Teachers' Union Asks Kansas Supreme Court to Restore Guaranteed Tenure
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest teachers' union in Kansas is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a 2014 law that stripped public school teachers of guaranteed tenure. The court heard arguments Tuesday on the Kansas National Education Association's challenge to the law over how legislators included it in a larger education funding measure. A national union attorney said adding the anti-tenure provision to what was essentially an appropriations bill violates the state constitution's requirement that legislative bills have only a single subject. State Solicitor General Stephen McAllister said all of the bill's provisions fit under a single subject because lawmakers called it an act concerning education. The anti-tenure provision repealed a law that gave teachers who faced dismissal after three years in the classroom the right to an independent review.
Kansas Lawmakers Fear Further Pension Payment Delays
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers are expressing concerns that Kansas won't be able to quickly catch up with $100 million in delayed contributions to public employee pensions. The Topeka Capital-Journal that members of the Joint Committee on Pensions and Investments discussed their concerns Monday. The pension payments were delayed this spring to address budget shortfalls. Under the plan, the delayed payments were to be repaid with interest by 2018. But Republican Representative Steven Johnson, of Assaria, says he's "not optimistic" about the prospects of the money being paid back in time. Committee members note that the state faces budget difficulties that lawmakers must confront next year. Democratic Senator Laura Kelly, of Topeka, predicted the Legislature will further delay the payment. The delayed amount represents a quarter of the state's annual pension system payments. But Governor Sam Brownback noted Tuesday that the pension system's finances have improved significantly since he took office in 2011, partly because because the state boosted its contributions.
Kansas Supreme Court Wrestles with Censuring Former Judge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is deciding whether it should censure a former Wichita-area judge over allegations that he was not candid in answering questions about earlier accusations of improper behavior. An attorney for former Sedgwick County District Judge Timothy Henderson said Monday in arguments before the Supreme Court that the latest case against Henderson is moot. Henderson lost his Republican primary race for re-election in August and resigned, effective Sunday. The high court suspended Henderson for three months without pay in 2015 after a disciplinary panel found he had sexually harassed female attorneys and staff by repeatedly making offensive remarks. Disciplinary Examiner Todd Thompson told the Supreme Court that while it no longer can suspend Henderson, it should censure him to help maintain public confidence in the courts.
Practicing Law in Kansas Made Easier for Military Spouses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is making it easier for the spouses of military members to practice law in Kansas. The Adjutant General's Department said in a statement released Monday that a newly adopted rule lessens licensing requirements. If the spouses have passed the bar in another state or the District of Columbia, they can temporarily practice law in Kansas without taking the state-administered uniform bar exam. To qualify, the attorneys' spouses must currently be stationed in Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback said in a written statement that the rule is one way to "support our military and their families."
The rule has the support of several military leaders in the state. Major General Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general, noted the transient nature of military life.
Services Set for Kansas Deputy Killed During Traffic Stop
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday for a Johnson County sheriff's deputy who died when his car was hit by a vehicle during a traffic stop. Visitation for Master Deputy Brandon Collins will be Wednesday evening at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe. The memorial service will be at 2 pm Thursday at the same church. He will be buried Saturday in Oilton, Oklahoma. Collins was killed early Sunday when a truck ran into his patrol car as he was conducting a routine traffic stop. Adrian Espinosa-Flores, of Kansas City, Kansas, is being held on $2 million bond after being charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter in Collins' death. A memorial fund has been setup for the Collins family at any Mainstreet Credit Union location.
Sheriff: Kansas Deputy's Death Subject of Detainer
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Johnson County sheriff says federal immigration authorities have placed a detainer on the man charged in the death of sheriff's deputy killed when a pickup slammed into his patrol car during a traffic stop. Adrian Espinosa-Flores, of Kansas City, Kansas, is being held in Johnson County on $2 million bond after being charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter/DUI in the death Sunday of Master Deputy Brandon Collins. Collins was making a traffic stop at the time. Sheriff Frank Denning said Tuesday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer on Espinosa-Flores. Denning says the detainer is a request to local law enforcement agencies to hold a person for possible deportation once they've gone through the court system. Denning says the detainer also means Espinosa-Flores won't be released on bond.
