Kansas Supreme Court Accepts Latest School Funding Changes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has signed off on a new education funding law that boosts state aid to poor school districts. The justices issued a brief order Tuesday saying that the Legislature "has currently satisfied" the court's previous orders on education funding by approving the measure last week. The decision ends a threat that the state's public schools would be shut down after Thursday. The court issued its three-page order a day after Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed the school finance measure into law. Lawyers for the state and attorneys for four school districts suing the state submitted a joint statement saying that the measure complied with the court's dictates. The justices ruled last month that the state's school funding system remained unfair to poor school districts.
Brownback Describes Medicaid Backlog as 'Frustrating'
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he's disappointed the state's backlog in unprocessed Medicaid applications is four times as large as previously thought. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback discussed the situation in a brief interview as the state and a contractor battle over who bears blame for the error. The number of unprocessed Medicaid applications stood at about 3,500 people until the state acknowledged earlier this month the actual figure was more than 15,000. Brownback described the situation as "frustrating." Brownback is reiterating the steps the state is taking to whittle down the backlog, such as retaining temporary staff. Brownback also defended the overall performance the state's privatized Medicaid program, known as KanCare. It grew out of Brownback administration efforts during the governor's first term.
Governor Signs Bill Aimed at Keeping Kansas Schools Open
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback has signed legislation that would increase funding to poor school districts to meet a court mandate and end a threat that the state's public schools might shut down. The bill signed Monday increases poor districts' state funding by $38 million for the 2016-17 school year by diverting funds from other parts of the budget. It also redistributes some funds from wealthier districts, which is in line with a state Supreme Court ruling last month. The court said Kansas's school funding system is still unfair to poor districts and gave lawmakers until Thursday to make further changes. It had warned schools might not be able to reopen otherwise. The bill had broad bipartisan support when the Legislature passed it last week during a two-day special session.
Abortion Clinic Restrictions on Hold in Kansas Following Supreme Court Ruling
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down strict regulations for abortion clinics in Texas is expected to affect the fate of similar state regulations currently on hold in Kansas. Texas rules required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient care. Kansas lawmakers passed similar requirements in 2011, but that law has been blocked pending trial in a Shawnee County courtroom. The nation's highest court held Monday that the Texas regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman's right to an abortion. That ruling was lauded in Kansas by abortion rights supporters who say it clearly tells lawmakers that such laws are unconstitutional. Abortion opponents contend the decision jeopardizes women's health. Kansas has four clinics offering abortion services.
US Supreme Court Ruling Throws Missouri Laws into Question
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is calling into question whether some Missouri abortion regulations will stand. Supreme Court judges ruled 5-3 Monday that some Texas regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit women's abortion rights. Missouri has similar laws requiring abortion doctors to have privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. A spokeswoman Nanci Gonder for Missouri's attorney general says that office is reviewing the ruling. Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri says the group also will review whether it will need to take legal action to try to invalidate state laws. But Missouri Right to Life Executive Director Patricia Skain says the ruling will overturn Missouri's laws and that the anti-abortion group is disappointed. She says those regulations are meant to protect women.
Dole Tweets a Swipe at Incumbent Kansas Congressman
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Senator Bob Dole is using his new Twitter account to take a swipe at a Republican congressman who's facing a primary challenge in Kansas. Dole started tweeting Monday. The 92-year-old World War II veteran's first message was: "I'm proof that it's never too late to join Twitter." A few hours later, Dole used his new account to weigh in on the closely contested race for the Republican nomination in Kansas' 1st District. Dole criticized Representative Tim Huelskamp for what he called "misleading attacks" on his challenger in the August 2 primary, Dr. Roger Marshall, a physician from Great Bend. "I would suggest the current congressman focus on the issues rather than misleading attacks on his primary opponent," Dole wrote. Dole represented the 1st District before moving to the Senate in 1968. He won the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 but lost to Bill Clinton.
Huelskamp, Marshall Debate Suitability for Agriculture Committee
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp and primary challenger Roger Marshall are sparring over who's most likely to win a spot on House committee that helps shape federal farm policy. The Wichita Eagle reports that the issue came up Monday night when they debated in Hutchinson. Huelskamp bucked House GOP leaders on key votes and was stripped of seats on the Agriculture and Budget committees late in 2012. Marshall, a physician from Great Bend, positioned himself as a "peacemaker" and promised to secure a spot on the Agriculture Committee. Huelskamp blamed former House Speaker John Boehner for Kansas not having a spot on the committee. Now a member of the influential House Steering Committee that coordinates committee assignments, Huelskamp said he anticipates returning to the Agriculture Committee if re-elected.
