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Headlines for Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Senator Moran Files for Re-Election 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Senator Jerry Moran has filed for re-election in Kansas. Moran submitted the necessary paperwork Monday to the Kansas secretary of state's office to claim a spot on the ballot in the August 2 Republican primary.  No other GOP candidate has filed. Lawrence attorney Patrick Wiesner and Kansas City, Kansas, resident Monique Singh-Bey have filed for the Democratic nomination. Moran is seeking a second, six-year term in the Senate. Before his election in 2010, he served 14 years in the House and eight years as a state senator. Republicans hold a significant voter-registration advantage in Kansas and have won every U.S. Senate race in the state since 1932. 


In Kansas, Lawmakers Lose Patience with Governor's Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — After he became Kansas governor in 2011, Sam Brownback slashed taxes on the promise that the cuts would trigger a furious wave of business expansion. But the "shot of adrenaline" hasn't worked as envisioned, and the state budget remains in crisis. Now many of the same Republicans who helped pass Brownback's plan are in revolt, refusing to help the governor cut spending after tax collections missed projections. If Brownback won't reconsider any of the cuts, lawmakers say, he will have to figure out for himself how to balance the budget in the face of disappointing revenue. Many legislators want to scale back an income tax exemption granted to more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. Brownback says reversing the policy would stymie growth.


Western Kansas Mental Hospital Workers Decry Short Staffing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two employees of the state's mental hospital in western Kansas have told legislators that staffing shortages there have created dangerous conditions. The top administrator at the state Department for Aging and Disability Services acknowledged Monday that many of the employees' complaints about Larned State Hospital are valid. Employees Kyle Nuckolls and Lynette Lewis testified before a joint legislative oversight committee about conditions at the hospital. They said workers are frequently forced to work from 12 to 16 hours a day for five or six days a week. They said employees fear they'll be disciplined if they refuse to work overtime. Interim Secretary Tim Keck said KDADS is addressing staffing problems in the short-term with several initiatives. 


Health Official Outlines $17M Package for Kansas Mental Hospitals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Department for Aging and Disability Services Interim Secretary Tim Keck outlined proposals for nearly $17 million in additional spending at the state's two mental hospitals. Keck discussed the proposals Monday during a meeting of a legislative oversight committee on social services. Keck said he's asking Governor Sam Brownback to include the spending in his proposals for legislators to consider. Most of the money would be spent at Osawatomie State Hospital, the state's largest mental facility, in eastern Kansas. It would cover pay raises for nurses and mental health technicians. The proposals include a pay raise for mental health technicians at Larned State Hospital in western Kansas. 


Kansas Man Dies After Being Electrocuted on High Tension Line

MERIDEN, Kan. (AP) — A man has died after he climbed a high tension line and was electrocuted. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig told WIBW that 21-year-old Nathan Robertson of Valley Falls died Saturday in Meriden. Herrig says the Rock Creek Fire Dept. and Jefferson County crews responded to calls Saturday night of a man on the ground. Robertson was reported to be climbing the high tension line of the tower and was electrocuted. He then fell several stories, landing on the ground. He was transported to St. Francis Hospital, but declared deceased almost immediately after his fall.


Kansas District Shortens School Week to Save Money 

CANEY, Kan. (AP) — A small southeast Kansas school district will have a four-day week for the rest of the year to save money. The Wichita Eagle reports the Caney Valley school board voted to add 10 minutes to each school day and cancel classes for the next five Fridays. Superintendent Blake Vargas says the district, which has about 800 students, is facing a $70,000 budget shortfall. He cited adjusted enrollment, bus costs and years of educational funding cuts for the shortfall. Other school districts also are considering schedule changes or other measures to reduce costs. Jim Freeman, chief financial officer for Wichita schools, says that district could end this school year early, and his staff might propose lengthening the school day but shortening the next school year.


2nd University of Kansas Rower Files Sexual Assault Lawsuit 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A second member of the University of Kansas rowing team has filed a lawsuit alleging she was sexually assaulted by a football player at the school. The Kansas City Star reports the student isn't named in the lawsuit filed Monday. Her attorney, Dan Curry, says the woman was assaulted Aug. 29 in her room at Jayhawker Towers. Curry filed lawsuit in March for former Kansas rower Daisy Tackett, who said she was assaulted at Jayhawk Towers in 2014. Curry says the women were assaulted by the same football player, who agreed in March to be expelled. His name hasn't been released. University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson declined to comment on individual sexual assault investigations. But she says the university tries to investigate and quickly resolve all reports of sexual assault.


Discrimination Suit Against Kansas City Power & Light District Dismissed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming the Kansas City Power & Light entertainment district discriminated against black patrons. Glen Cusimano accused the district's developer, Cordish Companies and some commercial tenants of hiring white security guards to instigate fights with black patrons. He alleged the black patrons were thrown out of bars after the fights. The Kansas City Star reports that Cusimano, who is black, said he was a victim of that tactic when he was fired in September 2013 as manager of the Mosaic lounge. Lawyers for Cordish said Cusimano was fired for hitting a patron who was handcuffed. Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel Fahnestock ruled Monday that Cusimano did not prove his claims. A related federal class-action lawsuit filed by Cusimano's attorney was thrown out last year.


Amtrak Will Use Bus Line to Restore Service to Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Amtrak says it will use buses to connect people in Wichita with its trains in Oklahoma City and Newton. Several state and local officials announced the bus connection Monday, providing the first Amtrak service in Wichita since 1979. The Wichita Eagle reports that one bus route will connect with Amtrak's Southwest Chief in Newton while another route will connect with the Heartland Eagle in Oklahoma City. The Amtrak connection will run daily out of the Greyhound station in downtown Wichita. Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King says the bus service opens a new transportation option along the Interstate 35 corridor. Amtrak officials said Wichita residents had pushed for a way to connect to Amtrak, which provides routes to cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth.  

