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Headlines for Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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

Kansas Senate to Debate Changes in Laws on Special Elections 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate is preparing to debate a bill rewriting state laws on special congressional elections so that military personnel overseas would have more time to vote. The Senate's debate Tuesday came after the House approved the measure last week. Lawmakers hope to send the bill to Governor Sam Brownback this week. The bill arose from Republican congressman Mike Pompeo's nomination by President-elect Donald Trump as Central Intelligence Agency director. If Pompeo is confirmed, the 4th District in south-central Kansas would have the state's first special congressional election since 1950. State law says a special election must occur from 45 to 60 days after the governor declares a vacancy. The bill would make the window from 75 to 90 days, giving people overseas more time to receive and return ballots.


Kansas House Committee Will Consider Halting Campus Carry
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several Kansas lawmakers are seeking to weaken a law that will allow concealed guns on state college campuses starting this summer. A bill introduced Tuesday would permanently exempt several types of health care facilities and colleges from the law that allows guns in public buildings. That exemption will otherwise expire July 1. One of the bill's backers, Overland Park Republican Representative Stephanie Clayton, says lawmakers have heard from constituents who want campus carry stopped. But Representative John Whitmer says the bill is "dead on arrival" and possibly won't even get a committee hearing. Governor Sam Brownback signed the original measure. He has said through a spokeswoman that he supports the Second Amendment, but will give "due consideration to any bill that reaches his desk."


Kansas House Member Pursuing Bill on Transgender Students 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Kansas House member says he's drafting a bill to require transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms associated with their genders at birth. Republican Representative John Whitmer of Wichita said Tuesday his bill also would impose the same policy for locker rooms and accommodations for students on overnight trips. Whitmer said he plans to introduce the measure soon. He said it will not apply to private schools or higher education, and it won't allow people to sue for damages if a school violates the policy. He and other supporters of such a policy believe it would protect students and their privacy. But LGBT-rights advocate Tom Witt says transgender students shouldn't be singled out because it will make them targets for bullying.


Kansas Board of Regents Will Ask for Funding Restoration 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents will ask the legislature to restore $30 million in funding that was cut last year. Regents CEO and President Blake Flanders says the board would like to see state funding at least stabilize. In 2012, tuition became a larger source of university revenue than state general fund support. Flanders noted the shift in a presentation Tuesday on the board's long-term goals to the Senate Education Committee. The Regents' goals include increasing educational attainment, aligning the higher education system with the needs of the economy and ensuring university excellence. Flanders says increasing attainment is necessary because higher wages will bring in more state income tax revenue. To reach that goal, the Regents created a pilot program to help high school students transition to college math.


Court: Ex-Employees Must Pay Kansas Prosecutor's Office 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two former employees who sued the Shawnee County prosecutor's office claiming they were terminated because of racial or gender discrimination will have to pay court costs in the wake of a jury verdict finding their allegations baseless. A court filing Tuesday formally dismissed the civil lawsuit that Lisa Anne Moore, of Lawrence, and Krystal Boxum-Debolt, of Rancho Rio, had brought against the Shawnee County district attorney's office. It awarded District Attorney Mike Kagay costs for the lawsuit. Jurors on Friday found no discrimination occurred. The lawsuit alleged former Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor created a hostile work environment and fired the women victim-witness specialists in 2010 in retaliation for their complaints. Taylor testified last week that he treated them fairly. He didn't run for re-election in November.


Kansas Grasslands Included in USDA Conservation Program 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than 7,400 acres of Kansas grasslands have been included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's program for grasslands conservation. The Wichita Eagle reports that in the voluntary Grasslands Conservation Reserve Program, grasslands threatened by either development or conversion to row crops are instead maintained as livestock grazing areas. About 200,000 of the more than 300,000 total acres accepted into the program were offered by what the USDA deems small-scale livestock operations. Those operations would have 100 or fewer head of cattle, and can offer up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. According to a USDA statement, participants can also receive annual payment of up to 75 percent of their land's grazing value. The statement says the department has invested more than $29 billion since 2009 to "help producers make conservation improvements." 


