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Headlines for Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Kansas Democrats Planning Presidential Primary in May 2020

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democrats plan to hold a presidential primary in May 2020 with ranked-choice voting. State Democratic Party Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt said Tuesday that the party believes a primary will attract more participants than caucuses. About 39,000 people participated in the party's presidential caucuses in 2016, which required participants to meet for several hours rather than simply submitting ballots. The state party has submitted a plan to the Democratic National Committee for a May 2 primary to allocate the state's delegates to the party's national convention. The party plans to run the election itself and cover costs that could approach $200,000, depending on turnout. Voters would rank all candidates. Candidates who receive fewer than 15 percent of the first-place votes would have their votes reallocated to voters' next preferred candidate.

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Kansas Governor Wants Major Presidential Declaration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is seeking a major presidential declaration for public assistance for 63 counties recovering from record rainfall and severe weather. The declaration would cover damage from flooding, storms and tornadoes that took place between April 28 and the end of May. Yesterday's (MON) request follows one the governor sent in May seeking a federal disaster declaration. That declaration provides federal money for shelter management, water rescues, human services support and other needs.  

The following counties are listed in Monday's request:   Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Barber, Barton, Bourbon, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Edwards, Elk, Ellsworth, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Gray, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Kingman, Leavenworth, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Norton, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson.

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Kansas Secretary of State Files Overdue Reports, Fixes Error

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab says his office has filed three overdue financial reports with the federal government and fixed a $400,000 accounting error in a fourth. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the problems occurred under fellow Republican and former Secretary of State Kris Kobach. They involved reports detailing how the state used federal grants for upgrading voting systems. Schwab said he disclosed his corrective actions "to ensure transparency." The reports are supposed to be filed at the end of each year with the federal Election Assistance Commission. Schwab took office in January and was notified last month that the 2015 report contained an accounting error. The commission also told Schwab that the secretary of state's office had not completed reports for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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Report: Kansas Farmers Behind in Getting Crops Planted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new report shows Kansas growers are still behind in getting their crops planted. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that sorghum planting is running late with 25% planted. That's half of what is normally in the ground by this time. Corn and soybean planting is also behind schedule. And the state's wheat crop is developing very slowly this season, with only 2% now mature. Typically 25% has matured by this date.

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Most Kansas Inmates Must Wait for Hepatitis C Treatment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Although a recent legal settlement means Kansas can't delay care for Medicaid patients with hepatitis C, hundreds of the state's prison inmates will wait another year for the expensive treatment. Kansas News Service reports state prison officials say more than 700 inmates currently have hepatitis C, which damages the liver. About half will receive treatment this year, starting with those who have liver cirrhosis from the virus. Civil rights advocates say the delay in treating some inmates could constitute cruel and unusual punishment because inmates have the right to medical care. Lawsuits have been filed in several states that limited hepatitis C treatment for their Medicaid and prison populations because new, effective drugs can cost up to nearly $100,000 per person. Kansas settled the Medicaid lawsuit last fall.

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States Sue to Stop $26.5B Sprint-T-Mobile Deal

NEW YORK (AP) —  A group of state attorneys general led by New York and California are filing a lawsuit to block T-Mobile's $26.5 billion bid for Sprint, citing consumer harm. The state AGs say the merger would hurt competition and drive up prices for cellphone service. It's an unusual step ahead of a decision by federal antitrust authorities. The Justice Department's decision is pending. The Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission supports the deal. The companies say they need to bulk up to upgrade to a fast, powerful "5G" mobile network that competes with Verizon and AT&T. The companies are appealing to President Donald Trump's desire for the U.S. to "win" a global 5G race. Consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers worry about price increases and job cuts. Other attorneys general joining Tuesday's lawsuit are from Connecticut, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Missouri Governor Signs 'Border War' Truce; Awaits Kansas Action

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed a bill aimed at stopping an economic border war with Kansas. Whether the bill signed Tuesday has any impact depends on Kansas officials. Both states have spent millions of dollars luring businesses across the state line in the last decade. The Kansas City Star reports the bill would stop Missouri from offering tax incentives to companies moving into the state from Wyandotte, Miami and Johnson counties in Kansas. It it takes effect only if Kansas does the same thing before 2021 for companies in Jackson, Platte, Clay or Cass counties in Missouri. Parson said he and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly have discussed the issue and he is optimistic an agreement will be reached. Kelly said in a statement Tuesday the states need to work together to lure businesses to the region.