Republicans Divided on Blame for Benghazi; Kansas Rep. Pompeo Speaks Out
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee are divided over whether to directly blame Hillary Clinton for the events that killed four Americans in Libya in 2012. One committee member, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, calls Clinton's actions "morally reprehensible" and says "you have every right to be disgusted" by the response from her and others. Republicans have accused Clinton of deliberately misleading the public about the reasons for the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. But the panel's chairman, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, says he's not trying to determine levels of blame. And he's refusing to say Clinton lied, adding, "That's a word you couldn't use in a courtroom."
Westar Customers to Save About $18 Million
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have reduced the amount Westar Energy can earn on transmission costs, which will save customers about $18 million over the next 12 months. The Kansas Corporation Commission made the decision Tuesday. The commission said in a news release that the savings stem from a complaint it filed last year with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, alleging that Westar had over-earned on its transmission costs. In March, FERC approved a settlement agreement between the KCC and Westar Energy. The reduction in transmission costs should save average households about $1.50 a month.
2 Discrimination Lawsuits Against Emporia State Proceed
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawsuits alleging that Emporia State University discriminated against two minority assistant professors are continuing in federal court. A federal judge on June 15 refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Melvin Hale, although some of the original defendants and claims were dismissed. The university and seven officials are now defendants. Hale, who is black, alleges the school retaliated against him and his wife after they reported finding a racial slur in the School of Library and Information Management in 2015. Rajesh Singh, who is Asian and previously taught in the same department, also claims he was retaliated against after asking for pay equal to two other staff members. Depositions are being taken in that lawsuit. The Kansas Attorney General's office and the university declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Man Sentenced for Failed Firebomb at U.S. Representative Cleaver's Office
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who tried unsuccessfully to firebomb an office of U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison with no chance of parole. Eric King was sentenced Tuesday in federal court for the September 11, 2014, vandalism at Cleaver's congressional office in downtown Kansas City. No one was in the building at the time and two Molotov cocktails did not ignite. King pleaded guilty in March to using explosive materials to commit arson. Investigators say King broke an office window with a hammer. One of the firebombs went through the window and another bounced off the side of the building. Kansas City police had investigated King in connection with several anti-government incidents near the congressional office during the Labor Day weekend in 2014.
Hutchinson Man Resentenced in 2011 Mistaken ID Killing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 36-year-old Kansas man convicted of a mistaken-identity killing has been resentenced to a shorter prison term. The Hutchinson News reports that Charles Christopher Logsdon was sentenced Monday to life without the possibility of parole for 25 years for the 2011 killing of 27-year-old Jennifer Heckel. He also was sentenced to another 23 years for four other crimes. Intruders entered Heckel's home by mistake and shot her twice as her young son watched television in an adjoining room. Their real target was a drug dealer. Logsdon insisted he didn't kill Heckel. Under Logsdon's original sentence, he would have to serve 50 years for the killing before becoming eligible for parole. The Supreme Court ordered the resentencing because a jury, not a judge, must make a "Hard 50" determination.
Lawrence Teen Paralyzed in Diving Accident Leaves Rehab
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old boy who was paralyzed last month after diving into a retention pond near Free State High School in Lawrence has been released from a rehabilitation facility. The Lawrence Journal World reports that Kaleb Hatman is paralyzed from the chest down. Hatman was a sophomore at Free State at the time of his May 9 accident, when he dove into the pond during lunch. He was released from a rehabilitation center on Friday. He will live with an aunt and uncle in Gladstone, Missouri, after previously being in the Kansas foster care system. Hatman has learned to use a manual wheelchair and was recently able to stop wearing neck brace. The teen says he now feels positive about the progress he has made since the accident.
2 Killed in Crash Near Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two people have been killed in a head-on collision just outside of Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 16-year-old Daniel Jordan Warner and 40-year-old Thad H. Hess were both pronounced dead at the scene after the crash around 6:15 a.m. Monday. Lieutenant Adam Winters of the Kansas Highway Patrol says the pickup truck Warner was driving crossed a center line and crashed head-on into the pickup truck Hess was driving. Warner wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and Hess was. Winters says investigators are looking into whether thick fog in the area may have contributed to the accident. The drivers didn't have any passengers in their trucks.