Man Jailed on Suspicion of Robbery, Animal Cruelty 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City man accused of participating in animal cruelty and a string of armed robberies this summer in Lawrence is currently being held at Douglas County Jail. The Lawrence Journal-World reports 19-year-old Pierre Percy Walker was booked Friday on suspicion of one felony count of cruelty to animals and three felony counts of aggravated robbery. Police say three armed men approached three unrelated victims in separate locations on June 6 and robbed them. All suspects used a shotgun, and a dog was shot to death in one incident while on a walk with its owner. Walker was initially at Wyandotte County Jail after being arrested a month after the incidents, on suspicion of what police say was an unrelated aggravated robbery. He was later transferred to Douglas County to face additional charges.


Kansas Woman Sentenced for Theft from Parent Teacher Group 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 45-year-old Olathe woman was placed on probation for stealing more than $34,000 from the parent teacher organization of an Overland Park middle school. Christine Glover was sentenced Monday for the theft from the organization at Pleasant Ridge Middle School in the Blue Valley School District. The thefts occurred while Glover was treasurer of the parent-teacher group between August 2014 and February 2016. She pleaded guilty in November to felony theft. The Kansas City Star reports Glover has made restitution of $34,660. She also was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and write an apology letter. Glover also was taken into custody after Monday's hearing to serve seven days in jail as a condition of her probation.


Dog Who Brought Comfort to Kansas Funeral Home Mourners Dies 

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Labrador retriever who brought comfort to mourners at a Kansas funeral chapel has died. The Leavenworth Times reports that the dog, named Windsor, frequently went to work with his owners, Davis and Debbie Moulden, at their Davis Funeral Home in downtown Leavenworth. Davis Moulden says he observed "pain melt away" from mourners when Windsor put his nose or paw on them. Davis said he didn't train Windsor to be a comfort dog and that Windsor "did it on his own." Windsor died earlier this month at the age of 10 of cancer. The Mouldens also have a 5-month-old yellow Lab who already is making the rounds. His name is JC, which stands for James Collier. James Collier Davis was Davis Moulden's grandfather and former Leavenworth mayor.


Bond Reduced for Suspect in 1989 Kansas Homicide Case 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A $1 million bond was cut in half for a Missouri woman charged in the 1989 killing of a Kansas teenager. Carolyn Heckert, of Smithville, was charged last year with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Sarah DeLeon after the investigation into the case was reopened. DeLeon was found stabbed to death along railroad tracks in Kansas City, Kansas, in December 1989. The Kansas City Star reports Heckert has been in custody since she was charged in October. Investigators haven't said how she was linked to the crime. During a hearing Monday, her bond was reduced to $500,000 after her attorney argued no evidence linked Heckert to the killing and she was not a risk to flee. Heckert will be on house arrest if she makes bond.


Power Outages Continue in Western Kansas After Weekend Ice Storm

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Several thousand people in the Dodge City area are still without power after an ice storm coated the region during the weekend. The Victory Electric Cooperative in Dodge City reported at least 3,000 homes were without power early Tuesday morning and a spokesman says it could take several days to restore all power. The icy conditions caused most schools around Dodge City to call off classes for today (TUE). Victory Electric Cooperative officials say the utility is bringing in more crews to help restore services. Victory serves customers in parts of nine other southwest Kansas counties. A shelter was opened Monday at the Dodge City Community College. The Kansas Highway Patrol reported two deaths and numerous injuries on icy Kansas roads over the holiday weekend. Two people were injured in a 20-car pile-up near downtown Wichita on Saturday. 


Ice Blamed for Fatal Kansas City-Area Crash 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say a Kentucky woman died yesterday (MON) from injuries suffered in a crash Friday night on an icy stretch of Interstate 70 near Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that police identified the woman as 32-year-old Amanda Hrenya of Florence, Kentucky. She was injured when she lost control of a sport utility vehicle on the icy road and struck a rock bluff near Independence. Police are continuing to investigate the crash.


