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Headlines for Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kansas GOP Leader Demands Davis Exit from Voter Registration Lawsuit 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's chairman is demanding that the Democratic Party's last nominee for governor withdraw as an attorney from a federal lawsuit challenging voter registration policies. GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold said Tuesday that former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis's involvement in the case filed last week violates state law. Davis says he intends to proceed with the case. Davis represents two northeast Kansas residents seeking to block enforcement of a 2013 law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship to register. They're also challenging Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach's directive to counties to cancel thousands of incomplete registrations. Arnold cited a state law preventing some ex-legislators from participating in such lawsuits unless they voted against the statute being challenged. Davis voted for the proof-of-citizenship law.


Kansas Lawmakers Sign Contract for $2.6M Efficiency Study 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers have agreed to pay a management and performance consulting company about $2.6 million to perform a government efficiency study although another firm offered to do the job for less than $1 million. The Wichita Eagle reports lawmakers signed a contract Monday with Alvarez & Marsal of Kansas City, Missouri. The company would be paid $2.6 million to perform the study. Another firm, McGladrey, bid the job for less than $1 million. Another firm, Deloitte, submitted a bid for $2.5 million, and the Boston Consulting Group submitted a bid for $2.8 million. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Ray Merrick says lawmakers considered expertise before cost when choosing the firm and that McGladrey's bid was not as thorough. The contract includes an analysis of the state's budget and an evaluation of the state's budget process.


Culling of Voter Records Underway in Kansas Counties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _   County election officials in Kansas are already working to sort out and cancel incomplete voter registrations under the new rule from Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Some election officials said Monday they expect the process to take several weeks and that even when the job is done, electronic records for such residents will still be accessible. A new rule from the secretary of state took effect Friday directing counties to cancel registrations that are incomplete for more than 90 days. Most of the 31,000 affected registrations are for residents who haven't complied with a 2013 law requiring new voters to produce papers documenting their U.S. citizenship. 


Kansas Judicial Funding Dispute Moves to Federal Court 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The fight over a move by the Legislature to defund the Kansas judiciary's budget has now landed in the federal courts. Kansas has moved the lawsuit filed by four judges to U.S. District Court in Topeka. The attorney representing the judges said Monday he is confident that whether it is heard in state or federal court, the measure defunding the courts would be found unconstitutional. Legislation passed this year nullifies the judicial branch's entire budget if a 2014 law stripping the Kansas Supreme Court of its ability to appoint chief judges is struck down.  The case is now before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree.


Kansas Planning to Reduce Health Aid for State Workers' Kids 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas plans to reduce insurance assistance for children of low-income state workers next year and allow those children to be enrolled in a federal health care program. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports workers who qualify will be able to sign their children up for coverage next year through the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP. Prior to the federal Affordable Care Act state workers weren't allowed to sign up for CHIP. The Health Care Commission, which governs the State Employee Health Plan, voted to eliminate $2.2 million in funding for Kansas' Healthy KIDS program, which helps subsidize health insurance for the children of lower-income state workers. The Kansas Department for Health and Environment says it expects to file the required paperwork to enact the plan next month.


US Supreme Court to Consider Reinstatement of Death Sentences for KS Convicts 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to consider reinstating death sentences for two brothers convicted of notorious multiple murders in Kansas in cases that roiled the state's politics. The nation's highest court is taking up cases of Jonathan and Reginald Carr, sentenced to lethal injection for four killings in Wichita in December 2000. The justices also planned to hear the case of Sidney Gleason, sentenced to die for the 2004 murder of a Great Bend woman and her boyfriend after she witnessed a robbery. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned death sentences in all three cases last year, and Attorney General Derek Schmidt appealed. The state's highest court has yet to uphold a death sentence since Kansas reinstated capital punishment in 1994. Republican officials have complained about the decisions.


Former Manhattan City Attorney Charged with Distributing Child Porn 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The former city attorney of Manhattan has been charged with distributing and possessing child pornography. Fifty-three-year-old Bill Raymond, of Andover, was arrested Tuesday on four federal charges. Although he was indicted last month, the charges weren't announced until Tuesday because that is when he is making his first court appearance in Kansas City, Kansas. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Raymond served as the Manhattan city attorney from December 2012 through this August. Before that, he was the chief assistance county counselor for Sedgwick County. Assistant city manager Kiel Mangus says the city won't comment on what he described as a "personnel matter." The U.S. attorney's office says Raymond faces up to 20 years on the three distribution counts and 10 years on the possession charge.


Evidence of Bedbugs Found at Topeka Library 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A pesticide company has found evidence of bedbugs at a Topeka library. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Schendel Pest Services' bug-sniffing dog, Scout, on Monday found signs of the bugs in two sections of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Library spokeswoman Diana Friend says no bedbugs were seen, but materials including several books were removed from the library for treatment. The library check comes after a report last week of bedbugs in upholstered chairs at the library. Friends says the company has told her all public buildings can have bedbugs, and that the library will continue to monitor for the pests. Shawnee County health officials also say bedbugs aren't known to carry diseases and should be considered a nuisance instead of a public health risk.


