Kansas Senators Divided over GOP Health Care Overhaul Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's two Republican senators are split over a GOP plan for overhauling health care that has been shelved. Senator Jerry Moran said Tuesday he was pleased by a delay of the Senate's debate on the bill. He said it "missed the mark for Kansans" and did not have his support. Senator Pat Roberts said Kansas "fared well" under the measure. Roberts said he's open to further improvements but said Congress must pass legislation as soon as possible. Both issued statements after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a debate would not occur until at least next month. The GOP bill would roll back much of former President Barack Obama's signature 2010 health care law. A congressional analysis Monday said 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026.
Kansas Legislature Lets Governor's Vetoes Stand
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators have allowed Governor Sam Brownback's vetoes of a lottery bill and three budget items to stand. Lawmakers didn't attempt to override the vetoes Monday before adjourning their annual session. Brownback rejected a bill that would have allowed vending machine sales of Kansas Lottery tickets to help fund community mental health services. He then vetoed two budget items that mandated spending on specific services tied to new lottery revenues. He also vetoed a budget item blocking his administration from consolidating programs providing in-home services for the disabled and elderly. Supporters argue the move would make delivering those services more efficient but advocates fear cuts would follow. The Senate adjourned its brief session before House Democratic Leader Jim Ward of Wichita could attempt an override of the home-services veto.
Kansas Lawmakers Adjourn Session, Await Ruling on Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators have adjourned their annual session and are waiting for a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding later this summer. The House and Senate met briefly Monday to formally end the session weeks after passing an income tax increase and a plan to boost spending on public schools. It phases in a $293 million increase in education funding over two years. The Supreme Court plans to hear arguments from attorneys July 18 on whether the new school funding law is adequate under the state constitution. Some lawmakers believe the court will rule that the funding increase isn't large enough and force legislators to return for a special session. But Kansas Association of School Boards officials praised the new school finance law Monday as a good start.
Kansas Commerce Chief Resigns to Return to Private Sector
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave is resigning to pursue private business opportunities. Governor Sam Brownback's office said Tuesday was Soave's last day as top administrator for the state's economic development programs. Soave has served as commerce secretary since December 2015 and was the CEO of an international business consulting firm before joining the administration. Brownback said former Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan will serve as interim commerce secretary. Jordan has been the head of the Governor's Economic Advisory Council since December 2016. Soave's resignation would be the administration's second high-profile departure this week. Deputy Chief of Staff Kim Borchers plans to step down Friday for a job with the conservative-leaning nonprofit Foundation for Government Accountability. Borchers started as Brownback's appointments director in 2011 and has been a key adviser.
Kansas House Panel's Chairman Running for Secretary of State
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The chairman of the Kansas House Elections Committee is running for the Republican nomination for secretary of state next year. Representative Keith Esau is touting his three decades as a software developer and computer systems auditor as valuable experience for helping the state to protect the integrity of its elections. The conservative Olathe Republican announced his candidacy over the weekend during a local GOP picnic. Esau was first elected to the Legislature in 2012. Current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. Kobach pushed successfully for tough voter identification laws and the power to prosecute alleged election fraud. Esau has backed those policies. Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold also is considering a run for secretary of state. No Democrats have announced plans to run.
Kansas House Democrat to Step Down This Fall
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Democrat in the Kansas House plans to resign this fall and is citing family reasons for leaving the Legislature. Representative John Wilson of Lawrence announced Monday that he would step down. He is the father of two young sons and said serving as a lawmaker and campaigning for office forced him to take too much time away from his family and other job. He was first elected to the House in 2012 and is the ranking Democrat on its Health and Human Services Committee. Wilson made his announcement the same day Representative Jason Probst of Hutchinson took his oath of office. Probst was selected last week by Democrats in his south-central Kansas district to replace the late Representative Patsy Terrell. She died June 7.
Kansas Federal Prosecutor Leaves Office over Recorded Jail Calls
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal prosecutor in Kansas who said in court last year that she never listened to attorney-client phone calls at the Leavenworth Detention Center has left the U.S. Attorney's Office after admitting to her supervisor that she did listen to the calls. The Kansas City Star reports that court documents filed June 19 show that Erin Tomasic told her supervisor she listened to the recorded phone conversations of two inmates and their attorneys. The prosecutors notified a judge in May that Tomasic was no longer working for the U.S. Attorney. Days after Tomasic left her job, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson expanded an investigation into the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City, Kansas. The judge cited ongoing problems with the prosecutors' "inconsistent" statements and the destruction of "critical evidence."
