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Headlines for Thursday, September 22, 2016

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Court Considers Shifting Existing School Aid 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court justices considered Wednesday whether the state could pay for a suitable education for every child by shifting funds out of programs for gifted students. The court heard arguments in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts. They argue that the state's nearly $4.1 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts is not enough to provide a suitable education for every child. Alan Rupe, an attorney for four Kansas school districts, told the court that too many students are being left behind in their educations. Justice Dan Biles suggested during the arguments that the court might have to target its order to helping underachieving students. State Solicitor General Stephen McAllister said school districts might be able to help underachieving students by taking money out of Advanced Placement courses. But he said he wouldn't want that to happen and educators rejected the idea. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and four other justices on the seven-member court peppered McAllister with questions after he suggested that the high court should defer to the Legislature. Several justices pointed to data from state standardized tests suggesting many children aren't on track to be ready for college and they challenged McAllister when he suggested spending isn't necessarily crucial to student performance. The Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas districts argue that legislators are hundreds of millions of dollars short each year in fulfilling their constitutional duty to give every child a suitable education. A lower-court panel sided with the districts. The state appealed.


Kansas AG Questions Feds' $26K in Spending on Gitmo Surveys 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's attorney general has released a document showing that the U.S. Department of Defense spent nearly $26,000 surveying potential sites last year for housing terror suspects now held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he's concerned the federal agency may have violated a prohibition from Congress on spending federal money to move the prisoners to U.S. soil. Fort Leavenworth, an Army base in Kansas, was among the sites surveyed. Local and state officials strongly oppose moving detainees there. In a letter Thursday to Kansas's congressional delegation, Schmidt said he obtained the one-page report after filing a federal lawsuit in July seeking documents related to the Obama administration's plan to move detainees. Defense Department spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Valerie Henderson says the agency doesn't comment on ongoing lawsuits.


Kansas Judge Considers Whether to Count Some Votes 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge did not immediately decide whether to permanently force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to count all ballots cast in local and state elections by voters who registered at motor vehicle offices or used a federal form without providing proof of citizenship. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks heard arguments Wednesday on whether to issue a permanent injunction blocking Kobach from implementing a dual registration system in which some votes are counted only for federal races. Hendricks' earlier order temporarily blocked Kansas from discarding those votes in the August Kansas primary. The American Civil Liberties union urged the judge to extend that order to cover the November general election. The ACLU says federal cases are still ongoing over voters who registered at motor vehicle offices or with a federal form. Federal courts have issued temporary orders requiring the state to register those voters for federal elections. Judge Hendricks did not indicate from the bench when he might rule. 


Medicaid Application Backlog Costs Kansas Over $2M 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state audit has found that Kansas spent more than $2 million fighting a backlog of unprocessed first-time applications for the Medicaid health care program that covers the poor. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the audit released Wednesday also found that the state has stopped reviewing renewal applications, although it continues to provide services to those waiting for renewal. As of mid-August, nearly 35,000 renewal applications were waiting to be processed. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has sharply reduced the number of unprocessed applications from a peak of about 14,000 a few months ago. About 1,700 applications currently continue to linger for more than 45 days. KDHE Deputy Secretary Aaron Dunkel says the agency has made good progress and would continue to make improvements.


Audit Cites Kansas Foster Care System for Compliance Failures

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Auditors say the Kansas foster care system isn't meeting many federal requirements, including ones aimed at providing stability for children. The report comes after a July audit found the state system failed to ensure the safety of youth in foster care. Among the federal requirements assessed, the foster care system complies with only about a third of them. The Wichita Eagle reports that one failure involved the percentage of children who are adopted within one to two years after entering into foster care. Phyllis Gilmore, the head of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, told lawmakers that efforts are underway to resolve issues highlighted in the first two of three planned reports. A final audit will focus on the costs of foster care.


University of Kansas Chancellor to Step Down in Summer 2017 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little plans to step down from the position in the summer of 2017. The university issued a statement Thursday. Gray-Little has served as chancellor of the state's largest university since August 2009. Gray-Little said in a statement that with major initiatives at the university nearing completion, it's an ideal time for her to leave its top administrative job. She also said that announcing her departure now will help the university and the Kansas Board of Regents find a replacement without having to name an interim chancellor for a smoother transition. She was the university's first female and black chancellor. Board of Regents Chairwoman Zoe Newton called her a "transformative figure." Before coming to Kansas, Gray-Little was a top University of North Carolina administrator.


Faith-Based Group Seeks to Prevent Concealed Guns on Campus 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas faith-based group is hoping to overturn a law allowing concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses across the state. Lawrence-based Kansas Interfaith Action representatives are visiting state universities to increase awareness of the issue and raise money. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Rabbi Moti Rieber says the group also plans to lobby the Legislature to change the law once representatives return to session in January. Governor Sam Brownback signed the law in 2013 requiring concealed carry of handguns to be allowed in all publicly owned buildings unless the owners provide adequate security to prevent anyone from bringing weapons in. Cities, counties and public colleges and universities were allowed to exempt themselves until July 1, 2017, so they could set new policies and planned for security measures.


