Kansas Governor to Call Lawmakers into Session on Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is calling the Kansas Legislature into special session to deal with education funding issues. The Republican governor said Tuesday that he would call a special session but hasn't set a date. Brownback said in a statement that he is calling the session to "keep Kansas schools open" in response to a state Supreme Court order last month. The court rejected some changes in school finance laws made by Republican lawmakers earlier this year to improve funding for poor districts. The justices said poor schools still wouldn't get their fair share of the state's more than $4 billion in annual aid to its 286 districts. The court warned that schools won't be able to open after June 30 if lawmakers don't approve further fixes.
Democrats Urge Kansas Lawmakers to Force Special Session
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Legislature's top Democrats are urging their colleagues to force Republican Governor Sam Brownback to call a special session on education funding. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka and House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs of Kansas City said Monday that lawmakers need to boost aid to poor school districts to keep all public schools from being shut down. They were joined by Democratic Representative Jim Ward of Wichita. The state Supreme Court late last month rejected school funding changes made by lawmakers earlier this year and said schools won't be able to reopen after June 30 unless legislators approve additional fixes before then. Legislators adjourned their annual session last week. Legislators can force Brownback to call a special session if two-thirds of them sign individual petitions demanding one.
Find more on this story from KPR Statehouse Correspondent Stephen Koranda HERE.
Pompeo Among US Congressmen Denied Iranian Visas
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran says it won't give visas to three U.S. congressmen opposed to its recent nuclear deal with world powers. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Tuesday saying it refused to issue visas to Representatives Frank LoBiondo, R-New Jersey; Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas; and Lee Zeldin, R-New York. It said the three wanted to monitor the nuclear agreement. The ministry said in a statement that it refused the request over "the completely inappropriate way you have demanded to visit Iran and interfere in what is of no relevance to (your) official functions.'" In a statement, LoBiondo said it was "deeply disappointing, though not surprising" that Iran denied "our legitimate request with insults and deflections." The other two congressmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wichita Board Shortens School Year to Save Money
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Wichita Board of Education has shortened the school year while adding 30 minutes of class to each day. The Wichita Eagle reports that students will begin classes later in the fall, finish earlier next May and have 15 fewer school days under the calendar approved by the board with a 5-1 vote Monday night. Board member Joy Eakins voted against the measure, saying that outsourcing the district's custodial services would be a better option. The new calendar was proposed as a way to trim about $3 million from next year's budget. A majority of Wichita teachers voted in favor of the change last month. Students will go to school 158 days instead of 173, and teachers will work 175 days instead of 190. The change won't affect teacher salaries.
Judge Delays Ruling on Planned Parenthood Kansas Lawsuit
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is delaying a ruling on a bid by Planned Parenthood attorneys to prevent Kansas from halting the organization's Medicaid funding. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson didn't indicate after a hearing Tuesday when she might rule on the state health department's action, while a lawsuit by two Planned Parenthood affiliates proceeds. Kansas has said it plans to cut off funding July 7 because the health provider performs abortions, though attorneys for the state suggested Tuesday it may not be until September to allow for an administrative appeal. Federal courts have blocked similar attempts to cut off Medicaid funding in other states. Planned Parenthood argues the Kansas is acting out of "animus" toward the organization. The state calls court intervention premature because Medicaid hasn't yet been cut off.
Tobacco Payments to Kansas Top $1B in 18 Years
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Tobacco companies have paid just more than $1 billion in annual payments to Kansas in the past 18 years. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday tobacco manufacturers had paid Kansas the money as part of a legal settlement to resolve claims by 46 states. The settlement allowed Kansas to recover part of the costs it pays for tobacco-related illness and disease. Schmidt says payments to Kansas are likely to decline significantly in April 2018 under terms of the agreement. Kansas uses most of the money to early childhood education programs. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports state lawmakers have shown an interest for using some of the funding for other state budget needs.
Another Vacancy Created in Federal Courts in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten plans to take a form of semi-retirement that will effectively create another vacancy on the federal bench in Kansas. The 64-year-old chief judge says in an email that he has notified President Barack Obama of his intention to take senior status on May 1, 2017, following 21 years of service. Marten was appointed to the post by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Marten plans for the time being to keep hearing cases and says the move would help bolster federal judicial resources. Wichita has two federal district judges. Kansas has one other federal judicial opening created when U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil took senior status in Topeka. Obama's nomination earlier this year of Lawrence attorney Terry Campbell to fill that seat is still pending.