Kansas Man Charged with Trying to Steal Jet to Fly to Miami
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man is charged with stealing a shuttle van at an airport and then trying to take off in a jet to fly to Miami. The Kansas City Star reports that 21-year-old Adam Scott, of Overland Park, was charged Friday in Clay County, Missouri, with two counts of first-degree tampering. He also faces a tampering charge in Platte County. Investigators say Scott took the van from Kansas City International Airport after he couldn't afford to buy tickets. He allegedly drove to Wheeler Downtown Airport, where he again tried to buy tickets but couldn't. Scott eventually got into the cockpit of an Embraer Phenom 300 that was preparing for takeoff. He tried to manipulate the controls but was arrested within minutes. Court records don't indicate that Scott has an attorney.
Man Charged with Fatally Stabbing His Sister in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 49-year-old man has been charged with stabbing his sister to death after an argument about drugs. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office announced Monday that Michael Mathews, of Kansas City, is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 57-year-old Ayishia Shakir. Prosecutors are requesting a $250,000 bond. No attorney is listed for Mathews in online court records. Court records say witnesses told police that Mathew had argued with his sister after she refused to share drug-soaked cigarettes with him. He was arrested Saturday after returning to the crime scene and identifying himself. His employer said Mathews had been fired Friday after admitting he had been drinking. He told authorities that he got high after leaving his work and denied having an altercation with his sister.
Environmentalists Unhappy with Report on Plum Island Sale
SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (AP) — Environmentalists are skewering a new report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the sale of Plum Island. The 44-page report released Monday examines various options for the 840-acre property off eastern Long Island that is home to federal animal disease research laboratory. It makes no recommendations, however, on whether a proposed sale should proceed. The laboratory, opened in the 1950s, is moving to Kansas by the end of 2022. Lawmakers in New York and Connecticut have sponsored legislation seeking to halt the sale. John Turner of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition says the report is "incomplete and lacks meaningful data." Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound says the report has "fallen short when it comes to identifying options for protecting Plum Island." The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately comment.
Kansas Wheat Harvest Passes Halfway Mark
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A government snapshot shows farmers have now harvested about 58 percent of their winter wheat crop in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday that the harvest this year is well ahead of both the 37 percent cut statewide at this time a year ago as well as the five-year average of 50 percent for this date. Harvest activity extends across Kansas. Southeast Kansas has cut 91 percent of its wheat, with the south-central Kansas harvest now 74 percent finished. Central Kansas has cut 78 percent. Harvest in northwest Kansas reached 13 percent. For the wheat still out in the field, the report rated its condition as 64 percent good to excellent. About 28 percent is in fair condition and 8 percent remains in poor to very poor shape.
Walton Foundation Launches $250M Charter School Initiative
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A foundation run by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton has announced a $250 million initiative to support charter schools in 17 cities across the U.S. The Walton Family Foundation on Tuesday announced its Building Equity Initiative aimed at helping charter schools establish and expand facilities. The foundation says it will initially focus on urban areas but will expand to help public charter schools serve at least 250,000 more students by 2027. The initiative will help charter schools get financing for facilities by providing low-interest loans through not-for-profit lenders. Cities that will benefit from the funding are: Atlanta; Boston; Camden, New Jersey; Denver; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Little Rock; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans; New York; Oakland, California; Oklahoma City; San Antonio; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Washington, D.C.
Football Feasibility Study for Wichita State Released
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has released a feasibility study for reviving the school's football program, detailing startup costs of more than 40 million and annual football budgets that start around $6 million. The Wichita Eagle reports that interim athletic director Darron Boatright is expected to discuss the report, which was released Tuesday. According to the study, expenses for the first season of FCS football would be $5.8 million and would rise to $6.5 million for the second season. Salaries for coaches would account for $1 million of that $6.5 million total. The report projects revenue of $1.2 million by the fifth year. The study also cited a report done by GLMV Architecture that estimates costs of $21 million to $28 million for improvements at Cessna Stadium and $21 million for a practice facility. Wichita State University dropped its football program in 1986.
Royals Beat Cardinals, 6-2, in Game 1 of Two-City Series
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals' pitcher Danny Duffy matched a career best with eight strong innings as the Royals kept swinging and Kansas City routed the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 on Monday night. The game was the opener of a four-game, two-city series. KC's Kendrys Morales went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs, and Eric Hosmer also had a pair of RBIs as the Royals took advantage of the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (6-5) to snap a four-game losing streak to the Cards. Duffy (3-1) served up a two-run homer to Matt Holliday in the first before settling into a rhythm, keeping the Cardinals off balance with pinpoint control. The left-hander struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while breezing through a lineup that scored 11 runs the previous day against Seattle. The cross-state rivals face off again in Kansas City tonight (TUE) then move to St. Louis for the final two games of the series.