opposed. The race in typically GOP Kansas has become suddenly competitive in the past month as Democrat Chad Taylor has stepped aside and Orman, a wealthy businessman, has pulled ahead of Roberts in recent polls of Kansas voters.
Cruz Helps Roberts Launch Campaign Bus Tour
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is urging tea party supporters in Kansas to vote for Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, warning that staying home would empower Democrats. Cruz appeared with Roberts and Oklahoma U.S. Sen.ator Tom Coburn Thursday in Wichita, helping to kick off a four-day bus tour with stops in 11 eastern Kansas communities. Cruz says he recognizes the tea party had a hard-fought primary in Kansas, but he's stressing the primary is over. Roberts told the more than 100 supporters that the road to a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate runs through Kansas. The three-term Kansas incumbent faces a tough race against independent candidate Greg Orman. Orman is running as a centrist, pledging to break partisan gridlock.
Democrat Promising to Undo Kansas Medicaid Overhaul
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic challenger Paul Davis is proposing to reverse a piece of Republican Governor Sam Brownback's overhaul of the Kansas Medicaid program opposed by some advocates for the mentally disabled. The plan Davis outlined Wednesday during a Statehouse news conference would end three private health insurance companies' management of in-home support services for the mentally disabled. Brownback's administration turned over management of Medicaid to the private insurers in 2013. But it delayed the inclusion of support services for about 8,500 mentally disabled Kansans in the overhaul until February following vocal protests by advocates. The $3 billion-a-year Medicaid program covers medical services for the poor and disabled and services designed to allow the disabled to continue living in their homes. Officials in Brownback's administration rejected Davis' criticism that the overhaul has been harmful.
Secretive Groups Flood Kansas with Political Ads
WASHINGTON (AP) - Kansas has seen the greatest number of political ads for state-level offices this election season from groups that do not disclose their donors. In fact, secretive groups account for more than half of the spending in the state's competitive race for governor, and voters likely will never know who is picking up the tab. Kansas, however, is hardly alone. More than $9 million in ad buys in 16 states have come from groups that do not disclose donors. That's according to an analysis released Thursday by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity. And the bulk of the spending for next month's elections is yet to come.
Study: Voter ID Laws Curtail Turnout by Blacks, Young People in Kansas
WASHINGTON (AP) - A nonpartisan congressional study has found that stiffer state voter ID laws have depressed election turnout, disproportionately affecting blacks and younger people. The Government Accountability Office found that election turnout in Kansas, which tightened voter ID requirements, dropped more steeply than it did in four states that didn't change their identification requirements. The report found turnout was also down in Tennessee and that in those two states, voter turnout was more sharply reduced among young people than among the middle-aged and among blacks than whites.
Missouri Health Plan Open to Same-Sex Spouses
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The health care plan for Missouri employees has opened coverage to same-sex spouses following a recent court ruling. The Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan says it will enroll same-sex spouses of state employees and retirees who have valid marriage licenses from other states. That decision comes after a Jackson County Circuit judge ruled last week that Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere — even though the Missouri Constitution forbids gay marriage. Attorney General Chris Koster decided not to appeal. The state health care plan covers about 96,500 people, including state employees and retirees and their spouses and children. It's not clear how many same-sex spouses will seek coverage, but a spokeswoman for the health plan says there already have been some inquiries about it.
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Republican River Arguments
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for Kansas and Nebraska are scheduled to make their cases before the U.S. Supreme Court next week in a longstanding dispute over water use in the Republican River. A special master appointed by the Supreme Court concluded last year that Nebraska owes Kansas a combined $5.5 million for overusing water in 2005 and 2006. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that William Kayatta Jr., the special master, rejected Kansas's demands for $80 million and an order that would permanently shut off irrigation pumps that service about 300,000 acres in Nebraska. At the heart of the dispute is a 1943 compact that has long divided the use of Republican River water among Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. Kansas farmers and officials contend that Nebraska took more than its share in 2005 and 2006.
2 Arrested at KU on Suspicion of Rape
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Campus police at the University of Kansas say two men have been arrested on suspicion of raping two women in a residence hall during homecoming weekend. The 21-year-old suspects are jailed in Douglas County without bond. They're expected to have their first court appearances Thursday. One suspect is from Lawrence and the other from Olathe. Police said one of the men is a KU student. Police said the incidents were reported to have occurred between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on September 28 at Hashinger Hall. Police say the incidents were unrelated to allegations of sexual assault the same weekend at a fraternity.