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Hydroelectric Plant Operator Seeks Improved River Management

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A hydroelectric power plant operator is calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to better manage reservoirs along the Kansas River as the region sees flooding and high water levels. Bowersock Mills & Power Company President Sarah Hill-Nelson tells the Lawrence Journal-World that the turbines at her family's hydroelectric power plant have sat dormant since mid-May due to the river's high water levels. Hill-Nelson and the Kansas Water Office's acting director, Earl Lewis, shared their concerns about river flow management with U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins on Friday. Hill-Nelson says the Corps could improve the release of water from reservoirs and protect those along the Kansas River corridor. Lewis says the Corps of Engineers' rules are outdated and risk averse. They both want the agency to update its flood-response rules.

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Armed Man Fatally Shot by Store Clerk

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an armed man has been shot and killed while attempting to rob a suburban Kansas City cellphone store. KMBC-TV reports that the man killed at the Boost Mobile store in Overland Park, Kansas, has been identified as Deshawn Brim, of Raytown, Missouri. Police spokesman John Lacy says a man working the store opened fire Monday night when the suspect jumped over the counter with a gun in hand. KMBC-TV reports that Lacy says it's unclear whether the worker was the manager or owner of the store. Lacy says a woman, who was with the suspect, tried to get into the store after the shooting. But the man working at the store had locked the door. Police are questioning the woman. No other injuries were reported.

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Kansas Authorities: 3-Month-Old Left in Hot Car, Dies  

ROSE HILL, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a 3-month-old girl has died after being left in a hot car in south-central Kansas. The Butler County Sheriff's office says emergency crews responded Saturday afternoon to a home near Rose Hill and pronounced the baby dead at the scene. Investigators determined that the mother took the infant with her to a baby shower that morning. When the mother came home around noon, she went inside and decided to take a nap. Several older children were in the home. Investigators say the mother realized after waking up that the baby was still in the car. Authorities say the investigation continues. Rose Hill is about 15 miles southeast of Wichita.

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Prosecutor: DNA Connects Manhattan Man to 4 Assaults

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say DNA from a Manhattan man who is standing trial this week has connected him to the sexual assaults of four women. The Manhattan Mercury reports that 18-year-old Tommie Baggett is charged with one count of rape, three counts of attempted rape, one count of criminal sodomy, one count of aggravated criminal sodomy, one count of aggravated robbery, three counts of aggravated burglary and three counts of aggravated battery. One woman said she was assaulted in August 2016 after meeting Baggett in Manhattan through an escort service. Two other women were roommates who said they were assaulted in their home in February 2017. Prosecutors say Baggett then slipped through an open window a month later and chocked a third roommate when she refused to have sex with him. The defense says the victims aren't reliable.

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Man Crashes into Tree While Fleeing After Hit-and-Run Crash in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a driver crashed into a tree while Topeka police chased him from the scene of an apparent hit-and-run crash. Topeka police Lt. Steve Roth says the fleeing driver appeared conscious and alert Monday night after the crash. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the driver had apparently been involved in a crash a short time earlier in which a motorcyclist suffered injuries that weren't considered life-threatening. Roth says another driver followed the man from the scene and called police. Officers initially pulled the man over, but then he drove away. No one else was hurt when he crashed into a tree. His name wasn't immediately released.

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Jury Selection Underway for Kansas Triple Homicide Suspect

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jury selection is underway in the trial of a man charged in an October 2017 shooting that killed three people and wounded two others in a popular downtown area of Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 22-year-old Anthony Roberts Jr., of Topeka, is charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder, second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. He was one of three men arrested in the days after gunfire erupted as people were leaving bars, concerts and other events in downtown Lawrence. The victims were 22-year-old Leah Brown, of Shawnee; 20-year-old Colwin Lynn Henderson, of Topeka; and 24-year-old Tre'Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, of Topeka. Two others were wounded but survived. A second defendant was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter, and a third of misdemeanor battery.

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University of Kansas Chancellor Takes Turn at Jury Duty

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas chancellor had his turn at jury duty. Chancellor Douglas Girod served as the foreman of a panel that tried and convicted a defendant Monday of a single misdemeanor count of sexual battery. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Girod has been a Douglas County resident less than two years. He moved from Mission Hills to the university's chancellor's residence in Lawrence when he took the reins as chancellor in summer 2017.

