Kansas Revenue Projections Reduced by $348M
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new fiscal forecast for Kansas has slashed the state's projected tax collections by $348 million for the current and next fiscal years. The new forecast drafted Wednesday would leave the state with budget shortfalls totaling more than $290 million. The figures were included in documents prepared by legislative researchers ahead of a Wednesday evening Statehouse news conference and obtained by The Associated Press from another source. The forecasters reduced the projection for total tax collections for the current fiscal year by $177 million, or 2.9 percent, to about $5.86 billion. They also cut the estimate for the next fiscal year that begins in July by nearly $171 million, or 2.7 percent, to $6.04 billion. Governor Sam Brownback's budget director planned to outline budget-balancing proposals during the news conference.
Kansas GOP Leader Sees Good News on Jobs
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top Republican in the Kansas House says there's much good news in the state's economy despite a new fiscal forecast that slashed projected revenues. House Speaker Ray Merrick pointed Wednesday to the state's low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in March and said businesses are adding jobs. Merrick said that even with the lower revenue projections issued Wednesday, the state would see tax collections increase fiscal year over year. The Stilwell Republican said in a statement that lawmakers would work to keep the budget balanced with what he called "a broad, clear-headed view of the actual situation." The fiscal forecast issued by state officials and university economists reduced projections for state tax collections through June 2017 by a total of $348 million.
Potentially High Lead Levels Detected in Olathe Neighborhood
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City suburb is providing bottled water to residents of one neighborhood as a precaution after potentially high lead levels were detected. The city of Olathe said in a news release that residents of about 105 homes are affected. The release says the city is conducting follow-up testing of water drawn from residents' taps. The potential problems were detected in samples taken from outside water meters, and no details on the results were provided. City spokesman Tim Danneberg says testing at the meter can be inaccurate in detecting lead levels. That's because the samples can be contaminated by such things as lead from surrounding soil and welding joints. He says health officials only recognize the results of samples taken from the tap. Danneberg says previous tests showed no problems.
Court Rejects Religious Challenge to Science Standards
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a nonprofit group's claim that science standards for Kansas public schools promote atheism. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver affirmed on Tuesday a lower court ruling that had dismissed the lawsuit brought by a nonprofit group calling itself Citizens for Objective Public Education. At issue in the lawsuit are guidelines adopted in 2013 by the Kansas Board of Education that treat evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts. The appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree that opponents of the standards had no standing to sue because they could not show an injury. Its decision notes the standards themselves recommend objective curricula and allows districts the option not to adopt the standards or to teach alternative origins theories.
Missouri Lawmakers Reject Brownback's 'Border War' Proposal
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers appear uninterested in Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's proposal to end the business "border war" between the two states. Brownback last week offered to reduce his state's efforts to lure jobs away from the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area if Missouri's lawmakers would in turn weaken a law they approved in 2014 addressing the issue. The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that some Missouri legislators say Brownback's proposal wouldn't completely stop incentives for businesses to relocate from Missouri to Kansas. A current Missouri law offers a truce in the business fight if Kansas agrees to the law's terms by August 28. Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, says he has no desire to change the 2014 law in response to Brownback's offer.
Wichita Abortion Opponent Faces Trial in Threat Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has spurned a last-ditch effort to throw out a lawsuit against an abortion opponent accused of sending a letter to a Wichita doctor saying someone might place an explosive under her car. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Wednesday rejected claims by anti-abortion activist Angel Dillard that a law guaranteeing access to abortion clinics is unconstitutional. Dillard faces a jury trial May 3 in federal court in Wichita. The Justice Department sued Dillard in 2011 for sending the letter to Mila Means, who had been training to offer abortions. At the time, no doctor was performing abortions in Wichita in the wake of Dr. George Tiller's murder. Marten also ruled on what evidence jurors will hear to determine whether Dillard's letter constituted a "true threat."
2nd University of Kansas Rower Files Sexual Assault Lawsuit
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A second member of the University of Kansas rowing team has filed a lawsuit alleging she was sexually assaulted by a football player at the university. The student isn't named in the lawsuit. The Kansas City Star reports that her attorney, Dan Curry, says the woman was assaulted by a KU football player August 29 at a university residence hall. In March, former Kansas rowing team member Daisy Tackett, also filed suit saying she was assaulted at the same residence hall in 2014 by the same football player. His name hasn't been released but KU officials say he was expelled from the university in March. University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson declined to comment on the individual sexual assault investigations. But she says the university tries to investigate and quickly resolve all reports of sexual assault.
Lawsuits Allege That Kansas State University Ignores Off-Campus Fraternity Rapes
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two female students have sued Kansas State University, alleging it has refused to investigate their rapes at off-campus fraternity houses. The two civil rights lawsuits filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas contend the university's practice endangers students and violates federal law by creating a hostile learning environment for victims. Kansas State declined to comment. The suits say Kansas State is under a federal Title IX investigation. The students' attorney, Cari Simon, says the U.S. Department of Education has said schools have an obligation to respond to such complaints, even if they occur off campus. She says Kansas State's position is an outlier. The lawsuits cite police reports that indicate at least 11 rapes were alleged to have happened at Kansas State fraternities since 2012.