EPA Finds Hazardous Waste Violations at UMKC

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City will pay a $23,679 civil penalty for violating federal regulations involving the storage and handling of hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that inspections at UMKC's midtown campus and its School of Dentistry found the university did not properly determine if two solid waste streams contained hazardous waste in order to determine how to manage the waste properly. The EPA says the university allowed hazardous waste to accumulate in open, unlabeled containers, lacked training plans and didn't try to minimize the possibility of fire, explosion or accidental release of hazardous waste. The settlement requires UMKC to upgrade its hazardous material inventory system and improve its ability to track, process and maintain disposal records. University officials did not return calls seeking comment.


Kansas Cropland Values Down This Year 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Low grain prices are driving down Kansas cropland values, at the same time that high prices for cattle are pushing up the value of pastures. Agriculture Department data shows the value of cropland slipped to an average $2,210 per acre in Kansas. That is down 2.2 percent compared to last year. But the average pasture values rose nearly 7 percent to $1,390 per acre in Kansas. Kansas State University agricultural economist Mykel Taylor researched property valuation records of actual sales transactions and found those tend to be higher than those reported on government surveys, although general trends are the same. Her study included factors such as location, rainfall and taxes. Irrigated cropland in south-central Kansas is worth more than land in western counties where it rains less.


Kansas Same-Sex Couples Seek Birth Certificates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two same-sex couples say Kansas has refused to issue birth certificates listing them as parents of their children conceived through artificial insemination. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the women contend the state is refusing to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that said states must give full recognition to same-sex marriages. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas filed affidavits Monday from women who said the state was not granting issuing birth certificates listing both women in their marriages as parents of children conceived through artificial insemination. The ACLU also filed a federal lawsuit in 2014 seeking to end Kansas' ban on same-sex marriage. That case was pending when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in June. KDHE says it's still studying the case.


Kansas Panel Recommends Second Suspension for Judge 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state disciplinary panel has recommended a second suspension for a Kansas district court judge suspended from the bench earlier this year over allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Commission on Judicial Qualifications has found that Sedgwick County Judge Timothy Henderson wasn't credible and candid when he testified last year about sexual-harassment accusations against him. The panel wants the state Supreme Court to suspend Henderson for 30 days and publicly censure him. The high court in February suspended Henderson from the bench without pay for three months over the first complaint against him after finding he made "repeated inappropriate and offensive remarks" to female staff members and prosecutors. Thomas Haney, Henderson's attorney, says he'll file objections to the panel's new findings.


Kansas Firm, City Reach Restitution Deal for Pollution

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas metal finishing business and its owner have struck a deal with the north-central community of Minneapolis to pay for illegally discharging untreated wastewater into the city sewer. C&R Plating and its owner, Kevin L. Cline told a federal court Monday they had reached a settlement agreement to pay a lump sum of $225,000 in restitution, plus return some industrial land at no cost to the city. The defendants asked the court to adopt the restitution deal. Cline was sentenced in July to four months in prison for violating the federal Clean Water Act. He admitted submitting fraudulent samples and reports to conceal the dumping. The court ordered him to pay $281,503 in restitution, but allowed an alternate amount so long as it was acceptable to the city.


Man Who Flew Marijuana to Kansas Gets 1 Year in Prison

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado man who flew a plane loaded with marijuana to Iola, Kansas, was sentenced to a year in federal prison. Federal prosecutors say 59-year-old Kenneth E. Weaver, of Denver, was sentenced Monday for one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He admitted in his plea that he flew a plane carrying 207 pounds of medical grade marijuana into the Iola airport on July 11, 2014. In addition to his prison sentence, Weaver's plane, more than $450,000 in cash, a 2007 Bentley Continental and a 2010 BMW X were forfeited to the federal government. After his prison term, Weaver will be on one year of supervised release.


Topeka Man Sentenced to Life for Fatal Shooting 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man who has been convicted twice of fatally shooting an unarmed patron at a local bar seven years ago has been sentenced to life for premeditated first-degree murder. James Arthur Qualls III killed 30-year-old Joseph "Joe Bob" Beier Jr. of Topeka in the early morning hours of July 16, 2008, at the Whiplash Bar. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the dispute was caused by a disagreement over a pool game between Qualls and Beier's girlfriend. Qualls has had 11 defense attorneys since his case started in 2008. He tried to fire his 11th attorney during Monday's sentencing but a Shawnee County district court judge denied that request. He was given a "Hard 25" sentence, meaning he won't be eligible for parole until he serves at least 25 years.


