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Headlines for Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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

Kansas Board Approves Rule to Reject Votes over Citizenship Proof

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas board has approved a temporary rule requiring county election officials to throw out thousands of votes cast in state and local races by people who have registered without providing proof of their U.S. citizenship. The State Rules and Regulations Board's action Tuesday came only a day before Kansas opens advance voting for its August 2 primary. The rule was sought by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and will be in effect for 120 days, through the November 8 general election. The affected voters registered at motor vehicle offices without providing citizenship papers as required by a 2013 state law. About 17,000 are in that category. A federal judge ruled in May that federal law requires the state to register them as voters for federal races.


Ex-College President Challenges Kansas Senate Majority Leader 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former longtime leader of Hutchinson Community College is challenging one of the top Republican leaders of the Kansas Senate in the upcoming primary election. Ed Berger, president of Hutchinson Community College for 23 years, is running against Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson in a primary race in Reno and Kingman counties. Berger, who retired from the college in 2014, told The Wichita Eagle that income tax cuts approved by the Legislature in 2012 have led to mismanagement of the state's budget. He says he's open to both looking for cost savings and finding ways to increase revenue. Bruce was a strong supporter of the tax cuts and says they have forced lawmakers to focus on spending and cut some government pork. 


Kansas Lawmakers Approve Interim Study Topics 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas foster care system is among the topics that legislative committees plan to study before the start of the 2017 session. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Larned and Osawatomie State Hospitals also will be studied. The review will include the Sexual Predator Treatment Program at Larned. A group called the Legislative Coordinating Council, which is made up of the top Republican and Democratic leaders from both chambers, approved the list of study topics Monday. School funding isn't on the list, although an interim committee could be approved to examine the issue later. The panel also approved a three-year, $271,070 contract to move the Legislature's public website and backup data center to a third-party web hosting company. Currently, the website is hosted in-house.


Brownback Says He Has Right to Wait to Fill Magistrate Role 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he has the right to wait longer than 90 days to fill a vacant district magistrate position. A written response filed Monday in the Kansas Supreme Court on Brownback's behalf says the "precise timing of the appointment is left to the Governor's constitutionally-provided executive power." Three 26th District judges filed a petition last month after Brownback announced he would wait until after the August primaries to consider filling the vacancy. The opening was created when Judge Tommy Webb of Haskell County announced his retirement in February. The petition seeks to force Brownback to fill the position, saying Kansas law requires five magistrate judges to serve the six-county district. Brownback contends in the court filing that granting the request would "violate the separation of powers."


Advocates Seek Federal Action on Kansas Medicaid Backlog

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for people with disabilities are urging the federal government to require Kansas to quickly clear its backlog of Medicaid applications and to resolve problems with its application process as a condition for approving any renewal of its privatized program. The Disability Rights Center asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to force Kansas to document a "realistic plan" to eliminate the backlog and to notify all applicants of their appeal rights. It also wants Kansas to inform approved applicants they are entitled to retroactive coverage. The Kansas Department for Health and Environment told The Topeka Capital Journal that the state is not required to inform people of their right to a hearing, but does so anyway if an application takes longer than 45 days to process.


Democrats Working to Expand U.S. Senate Map into Red States

WASHINGTON (AP) — Following a recruiting success in Indiana, Democrats are eyeing Kansas as they try to expand their playing field into red states and take back the Senate. Republican Senator Jerry Moran is up for re-election and Kansas Democrats are considering a potential candidate in a businessman, Greg Orman, who ran for the Senate two years ago as an independent, to see if he might make another try. The Democratic party official with knowledge of the potential Orman candidacy discussed it on condition of anonymity ahead of an official decision. The focus on Kansas follows developments Monday in Indiana, where Democrats were applauding news that former Senator Evan Bayh is looking to make a comeback. Bayh's candidacy would instantly create a competitive race in Indiana, where incumbent Republican Senator Dan Coats is retiring.


Lawrence Explores Cuts to Avoid Deficit, Prepare for Tax Lid

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence is looking into cutting $1.5 million in spending from its general fund to avoid a deficit and prepare for a new state-imposed property tax lid to take effect. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the positions up for elimination include the city auditor, director of arts and culture, small business facilitator and assistant director of finance. The City Commission will have about a month to review and revise the proposal from City Manager Tom Markus. Markus says that in previous years, the city has "deficit budgeted" and pulled money from other funds. He also noted challenges posed by the new tax lid law. Local governments will have to hold a special election starting with next year's budget if they want to keep any revenue above the tax lid.


