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Headlines for Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Amid Tax Impasse, Kansas Lawmakers Agree on 2 Major Items 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas agree on two key proposals for raising taxes to balance the state's budget, even as sharp divisions over other tax issues hinder them from passing a plan. The Senate was debating tax issues again Tuesday. Multiple tax plans from GOP lawmakers and Republican Governor Sam Brownback have included a proposal to eliminate most state income tax deductions. Their plans also would create a short-term amnesty program this fall for delinquent taxpayers. The state must close a projected $406 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The two proposals enjoying broad support would raise $127 million. The consensus on the two issues contrasts strongly with disagreements on other tax issues such as backtracking on a 2012 tax break for business owners and farmers. The impasse has pushed the legislative session into overtime and it is currently tied for the second longest in state history at 103 days. Administration officials have warned lawmakers that state workers will be furloughed if a budget is not passed by June 7.


Kansas Legislative Session Expected to Reach 104th Day

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Legislature's session this year is closing in on a record for length. Lawmakers were convening Tuesday for the 103rd day of their annual session and were expected to remain in session at least through Wednesday, the 104th day. According to legislative researchers, only one session was longer. In 2002, lawmakers met 107 days. Republicans who control the Legislature are sharply divided over raising taxes to close a projected $406 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. A similar impasse prolonged the legislative session in 2002. But, that year, lawmakers also had a contentious battle over the once-a-decade job of redrawing members' districts to reflect population shifts. Legislative leaders traditionally schedule sessions to last 90 days. Each extra day this year is costing the state more than $40,000. 


GOP Senators Propose Taking Break Amid Deadlock on Tax Talks 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some GOP state senators say they would consider taking an unpaid break after failing to agree on tax proposals after days of debates. Republican Senator Les Donovan of Wichita said Tuesday during a meeting of GOP senators that he was interested in adjourning for about a week. Donovan said the move might raise pressure on Governor Sam Brownback and allow legislators to come back more ready to compromise. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said the idea is viable, but the Nickerson Republican wanted to conduct a debate on a stripped-down tax initiative Tuesday afternoon first. Administration officials have said that all non-essential state workers would be furloughed if a budget deal is not reached by June 7. Furloughs could be avoided if a short-term budget were to pass.


Kansas Lawmakers Approve $131M Budget for State Court System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators have approved a $131 million budget for the state court system for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to avoid the possibility that judicial offices would close otherwise. The House approved the proposed budget Monday on an 88-26 vote. The Senate approved it 25-14 on Sunday. The measure goes next to Governor Sam Brownback. The budget would increase total spending on the courts by nearly $2.5 million, or about 1.9 percent. But the Kansas Supreme Court requested a budget of $149 million, so some lawmakers said the approved amount is inadequate. 

KS Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Legal Rights for Sex Predators 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators have approved a bill that would put new limits on appeals by sex offenders committed indefinitely to a state treatment program.  The votes Monday were 36-2 in the Senate and 111-0 in the House. The measure goes next to Governor Sam Brownback for his potential signature.  Offenders determined by a court to be sexual predators are committed to a treatment program after serving their criminal sentences. The bill would remove the right of confined offenders to request a jury trial when petitioning for release. It also would limit their right to file grievances on some issues. Democratic Representative John Carmichael from Wichita said that he is concerned about the bill but some provisions that he believed to be unconstitutional were removed during negotiations between lawmakers from both chambers. 


Kansas Lawmakers OK Bill Further Limiting Local Gun Regulation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Cities and counties in Kansas couldn't use zoning ordinances to limit gun sales or impose special taxes on firearms under a bill state legislators have approved. The Senate passed the measure on a 35-3 vote Monday. The House approved the bill on an 81-27 vote Saturday, and it goes next to Governor Sam Brownback. The measure follows up on a law enacted last year meant to nullify all city and county restrictions on the sale, possession and transportation of firearms. But the 2014 law didn't specifically address the power of local officials to levy taxes and fees or their power to restrict property use through zoning ordinances. Gun rights supporters said the law was designed to prevent a confusing jumble of various local rules. 


Abortion Rights Group Challenges New Kansas Restrictions 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An abortion rights group is challenging Kansas's first-in-the-nation ban on a commonly used procedure to end second-trimester pregnancies. The lawsuit filed Monday in Shawnee County District Court by the Center for Reproductive Rights asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional. It also seeks to block implementation of the law, which is set to take effect in July. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Center for Women's Health in Overland Park. The procedure is medically known as dilation and evacuation but anti-abortion activists describe the method as dismembering a fetus. The lawsuit contends it is the most commonly used procedure to end a pregnancy after 14 weeks, and is often the safest way to terminate a second-trimester pregnancy.


