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Headlines for Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Supreme Court Sides with Kansas in Water Dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says Nebraska should pay $3.7 million in damages to Kansas in a long-running legal dispute over use of water from the Republican River. The justices on Tuesday also agreed with the recommendations of a special master who found that Nebraska should pay $1.8 million on top of actual damages for using more than its legal share of the river's water in 2005 and 2006. The dispute centers on a 1943 compact allocating 49 percent of the river's water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado. Since 1999, Kansas has complained that Nebraska uses more than its share of water from the river, which originates in Colorado and runs mostly through Nebraska before ending in Kansas.

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Kansas House Panel Considers Blocking Common Core Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Conservative Republicans are pushing to overhaul the school curriculum in Kansas with a bill blocking the Common Core standards. The House Education Committee held a hearing Monday on the bill, which would bar any school district from adopting curriculums developed by entities outside of the state. Common Core has been adopted by 44 states, but critics have objected to it as inflexible and say it usurps local school decision-making.  Republican Representative Ron Highland of Wamego, who chairs the committee, says many of his constituents are opposed to the standards.  But Democratic Representative Ed Trimmer of Winfield said that the bill could have unintended consequences like blocking advanced placement courses and instruction preparing students for college entrance exams.  
    
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Plan to Allow Kansas Groceries to Sell Wine & Liquor Advances

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas House committee has approved a bill to allow grocery stores to sell wine, liquor and full-strength beer starting in July 2018.  The measure endorsed Monday by the Commerce Labor and Economic Development Committee also would allow convenience stores to sell full-strength beer in July 2018.  The committee's 10-7 vote sends the bill to the full House for debate.  Groceries and convenience stores currently can sell what's known as cereal malt beverage with a 3.2 percent alcohol content.  Only liquor stores can sell other packaged alcoholic beverages.  Grocery and convenience store chains have been pushing for the change.  But liquor store owners say the change would destroy small businesses and make it harder to prevent alcohol sales to underage buyers. 

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Kansas Senate to Debate Concealed Carry Gun Bill 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Senate is expected to debate a bill this week to allow residents who are 21 or older to carry concealed guns without a state permit. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce says the debate wll likely take place Wednesday or Thursday. Bruce is a Nickerson Republican, and he's the measure's leading sponsor. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee approved the bill last week. It ends a requirement for people wanting to carry concealed to get a state permit. A permit costs $132.50, and a person must undergo eight hours of training to get one. Gun-rights groups note Kansas has long allowed open carrying of weapons without a state permit. The bill's critics say training should be mandated for people carrying concealed weapons.

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Kansas Bills Would Allow Medical Cannabis Oil and Industrial Hemp Research

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Hemp would be grown for research and cannabis products would be legalized to treat chronic seizures under two bills before the Kansas Legislature. The House Health and Human Services Committee endorsed a bill Monday that would allow companies to produce hemp oils and sell them to people suffering from chronic seizures. Democratic Representative John Wilson of Lawrence sponsored the bill and said about 24,000 Kansans suffering from such disorders could be affected. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on a separate bill Monday that would direct the Department of Agriculture to study the possible uses and economic feasibility of industrial hemp production. Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Jake Worcester said he supported the bill and that the department already has held preliminary talks with Kansas State University about potential collaboration on the hemp research project.

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Health Problems Force New Kansas Lawmaker to Resign 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A central Kansas man serving his first term in the Kansas House says he plans to resign this week because of health problems. Representative J. Basil Dannebohm, a Republican from Ellinwood, says he has early-onset Parkinson's disease. He says since being sworn in on January 12, he has found the pace of the Legislature exhausting and is growing weaker. The Hutchinson News reports the 33-year-old Dannebohm plans to retire Friday. Republican precinct committee members in the 113th district will meet in March and choose a successor. The 113th District covers parts of five counties in south central Kansas. 

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Appeals Court Overturns Airman's HIV Assault Conviction 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The nation's highest military court has reversed the aggravated assault conviction of a Kansas airman accused of exposing multiple sex partners to HIV at swinger parties in Wichita. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces unanimously ruled Monday that prosecutors failed to prove that any of David Gutierrez's acts were likely to transmit HIV to his partners. However, the court upheld a lesser conviction of assault for offensive touching to which his sexual partners did not consent and it also upheld his conviction for adultery, even though his wife participated with him in the swinger lifestyle. Gutierrez was a sergeant at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita in 2011 when he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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Motorist Charged in Newton Teacher's Death

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) - A 40-year-old woman is facing charges after authorities say she fatally struck a Newton teacher with her vehicle while the teacher was jogging last year. Kala Horton of Halstead is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of vehicular homicide in the death of 28-year-old Crystal Stauffer. Stauffer was a physical education teacher at the Santa Fe 5/6 Center. County Attorney David Yoder says he waited until a blood test on Horton was finished before filing charges against her. A blood sample was drawn from Horton after Stauffer's death and was submitted to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation lab. The Harvey County Sheriff's Office said the test result was positive for methamphetamine.

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Siemens in Hutchinson Ends Furloughs

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Siemens Energy officials say they plan to end furloughs that had been implemented because of a dockworkers labor dispute on the West Coast. The company said the plant in Hutchinson is expected to be back in full operation by Monday. The Hutchinson News reports Siemens furloughed about 60 employees last Wednesday because parts needed to build wind turbine nacelles were held up by the dockworkers strike on the West Coast. A tentative agreement in that labor dispute was announced on Friday. The Siemens plant employs about 360 full-time workers and contract workers.

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Pittsburg State to Unveil Warhol Artwork Donation

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Pittsburg State University will unveil a donated Andy Warhol artwork this week that will be on display at the university's new arts center. A ceremony to unveil the donation from Robert and Gwendolyn Tyler will be held Wednesday morning in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Pittsburg State's art department released a statement saying that the Warhol piece will be inspiration to those who visit the new arts center. The Joplin Globe reports that Robert Tyler, president of Winfield Consumer Products, is a 1975 graduate of Pittsburg State. 

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Kansas State Rallies to Upset No. 8 Kansas, 70-63

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Nigel Johnson scored a career-high 20 points as Kansas State rallied to beat eighth-ranked Kansas 70-63 on Monday night. Nino Williams finished with 15 points and Thomas Gipson added 12 points as the Wildcats (14-15, 7-9 Big 12) overcame an eight-point, second-half deficit to beat KU for only the fifth time in the past 54 meetings. The Jayhawks (22-6, 11-4) trudged off the court as K-State students poured from the stands celebrating the biggest highlight of what has been a dreary season in Manhattan. The Wildcats had lost seven of their last eight games and it appears that their string of eight straight 20-win seasons will end. But at least for one night, against their biggest rival, they looked like a Top 25 team in their own right.

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