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Headlines for Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kobach: Opponent's Views Don't Fit with Kansas GOP

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach is criticizing his opponent in the August 5 Republican primary for holding views on social issues that Kobach says are out of sync with the Kansas GOP's conservative platform. But GOP challenger Scott Morgan said Tuesday that the criticism shows that Kobach doesn't care about his office. Their exchange began Monday, the deadline for Kansas voters to switch parties. Kobach's re-election campaign sent out a tongue-in-cheek statement reminding Morgan of the deadline and suggesting that he'd registered as a Republican by mistake. Morgan ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2008. In a survey, he expressed support for abortion rights and civil unions for gay couples and opposition to allowing the concealed carrying of guns. Morgan said such issues are irrelevant in the secretary of state's race.


Kansas Officials: June Revenues Miss Mark by $28M

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says June's tax collections missed estimates by $28 million, pushing the shortfall for the fiscal year that ended Monday to nearly $338 million. Preliminary figures released Monday showed Kansas collecting nearly $5.5 billion in taxes and fees in fiscal 2014. Forecasters whose projections help the state build its annual budget had expected Kansas to take in about $5.8 billion during the year. Revenues in April and May were a combined $310 million short of expectations. Jordan had expected June's collections to be $10 million to $20 million off the mark. Governor Sam Brownback's administration attributes the numbers to federal tax and spending policies that affected how investors claimed capital gains. Democrats blame the lower collections on Brownback's tax cuts in 2012 and 2013.


Davis Proposes Delaying Future Income Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis is proposing to postpone future personal income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Davis, the presumed Democratic nominee for Kansas governor says he would freeze existing income tax laws where they are now. That would block already-scheduled rate cuts. Davis says it's the "most significant step'' that can be taken to restore funding for education.


Sherrer Compares Davis to Ex-GOP Kansas Governor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Lieutenant Governor Gary Sherrer is comparing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis to former Republican Governor Bill Graves. The Davis campaign announced Monday that Sherrer would serve as one of its two senior economic advisers. Sherrer is a lifelong Republican who served as lieutenant governor under Graves from 1996 to 2003. Graves served two terms as governor from 1995 to 2003. Sherrer said Davis will approach economic policy calmly and responsibly. Sherrer was critical of the personal income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Brownback has said the income tax cuts are boosting the economy. The Davis campaign's other senior economic adviser is former Lieutenant Governor John Moore, who served as a Democrat with Governor Kathleen Sebelius from 2003 to 2007.


Kansas Teacher License Changes Take Effect

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the state is hearing from people interested in new teaching license regulations that would allow some people to teach without having education degrees. The changes taking effect Tuesday are aimed at making it easier for people with professional experience to fill teaching vacancies in math, science, technology and engineering. Scott Myers, director of the teacher licensure and accreditation for the Kansas Department of Education, says about 100 people have inquired about the changes. However, only two have met the criteria, which include a degree in a related academic field and at least five years of professional experience. The Kansas National Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, contends loosening the requirements will weaken the teaching profession and hurt the quality of education.


Missouri Offers Truce in Kansas Business Border War

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri is offering a truce to Kansas in their ongoing battle to lure businesses across the state line with lucrative tax breaks. Governor Jay Nixon was to sign legislation Tuesday in Kansas City that would prohibit Missouri from offering incentives to businesses that relocate from one of four Kansas counties to any of four Missouri counties in the Kansas City area. But the truce can take effect only if Kansas enacts a similar measure, which it has not yet done. The two states have combined to approve hundreds of millions of dollars of tax breaks in recent years for businesses to locate in the Kansas City area. Sometimes, those businesses have moved only a few miles across the state line without much of a net gain in the workforce.


Kansas Standing Firm on Business Incentive Policy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George says the state has no plans to follow Missouri's offer of a truce over the fierce competition for businesses in the Kansas City area. But he says he's willing to talk. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit Missouri from offering incentives to businesses that relocate from one of four Kansas counties to any of four Missouri counties in the Kansas City area. Kansas needs to take similar steps for Missouri's bill to take effect, and that was far from certain Tuesday. George says Kansas has offered to work with Missouri to curtail the movement of businesses across state lines. But he says Kansas doesn't want to interfere with border communities that have their own economic development priorities.


Man Arrested After Shooting, Standoff in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a man who was shot at a gas station was protecting a woman who had been kidnapped by an ex-boyfriend. Thirty-five-year-old Bryon Snyder was one of three men who hid the woman Monday inside a BP gas station when a gunman opened fire. The other two men and the woman weren't shot. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Snyder was in serious condition Tuesday. Police say Daniel Lynn Cregut fled and prompted a four-hour standoff at a Topeka house before surrendering. He is jailed on $1 million bond. Prosecutors say the woman found Cregut in her home Monday when she returned from work. She persuaded him to take her for cigarettes and escaped into the gas station. Snyder was holding the front door when he was shot.


