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Headlines for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

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

Kansas Lawmakers Push Budget Plan That Avoids Education Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are pushing a plan to close a projected budget shortfall without cutting funding to public schools. The House Appropriations Committee endorsed a bill Monday that would liquidate a state investment portfolio. The move would raise $317 million as a loan to the state's main bank account that would be paid back over seven years. The measure goes to the full House today (TUE) for debate. Lawmakers in both parties say they do not like the internal borrowing but say it's a better alternative than attempting to cut spending. The state faces a projected shortfall of about $320 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30. Senate leaders advanced a plan last week to cut education funding by $128 million but abruptly canceled a debate when some senators balked.

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Kansas Still Studying Fiscal Impact of Medicaid Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials and Medicaid expansion advocates are at odds over what it would cost to expand KanCare, the state's privatized Medicaid program. Proponents say the expansion would be at least budget neutral and possibly profitable because of the money it would bring in from the federal government, fees from managed care organizations and potential jobs created. The state's estimate on the cost is being reviewed, delaying a discussion House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Representative Daniel Hawkins said was going to occur Wednesday. Hawkins said he hopes to have the fiscal note estimate back by the end of the week to continue work on the bill.

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Kansas House Panel Not Ready to Endorse Lansing Prison Plan 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House panel is not ready to endorse a proposal to have a private company build a new prison in Lansing and lease it to the state. Members of the Appropriations Committee said Monday that they don't yet have enough information and voted 12-9 against including the project in a budget bill.  The Department of Corrections plans to solicit proposals from private companies to build a new prison to replace the state's oldest one and largest one in Lansing. Corrections department officials say that with a new, modern building, they can cut the prison's staff by more than 40 percent and use the savings to cover an annual lease payment. The agency argues that the new building also will be safer.

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Kansas House Committee Debates Concealed Guns in Hospitals 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee is considering a proposal to keep concealed guns out of public hospitals, mental health clinics and nursing homes. The Federal and State Affairs Committee took up a bill Tuesday that would allow the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, to continue barring concealed weapons. A state law will require the medical center and other hospitals to allow concealed weapons in their buildings starting in July unless they have adequate security measures such as guards or metal detectors. Committee Chairman and Abilene Republican John Barker offered an amendment to allow all public hospitals, mental health clinics and nursing homes to ban concealed guns. The committee did not finish its debate Tuesday. It plans to continue its discussion and take votes Wednesday.

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Police: 2 Officers on Leave Pending Investigations
 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two police officers are on administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and criminal investigations. The department released no details other than saying it possibly involves misconduct and the move was prompted by another agency's criminal probe. The Wichita Eagle reported Tuesday that some 2015 phone calls of former state Senator Michael O'Donnell, now a Sedgwick County commissioner, were intercepted by investigators. The paper says two former employees were sent letters by the Justice Department saying their calls with him had been intercepted. O'Donnell did not respond to a message seeking comment. Wichita businessman Brandon Steven told the paper he is the subject of an inquiry into poker and efforts to open a casino. Federal officials notified several parties that calls with him also were intercepted.

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Kansas City and Johnson County Clash on Airports 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City councilwoman is reviving talks about revamping Kansas City International Airport while calling Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's pursuit of an airport in Johnson County a "far-off dream." Councilwoman Jolie Justus brought up the Kansas City airport at a Monday press conference that was called a day after The Kansas City Star reported Brownback and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer are looking at building a large-scale passenger airport in Johnson County. Debate on KCI's future has been at a standstill since last year, when the city halted talks of refashioning KCI's three-terminal design into a nearly $1 billion single-terminal airport after polls suggested there wasn't enough community support. Justus says financial help from airlines of a revamped KCI is still on the table. Justus says a discussion of the airport's future will speed up after an April 4 bond election.

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Judge Tosses Part of Ex-University of Kansas Rower's Lawsuit 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit filed by a former member of the University of Kansas rowing team who alleged she was raped by a football player. The ruling means that Daisy Tackett will no longer be able to argue that the university should have known there was a heightened risk of sexual assault at the apartments where many football players live. But the Lawrence Journal-World reports that she can continue to pursue other claims, including that that the university was "deliberately indifferent" to her rape report and that her rowing coach retaliated against her. The university had requested that the whole case be thrown out. Tackett's attorney says she and her parents are ready to proceed. The AP generally doesn't identify alleged sexual assault victims, but Tackett said she wanted her name used.