ACLU to Host Town Hall on Voting Rights
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is hosting a telephone town hall on voting rights in the state. The group is inviting 20,000 households across the state to participate in Tuesday's event, which takes place on National Voter Registration Day. Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger will moderate. Panelists are Marge Ahrens, co-president of the Kansas chapter of the League of Women Voters; Cheryl Brown Henderson of the Brown Foundation, whose parents were involved in the litigation that led to public school desegregation; and Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. The planned event is slated just days after the ACLU was in a Shawnee County court challenging the dual voter registration system in Kansas. Similar events are also being held in other in several other states.


Westar Energy, Great Plains Energy Sale Clears Legal Challenges 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The $12.2 billion sale of Topeka-based Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy has cleared legal challenges after parties in lawsuits challenging the deal have agreed to drop the cases. Missouri-based Great Plains is the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that new Securities and Exchange Commission filings show the three complaints will be dropped. Two were in Kansas and one was in Missouri. One of the Kansas complaints filed in July alleged members of Westar's energy board of directors failed to obtain the best price for shareholders because of a process that discouraged third parties from submitting potentially better proposals. The sale still faces a review by several agencies, including the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.


Judge: Resentencing of Wichita Doctor's Killer Won't Be Political 'Circus'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge says he won't allow the resentencing of a man convicted of killing abortion provider George Tiller to turn into a "political forum on abortion" or "a circus." The Wichita Eagle reports that Judge Warren Wilbert made the comments Wednesday while preparing for the start of Scott Roeder's November 28 trial. Roeder says he shot Tiller in 2009 in an attempt to end abortion. Roeder's life sentence with no chance of parole for 50 years was among many vacated after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that juries, not judges, must decide whether to increase punishment. Jurors must decide whether to resentence Roeder to 50 or 25 years before being eligible for parole. Prosecutors want the longer sentence and the defense the lesser term.


Kansas Man Dies After Vehicle Rolls While Fleeing Police 

POMONA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old Kansas man is dead after a vehicle in which he was riding crashed while fleeing from police. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office reports officers with the Quenemo Police Department in Osage County began pursuing a 2003 F150 pickup truck just after 1 am Thursday. The chase continued into Franklin County, where the driver lost control of the vehicle inside the Pomona city limits and it rolled. Mario Calderon-Orozco of Roeland Park was ejected from the pickup and pronounced dead at the scene. Another occupant was transported to a hospital, while two others were not injured. The Kansas Highway Patrol says one of the four was the driver, but that part is still under investigation. Neither the driver's name nor what prompted the chase has been released.


Woman Hit, Killed on Kansas Turnpike 

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — A woman has died after a tractor-trailer struck her sport utility when it stopped for a second time in about two hours on a Kansas highway. The Kansas Highway Patrol says that 50-year-old Luvenia Bovi Lewis, of Shawnee, was hit Wednesday while stopped in the right-hand lane on the Kansas Turnpike near Andover. Officials say Lewis died at the scene. The truck driver was uninjured. A KHP spokesman said the woman was initially was stranded when she ran out of gas about 10 miles north of the Matfield Green service area. A trooper gave her 2 gallons of fuel to get her going. The patrol is trying to determine what caused her to stop again. 


Study: Topeka Regional Airport Could Lure Passenger Service 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A study says say business and travel growth in the Topeka area could lure an airline to the Topeka Regional Airport, which hasn't had passenger flights since 2014. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that a consulting group studied passengers' habits in the region using data from a year of travel. The study shows that on average, nearly 1,700 people from the region fly in and out of Kansas City International Airport per day for business or other activity. That is a 25 percent increase in flights since 2012. The consulting group told the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Board Authority on Tuesday that business growth in the city contributed most to the flight increase. U.S. Airways Express in Topeka offered three flights daily to and from Kansas City International Airport until May 2003, when a substantial decrease in passengers lost the airline. The airport will present the study to airlines to gauge their interest.


Volunteer Fire Chief Accused of Setting Fires on Kansas Reservation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former head of an American Indian reservation's volunteer fire department is accused of setting fires the tribe was paid to fight. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas says former Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department chief Stephen Ramirez of Horton was charged Wednesday with four federal counts of wire fraud. Former volunteer firefighter Arlene Negonsott also was indicted on the same charges. Prosecutors say Ramirez recruited Negonsott to set fires on the Kickapoo reservation from July to November 2015 that the fire department was called to fight. The Bureau of Indian Affairs paid the fire department $600 for each fire it fought. The indictment alleges the defendants set six fires on the reservation. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said he didn't know if either defendant had an attorney.


State Psychiatric Hospital Warden Leaves Position

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — State officials say the warden at the Kansas Department of Corrections mental health facility in Larned has left the position but offered no details. The Hutchinson News reports that Wednesday was the last day Douglas Waddington led the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility. The center is different from larned State Hospital, which is on the same campus. Kansas Department of Corrections Communications Director Adam Pfannenstiel declined to comment about the nature of Waddington's departure, citing policy not to speak about personnel matters. Waddington doesn't have a listed phone number. Waddington was named warden at Larned in 2011. His biography says he started his career in corrections more than three decades ago in Oklahoma and had served as a warden at three corrections facilities in Washington state before joining KDOC.