Midwest Governors Send Letter to EPA Seeking Ethanol Changes
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Seven Midwest governors have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency seeking regulation changes intended to increase sales of gasoline blended with a higher percentage of ethanol. The governors of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota sent a letter Tuesday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting new standards that would allow stations to sell more gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol rather than the current standard of 10 percent ethanol. The letter says the current setup "is stifling the widespread adoption" of E15 ethanol blends. The governors — five Republicans and two Democrats — are all from leading ethanol-producing states. The letter was also sent to President Barack Obama. A telephone message seeking a comment from McCarthy was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Groups Rekindle Battle over Lesser Prairie Chicken
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Four months after the federal government gave up a court fight to keep the lesser prairie chicken on the endangered species list, environmentalists say there's new evidence that warrants listing the bird again. A coalition of environmental groups has filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arguing that key populations are in danger of extinction as climate change exacerbates problems caused by energy development, farming and other infrastructure such as roads and power lines. The groups say emergency protections are needed for isolated populations in western Kansas, in Colorado and along the Texas-New Mexico border. Following court rulings in Texas that stripped the bird of protection, federal officials moved in July to formally remove it from the list. The agency has said the bird's status would be re-evaluated.
Kansas Governor Vows to Fight Relisting of Lesser Prairie Chicken
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Oil and gas groups along with Kansas officials are vowing to fight an effort to relist the lesser prairie chicken as a federally threatened species. Found in pockets throughout the Great Plains, the grouse was removed from the threatened and endangered species list earlier this year following court rulings in Texas. Government lawyers decided not to pursue an appeal. Environmentalists are now pushing for federal biologists to review the bird's status and impose emergency protections. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said Tuesday that relisting the bird is unwarranted. He argued that drought caused a decline in the lesser prairie chicken's numbers and that the birds have come back now that the rain has returned. He says there's habitat for the bird. Oil and gas groups say a conservation partnership developed by states and private landowners has also helped to boost lesser prairie chicken numbers in recent years.
Man Pleads Guilty to Highway Shootings Near Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to a series of shootings on Kansas City-area highways will be sentenced to 30 years in prison. Jackson County (Missouri) Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says in a news release that 30-year-old Mohammed Whitaker pleaded guilty Tuesday to 20 felony charges arising from the shootings. The random shootings in March and April of 2014 along the Kansas City-area highways frightened drivers and injured at least two motorists. Shootings were reported in Kansas City, Lee's Summit, Blue Springs and Leawood, Kansas. After tips directed officers to Whitaker, they followed him for days before arresting him in April 2014 at his apartment in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview.
Oklahoma Regulators Shut Down 32 Wells Near Earthquake Fault Line
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma state and federal regulators say 32 disposal wells in northeastern Oklahoma must shut down because they are too close to a newly discovered fault line. Geologists say that fault produced the state's strongest earthquake on record. A magnitude 5.8 quake at Pawnee, Oklahoma, on September 3 shook several states, including Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Monday that wells within 10 miles of the newly discovered fault would cease operations. In a process known as hydraulic fracturing, used in oil and gas production, a massive amount of wastewater is injected deep into the earth. The high pressure waste water has been blamed for triggering an increase in earthquakes.
Man Charged in Shooting in Kansas City Entertainment Area
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man has been charged in a shooting that injured seven people in Kansas City's Westport entertainment district. Twenty-nine-year-old Kelvin Clark, of Kansas City, Kansas, faces seven counts each of assault and armed criminal action. His bond is set at $250,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court documents say a man was knocked down by a vehicle early Sunday. Surveillance video from after the collision shows two people inside of the vehicle shooting toward the downed man and a crowd. Police said in a news release that the suspects' vehicle then drove at responding officers before crashing. The release says an officer fired at the vehicle, but no one was struck by that gunfire. Police said the most seriously wounded victim was in critical condition.
