Judge: Kansas Can't Cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid Money
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has blocked Kansas from cutting off Medicaid funding for two Planned Parenthood affiliates. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kansas, issued the temporary order Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by local Planned Parenthood affiliates. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment planned to cut off funding Thursday for services such as exams and cancer screenings for poor patients receiving health coverage through Kansas's Medicaid program. Federal courts have prevented other states from cutting Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. Kansas state health officials have cited a dispute over a clinic inspection in December and allegations against Planned Parenthood affiliates in Oklahoma and Texas that Planned Parenthood has called unfounded. Planned Parenthood says it's being targeted because it provides abortions, even though Medicaid funds don't cover abortions.
Kansas Turnpike to Try Video Enforcement in Some K-Tag Lanes
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority will eliminate gates at three K-Tag lanes this week as part of a pilot program to test video enforcement. Turnpike spokeswoman Jeri Biehler says video enforcement will begin this week at Interstate 70 toll plazas in east Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas, and at a toll plaza on Interstate 35 on the Oklahoma border. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the new program uses overhead video cameras, instead of gates, to monitor K-Tag express lane traffic. Transponders in K-Tags will be read in the lane. The cameras will capture the license plates of drivers who use the lanes without K-Tags. Those drivers will receive invoices in the mail. After the system is tested for efficiency, KTA plans to fully implement the program later this summer.
ACLU: Kansas Official 'Deliberately' Creating Voter Chaos
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Civil rights groups are calling on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to rescind instructions telling local election officials to throw out votes in local and state races cast by tens of thousands of people who register at motor vehicle offices without proving U.S. citizenship. The organizations wrote a letter Tuesday noting a Kansas judge has already twice ruled Kobach lacks the legal authority to operate such a two-tiered election system. Their letter says that for him to disregard the court's rulings and knowingly operate an illegal system shows a "troublingly cavalier attitude" toward the rule of law and disrespect for voters. Kobach did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Micah Kubic, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, says Kobach is "deliberately creating chaos" for voters.
Kansas Agencies, Universities Study Ways to Combat Zika Virus
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State and county agencies are joining with university laboratories in searching for ways to make sure the Zika virus doesn't take hold in Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has started a statewide surveillance program to monitor the mosquitoes that spread the virus, and it's preparing to release a plan of action. The Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University has increased research on the virus, and the Shawnee County Health Agency has created an awareness program to deter any further increase of Zika virus cases in the state. Five individuals have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in Kansas, with all of those cases travel-related. There have been 820 cases of Zika virus in the U.S.
Kansas Names First Director of Unmanned Aircraft Systems
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel will lead Kansas's efforts to establish policies and procedures for the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones. Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King on Tuesday announced the appointment of Bob Brock, a Pittsburg native. Brock worked with drones during his 22-year Air Force career. He also was a flight safety officer and instructor pilot. King said in a news release that protecting the privacy and public safety of Kansans as the use of drones increases will be Brock's top priority. Brock will have offices in Topeka and at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina.
Experts Call Wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma "Ecological Cleansing"
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The biggest wildfire in Kansas history has a silver lining despite scorching nearly 600 square miles of land in Kansas and Oklahoma. Conservation experts say it would have taken decades to clear out the number of eastern red cedars consumed by the Anderson Creek fire in March. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks agent Ken Brunson called the blaze an "ecological cleansing for the environment" because it killed so many cedars, also known as junipers. Red cedars are drought-resistant trees that crowd out native grasses, suck up moisture from the soil and reduce the amount of forage for wildlife and livestock. Aron Flanders with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates it would have cost Kansas landowners $56 million to remove the same number of trees killed in the fire.
Topeka Man Dies After Falling from Roof While Shooting Fireworks
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Kansas man who climbed onto a roof to launch fireworks is dead after falling from atop his Topeka home. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Christen Locke fell from the roof after he was injured by a firework just after midnight Tuesday morning. Topeka police Lt. Jennifer Cross says the call was originally reported as a fall but an investigation revealed the fireworks accident. Locke was transported to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and later died.
Normal Operations Resume at Lansing Prison After Lockdown
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Lansing Correctional Facility's maximum-security unit returned to normal operations after being on lockdown since Thursday. Corrections spokesman Adam Pfannenstiel says normal operations returned Tuesday and visitation for inmates in the maximum custody unit also resumed. The lockdown was imposed Thursday after different inmates attacked staff in what is believed to be four unrelated incidents. Pfannenstiel says the staff members involved suffered only minor injuries. He says an investigation to confirm the attacks were unrelated is continuing.