Man Dead After Confrontation with KC Police
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City police say a man is dead after threatening a police officer with what looked like a sword and being shot by a different officer. Police spokeswoman Sergeant Kari Thompson says officers responded to a home in northern Kansas City on Wednesday night shortly before midnight and found a man outside the rear of the residence. Thompson says the man immediately became confrontational with officers and ignored their demands. She says the officers saw him in possession of a sword-like object, and one of the officers shot him after he threatened another officer with it. The man died at the scene.
Southwest Lost Nearly $7M on Some Wichita Flights
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgewick County records show Southwest Airlines lost nearly $7 million in its first eight months of offering flights from Wichita to Dallas and Chicago. The Wichita Eagle reports the airline's service from Wichita to Las Vegas made a modest profit of $57,600 during the same time from July 2013 to February 2014. Southwest was able to recoup most of its $6.8 million loss through a state program and some local funds. An airline analyst says that without the guarantee, the airline could leave Wichita at some point for more lucrative markets. A Southwest spokesman declined to comment on specific routes or dollar figures, but says the airline is working to develop a self-sustaining operation in Wichita.
Woman Admits Running Prostitution Business
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has admitted running an escort service as a front for a prostitution operation. The U.S. Attorney's office said 60-year-old Saundra Lacy pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to engaging in interstate commerce in furtherance of prostitution. Both sides have agreed to recommend that Lacy be placed on two years of probation at her sentencing in December. Lacy admitted that her escort service, Jessie's Primetime Entertainment, was in fact a prostitution business that employed at least 20 women. Customers paid $160 for half-hour dates or $185 for one-hour dates with an escort. During dates, escorts engaged in sexual contact with the customers.
Wolf Creek Conducting Testing After Fire
BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Workers at an eastern Kansas nuclear power plant are working to repair fire-damaged equipment and avoid a shutdown. The damage occurred Monday when a fire broke out in a room that houses a backup generator. Federal law requires that the generator is operational within 72 hours or the Wolf Creek plant will have to be taken offline. Shutting down the plant would cost the utilities that own it — and eventually their customers — more than $300,000 per day. Plant spokesman Terry Young says workers were spending Wednesday conducting testing on a transformer and cabling that were replaced after the fire. Young says the backup generator is used only when the plant shuts down and stops making its own energy. The plant has other backup energy sources.
Man Gets 3 Years in Theft of Dying Woman's Ring
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old Wichita man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for his role in the theft of a wedding ring from a dying woman's hand at a Taco Bell drive-thru. KAKE-TV reports Quanique Dontrell Thomas-Hameen was found guilty of misdemeanor theft and obstructing apprehension in a felony offense. Police say Thomas-Hameen was inside when Daquantrius Saquill Johnson and Keith Byron Hickels Jr. stole a ring from the finger of 43-year-old Danielle Zimmerman after she suffered a brain aneurism in the drive-thru. Thomas-Hameen apologized to the Zimmerman family in court Thursday, saying he takes responsibility for not speaking up. Zimmerman's husband, Kris Zimmerman, then for the maximum sentence. Jason and Hickels are scheduled for trial in December. The wedding ring was never found.
Judge Rules for Boeing in Whistleblower Lawsuit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has summarily ruled in favor of Boeing and one of its suppliers in a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the company's planes were unsafe. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot sided with the aircraft maker and one of its California-based suppliers, Ducommun Inc., in the lawsuit filed in 2005 by three former Wichita workers who claimed Boeing defrauded the U.S. government by using "bogus parts" in a $1.6 billion contract for 24 planes. Wednesday's 79-page decision rejected all claims brought by former employees Taylor Smith, Jeannine Prewitt and James Ailes. Their attorney, Corlin Pratt, said in an email that his clients are "extremely disappointed in the ruling" and are continuing to analyze the lengthy court opinion. Boeing was reviewing the decision and its spokesman had no immediate comment.
FBI, IRS Investigate Pittsburg State MBA Director
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg State University says the FBI and Internal Revenue Service are looking into questionable financial procedures attributed to the former director of the university's master's degree in business administration program. The Joplin Globe reports an internal review by the university found questionable financial procedures for Michael Muoghalu, who taught finance at the school for 23 years. Muoghalu was placed on unpaid administrative leave and submitted his resignation letter in September. He told the Globe he was unable to comment on the matter. University spokesman Chris Kelly says the school can't comment, either, but has informed the IRS and FBI it planned to publicly identify the agencies with which Pittsburg State is cooperating.