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Parents Still Grieving Boy Killed on Kansas Water Park Slide 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The parents of a 10-year-old boy who died on the world's tallest water slide at a Kansas water park say they're still grieving but are thankful for the condolences they've received from around the world. In an interview Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Kansas state Representative Scott Schwab and his wife, Michele, recalled the day in August 2016 when Caleb died as he rode the "Verruckt" water slide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City. They say Caleb was on the ride with his older brother when he was killed. The Schwabs have reached an undisclosed settlement with the park's owners and with the manufacturer of the raft. The water slide named "Verruckt" — German for "insane" — is now closed. Scott Schwab says the death was an accident, but that "someone was negligent."

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider End to Death Penalty

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee heard testimony Monday about repealing the death penalty. But Representative Russell Jennings, the committee chair, says he doesn't know if there are enough votes to approve the proposal. Kansas is one of 31 states that allow the death penalty. The bill is brought by a group of 15 lawmakers who argue that the death penalty is expensive because of the higher level of legal work needed in capital punishment cases. They also say people can end up on death row after being wrongly convicted. The Midwest Innocence Project says more than 150 people have been exonerated after being committed to death row.  

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Kansas Bill Would Pay Wrongfully Convicted People 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proposed bill would compensate wrongfully convicted people in Kansas $80,000 for each year served in prison and give them an additional $1 million if they were on death row. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the bill, if signed into law, would make Kansas one of the most generous states for exonerated people. The state currently doesn't have a provision for compensating wrongfully convicted people who are later exonerated. If an exonerated person wants to qualify for compensation, a claim would need to be filed within two years of being released. Defendants who pleaded guilty or no contest to the crime are exempt from qualification. The nonprofit Innocence Project says that exemption should be removed. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to discuss the bill again today (TUE). 

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Several Animals at Dodge City Hunting Preserve Slaughtered 

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a Dodge City hunting preserve is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of people who slipped onto the preserve and killed several animals. Ryan Engelking, owner of Dodge City Exotic Hunt and Safari near Dodge City, says some of the animals killed recently were pets and not on the reserve for hunting. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports Engelking estimates the killings will cost him about $25,000. He says many of the animals killed were rams. The owner believes at least two people committed the crime and hunted using bows and arrows.

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Wichita Store Sued by Family of Woman Killed on Property 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The husband of a woman killed in a Dillons parking lot is suing the grocery store for negligence. The Wichita Eagle reports 60-year-old Annette Hedke died in February 2015 after slipping in the parking lot and then struck by a vehicle driven by Dillons employee Christopher Schrader. Schrader was charged with involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence and other crimes. He was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. Sean Brennan, Dennis Hedke's attorney, says it's unclear whether Schrader was working at the time of the accident. The suit, asking for more than $75,000, says Dillons should have been aware of Schrader's alcohol problem that's shown from a previous felony DUI conviction. Dillons spokewoman Sheila Lowrie said she could not comment on the suit, but that the company "remains deeply saddened by the tragic death of Mrs. Hedke."

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20 Workers Exposed to Carbon Monoxide Hospitalized in Kansas 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — About 20 employees from a Reno County manufacturing plant were sent to the hospital Monday after being exposed to carbon monoxide in the workplace. SYT USA official Alex Birkenfeldt tells The Hutchinson News that employees were suspicious something was wrong when they began complaining of headaches at the plant. They were all evacuated a couple of hours later. Birkenfeldt says the hospitalizations are a precautionary measure after emergency medical personnel conducted evaluations on-site. The employees' conditions were not immediately available. While firefighters at the scene said carbon monoxide levels were high, Birkenfeldt says the exposure was due to a leak in one of the gas heaters. The heater has since been shut down. SYT USA manufactures fiberglass parts and composite parts.

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Goal Met in Fundraising for KU-Salina Medical Building 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of a fundraising campaign say they have reached their goal for establishing a new home for the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina. A news release from Tom Martin, executive director of the Salina Regional Health Foundation says the group has raised more than $7.6 million. Its original goal was just over $7.5 million. The campaign total includes a $2 million gift from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation in Logan. The new center will be in a former bank building in downtown Salina. Demolition work started last fall and new construction is expected to begin soon. The building is expected to open in June 2018. The Kansas-Salina campus welcomed its first class in July 2011.

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Missouri Man Admits to $86K Embezzlement from 2 Churches 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $86,000 from two churches. The U.S. attorney's office says 59-year-old David Townley, of Raytown, admitted Tuesday to one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion. Prosecutors said Townley skimmed money from cash tuition payments while working as the business manager for the Nativity of Mary church and school in Independence. Prosecutors also allege that Townley stole from the Sacred Heart of Guadalupe church in Kansas City while volunteering to pay the church's bills, make financial committee reports and file the church's tax returns.