Kansas Car Dealer's Fine Increases After Missing Payment
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas car dealer has been arrested and fined for failing to pay a judgment for selling customers cars they couldn't legally drive. The Wichita Eagle reports that a judge ordered Justin Blevins on Friday to pay an extra $1,000 for failing to pay more than $860 in fines and court costs stemming from consumer complaints filed in December. Avery Elofsson is chief of the Sedgwick County district attorney's consumer protection division. He says Blevins' dealership sold cars to more than 20 customers but didn't give them the titles for the vehicles within 60 days, as state law requires. Blevins was fined over the titles issues but failed to pay the money and missed a court appearance. He says he overlooked his mail and didn't see the court summons.
Bombs Found in Montana Home After Kansas Fugitive's Arrest
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana authorities say they found homemade bombs in a home after the arrest of a man accused of shooting at a Kansas state trooper. Richard Gathercole of Roundup, Montana, was arrested at a gas station in Lexington, Nebraska, a day after a man fired at the trooper on Interstate 70. The trooper wasn't injured. The Musselshell County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday that deputies assisted FBI agents and officers from California and Idaho in searching a home in the town of Roundup. They found numerous improvised explosive devices that were removed by a bomb squad. Gathercole is being held in Nebraska on charges of theft and possession of stolen firearms.
2nd Trial Involving Polarizing Sexual Assault Claims Begins
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A jury has been seated in the second trial of a man facing a string of sexual assault charges that have divided the small Kansas town of Holton. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 13 of the 23 people excused Monday from serving on 22-year-old Jacob Ewing's jury said they couldn't be impartial. They cited friendships and business ties to Ewing and his prominent family. One prospective juror said her daughter had dated Ewing. As the courtroom emptied for lunch, another prospective juror exchanged a hug with the defendant's mother. The latest trial involves allegations from two of the five women he is charged with sexually assaulting. Additional trials are scheduled in August and October. During Ewing's first trial in April, he was acquitted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
Abuse Allegations at Wichita YMCA Day Care Investigated
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state is investigating allegations of physical abuse against toddlers at a YMCA day care center in Wichita. Matt Keith, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, confirmed the agency is investigating allegations against a teacher at the South YMCA Early Learning Center but said he couldn't provide details. The Wichita Eagle reports that a mother of a 2-year-old boy at the day care said she was told by the Kansas Department for Children and Families that her son and two other children were allegedly shaken by a teacher. DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said she couldn't confirm the agency's involvement in an investigation. Shelly Conrady, spokeswoman for Greater Wichita YMCA, said the organization is cooperating fully with the state investigation and is conducting its own investigation.
Kansas Getaway Driver Was Wearing Monitoring Device
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has admitted to driving a getaway vehicle from the scene of a convenience store robbery while wearing a monitoring device from a previous crime. The U.S. attorney's office says 26-year-old Christopher Allen Bush, of Topeka, pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and abetting a commercial robbery. Bush had past convictions that included aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. He was on post-release supervision and wearing a monitoring device when co-defendant Marsoleno Devon Ryland robbed a Casey's General Store in Topeka. Data from the GPS device showed that Bush picked up Ryland near the store. Bush then drove until reaching an area where police located the two men. Ryland pleaded guilty earlier this month. Sentencing is set for September 25 for Bush and September 18 for Ryland.
Kansas City Teen Charged with Manslaughter While High on Mushrooms
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Court records say a 17-year-old has told authorities he was high on psychedelic mushrooms when he drove into a Kansas City home and killed his friend. Jacob David Mustoe was arraigned Monday in Clay County on one first-degree involuntary manslaughter count in the death of 17-year-old Jake Wehmeyer. He entered a not guilty plea. Bond is set at $200,000. Court records say a fight broke out early Sunday during a party at Wehmeyer's home while his parents were out of town. Mustoe told detectives that he left the house, got into his car and aimed the vehicle at Wehmeyer's house. He said Wehmeyer urged him to slow down but that it was too late. Officers found Wehmeyer's body under the vehicle, which had partially driven through a closed garage door.
Northeast Kansas Man Charged with Killing Bar Security Guard
EUDORA, Kan. (AP) _ A 36-year-old man has been charged with fatally shooting a security guard outside a bar in Eudora after a fight last weekend. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Danny Queen, of Eudora, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Bo Matthew Hopson and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Queen appeared via video feed from the jail, and his bond was set at $1 million. Eudora Police Chief Bill Edwards said the shooting happened early Saturday at the D-Dubs Bar after another bar employee asked Queen to leave. Queen's birthday had been Friday. Edwards said Queen then got into a fight with someone outside the bar and shot Hopson when he went to check on the situation. Queen was restrained after his gun jammed. Hopson died Sunday during surgery.