Federal Lawsuit Filed in Death of Leavenworth Prison Inmate  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The family of a Topeka man who died while imprisoned at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth contends in a federal lawsuit that his death was caused by inadequate medical care. The lawsuit says Otis Bradley collapsed in his cell in December 2014 and died in February 2015. Bradley was serving a five-year sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the family alleges that after Bradley collapsed, doctors at a Leavenworth hospital said he needed further evaluation. The lawsuit alleges a physician working for the prison said no further intervention was needed but Bradley's condition continued to deteriorate before he was hospitalized again and eventually died. A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said the agency doesn't comment on ongoing litigation.


Gambling Machines Seized at 2 El Dorado Stores 

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officials have seized 10 gaming machines from two El Dorado businesses. KAKE-TV reports that Butler County Sheriff's officers and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission seized the machines last week after a two-month investigation. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet the machines aren't allowed in businesses because gambling is not legal in Kansas anywhere but in casinos. Four machines and $4,200 were seized from the True Lies Bar & Grill. Six machines and $6,800 were seized from the Jump Star Convenience Store.


Airbnb to Collect Taxes on Its Bookings in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Airbnb says it will begin collecting taxes on its home-sharing bookings in the state. The Kansas City Star reports the company reached an agreement with the Kansas Department of Revenue to automatically collect and remit the taxes. That will make Airbnb lodging similar to hotels in terms of taxing. The company says Airbnb hosts won't have to handle the taxes and their fees to Airbnb will not increase. The amounts collected will vary depending on the host's location. The collections will include the state retail sales tax of 6.5 percent, local sales taxes and "local transient guest taxes" ranging from 2 percent to 9 percent. Airbnb now has statewide tax deals with 15 states. The agreement in Kansas is effective February 1. 


Missouri Supreme Court Orders Kansas City Vote on Wage Hike 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court is ordering Kansas City to put a proposed minimum-wage hike to $15 an hour on the ballot. Supreme Court justices ruled Tuesday that a vote is needed before judges can decide if a wage increase is lawful. A group of citizens had collected enough signatures to force a vote on minimum wage in 2015. But the vote was scheduled to take place after the enactment of a new state law prohibiting higher local minimum wages from the state's minimum wage. Missouri's minimum wage is $7.70 an hour. Kansas City argued it shouldn't be forced to spend money on an election for an issue banned by state law. Supreme Court justices say the issue must go before voters before it can be challenged in court.


Husband Arrested in Winfield Woman's Shooting Death

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Winfield police are investigating the shooting death of a 33-year-old woman. Police say officers were called to a home Sunday evening and found the body of Melissa Gardner. Gardner's husband, 32-year-old Zachary Gardner, was arrested and booked into the Cowley County Jail. He is facing a possible second-degree murder charge. He has not been charged at this time and police describe him as a person of interest. Winfield Police Chief Danny Parker says an emergency call was made about 7 p.m. Sunday and when officers arrived, they found the woman had died. Parker says there was trauma to the woman's body, but police have not confirmed the cause of death.  


Stolen Vehicle Crashes into Kansas City Building

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City, Missouri police say a car crashed into a building near downtown after colliding with a stolen vehicle whose driver was fleeing from police. Captain Cindy Cotterman says the crash happened Monday when the driver of a vehicle that had been reported stolen during a carjacking ran a stop sign. The Kansas City Star reports that the vehicle that was hit struck a gas meter then crashed into a building that houses six apartment units upstairs as well as artist galleries and work spaces below. Cotterman says three people inside the stolen vehicle were arrested after they were evaluated at a hospital. The driver of the vehicle that crashed into the building also was taken to a hospital. Crews were brought in to cap the gas leak.


Kansas Beats Iowa State 76-72 for 17th Straight Win

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Frank Mason III had 16 points and Landen Lucas added 14 as the number 2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks beat Iowa State 76-72 on Monday night for its 17th straight win. Svi Mykhailiuk also had 13 points for Kansas (17-1, 6-0 Big 12), who lost their last two-games at Iowa State. Iowa State star Monte Morris scored 23 points with seven rebounds and seven assists for the Cyclones (11-6, 3-3), who saw their recent string of success against the Jayhawks come to an end.


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