Second-Degree Murder Charge Filed in Fatal Kansas Crash 

OLATHE, Kansas (AP) — A 38-year-old man faces a murder charge in the traffic death of a Johnson County deputy. Adrian Espinosa-Flores, of Kansas City, Kansas, is accused of driving drunk on September 11 when authorities say his pickup truck slammed into the patrol vehicle of Master Deputy Brandon Collins in Overland Park. The deputy was stopped, conducting a traffic stop, when the crash occurred. Espinosa-Flores was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter. The Kansas City Star reports that Johnson County prosecutors on Thursday filed an alternative charge of reckless second-degree murder against Espinosa-Flores, who's being held on $2 million bond. A lawyer listed for Espinosa-Flores didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.


Man Arrested After Small Fire at Topeka Apartment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and arson after a small fire in a Topeka apartment. The Topeka Fire Department said in a news release that the fire started early Thursday in the four-unit building. Crews quickly extinguished the fire, and all of the residents made it out of the building safely. After a witness pinned the blame on an 18-year-old at the scene, the man was taken for questioning and booked into the Shawnee County jail. The preliminary investigation found that the blaze was "intentionally set." The losses were estimated at $1,000.


Kansas City Metro Students Wear Black to Support Schoolmate

 PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) _ Students throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area dressed in black to support a Kansas girl who says she was sexually assaulted in a school bathroom.  The Kansas City Star reports hundreds of students at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas wore black on Wednesday in support of their schoolmate. The freshman says she was groped last week by a boy inside a boys' bathroom while a second boy held the door shut. Word of the "wear black to stop attacks" effort spread on social media Tuesday night soon after news broke that police were investigating the alleged assault. A Twitter user tweeted a photo of young men at all-male Rockhurst High School in Missouri also wearing black or dark-colored shirts in support of the effort.


Ticket Sold in NE Kansas Wins Record $3.16 Million Super Cash Jackpot 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Lottery says a ticket worth $3.16 million has been sold in northeast Kansas. Lottery officials announced this (THUR) morning that the winning numbers of the Super Kansas Cash jackpot are 07-08-14-28-29 Cashball 07. The ticket was drawn Wednesday. The jackpot surpasses the previous Super Kansas Cash record from 2006 of $3.14 million. The lottery says in a news release that the Super Kansas Cash jackpot had been rolling since the January 9 drawing in which a Republic County resident claimed a $565,887 jackpot. Super Kansas Cash jackpots are paid in a cash lump sum, minus federal and state withholding taxes.


Law Officers in 6 States Join in Speed Enforcement 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Law officers in six states will be joining in a regional speed enforcement campaign intended to catch speeding drivers. The Regional Speed Enforcement Campaign will be September 23-25 in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says officers will be concentrating on high traffic roadways in the effort to reduce speeding-related auto crashes. Authorities say 27 percent of crash fatalities nationwide in 2015 were related to speeding of driving too fast for conditions and that 86 percent of all speeding-related traffic fatalities were on roads where the posted speed limits were 55 miles per hour or lower.


Missouri Man Arraigned in Sex-Related Slaying of Daughter 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man has been arraigned on charges that he sexually attacked and suffocated his high school honors student daughter at a motel. Forty-year-old Jerry Bausby's first court appearance Thursday came two days after he was charged with first-degree murder, sodomy, incest and sexual abuse in the killing of 18-year-old Daizsa Laye Bausby in March. Online court records don't show whether Bausby has an attorney to speak on his behalf. Bausby remains jailed on $750,000 cash bond. Authorities say Daizsa Bausby's body was found on March 22 in a Kansas City motel room. A medical examiner concluded the teenager died of asphyxia by smothering. Police say Bausby denied having sexual contact with his daughter. Lab tests completed Monday show genetic material swabbed from Jerry Bausby's body matched the victim's DNA.


Wichita State Guard Allen Withdraws from School, Program 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State guard Peyton Allen has left the program and withdrawn from school. Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said in a statement Wednesday that the redshirt sophomore decided to leave for personal reasons. Marshall did not elaborate on the reason, though he did say it was unrelated to basketball or any off-the-court conduct or violation of team rules. Allen transferred to Wichita State from Texas A&M last fall, and spent the season on the Shockers' practice squad while satisfying NCAA transfer rules. The native of Springfield, Illinois, started eight games and played in 32 as a freshman for the Aggies, averaging 4.5 points in 14.1 minutes. He scored a career-high 16 points in a game against New Orleans, and also reached double-digits against Alabama and Missouri.


Cleveland Indians Beat Kansas City 4-3, Knocking Royals from AL Central Race

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Wednesday night, eliminating the reigning World Series champions from the American League Central race. The Indians, who led Detroit by seven games in the division, reduced their magic number for clinching the Central to five. Cleveland starting pitcher Corey Kluber (18-9) matched his career high in wins and is 10-1 in his last 14 starts, strengthening his case to win his second AL Cy Young Award in three years. The Royals' Ian Kennedy (11-10) allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings and lost for the first time since July 25th.

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