Wheat Harvest Winding Down in Southern Kansas Counties
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report says growers have cut about 79 percent of their winter wheat crop in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Tuesday that progress is near the five-year average for this time of year. Harvest is almost wrapped up in parts of Kansas. More than 90 percent of the crop is now in the bin in central, south-central northeast, east-central and southeast regions of the state. Harvest is 43 percent finished in the northwest corner of the state, with 58 percent of the crop cut in the west-central region. The agency also gave mostly favorable crop condition updates this week to corn, soybean and sorghum crops now growing across the state.
Woman Charged with Murder in 85-Year-Old Mother's Death
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth woman is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the death of her 85-year-old mother Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson says 59-year-old Victoria Smith was charged Tuesday. Her mother, Anna Higgins, was found dead Sunday at a home in Leavenworth. Police have not said how Higgins was killed. Smith was taken into custody at the home after her mother's body was discovered. She requested a court-appointed attorney during a hearing Tuesday in Leavenworth County District Court.
Man Survives 120-Foot Fall from Kansas Wind Turbine
PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas sheriff says a man who fell 120 feet while working on a wind turbine is expected to survive. Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn says the worker was seriously injured during the tumble onto muddy terrain Sunday morning while he was repairing a blade on a wind generator near Pratt. Chinn says emergency responders found the man coherent, able to talk and "doing amazingly well for the fall he just had." Another worker was found hanging from his safety harness 120 feet in the air and eventually was lowered to safety in a construction basket. General Electric says it is investigating the accident. The workers' names were not released.
Raytown, Missouri Police Shoot, Wound Burglary Suspect
RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) — Police in the Kansas City, Missouri, suburb of Raytown say officers investigating a burglary shot and wounded one suspect and arrested another. Police say the shooting happened about 9:40 Sunday morning, after officers responded to a burglary alarm at a residence and found two men inside the home. Police say that after one of the alleged intruders pointed a gun at the officers, one of the officers shot that suspect in the stomach. That man was taken to a hospital with injuries police said were not considered life-threatening. The officers were not injured. There was no immediate word about any charges.
Hostess, Four Years After Bankruptcy, Will Go Public Again
NEW YORK (AP) — Almost four years after seeking bankruptcy protection under a barrage of labor issues and rapidly changing appetites, the maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs will take the stage once again as a publicly traded company. Hostess Brands, which first emerged in 1919, has been shuffled between different owners since it sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for a second time in July 2012. The latest owners, the Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co., will sell the company for $375 million in cash to Gores Holdings, an acquisition company run by the private equity firm, The Gores Group, the companies said Tuesday. It was feared by many that the Hostess CupCake, a staple in school lunch boxes for decades, was a fading piece of Americana. Those fears, it appears, were premature. A plant in Emporia produces Hostess snack cakes, including the much-maligned but equally-praised Twinkie.
Kansas City Zoo Making Changes to Orangutan Exhibit After Brief Escape
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Zoo is taking steps to improve an orangutan exhibit after one of the animals got a brief taste of freedom. Kali, a 7-year-old orangutan, climbed to the top of the wall surrounding the exhibit Sunday. She never left the exhibit or came in contact with people. The Kansas City Star reports that workers on Tuesday were installing more electrified wire and taking other steps to increase security. For now, the seven Bornean orangutans are confined inside the $6 million exhibit. Zookeepers think Kali grabbed glass panes that separate zoo visitors from the animals and pulled herself 14 feet to the top. When she jumped to a faux rock wall, zoo officials sent visitors into buildings. he commotion ended when Kali climbed back down into the exhibit.
AP: Kris Kobach Uses State Plane to Talk at GOP Events
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Documents show Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach frequently flies in the state-owned executive aircraft to promote voter ID efforts outside of Kansas and to speak at Republican political events across the state. All of that is at state expense. The Associated Press used open record requests to document thousands of dollars Kobach spent to fly more than 4,350 miles during a 15-month period. Several flights appeared to either offer no benefit to Kansas or have little connection to Kobach's official duties. On some trips, the state business coincided with Republican Party functions where he spoke, and his family often flew with him. Kobach says he visited county election officials and his public appearances did not cost extra. Kansas has no written guidelines for state agencies traveling on the state plane.