Appeals Court Upholds Kansas Cap on Local School Taxes 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal appeals court has sided against parents in a Johnson County lawsuit who are challenging the state's cap on how much money residents in a school district can raise through taxes. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision Monday comes in the lawsuit filed by parents in the relatively wealthy Shawnee Mission School District. The parents argued the limit on education spending impairs their rights to fully fund and support education in their community. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's decision and sent the case back for further proceedings. The court noted that Kansas amended its Constitution to create a system that does not make the quality of a public school education dependent upon a parent's wealth or poverty. 


KU Freshman Dies from Bacterial Meningitis

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) A University of Kansas freshman from Leawood died Sunday of complications from a sinus infection, which led to bacterial meningitis. The Kansas City Star reports 19-year-old Haley Drown was a business major at the KU Lawrence campus. The Johnson County Health Department said the form of bacterial meningitis was not contagious and there was no risk to the public. She reportedly left her summer job in Leawood with a severe migraine on Friday and was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City later that day. She died on Sunday after the infection reached her spinal fluid. Drown was a 2014 graduate of Blue Valley North High School. 


Shawnee County to Pay $500,000 to Family of Jail Inmate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Shawnee County officials have agreed to pay $500,000 to the survivors of a jail inmate who died at a hospital shortly after he was held for eight days at the county jail. The family of 35-year-old Julio C. Aguirre sued after he died in December 2010. The lawsuit said Aguirre suffered physical injuries while he was held in the jail. He was sent to a hospital, where he died two days later. The Shawnee County Commission on Monday approved the settlement in exchange for dismissal of the lawsuit, although the county denies negligence in the case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Aguirre's family sued 24 defendants and some other entities also have reached settlements with the family.  


Girl Missing from Foster Care Shot to Death in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A girl who was reported missing from the Kansas foster care system in 2012 has died after a shooting.  Kansas media outlets report 16-year-old Jamie J. Hernandez-Zubia was shot early Saturday morning in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say they responded to calls about shots being fired and found the victim dead in the street.   According to police, the occupants of two vehicles fired shots at each other and Hernandez-Zubia had been a passenger in one of those vehicles.  She had been listed as missing since running away on June 9, 2012, from a foster care placement in Wathena in northeastern Kansas. Police said they are searching for a late-1990s or early-2000s white Ford F-150 pickup in relation to shooting. It may have a bullet hole in its tailgate and tinted windows. 


Some Parts of Kansas Report Near Record Rainfall in May

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ Some Kansas areas reported near record amounts of rain for the month of May. The Garden City Experiment Station recorded 6.38 inches last month, the fourth wettest May on record. Dodge City's 10.33 inches was the wettest May since 12.82 inches fell in 1881. Wichita, with 11.77 inches, and Great Bend, with 10.36 inches, both had the second wettest May, while Kanopolis Lake, Tribune and Colby recorded their third most rain in May. Hutchinson's 7.72 inches was only the fourth-highest rainfall amount in May. But Lebo, in Coffey County, recorded the wettest month since 1893 with 15.53 inches in May. 


$2,500 Reward for Info in Kansas City Shooting 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to arrests in the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy killed in his Kansas City home by gunfire from the street. Amorian S. L. Hale died Sunday when someone sprayed his house with bullets. A bullet entered the child's bedroom and hit him in the head. The Kansas City Star reports that family members are imploring people to help identify his killer. Authorities said Tuesday the reward in the case has grown to $2,500 and so far, police have received 23 anonymous tips. Funeral arrangements are pending.


Murder Charges for Man Accused of Raping 100-Year-Old Woman 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office has filed murder charges against a man accused of raping a 100-year-old woman, who died three weeks after the alleged attack. The district attorney's office said Tuesday that 36-year-old Kasey Nesbitt has been charged with first-degree felony murder, rape and aggravated burglary. Nesbitt's preliminary hearing is set for Thursday. He's accused of raping the woman on September 30, 2014. The woman died October 21, 2014. Nesbitt had been charged earlier with rape and aggravated burglary. District Attorney Marc Bennett says his office sought a new preliminary hearing after receiving the autopsy report in mid-May. Bennett say the autopsy report classified the woman's death from a blood clot as a homicide.