Man Arrested in Death of Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested in the death of a Johnson County Sheriff's deputy after crashing into his stopped patrol car. Overland Park Police spokesman, Officer John Lacy, says the 38-year-old suspect is jailed on suspicion of reckless second-degree murder in the death of Master Deputy Brandon Collins. The crash happened Sunday after the 45-year-old Collins stopped a driver for a traffic infraction on U.S. 69. Lacy says Collins had made contact with the driver and returned to his vehicle when it was rear-ended. Collins died at the scene. Police say the suspect fled on foot and was captured in the area. The results of drug and alcohol tests are pending.
Man Charged in Good Samaritan Shooting at Kansas Store
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested and charged a Kansas man in an attempted robbery and shooting at a suburban Kansas City store. The Johnson County District Attorney's office announced Tuesday that 27-year-old Arthur Fred Wyatt III, of Overland Park, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated kidnapping and attempted aggravated robbery. Police said a Kansas City, Kansas, woman was hit from behind by two suspects while putting her child in a car Sunday at a Wal-Mart in Shawnee. A Kansas City, Missouri, man who tried to help was shot several times. Another good Samaritan from De Soto, Kansas, was released after fatally shooting 28-year-old John Simmons III, of Kansas City, Missouri. Spokeswoman Kristi Bergeron declined to release more information about Wyatt's arrest.
Girl, 8, Dies When 9-Year-Old Driver Rolls Utility Vehicle
ROSENDALE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 9-year-old girl rolled a utility vehicle, killing her 8-year-old passenger, on a rural road in western Missouri. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the crash happened Monday on a county road near Rosendale, about 75 miles north of Kansas City, Missouri. The patrol says the girl driving the Polaris Ranger UTV overcorrected, and the vehicle overturned on its side. The patrol identified the girl who died as Alexis Walker of Leavenworth, Kansas. The young driver was rushed to a hospital in serious condition. No other vehicles were involved.
Judge Denies Self-Defense Claim in Kansas Gun Store Shootout
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has denied self-defense claims from one of four men charged in a fatal gunfight at a suburban Kansas City. De'Anthony Wiley, of Kansas City, Missouri, claimed that he was wounded and trying to surrender when Jon Bieker was fatally shot in January 2015 while defending his wife at the She's A Pistol gun store in Shawnee, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports District Judge Timothy McCarthy on Tuesday denied Wiley's self-defense claim. He it was Bieker acting in self-defense when he fired at Wiley and three other men trying to rob the store. Johnson County prosecutors argued that Wiley fired after he was wounded and did not try to give up. The four men are charged with attempted robbery and first-degree murder in Bieker's death.
Records: Missouri Man Has Long Violent History With Women
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man considered a person of interest in his ex-girlfriend's 2007 disappearance and now charged with burning another missing Missouri woman's car spent time in jail for assaulting his pregnant then-girlfriend in 2011. Police and court records show the 18-year-old woman in the 2011 incident won a protection order against Kylr Yust who was accused of drunkenly choking her. He pleaded guilty and served 120 days in jail. Yust was arrested Sunday after Jessica Runions's car was found burned and abandoned in Kansas City. The 21-year-old Runions was last seen Thursday. In Belton, police say Yust is a person of interest in the 2007 disappearance of teenager Kara Kopetsky, who vanished days after seeking a protection order against him. Yust isn't charged in either disappearance. It's unclear whether he has an attorney, and he's jailed in Benton County, 100 miles southeast of Kansas City.
Royals Lose to Athletics, 16-3, in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics matched a season high Monday night with 17 hits as Oakland trounced the Kansas City Royals 16-3. The A's scored their most runs this season for their largest margin of victory. Royals starter Dillon Gee (6-8) was battered for five runs on five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. It was a potentially crippling loss for Kansas City (74-69), which began the day four back of the final wild-card spot with 20 games remaining. The Royals were hoping an eight-game stand against lowly Oakland and the scuffling White Sox would allow them to make up some ground. There are now five teams ahead of the Royals in the wild-card race.