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Report: Forecast More Optimistic for Kansas Wheat Harvest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report forecasts an even more bountiful winter wheat harvest in Kansas than had been expected. The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Tuesday said the state's crop this year is forecast at 330 million bushels, up 19% from last year. The more optimistic forecast is based on crop conditions on June 1. The agency is predicting average yields in Kansas of 50 bushels an acre, up 12 bushels from a year ago. Those extra bushels per acre are bolstering the anticipated harvest in a year when fewer acres overall are anticipated to be harvested. The report says Kansas is expected to harvest 6.6 million acres, down 700,000 acres from last year.

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Record Rainfall in Kansas Leads to Mosquito Explosion

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - There’s a buzz in the air. Monitoring sites across Kansas have recorded an explosion of mosquitoes in the last two weeks -- both the kind that are merely a nuisance and the kind that carry West Nile Virus (culex mosquitoes). In most cases, healthy people who contract West Nile virus don’t even notice symptoms. But the disease can be deadly, particularly in older people. State public health veterinarian Ingrid Garrison says the risk for West Nile Virus typically increases in July and August, But this year might not be typical. Record-breaking wet weather in May has provided the stagnant, standing water mosquitoes need to successfully lay and hatch eggs. State health officials recommend applying mosquito repellent with DEET and wearing long sleeves and pants to help prevent mosquito bites.

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New Future Planned for Abandoned Wichita Amusement Park 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The new owners of a long-abandoned Wichita amusement park want to transform it into an outdoor event center and paintball range. The Wichita Eagle reports that the plan is set to go to the City Council next month after winning approval from planners and neighbors. Councilman James Clendenin says he's pleased to see some redevelopment finally occurring at the site. He says the area has been a nuisance since Joyland shut down for good in 2006. After years of vandalism, a fire destroyed much of what remained in August 2018. Three months later, Gregory and Tina Dunnegan bought Joyland's 57 acres at auction for $198,000. A consultant wrote in a site proposal that the owners envision temporary outdoor festivals and amusement rides to "capture the old flavor of Joyland."

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Man on Probation Charged with Taking Dressing Room Pics

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Court records say a Missouri man secretly snapped pictures of a 15-year-old trying on swimsuits in a Kansas store as he began serving probation for photographing women in the dressing room of another store. The Kansas City Star reports that Anthony DeLapp, of Joplin, is again charged with breach of privacy by photo or video in Johnson County District Court. Court records say the teen confronted DeLapp on May 31 when she noticed a phone being held over her changing room door at a Target store in Olathe, Kansas. Surveillance video showed him running out of the store. He had been sentenced just one day earlier for photographing women in 2017 at a Forever 21 store at Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas. DeLapp has denied the latest allegations.

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Advocates: Mental Health Housing & Care Flawed

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) - Kansas mental health patients are languishing in nursing facilities away from their communities. That's according to a survey recently released by disability rights advocates. The Disability Rights Center of Kansas surveyed nearly half the 600 residents of state-funded mental health facilities. Many have been living there for years. Most want to transition home and get treatment nearby. The Rights Center says the state could be violating laws requiring the option for community-based services. Laura Howard, head of the state’s disability services agency, says improvements are needed to offer more services in the community, though she disagrees with an assessment that the state is “warehousing” mental health patients. She says the state is taking steps to bolster mental health services that can allow people to leave institutions. Lawmakers have also boosted funding.

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Wichita Police Join National Group to Find Violent Criminals

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Wichita Police Department will join a national partnership aimed at fighting violent crime. Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says Wichita is one of 10 U.S. cities chosen for the U.S. Department of Justice's National Public Safety Partnership. Under the program, Wichita police will receive training and technical assistance from federal and state crime-fighting agencies. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says the program establishes federal partnerships with state, local and tribal agencies to pursue violent criminals. The effort will target gun crime, drug trafficking and gang violence in Wichita and Sedgwick County.

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Kansas City, Kansas, to Get Rare Downtown Housing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - An $11 million project is scheduled to bring new apartments and townhomes to downtown Kansas City, Kansas, for the first time in several decades. The Boulevard Lofts project from the Prairie Fire Development Group and Community Housing of Wyandotte County will include about 50 units, ranging in price from $500 a month to $1,100 a month. Boulevard Lofts is being financed with affordable housing tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and a grant from the Board of Public Utilities. Eighty percent of the units will be income-restricted, while the remaining 20 percent will be market rate. Kelley Hrabe, one of the project developers, said construction is scheduled to begin this week. He hopes to begin pre-leasing next May and open in late summer 2020.

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