Police Investigate Deadly Kansas City, Kansas Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said in a news release that officers found the victim dead in a street while responding Monday night to reports of a shooting. The victim was in his mid-20s, but his name wasn't immediately released. Police are urging anyone with information to come forward.


Larned Mayor to Take Hospital Job; Urges Locals to Follow 

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of Larned has decided to help a state hospital in his city experiencing staffing difficulties by taking a job there, and he is encouraging others to do the same. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Mayor WilliamNusser, a tax accountant, is training in the evenings to become a part-time mental health technician at Larned State Hospital in the city of about 4,000. Nusser is also trying to convince community members that the hospital is a viable option for people looking for second jobs. He hopes people will join the hospital's pool of workers available on a part-time basis. He says people who work a minimum of 32 hours per month can remain in the pool. The hospital's staffing vacancy rate was 34 percent as of Friday.


Chelsea Manning 'Glad to Be Alive' Following Suicide Attempt

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Chelsea Manning has tweeted that she's OK following her hospitalization for a suicide attempt last week. The 28-year-old transgender soldier imprisoned for sending classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks also posted on her Twitter account Monday night, "I'm glad to be alive." Manning doesn't have internet access behind bars at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, but wrote last year that she dictates her tweets to someone who puts them online. Manning's attorneys say the suicide attempt happened at the prison early on July 5. Manning was convicted as Bradley Manning in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years. She's appealing the criminal case, arguing her sentence is unfair and her actions were those of a naive, troubled soldier.


Democrats Working to Expand Senate Challenges into Kansas

WASHINGTON (AP) - Following a recruiting success in Indiana, Democrats are eyeing Kansas as they try to expand their playing field into red states and take back the Senate. Republican Senator Jerry Moran is up for re-election and Kansas Democrats are considering a potential candidate in Johnson County businessman, Greg Orman, who ran for the Senate two years ago as an independent. A Democratic official with knowledge of the potential Orman candidacy discussed it on condition of anonymity ahead of an official decision. The focus on Kansas follows developments Monday in Indiana, where Democrats were applauding news that former Senator Evan Bayh is looking to make a comeback. Bayh's candidacy would instantly create a competitive race in Indiana, where incumbent Republican Senator Dan Coats is retiring. 


Amazon Plans Center for Kansas City, Kansas

EDGERTON, Kan. (AP) - Amazon is adding a 1,000-job fulfillment center in Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Mark Holland confirmed Monday that the e-commerce powerhouse will occupy an 856,000-square-foot industrial building. It is expected to open in late 2017 near Interstate 70. The Kansas City Star reports that the developer asked for a tax abatement in June and said an "online sales fulfillment business" would be the tenant. However, the company was not publicly identified then.  In March, Amazon announced a similar center in Edgerton. Amazon now has five facilities in Kansas. Brownback says the Kansas City, Kansas, center shouldn't affect them. The company decided in 2014 to close a facility in Coffeyville. The new center will feature classrooms to help employees earn their associate degrees.


Great Mall of the Great Plains Demolition Begins in Olathe 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Crews are tearing down a suburban Kansas City mall nearly 20 years after the $110 million, 812,000-square-foot structure opened. The Kansas City Star reports that demolition of the Great Mall of the Great Plains began Monday in Olathe. The "value center" offered a mix of stores selling merchandise at bargain prices. But it quickly went downhill after drawing nearly 1 million visitors during its first month of operations in August 1997. It closed in September 2015 after many national brands pulled out, and smaller retailers closed or relocated. Demolition is expected to take about six months. The owners are the Great Olathe Center LLC, an entity of the Van Tuyl Group. They haven't determined the next use for the site. Burlington Coat Factory will remain open during the demolition.


Teen Accused of Hutchinson High School Plot Sentenced 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 14-year-old Hutchinson boy was sentenced to nearly four years in juvenile detention for his role in a plan to launch a pipe bomb attack on Hutchinson High School. The teenager was sentenced Tuesday to 45 months in detention, followed by three years of aftercare. Authorities say he and a 15-year-old Hutchinson boy conspired to kill specific staff at the school with pipe bombs. Court documents allege the pair wrote plans for the bombs and used gunpowder from blasting caps to trigger the bomb. Another student alerted the high school administration of the alleged plot. Both teens pleaded no contest to a charge of conspiracy to commit capital murder. The boy apologized to the school, the court and his family for his actions.


