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Headlines for Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Brownback Confirmation Vote Delayed 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate Democrats will delay the confirmation of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as ambassador for religious liberty because of his record on gay rights. The Kansas City Star reports that Democrats plan to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take extra procedural steps on Brownback's nomination. A spokesman for McConnell said it's not clear when the nomination might come up for floor votes. Any delay of Brownback's departure from Kansas past the end of this year could cause complications at the Kansas Statehouse. The Legislature is scheduled to convene in January, and the governor must submit a budget proposal. 

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Top Kansas Lawmakers to Form School Funding Panel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers are expected to form a committee to begin work on a response to a state Supreme Court order directing them to boost spending on public schools. The Legislature's top seven leaders met Monday afternoon to discuss setting up such a committee. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that legislators did not increase spending on the state's public schools enough this year. The court hinted that spending is hundreds of millions of dollars short a year of providing a suitable education for every child but did not set a spending target. A law enacted in June phased in a $293 million increase in funding over two years to make it $4.3 billion annually. The court said a new law must be enacted before July 2018. 
 
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Missouri Foundation to Study Harassment in Kansas Politics

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri-based foundation that promotes gender equality plans to work with Kansas officials to improve the Legislature's sexual harassment policy after women complained last week about being harassed at the Kansas Statehouse. Attorneys for The Women's Foundation will work with the Kansas legislative counsel and make recommendations to the Legislative Coordinating Council in December, Senate President Susan Wagle announced Monday. The foundation's work comes amid accusations made last week by some women that they were harassed or assaulted and legislative leaders did not adequately respond, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The foundation did similar work with the Missouri Legislature in 2015. "Sexual harassment is unacceptable, and it presents a barrier for women to advance professionally and to lead in the future," Foundation President and CEO Wendy Doyle said in a written statement. "It must not be enabled or tolerated inside or outside the State Capitol." Former Democratic Statehouse staffer Abbie Hodgson said last week that she was propositioned, touched inappropriately and harassed while she was chief of staff for then-House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City Democrat. Hodgson did not say who harassed her. She also reported legislators were using female interns as designated drivers. Former Planned Parenthood lobbyist Elise Higgins and Kelly Schodorf, daughter of former Sen. Jean Schodorf, also said they had been harassed or assaulted and lawmakers they told didn't take sufficient action. Wagle said she would like to find out how extensive the sexual harassment was in state politics but it was difficult to investigate the women's claims because they have not identified their alleged harassers. "In order to investigate, people need to be very forward about the incidents they experienced, and they need to allow us to investigate them. And we need to do it by name," Wagle said. Wagle has said she has not received reports of sexual harassment while she has been Senate president. The Legislature's sexual harassment policy requires employees to report their harassment to their supervisor. If the supervisor's response is inadequate, the complaint can go to the Legislative Administrative Services, led by director Tom Day. Day said he has had only one formal complaint filed since he became director three years ago. He said victims might hesitate to report harassment because a provision of the policy requires his staff to tell an alleged harasser who the accuser is.

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Kansas Gas Companies Told to Accelerate Pipeline Replacement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission has rejected a request from three gas companies, sticking to its original ruling that they need to speed up the replacement of obsolete pipeline deemed a safety risk. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the commission ruled in September for Atmos Energy, Black Hills Energy and Kansas Gas Service to create a 10-year plan to replace unprotected and bare steel pipes. The companies also have to recoup funds at up to 40 cents per month per customer. The ruling ended a years-long look at whether the companies needed to tackle their obsolete pipeline faster. The companies filed a petition for reconsideration, but the commission rejected it last week, enforcing the three return with an accelerated replacement plan within three months and a final plan in six months.

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1 of 3 Suspects in Deadly Topeka Shooting Enters Guilty Plea

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — One of three people charged in a fatal shooting outside a fast food restaurant in Topeka has pleaded guilty. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 17-year-old Shayden Byrd admitted Monday to first-degree murder and two other charges in the death of 18-year-old Justice Mitchell. Mitchell was found suffering from two gunshot wounds June 26 in the parking lot a Church's Chicken. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Police say another suspect is accused of shooting Mitchell during a botched effort to rob him of drugs and cash. Byrd is accused of plotting the robbery with the suspected gunman. Sentencing is set for December 5. The plea calls for him to be housed in a juvenile correctional facility until he is 22 ½ years old.