International Teachers Join Kansas Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Nine international teachers will be in Kansas classrooms this fall to give students exposure to other cultures and languages. The state Department of Education began the Visiting International Teacher program in 2001. The program allows certified teachers from Spain and China to spend up to three years teaching in Kansas public schools. They typically provide instruction in Spanish and Chinese, and in English to students who are learning it as a second language. They are also permitted to teach art, math and science in elementary grades. All teachers are screened and sponsored by the state Education Department. The agency provides assistance to the visiting educators and to the school districts where they will teach, including any cultural adjustments to the U.S.


Kansas to Release Water Vision Plan

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is poised to release the first draft of a 50-year "water vision" plan that aims to ensure a reliable supply for all citizens. The Kansas Water Office plans to post the document Tuesday on its website, so that citizens may read it before officials begin a statewide tour next week to gather more public input. Vision team leader Susan Metzger says in a news release that while recognizing one size does not fit all, a reliable water supply means more than quantity. The quality of the water resources is equally important. She says public information and education is critical to the plan's successful adoption. A statewide tour is planned July 7-11.


Kansas Patrol Boosts Texting Ban Enforcement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol is launching a 10-day initiative that emphasizes enforcement of a state ban on texting while driving. The patrol said that starting Tuesday troopers would be looking for drivers who are violating the law and giving them citations. The initiative will overlap with the patrol's Fourth of July initiatives to stop impaired drivers. But the stepped-up enforcement of the texting ban will run through July 10. Kansas law says that drivers may not manually type, send or read a written communication on a wireless device. The ban includes text messages, instant messages, or electronic mail. Federal statistics show that texting while driving creates a crash risk 23 times greater than driving while not distracted.


Lawrence Wildlife Group Facing Financial Trouble

LINWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas organization that helps returned injured animals to the wild is suffering from some financial injuries. Operation Wildlife in Linwood is facing an unexpected $12,000 in repair costs after its well, washing machine and air conditioner broke down in the last month. Director Diane Johnson said Monday the problems come at the busiest time of the year for the organization, which is full of baby animals and the usual number of injured animals. The organization found out a month ago that its well was collapsing. The Lawrence Journal-World says a contractor fixed the well and agreed to do the work on credit. The air conditioner went out a few days later. Operation Wildlife is licensed but receives no government funds. It draws all its funds from donations.


Bicyclist Hit by Train in Wichita Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 52-year-old Wichita man who was hit by a train last month has died. The Wichita Eagle reports police say Craig McBroom died Tuesday at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis. He had been treated there since being hit by a BNSF train on June 23. Co-workers at Spangles have said McBroom often rode his bike to work. Investigators have not determined why McBroom apparently did not hear or see the train.


Massive Damage Reported at Kansas Ethanol Plant

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in southwest Kansas say the damage from an explosion at an ethanol plant could top $1 million. KWCH-TV reports that the Seward County Fire Department was called to the Arkalon Energy plant in Liberal around 7 pm Sunday. County Fire Chief Mike Rice says plant officials told crews a piece of equipment that dries corn exploded on the second floor, blasting out three walls and blowing panels off the building. No injuries were reported.Firefighters left more than eight hours later, then were called back shortly around 5:30 am Monday when the fire re-ignited. Rice says fire had gotten into insulation and ventilation pipes. Arkalon officials and their insurance company say the blast may have been caused by a natural gas explosion in the corn dryer's combustion chamber.


Hays Lifts Fireworks Ban

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — After a two-year ban, fireworks will be allowed this year in the city of Hays. The Hays City Commission voted Monday night to allow fireworks within city limits July 2-4. The Hays Post reports the commission chose in May to continue the ban for a third year. But vendors and residents have asked the commission to reconsider the ban after rain fell in June, with nearly 2 inches last weekend. A standing-room-only crowd attended Monday's special commission meeting. The commission cautioned that the city is still in a drought. The fireworks ban remains in effect outside of Hays city limits and the city of Ellis.


Man Convicted for Second Time in Topeka Barroom Murder

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man whose first conviction was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court has been found guilty again in a death after a barroom fight. A Shawnee County District Court jury on Monday convicted 29-year-old James Arthur Qualls III of premeditated first-degree murder in the July 2008 death of Joseph Beier. Qualls will be sentenced July 23. Beier was shot 12 times in a confrontation at the Whiplash Bar. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Qualls testified that he shot Beier in self-defense. Qualls was first convicted in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison with a mandatory minimum term of 25 years. But the Kansas Supreme Court ordered a new trial after finding that the judge in the first trial gave improper jury instructions.


Former Bank Employee Sentenced for Theft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former employee of a Wichita bank will spend nearly two years in prison for stealing at least $289,000 from the institution. The U.S. Attorney's office says 43-year-old Wichita resident Lisa Marie Evens was sentenced Monday to 21 months in federal prison. Evans had pleaded guilty one count of embezzlement, admitting she stole from Southwest National Bank from 2011 to 2013. She was responsible for balancing the bank vault each day. A surprise audit in April 2013 revealed the theft. Investigators examined security footage that showed Evans taking money from the vault and hiding it on her person.