Man Nets 8 Years for Kansas, Missouri Bank Robberies 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old man has been sentenced to eight years and four months in federal prison for robbing two Kansas banks and one in Missouri The U.S. attorney's office says Robert Robinson, of Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced Monday. Prosecutors say that while robbing a Commerce Bank branch on May, 30, 2014, in Overland Park, Kansas, he threatened to "start shooting up the place" in a note He also admitted through his plea to robbing another Commerce Bank branch that same day in St. Joseph, Missouri, and a Bank of America in Overland Park, Kansas, earlier that month.


Ex-Workers File Age Discrimination Suit Against Wichita Aircraft Parts Maker

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Twenty-four workers laid off by Spirit AeroSystem in 2013 have sued the aircraft parts maker alleging it targeted older workers covered by its health insurance who had costly medical conditions. The former employees, members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, filed the class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wichita on behalf of themselves and an estimated 160 other employees age 40 or older who were discharged from their jobs. Spirit AeroSystems says that reductions in force are never easy and its decisions are based on non-discriminatory criteria. The company contends it is confident the evidence in the case will show it is compliant with the law in its employment practices.  The 92-page complaint challenges the employment discharges and alleges blacklisting of those workers from new jobs.  


Report: US Wheat Production Much Higher Than Expected 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report is forecasting a much bigger U.S. winter wheat crop than had been expected just a month ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday that it now expects the nation's wheat production to come in at 1.63 billion bushels. That number is up 8 percent from their estimate just last month, and up 19 percent from last year's crop. It comes amid record yields averaging 53.9 bushels an acre, making up for fewer harvested wheat acres. The updated report comes as the nation's biggest producer, Kansas, wraps up its own wheat harvest. Kansas farmers have cut more than 91 percent of their crop. In Kansas, the wheat crop is forecast at 453.6 million bushels with average yields of 56 bushels per acre from 8.1 million acres.


Man Found Dead in Sedgwick County Lake 

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — A 54-year-old man has been found dead in a private southern Kansas lake after failing to return from a late-night fishing trip. The Wichita Eagle reports that a family member found the body Monday. The victim had gone fishing late Sunday night and the relative went looking for him when he didn't return. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says there is no reason to think the man's death is anything but an accidental drowning. Family told authorities that it wasn't unusual for the man to go fishing late at night. The lake is owned by the Fraternal Order of Police and the man had permission to fish there. It wasn't immediately known whether the man was a current or former law enforcement member.


Kansas Drowning Victim's Body Recovered from Lake in Oklahoma

SKIATOOK, Okla. (AP) — Crews have recovered the body of a Kansas man who disappeared while swimming in Lake Skiatook on the Fourth of July. Tulsa television station KOTV reports that 36-year-old Chance Humble of Coffeyville, Kansas, disappeared at a swimming area at the lake in Osage County in northeastern Oklahoma. Witnesses say Humble jumped off a boat to go swimming, resurfaced, threw his hat onto the sundeck of the boat then went under again and did not come back up. Authorities say Humble's body was found about 200 yards down the lake shore from that area around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Officials say the area where the victim disappeared is between 35 and 60 feet deep, with bluffs below the surface that make the search challenging.


Affidavit: Denied Phone Call Prompted Randle Jail Threat 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A court filing says a refused phone call precipitated former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle's threatening to kill a deputy while jailed on other charges in Kansas. Randle was charged last month in Sedgwick County with one count of criminal threat. The Wichita Eagle reports that an arrest affidavit released Monday alleges Randle was upset that he had been refused a phone call May 14 and repeatedly told the deputy he would kill him when he gets released. Twenty-four-year-old Randle has had a string of run-ins with the law. He's also been charged in Kansas with a casino disturbance and with backing his car into three people. A message left Monday with Randle's public defender, James Crawford, wasn't immediately returned. The Cowboys released Randle last year.


Family Sues Kansas City Chiefs over Fan's Beating Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The family of a Missouri man fatally beaten in 2013 outside of Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, is suing the NFL franchise. The Kansas City Star reports the wrongful-death lawsuit was filed Monday in Jackson County (Missouri) on behalf of Kyle Van Winkle's widow and his son, who was just weeks old when Van Winkle died. Seeking unspecified damages, the lawsuit blames a lack of adequate security in the parking lot at the time Van Winkle was beaten during an altercation. The law firm behind the lawsuit says the lawsuit's goal is to make Arrowhead safer for fans. The Chiefs have declined to comment. Joshua Bradley of Independence has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Van Winkle's death and is serving five years of probation.


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