Documents: Kansas Officials' Travel Mixes Family, Politics
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Documents show Kansas taxpayers have been picking up the tab for state officials and legislators to fly in the state-owned executive aircraft to attend out-of-state sports events and take trips with family and friends. The Associated Press used open record requests to document who was traveling in the state's nine-passenger plane. It found state officials often mixed political, religious and family interests with state business while traveling on government business. Kansas has a statute that specifically allows the governor to use the plane for personal or political travel as long as he reimburses the state, but it mentions no other state agencies. The Kansas Highway Patrol oversees executive aircraft operations, but it leaves it up to each state agency to decide who gets to travel and where they go.
New Kansas and Missouri Hiking Trail Retraces Footsteps of Pioneers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A hiking and biking trail through Missouri and Kansas will allow people to follow in the footsteps of pioneers. The Kansas City Star reports that the 3-Trails Corridor will closely retrace the path of old wagon swales. The trail will start in the Missouri city of Sugar Creek and move through Independence, Raytown and south Kansas City. It will also go through the Kansas cities of Leawood, Overland Park, Olathe and Gardner. Some stretches of the trail already exist, while others await construction. The trail was sketched out 25 years ago by trail enthusiasts in Kansas City. The National Park Service is working with the Mid-America Regional Council to come up with a comprehensive plan to involve all the counties and cities through which the trail will run.
Local Bookstores in Lawrence and Manhattan Close
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Bookstores serving students at the two largest universities in Kansas are closing, largely because of dwindling textbook sales. The Levin family owns the Jayhawk Bookstore in Lawrence near the University of Kansas and Varney's Book Store in Manhattan, where Kansas State is located. The family has announced the closure of both bookstores. Jeff Levin says Jayhawk Bookstore's "bread and butter" was textbooks. He says the owners had predicted a significant loss for January, but it was even deeper than anticipated. He cites a rise in online open-access material and more students ordering books online. And he says if people aren't coming in the door to buy books, they don't buy many supplies either. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Jayhawk Bookstore closed last week. Varney's closed last month.
Producer: 1970s Wichita Gorilla Movie Could Have Been a Hit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The producer of a 1970s movie about a gorilla trained in kung fu that fights its way across Wichita says the film might have been one big-name actor away from being a hit. Bob Walterscheid says "King Kung Fu" was intended to be a widely distributed comedy but instead became a movie that "most people look at in the evening so they can drink." The Wichita Eagle reports this year marks the 40th anniversary of the film about a gorilla that stops in Wichita "to let the rednecks gawk at him." "King Kung Fu" played in only 11 U.S. theaters and lost most of the money sunk into the film. Still, Walterscheid and director Lance Hayes say they feel they accomplished something by making a movie in Wichita.
Blue Jays Top Royals 6-2; Sanchez Wins 8th Straight Decision
TORONTO (AP) — Aaron Sanchez pitched eight innings to win his eighth straight decision, Josh Donaldson and Darwin Barney each hit two-run singles in a four-run seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on Monday night. Troy Tulowitzki had two hits, his third multi-hit game in the past four, as the Blue Jays won a rematch of last year's ALCS, which Kansas City won in six games. Sanchez (9-1) has not lost since April 22, against Oakland. He allowed one run and three hits and matched the longest start of his career. Sanchez retired the first seven batters he faced and held the Royals hitless until Cheslor Cuthbert's two-out single to center in the fifth. The next hitter, Alcides Escobar, grounded out. Michael Saunders gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead with an RBI groundout off Edinson Volquez in the first. Toronto nearly doubled its lead in the fourth but Alex Gordon threw out Edwin Encarnacion trying to score from second on Kevin Pillar's two-out single to left. Kansas City tied it when Kendrys Morales homered off Sanchez to begin the seventh, his 15th.
The Royals are currently in third place in the AL Central Division, behind the Detroit Tigers and seven games back of the Cleveland Indians.
Ventura Has Sprained Ankle, Expected to Make Next Start
TORONTO (AP) — Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura has a Grade 1 sprain of his right ankle but is expected to make his next start, Friday against Seattle. Ventura left in the third inning of Sunday's 7-2 loss at Philadelphia. He was injured running the bases after collecting his second career base hit. Ventura lined a single to right but got hurt running to second on Alex Gordon's double-play grounder. Ventura stayed in to pitch the bottom half but left after a two-out homer by Cody Asche. "We're holding out hope that he's going to be able to make his next start," manager Ned Yost said before Monday's game at Toronto. "We'll see where he's at tomorrow." Yost said Ventura will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday if he is able. A Grade 1 sprain is the least severe. Ventura is 6-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 16 starts.