1 of 5 Suspects in Salina Girl's Killing Pleads No Contest 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — One of five men charged in the fatal shooting of a Salina girl has pleaded no contest to felony first-degree murder. Under a plea agreement announced Monday, 18-year-old Andrew Woodring faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years served for his part in the death of 17-year-old Allie Saum in May 2015. He will be sentenced July 8. The Salina Journal reports that Woodring's plea deal comes after another defendant, 19-year-old Stephen Gentry, was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder and three other charges. The other three defendants are awaiting court proceedings. Prosecutors say Saum was shot as she was riding in a pickup truck that drove past a group of men who mistakenly thought the truck's driver had been involved in an earlier confrontation with them.


Man Admits Shooting That Killed Kansas Education Lawyer 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has admitted firing a shot that killed a Kansas education official who was not the intended victim. Prosecutors say 35-year-old Calah D. Johnson pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Kansas City Star reports court records indicate Johnson was shooting at someone in another car when a bullet hit 45-year-old Deanna Lieber in July 2009. Lieber and her 13-year-old daughter were returning to their home near Lawrence from Starlight Theater in Kansas City when she was shot. Lieber was an attorney for the Kansas Department of Education. Johnson already is serving 20 years in federal prison for trafficking in cocaine. His state sentence for second-degree murder will run concurrently with the federal sentence.


Lawrence Considering Commemorating Indigenous Peoples Day 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence may soon join a growing number of cities that use Columbus Day to honor the contributions and culture of Native Americans. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a measure the City Commission is taking up Tuesday would dub the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day. The federal holiday on that day commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. But campaigns nationwide have complained that the holiday overlooks a painful history of colonialism and land grabs. A renaming push gathered momentum last year in Lawrence. Students at Haskell Indian Nations University helped lead 300 people on a march to City Hall, where a citywide indigenous peoples' celebration was declared. Commissioners are considering a resolution to make the celebration an annual event.


Archeologists Search for Location of Fort Larned Graves

FORT LARNED, Kan. (AP) - Archeologists think they have a better idea of where bodies are buried near the Fort Larned National Historic Site in Kansas. The fort's history stretches back to 1859, when thousands of soldiers were stationed there to preserve peace among Santa Fe Trail travelers and Native Americans. It didn't become the Fort Larned National Historic Site until 1964. The Great Bend-Tribune reports that a crew surveyed 16 acres at the fort this month using non-invasive surveying methods, such as ground-penetrating radar. Historical accounts indicate that deceased civilians and military personnel, perhaps as many as 100, were buried near the fort. Although archaeologist Steven De Vore has a good idea of the bodies' location, excavation work would be needed to determine the precise location.


Rains Bring Needed Relief for Kansas Farmers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest weekly snapshot of Kansas crop conditions shows the state's winter wheat crop is mostly holding its own with recent rains bringing much needed moisture to parched farm fields. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 49 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition, with 39 percent rated as fair. The agency says 12 percent of the crop is in poor to very poor shape. Wheat in Kansas is also maturing faster than usual, with 77 percent now jointed. That compares to an average of 55 percent at that stage normally at this point in the season. Corn planting is also progressing with 35 percent of fields in the state already planted, well ahead of the 16 percent that would be average by this date. 


Sedgwick Commission Approves Vaping on County Property

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Electronic cigarettes will be permitted in public buildings in a southern Kansas county under a newly approved policy. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County commission took up the issue Monday night. The county's tobacco policy didn't previously address e-cigarettes, or "vaping" devices. The new policy was approved with a 3-2 vote. It clarifies that employees and customers can use unflavored e-cigarettes. Each county department can set its own designated areas for customers and employees who want to vape indoors. Anti-tobacco groups fear that vaporizers are enticing to young people and may encourage them to eventually take up smoking. Others say the devices are a less harmful, tar-free alternative to cigarettes. They have not been extensively studied, and there is no scientific consensus on their risks.


Wichita Man Who Posed as Veterinarian Given Probation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man who pretended to be a veterinarian and stole thousands of dollars in fraud schemes was sentenced to five years' probation. The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office announced Monday that 49-year-old Danny Thomas also was ordered to pay $6,559 to his victims and $29,347 to the Kansas Department of Labor for unemployment benefits he should not have received. Prosecutors say Thomas said he was Chase McKnight and passed forged checks to buy equipment for a pet-care facility that didn't exist. Thomas pleaded guilty to five counts of forgery, three counts of identity theft, one count of felony theft and two counts of misdemeanor theft. In exchange for his plea, the district attorney agreed not to file fraud charges for the stolen unemployment benefits.  


Chiefs Lose Appeal of Anti-Tampering Violations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas City Chiefs' appeal of anti-tampering violations has been denied by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, meaning Kansas City will forfeit its third-round draft pick this year and sixth-round pick next year. The club did have its fine reduced from $250,000 to $200,000 on Monday, while coach Andy Reid's fine was reduced from $75,000 to $60,000. Team owner Clark Hunt said in a statement the Chiefs "continue to believe that the facts of this case combined with the league's inconsistent enforcement of its tampering policies do not warrant the most severe penalty for player-related tampering in league history." The violations stem from the Chiefs contacting then-free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin when prohibited by NFL rules. Maclin, who had been drafted by Reid in Philadelphia, eventually signed with Kansas City. 


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