Kansas Man Eludes Officers After High-Speed Chase
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Kansas authorities are searching for a man who they say led officers on a chase Wednesday that reached speeds of more than 100 mph. Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson tells KWCH-TV the 26-year-old suspect is armed and dangerous. He says the man led officers on a chase through the northern part of the county in a Chevrolet Silverado. Henderson says authorities called off the chase due to public safety concerns after the suspect passed a school bus. He says the suspect told authorities he won't be taken alive and that another person might be with him. No injuries were reported. Authorities say the man is wanted on three felony warrants for failure to appear in court.
Kansas Driver Charged in Fatal Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been charged in an August traffic accident that killed a pregnant woman and the premature baby she delivered before dying. The Wichita Eagle reports 25-year-old Zachary Brown was charged Wednesday with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He also faces three counts of aggravated battery. Police say Brown was driving an SUV that struck a car at a southwest Wichita intersection on August 19. Twenty-one-year-old Trevadawn Pauley was riding in the front seat of the car and was critically injured. Pauley was seven months pregnant, and doctors delivered her daughter before she died. The newborn died about a week later. Brown is being held at the Sedgwick County jail on $50,000 bond. Online records didn't indicate an attorney.
Kansas Couple Sentenced in Child Endangerment Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita couple who left their 18-month-old son in an apartment closet have been sentenced to one year of probation. 18-year-old Destiny Lee and 19-year-old Donivan Turner pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges. A maintenance worker repairing an air conditioner in May found the boy inside a closet in the couple's apartment. Police say the temperature in the closet was about 90 degrees. The baby had been there about 20 minutes. Lee tells police she left her son alone in order to pick up Turner from work.
Kansas Judge Binds Over Quadruple Homicide Suspect
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A judge has found enough evidence to try a man in the deaths of a woman and her three children last November in southeast Kansas. 23-year-old David Bennett Jr. was bound over for trial Wednesday. He is charged with threatening, raping and killing 29-year-old Cami Umbarger, along with killing the children. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents and forensic specialists testified at the preliminary hearing that the body of Umbarger and her 9-year-old daughter were found under different beds in the same bedroom of their Parsons home. The body of Umbarger's 6-year-old son was found beneath clothes in a utility room. Her 4-year-old daughter's body was stuffed into a clothes dryer, buried under clothes. Bennett was arrested in Independence after a massive manhunt.
Kansas Plans Traffic Safety Event at Statehouse
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Transportation says teenagers will be coming to the Statehouse to participate in a quick-click buckling-up challenge as part of a traffic safety event. Friday afternoon's event is part of KDOT's Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day. The challenge involves teams of teenagers racing to unbuckle their seatbelts in cars, trade places and buckle up again. Deputy KDOT Secretary Jerry Younger plans to serve as master of ceremonies. The event emphasizes the importance of traffic safety.
Missouri Couple Now Dog Owners After Royals Win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man has fulfilled his girlfriend's wish and adopted a 4-year-old corgi named Lucy after the Kansas City Royals' win last week. During the September 30 wild card game, Katie Castan held a sign that said, "If we win, he's buying me a puppy!" with a picture of a corgi. The Kansas City Royals beat Oakland Athletics, and Castan's boyfriend, Joe Onofrio adopted Lucy this past weekend from a family. Castan tells the Kansas City Star that Lucy's middle name is Rally. She says it comes from the Royals rallying to win the game that launched them into the American League Division Series. Castan says Lucy is already loving her walks in Mill Creek Park and is loving, but calm.
Jayhawks Still Trying to Settle on QB after 5 Games
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Montell Cozart was named the starter in the spring to settle the most important position at Kansas. Now, five games into the season, interim head coach Clint Bowen is still deciding who is going to be the team's quarterback Saturday when the Jayhawks return home to face No. 16 Oklahoma State. Cozart has been getting equal practice reps with Michael Cummings and T.J. Millweard, both of whom played last week at West Virginia. Problems with the quarterback position was one of the factors in the firing of head coach Charlie Weis on September 28 after KU was shut out at home 23-0 by Texas.