State to Outsource Kansas Auto Dealer Title Services

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas is set to outsource vehicle title work for automobile dealers next year to save about $200,000. Officials said Monday that the bulk of dealer transactions handled by the Kansas Department of Revenue's office in Topeka would be managed by the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association. General title services will continue to be available to individuals in county offices. The trade organization set up a limited liability company to begin processing thousands of transfers in January. Lisa Kaspar, the state's director of vehicles, says the five-year contract won't result in layoffs at the revenue department.  The Kansas Automobile Dealers Association says a processing fee of no more than $10 will be included in transaction costs assessed by dealers to consumers.


Stoneking Retiring from Kansas State Rifle Association 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The president of the Kansas State Rifle Association is retiring because of health problems. The Wichita Eagle reports that Patricia Stoneking announced her retirement in an e-mail to members this weekend. Stoneking says she's retiring because of health issues and because her doctors have told her to minimize stress. As leader of the Kansas NRA affiliate for a decade, Stoneking helped the association grow into a major player in Kansas politics. She was also the main proponent for a bill signed into law this spring that eliminated the training requirement to carry a concealed firearm. Kathleen Wade, the association's vice president, will assume the duties of president, and Moriah Day, a staffer for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, will lead the group's political action committee.


Report: Kansas Winter Wheat Planting, Corn Harvest on Schedule

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas farmers are nearing the halfway point for planting of the 2016 winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 46 percent of the state's winter wheat crop has been seeded. The agency also provided its weekly snapshot of the progress of the fall harvest for other major crops in the state. About 62 percent of the corn in Kansas has now been cut, along with 25 percent of the sorghum and 15 percent of the soybeans. Cutting of alfalfa is 88 percent complete and Kansas cotton growers have harvested about 4 percent of their crop.


Kansas Man Sentenced in Bicyclist's Death 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man accused of causing the 2014 death of a Manhattan bicyclist has been sentenced to 44 days in jail. The Manhattan Mercury reports that 33-year-old Derik Kesler of Rossville was sentenced Monday in the death of 49-year-old Mark Jilka, who died after he was hit by a pickup in June 2014 south of Manhattan. Kesler said he was typing a location into his phone's GPS when the incident occurred. Kesler previously pleaded no contest earlier to one count of vehicular homicide. He was granted parole for one year and will serve 22 weekends in jail, which also could be served as 44 days in succession. Court officials said he also was fined $2,500 and will be able to drive only to and from work during that period.


Solomon Corporation Filling Rush Order of Transformers for Saipan 

SOLOMON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas company is working to fill a rush order from the federal government to help a Pacific island commonwealth hit by a recent typhoon. The Salina Journal reports that more than 100 Solomon Corporation employees are working to fill the rush order from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help 55,000 people in Saipan get their power back on. FEMA hired the Solomon-based company to supply 486 transformers to Saipan, a U.S. commonwealth in the western Pacific Ocean hit by Typhoon Soudelor in August. Solomon Corporation bills itself as the nation's leading rebuilder of transformers and other oil-filled electrical equipment. Tom Hemmer, the firm's CEO, says the first 180 rebuilt transformers will be delivered this week, and that the work is on schedule.


Western Kansas Man Arrested in Fatal Shooting 

COLDWATER, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old western Kansas man has been charged in a fatal shooting. The Kansas attorney general's office said Tuesday that Frank Domingo Asebedo Jr. of Protection has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 43-year-old Lelyn P. Betts of Garden City. Asebedo also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm because he has two previous aggravated assault convictions. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says that Comanche County Sheriff's Office and Coldwater Police Department received a call late Friday and found Betts dead. The KBI says Asebedo was identified as a suspect over the weekend and was arrested in Protection. The KBI says his first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday in Comanche County.


Man Pleads Guilty in Uncle's Death in Belvue 

BELVUE, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of killing his uncle in Belvue has pleaded guilty. WIBW-TV reports that Christopher Arand pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Monday just before jury selection was set to begin in his trial. He faces life in prison. Authorities say 70-year-old Larry Arand was found dead in his Belvue home in November.


Topeka Man Gets 20 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old Topeka man accused of supplying crack cocaine to drug traffickers in Junction City and Manhattan, Kansas, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. According to U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, Johnny Lee Ivory III was sentenced Monday. He had been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Prosecutors said that in late 2012 and early 2013, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Junction City Police Department investigated a large trafficking ring. Authorities say Ivory supplied drugs to two men who sold the drugs to distributors who would then resell them on the street.


Royals to Give Ventura Start in Game 1 of ALDS 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals will start hard-throwing youngster Yordano Ventura in Game 1 of the AL Divisional Series, regardless of whether Kansas City plays the Yankees or Astros on Thursday night. Royals manager Ned Yost announced his starter before Tuesday's workout at Kauffman Stadium. Johnny Cueto will pitch the second game and Edinson Volquez will start Game 3. The 24-year-old Ventura weathered a rollercoaster year that saw him briefly shipped to Triple-A. But the star of Game 6 of last year's World Series has rebounded down the stretch, going 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA in seven starts in September. Cueto is 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA in three postseason starts, all with Cincinnati. Volquez is 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA in two postseason starts with the Reds and Pirates.



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