Kansas Wheat Harvest Hits 40 Percent Mark

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Widespread rainfall over several days in the past week has slowed the Kansas winter wheat harvest, and hail has damaged the crops in the northwest part of the state. The National Agricultural Statistics Serve reported Monday that 40 percent of the wheat crop has now been cut, well behind the average of 66 percent in late June. About 84 percent of the wheat has matured and is ready to cut. The condition of wheat still in the field continues to deteriorate, with 61 percent reported in poor to very poor shape. About 27 percent is rated as fair, 11 percent as good and 1 percent excellent.


Kansas Growers Plant Less Corn, More Soybeans

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas growers have planted far less corn this spring while also planting the second highest soybean acreage on record. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that soybean plantings in the state are estimated at 4.25 million acres. That is an 18 percent jump from just a year ago. Corn growers planted 4.1 million acres this season, down 5 percent from last year. Also down is the acreage seeded in sorghum at 2.8 million acres in Kansas. That is a drop of 10 percent from a year ago. Winter wheat seeded in the fall of 2013 totaled 9.3 million acres, down 2 percent. But drought has taken its toll, with the latest forecast showing just 8.4 million acres of wheat expected to be harvested.


Tulsa Hospital Partnering with MD Anderson

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — St. John Medical Center has announced that it will become the first and only hospital in Oklahoma to become a certified member of the MD Anderson Cancer Network. The partnership was announced Tuesday and will offer MD Anderson's cancer care experience to St. John patients throughout Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. St. John officials say the hospital is one of only 13 certified members of the network and the partnership came after a lengthy evaluation process to ensure that clinical quality, safety and patient care standards were met. The MD Anderson network is a nationwide program of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.


Kansas Considers Scenic Overlook for Flint Hills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority is considering building a scenic outlook along Interstate 35 to allow travelers to stop and appreciate the Flint Hills. The Kansas City Star reports the turnpike authority is considering improvements to on and off ramps south of Emporia that currently serve cattle owners, who truck in their cattle to graze in the spring and then retrieve them in the fall. If the project is successful, it would be the first scenic overlook on the turnpike. Construction of the overlook is tentatively scheduled for spring 2015, although cost estimates and the design have not been determined. The project also must be approved by the turnpike authority's board.


Kansas Prosecutor Mulls Charges in Sexting Case

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) - A southwest Kansas prosecutor is considering charges against several young people suspected of being involved in a sexting case in which a teenage girl's nude photographs have been shared through text messages. The Hutchinson News says local police became aware of the incident in January when Garden City High School officials notified them that a girl reported other students were passing around nude pictures taken when she was 13 years old. Investigators identified two victims, ages 14 and 16, along with six suspects ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old. Affidavits seeking charges of electronic solicitation of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, interference with a law enforcement officer and promoting obscenity to minors have been submitted to the Finney County prosecutor's office.


Survey: Lesser Prairie Chicken Numbers Rise from 2013

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — An aerial survey shows good rains in parts of the five-state range of the federally threatened lesser prairie chicken have brought a 20 percent increase in the grouse's population from last year. A release Tuesday from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies says there were 22,415 lesser prairie chickens in this year's survey, up from 18,747 last year. The increase came in the northeast Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and south central Kansas — areas where more rain produced better prairie habitat. The bird is also in New Mexico and Colorado. In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grouse as threatened. The service said the grouse had lost more than 80 percent of its traditional habitat, mostly from human activity and the ongoing drought.


KCMO Man Sentenced for Evading Child Support

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City man who admitted fleeing the country to avoid paying child support will go to prison and must pay the nearly $171,000 he owes. The U.S. Attorney's office said 61-year-old Randy Lee Essary was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison. Essary pleaded guilty in February, admitting he stopped making court-ordered payments of $1,500 a month in 2005. He later moved to Thailand to work as an executive for major hotel development company. Investigators said his last documented entry into the U.S. was in September 2007 for his daughter's wedding in Illinois. But Essary did not fly directly to the U.S., instead flying to Canada and walking across the border into Washington state. He returned to Thailand the same way. Essary was arrested in Los Angeles in February 2012.


Groom Chases Thief from Missouri Wedding Hall

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas couple will always have an unusual wedding story to tell. Jared Lightle was outside during the reception Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in downtown Joplin when his mother said someone had taken cards from a gift table in the lobby. He took off running — in his tuxedo and patent leather shoes — yelling "Stop Thief!" His father and brother joined in the chase. Police who were investigating a traffic accident nearby eventually caught the suspect. The Joplin Globe reports 31-year-old Rosario Caruso, of Lamar, was charged with trespassing, larceny and resisting arrest. Saturday's ceremony was a renewal of vows for Jared and Stephanie Lightle, of Galena, Kansas. They were married one year ago at a courthouse in Texas just before Jared was deployed to Afghanistan.




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