Kansas Rushing to Stop Spread of New Synthetic Opiate Drug
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new synthetic drug that can be purchased online and could be connected to at least 50 deaths nationwide has several states scrambling to contain its spread, with Kansas law enforcement agencies seeking an emergency ban. At least three other states - Ohio, Wyoming and Georgia - already have taken action to ban U-47700 after it was connected to overdoses. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said that the agency is studying the opioid but hasn't yet moved to control it. Nearly eight times more potent than morphine, U-47700 comes in various forms and can be injected, snorted or taken orally. Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Steve Howe said two deaths in his county have been connected to U-47700.
Hot, Dry Weather Spurs Kansas Winter Wheat Harvest
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Combines are rolling across wheat fields in south-central Kansas. Elevators in in the Kiowa area as well as those in Cowley and Sumner counties are now receiving grain. Justin Gilpin, the executive director of the industry group Kansas Wheat, said Tuesday early reports show good test weights. He says people are anxious to get into the field because the sense is that there is a pretty good wheat crop out there — both in quality and bushels. If the hot, dry weather holds Gilpin expects cutting extending from central Kansas to northern Texas by this weekend. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday 60 percent of the Kansas wheat is in good to excellent condition. About 32 percent is rated as fair and 8 percent as poor to very poor.
Cargill Gets $10M in Tax Breaks to Stay in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that a deal to keep agribusiness giant Cargill operations in Wichita includes nearly $10 million in tax breaks over a 10-year period from state and local government entities. The documents, which came from an open records request, show the incentive package includes tax abatements and sales tax exemptions from state, county, city and school district, but no outright cash incentives. The city agreed to provide industrial revenue bonds to build a facility estimated to cost up to $41.6 million, plus an estimated $6 million more for equipment and machinery. In return, Cargill commits to staying in Wichita for at least 15 years. The Minnesota-based company has its beef business, turkey and cooked meat business and processed-protein services in Wichita.
Charges Filed in Alleged School Bus Assault
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Barton County attorney says he is charging a juvenile with battery and criminal restraint in connection to a school bus incident involving members of the Great Bend High School boys swim team. County Attorney Douglas Matthews says in a news release Tuesday that the charges stem from a February 6 incident in Barton County. The release did not disclose the juveniles' ages, and Matthews did not immediately return a phone message. The prosecutor in neighboring Ellsworth County said last week that a 17-year-old member of the swim team was convicted of misdemeanor battery on another team member in Ellsworth County and will be sentenced July 5. A 16-year-old was sentenced to a year of probation for misdemeanor battery. The team was returning from a swim meet in Manhattan.
Black-Footed Ferrets to Return to Former Wyoming Stronghold
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wildlife officials hope to restore a population of black-footed ferrets to a pair of Wyoming ranches where the species was rediscovered in the wild 35 years ago. The 35 ferrets will be among as many as 220 captive-bred ferrets released in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Kansas this year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service breeds the ferrets at a facility in northern Colorado. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department plans to release ferrets on the adjoining Pitchfork and Lazy BV ranches in western Wyoming in late July. Biologists had thought the black-footed ferret was extinct until a dog on the Lazy BV brought one home in 1981. Scientists captured the remaining ferrets to begin a captive-breeding program that has released hundreds of ferrets into the wild since the early 1990s.
Woman Killed in Shooting in Liberal
LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) - Police are looking for a man suspected of killing a woman and critically injuring a man in southwest Kansas. Liberal police say emergency responders found a 40-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man shot early Monday after a dispute involving several people in a parking lot in Liberal. The woman later died at a Wichita hospital and the man is in critical condition. Their names have not been released. One man has been arrested. Police are still looking for a 34-year-old black male about 6-feet tall and 200 pounds. He has several tattoos, including a skull on his upper right arm and the phrase, "CREEK $IDE POSSE," on his left forearm.
Orioles Beat Royals, 4-1
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles beat Kansas City 4-1 Monday night to extend the Royals' losing streak to five games. The Orioles' Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters hit solo homers in the seventh inning to back a sparkling pitching performance by Mike Wright. The Orioles have come-from-behind to win won five of their last six games. The two pitchers, Wright and Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy were locked in a scoreless duel until the Royals pushed across an unearned run in the seventh. But, the Orioles answered with four runs to win the first in the three-game series. The Royals face the Orioles again in Baltimore tonight.