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Planned Parenthood Sues over Missouri's New Abortion Law

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Planned Parenthood is suing for a second time over Missouri's new abortion law. The lawsuit filed Monday in Kansas City concerns medication abortions, which involve a woman taking two pills. Planned Parenthood is seeking to block a part of the law, known as complication plan regulation. It requires those who provide the medication to contract with an obstetrician-gynecologist with admitting privileges at a hospital. KCUR Radio reports the law requires the ob-gyn to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to treat any complications from a medication abortion. The lawsuit contends the regulation is medically unnecessary and is already preventing Planned Parenthood's clinic in Columbia from providing medication abortions. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says the regulation ensures that women have access to adequate care in medical emergencies.

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Body Found at Kansas Storage Unit During Check on Children 

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Police and court records say an investigation into a man found sleeping with his two children in a Kansas storage unit has led to the discovery of a body in a cooler. Thirty-five-year-old Justin Rey is jailed on $1 million bond in Johnson County, Kansas, on two counts each of aggravated child endangerment and contributing to a child's misconduct. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa say the remains were discovered when officers checked on two small children who had no food or diapers. A Jackson County, Missouri, search warrant obtained by KCTV says a man taken into custody at the storage facility told authorities his wife killed herself after giving birth to their newborn and that her remains were inside a cooler.

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American Girl Taken by Dad to Syria Is Returning Home to US 

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say an American teenage girl who was taken to Syria by her father several years ago is now with U.S. authorities and will be returned home. She has said her father supported the Islamic State group. The officials say U.S.-allied Syrian forces turned her over to the U.S. military. She's now in State Department custody in Iraq. CBS News interviewed the girl near Raqqa earlier this month. She said she had been in Syria for five years and is from Kansas. The officials said it was the same girl, but didn't identify her by name. One said she was forced to marry a Syrian man and is pregnant. The official said her husband died in a coalition airstrike. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.

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Woman's Southern Kansas Death Investigated as Suspicious 

PECK, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Sheriff's office is searching for a 40-year-old Wichita man in the death of a woman whose body was found near train tracks in south-central Kansas. A passerby found the woman's body early Monday near train tracks near Peck. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and emergency responders noticed trauma on the body. The woman was identified Tuesday as 40-year-old Tamsen Kayzer of Wichita. The suspect is described as a black male, 6-foot-1 tall and weighing 190 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.

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Kansas Man Pleads Guilty in Tax Fraud Case 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former Overland Park man has admitted filing false income tax returns, causing a loss of between $550,000 and $1.5 million. Federal prosecutors say 58-year-old Alfred Reece pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false income tax returns. Reece owned a tax preparation business in Kansas City. Prosecutors say that between 2013 and 2015, he prepared returns for individuals that included false claims such as job-related expenses or medical and dental deductions. He also concealed that he prepared the returns, instead claiming they were self-prepared. Sentencing is scheduled for January 17.

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Employee Arrested After Racist Graffiti and Arson at Kansas City Church

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a church maintenance worker set a fire and spray-painted racist graffiti on a predominantly black Kansas City church in order to cover up a theft. Nathaniel Nelson was charged Monday with arson. He was a member and employee of the Concord Fortress of Hope church and its cultural center, where the arson and graffiti were discovered early Sunday. Investigators say sprinklers quickly extinguished an intentionally set fire in an office. Graffiti on the church included a racial slur and "KKK." According to a federal affidavit, Nelson told investigators he was at the church to do drugs and he tried to steal money. He reportedly told investigators he spray-painted the graffiti to throw off investigators. 

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Colombian President to Speak at University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is being honored this week at the University of Kansas where he earned degrees in business and economics. Santos will be at the Lawrence campus this (TUE) afternoon to receive an honorary degree and speak at a public event. Santos won last year's Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end his country's civil war after five decades of bloodshed. The conflict left more than 200,000 dead. University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod described Santos as an "inspirational leader." Santos was born in Bogota, Colombia, and arrived at the University of Kansas in 1969. After graduating, he studied at the London School of Economics and Harvard University. He last visited the University of Kansas in 2012, when he received a distinguished alumni award.