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Minimum Wage Won't Be on Kansas City's April Ballot 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City residents will not vote in April on a proposed minimum wage increase. A Jackson County (Missouri) Circuit Court judge on Tuesday denied an effort to put the minimum wage ordinance on the April 4 ballot, saying the issue needed to go through the city's ordinance approval processes. The Kansas City Star reports Judge Margene Burnett said she also has no authority to order the ordinance placed on the August ballot. She said it was up to the city to ensure the proposal gets through the process to be available for the August ballot. Voters would be asked to decide whether the city should raise its minimum wage of $10 per hour annually until it reaches $15 in 2021. The state's current minimum wage is $7.70 an hour.

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10 Sandzen Works to Be Auctioned This Weekend in Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Fans of Kansas artist Birger Sandzen will be able to bid on 10 of his works later this month. Sandzen taught in Lindsborg from 1824 until he died in 1954. He created more than 3,000 paintings, 328 prints and countless watercolors and drawings that hang in buildings across Kansas and the world. The Wichita Eagle reports the pieces for sale were owned by Emerson and Freda Moore of Wichita. Emerson Moore died last month and his daughter, Terry Moore, decided to auction them. The auction is scheduled Saturday at the Woody Auction Gallery in Wichita. The collection includes four oil paintings with a starting bid of $7,500 each, three lithographs with a starting bid at $250, one drypoint, one watercolor and one student oil.

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Wichita Man Sentenced in Deadly Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a Wichita man has been sentenced to 58 years in prison for fatally shooting another man. The Sedgwick County prosecutor's office says 24-year-old Travis Johnson shot JaRon Sanders in the head last year while they were arguing in the street in front of Sander's home. Johnson was convicted in January of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm. He also was found guilty of a 2014 probation violation and an offender registration violation in 2015.

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Assault Suspect from Kansas Says Creighton Fraternity Forced Him to Take Drugs

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A 19-year-old from Kansas City, Kansas has been charged with assaulting a woman with a knife at Creighton University over the weekend.  Christopher Wheeler says he was under the influence of drugs that he was forced to take while trying to join a fraternity.  Wheeler's attorney said in court that the drug Wheeler took contributed to his erratic behavior. Prosecutors say Wheeler went into an 18-year-old woman's room Saturday and asked for someone else before using a pocket knife to cut her throat. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Wheeler has been charged with second-degree assault and banned from Creighton's campus. He plans to live with his parents in Kansas City, Kansas, after they pay his $10,000 bond. Creighton University suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity after the weekend incident. 

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KBI Finds No Evidence of Foul Play in Salina Death 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says it has found no evidence of foul play in the death of a woman whose body was found at a Salina apartment complex last week. The KBI said Monday the 27-year-old woman's body was found Thursday at the apartment. The KBI was called in because she had a connection to an employee of the Salina Police Department. The woman's identity has not been released. The KBI said in a statement Monday that investigators processed the scene, conducted interviews and obtained preliminary autopsy results and found no evidence of foul play.

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Royals Reliever Flynn Hurt in Barn Roof Accident 

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Kansas City Royals left-hander Brian Flynn is expected to be sidelined for eight weeks after falling through a barn roof at his Oklahoma residence. The Royals said Tuesday that Flynn broke a rib and had three minor vertebrae fractures. Flynn, who went to Wichita State, had a 2.60 ERA in one start and 35 relief appearances last season, allowing 38 hits in 55 2/3 innings. In 12 relief appearances from July 31-September 6, Flynn did not allow an earned run. Flynn appeared in just one minor league game in 2015 before a shoulder injury. The Royals acquired Flynn after the 2014 season from the Miami Marlins for pitcher Aaron Crow.

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KU Rallies to Beat West Virginia 84-80 in OT

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — KU's Frank Mason III had 24 points, including two free throws to cap a frantic comeback from 14 down in the final three minutes of regulation as No. 3 Kansas stunned No. 9 West Virginia 84-80 in overtime Monday night. The Jayhawks now assume control of the Big 12 race. Devonte Graham added 18 points, hitting two of his five 3-pointers in the extra period, and Josh Jackson added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks (23-3, 11-2) avenged a loss in Morgantown while extending their lead over fourth-ranked Baylor to two games in the league standings. The Mountaineers' Esa Ahmad scored 20 points and Tarik Phillip had 18 for West Virginia (20-6, 8-5). The Mountaineers appeared to have the game locked up when they led 64-50 with 2:58 left in the second half. 
 

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