Missouri Panel Questions Adding Multistate Wind Energy Line

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A panel of Missouri regulators has raised concerns with one company's request to construct a power line in Missouri for a multistate wind energy project. Three of the five members of the state's Public Service Commission Tuesday spoke against plans for the Grain Belt Express, foreshadowing a likely order against it. Clean Line Energy Partners' $2.2 billion project would transmit electricity from Kansas, across northern Missouri and Illinois to Indiana. Electricity would be available for Missouri utilities. Commissioners cast doubt on whether access to more wind power was worth concerns raised by property owners. Others questioned the benefit to Missouri ratepayers. The commission also Tuesday unanimously approved Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois to construct about seven miles of power line from Palmyra, Missouri to the Missouri state line.


Salina Worker Sentenced for Sex with Teen Client

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A former worker at a private social services facility in Salina has been sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with a 16-year-old client. The Salina Journal reports that 34-year-old Michael S. Pfeifer, a former worker at Saint Francis Community Services in, was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for unlawful sexual relations. He'll also be subject to two years of supervision after he's released. Jeremy Koop, who represented Pfeifer, argued for probation, saying appropriate treatment was available that would more likely help Pfeifer change his behavior. Prosecutor Christina Trocheck said when Pfeifer was employed by Saint Francis, in 2012, he signed a contract agreeing he would not engage in personal contact with the youths and children served by the nonprofit, faith-based organization.


Missouri Man Admits Using Teen Girl to Produce Child Porn 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 43-year-old Kansas City man is facing at least 15 years in federal prison for recording inappropriate videos of two minor victims. Prosecutors say one of Marcus Clarke's victims was a teenager who responded to his online advertisement seeking a model, and the other was a young girl he secretly filmed in the shower. Clarke pleaded guilty Monday to producing child pornography and attempting to do so. Prosecutors say a 15-year-old girl had been using a borrowed cell phone whose owner notified a Prairie Village, Kansas, detective when she saw a text exchange about a modeling photo shoot. Clarke was arrested October 22 when he arrived at a Prairie Village park to meet the girl after making arrangements with an FBI agent using the same phone the girl had used.


Kansas Man Gets 8 Life Sentences for Sexually Assaulting 3 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old Wichita man with a long history of sex crimes has been given eight life sentences without the possibility of parole for sexually assaulting three underage girls. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says Terrill Andrews was sentenced Tuesday on three counts of rape, three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. District Court Judge Jeffrey Goering ordered two of the life sentences to run consecutively. Bennett says Andrews was a registered sex offender in 2013 when he sexually assaulted three girls ages 13, 14 and 16, including two who were runaways from a Wichita halfway house. Andrews previously was convicted of sexual intercourse with a minor in California and court-martialed in the Navy for rape and sodomy.


Kansas Man Gets 19 Years in Retrial for Fatal Stabbing

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for the fatal stabbing of a Salina man after being convicted in a retrial. The Salina Journal reports Douglas Aldrich of Kanopolis was convicted in 2003 of voluntary manslaughter. But his 51 ½-year sentence was later set aside by a district judge after Aldrich argued that his attorney was ineffective. Aldrich has about 6 ½ years left to serve in prison in connection to the stabbing of Jerry Bird at the Red Kitten, a former Salina bar, on February 8, 2003. Prosecutors said Bird told Aldrich to leave the bar after he became combative. Aldrich contended he stabbed Bird in self-defense.


Derrick Johnson, Dontari Poe Miss Chiefs Offseason Workout 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe walked gingerly off the Kansas City Chiefs' practice field Tuesday with back pain, and linebacker Derrick Johnson sat out with inflammation in his knee. The Chiefs were getting back to work with the second week of organized team activities when Poe walked off the field. A team spokesman did not say how long he might be out. Johnson worked out last week. He missed nearly all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Wide receiver Chris Conley was back on the field after missing time last week to attend the NFL's rookie premier, while linebacker Justin Houston remained absent from the voluntary workouts after getting the franchise tag earlier this offseason.


KU Lands Touted Swingman Lagerald Vick for 2015 Class 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Prized prospect Lagerald Vick, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, has reclassified for the 2015 class and signed a grant-in-aid agreement to play basketball for the University of Kansas. Vick was originally planning to attend prep school for a year, but he managed to complete all the academic requirements necessary to be part of this year's recruiting class. He signed his agreement Tuesday. He averaged 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists last season for Douglass High School in Memphis, Tennessee. He averaged 24 points and eight boards as a junior. Vick joins incoming freshmen Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg in giving the Jayhawks one of the top recruiting classes in the country. All three are consensus top-50 recruits.


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