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Kansas Man Sentenced for Downloading Child Porn from Germany 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to federal prison in a child pornography investigation that began in Germany. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced Tuesday that 31-year-old Noah Martin, of Lawrence, was sentenced to just over eight years in federal prison for two counts of possession and distribution of child pornography. The investigation began when police in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany put together a list of 155 people in the United States who used a peer-to-peer network to download a video of a young girl being sexually abused. Homeland Security used the information to lead to Martin's home in Lawrence. Investigators found 1,560 images and 202 videos containing child pornography on Martin's computer.

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Man Ordered to Repay Government for Court-Appointed Attorney 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was ordered to pay the government back for his court-appointed attorney after authorities discovered he bought a luxury car while his case was pending. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release that a federal judge on Tuesday ordered Antoine Beasley to pay the federal treasury $34,640. That's the amount Beasley paid on a 2015 Audi A7 Quattro. Beasley was sentenced earlier this month to just over five years in prison on gun and drug charges. He had said he was indigent and was given a court-appointed attorney during his case. After sentencing, it was discovered that while the case was pending Beasley spent $76,715 on the Audi. On his credit application, he said he had a monthly income of $10,000, not counting his wife's income.

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Groundbreaking Planned for Eisenhower Memorial in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ground will be broken this week for a long-planned memorial in Washington for Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission chairman, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, announced in a news release that the event is planned for Thursday morning. Former TV news anchor Greta Van Susteren will be the event's emcee, and Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, will be among the attendees. Roberts described Eisenhower as "Kansas' favorite son" and said it's "an honor to see this memorial become a reality." Congress approved the memorial in 1999 and allocated funding for planning, but the project became bogged down over objections to the design. Eisenhower's relatives announced last year that they had dropped their objections after the design was modified, in part to place more emphasis on the 34th president's home state.

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Underground Railroad Site Now Part of Historic Kansas Trail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A house that was part of the Underground Railroad has been dedicated as an official site along a new Kansas trail linking historical places related to African-American history. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Shawnee County Historical Society held an event Sunday in Topeka to dedicate the Ritchie House. The event allowed visitors to explore the historic home where John and Mary Jane Ritchie helped escaped slaves flee to Nebraska. The Kansas African American History Trail officially opened last month as a partnership of 18 historic sites across Kansas related to African-American history. The trail also includes Topeka's Brown v. Board of Education historic site. Sunday's dedication of the Ritchie House featured speeches from the local historical society's president and the project manager of the Kansas African American Museum.

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Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff to Speak at Kansas State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be speaking at Kansas State University next month. Dunford's November 27 appearance is part of the Landon Lecture series. The series is named for former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who was the 1936 Republican nominee for president. The series was established in 1966 to bring in speakers to discuss issues facing business, politics and international relations. Dunford became the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 2015. He serves as the principal military adviser to the president, secretary of defense and National Security Council. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Nears End 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers have been busy with fall calving as well as planting next year's winter wheat and harvesting fall row crops. The latest update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service on Monday says about 84 percent of the state's wheat crop has been planted. Fall harvest is also well under way with 78 percent of the corn now cut, along with 73 percent of the soybeans. About 44 percent of the sorghum also has been harvested. The report also shows that 12 percent of the Kansas cotton crop has been cut as well as 42 percent of sunflowers. Fourth cutting of alfalfa is 95 percent complete.

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Chiefs' Defense Comes Alive in 29-19 Win over Denver Broncos 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --The Kansas City Chiefs excelled on defense in their 29-19 victory over their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs' defense picked off Denver's Trevor Siemian three times, picking up two fumbles and taking one of them back for a touchdown. The Chiefs (6-2) needed the win against the Broncos (3-4) to snap a 2-game losing skid. Monday night's win was the Chiefs' fourth straight victory over their AFC West rival.  Kansas City's 12-game AFC West winning streak was halted 10 days ago in Oakland. The Chiefs had won five straight to start the season before losing to the Steelers and then to the Raiders. Harrison Butker kicked five field goals for Kansas City. Alex Smith threw for 202 yards and a touchdown. Most of the passes went to Travis Kelce, who hauled in seven balls for 133 yards and the score.
 

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