Topeka Councilman Charged with Child Endangerment Resigns
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka city councilman charged with child abuse is resigning from the City Council. Jonathan Robert Schumm announced during a council meeting Tuesday that his resignation would be effective at noon today (WED). He said he is leaving his position to best serve his family's needs and to honor an agreement he reached with the Shawnee County District Attorney's office. Schumm and his wife, Allison Nicole Schumm, are charged with one criminal count each of aggravated battery and four counts of endangering a child. Court records show that Jonathan Schumm is accused of choking a child and threatening to "kill him." He has denied the allegations. A Shawnee County judge dismissed a civil action to remove Schumm from his position on January 8.
Interim President at Kansas State Doesn't Plan Many Changes
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The new interim president of Kansas State University says he's not planning to make many changes while the Board of Regents searches for a permanent president. Richard Myers, a retired four-star general and the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday he has no interest in replacing Kirk Schulz, who stepped down in March to become president of Washington State University. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Myers acknowledged Wednesday he has little experience in academia and promised he wouldn't "pretend to know things I don't know." Myers is a former combat pilot and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He graduated from Kansas State in 1965 and joined the Air Force through the ROTC program at the university.
TSA Will Provide Security Screening at Salina Airport
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The federal government has agreed to provide screening resources to the Salina Regional Airport, which will allow the airport to resume commercial air service. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran announced in a news release Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration will provide the screening resources in Salina. Great Lakes was scheduled to begin nonstop service from Salina to Denver on April 1 but that service was postponed while Salina airport authorities waited for the TSA's decision. The news release says it could take several weeks to transfer the necessary security screening equipment and personnel.
3 Charged in Bank Robbery Witnessed by Assistant US Attorney
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Three men have been charged in a Kansas City, Kansas, bank robbery that a federal prosecutor witnessed. The Kansas City Star reports that 33-year-old Jonathan Dehaven, 29-year-old Brandon Wright and 37-year-old Darus Mebane are accused in the Saturday morning robbery at a UMB branch. Court documents say two robbers tied an employee's wrists with a zip tie before fleeing in a sport utility vehicle that a third person drove. After witnessing the robbery from outside the bank, an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas called 911 and chased the robbers. Police pursued the SUV until it wrecked. Investigators found money and a handgun inside the vehicle. Dehaven's attorney declined to comment, and Mebane's attorney didn't immediately respond to an email. No attorney is listed for Wright in online court records.
PepsiCo Executive to Deliver Landon Lecture at Kansas State
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A PepsiCo executive is scheduled to give a Landon Lecture at Kansas State University. Mehmood Khan will speak April 25 at the Manhattan campus. He's PepsiCo's vice chairman and chief scientific officer of global research and development. The lecture 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.
Hall Foundation Gives $8 Million to Kansas Cancer Center
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Hall Family Foundation has given an $8 million gift to help The University of Kansas Cancer Center receive a national cancer center designation. The cancer center in Kansas City, Kansas, is already a National Cancer Institute-designated center. It is now seeking to become an NCI Comprehensive cancer center, which is the highest recognition an academic cancer center can receive. The university and foundation said in a news release Wednesday that the higher designation would help the cancer center expand research funding and bring the most advanced cancer care to patients. Only 69 of the 5,000 cancer center in the U.S. are NCI-designated. Of those 69, only 45 have the comprehensive designation. The cancer center will apply for the designation in September.
2 Men Charged After Invoking Candidates' Names in Clash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita gas station clash in which authorities say racial slurs and the names of presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were shouted has led to misdemeanor charges. Joseph Bryan, a white 33-year-old, and Christian Saldana-Banuelos, a 19-year-old Hispanic student at Wichita State University, face charges that include disorderly conduct. Warrants were issued Friday, but police said they hadn't been arrested as of Wednesday. Neither had listed phone numbers or attorneys. Saldana-Banuelos and Wichita State's Muslim student body vice president alleged that a man identified as Bryan called a black person a racial slur before a clash ensued. Saldana-Banuelos is accused of provoking Bryan by shouting Sanders's name and asking if the two of them were going to fight. The college students said Bryan rode away on a motorcycle after shouting Trump's name.
Kansas District Shortens School Week to Save Money
CANEY, Kan. (AP) — A small southeast Kansas school district will have a four-day week for the rest of the year to save money. The Wichita Eagle reports the Caney Valley school board voted to add 10 minutes to each school day and cancel classes for the next five Fridays. Superintendent Blake Vargas says the district, which has about 800 students, is facing a $70,000 budget shortfall. He cited adjusted enrollment, transportation costs and years of state funding cuts for the shortfall. Other school districts also are considering schedule changes or other measures to reduce costs. Jim Freeman, chief financial officer for Wichita schools, says that district could end the school year early, and his staff might propose lengthening the school day but shortening the next school year.
Wichita City Council Approves New Regulations for Massage Businesses
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new Wichita ordinance bans all sexual activity in massage parlors and requires formal training for would-be masseurs and masseuses. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Wichita City Council approved the measure Tuesday. It's designed to fight sex trafficking and prostitution. Under the ordinance, massage parlor owners, operators and employees must undergo an extensive licensing procedure. The measure also bans nudity while performing massages. Kansas is one of a handful of states that doesn't regulate massage therapy. The push for regulations came from police after they started seeing an increase in the number of human trafficking cases at massage businesses. City documents show that police arrested 22 people on suspicion of human trafficking at massage parlors in 2015.
McDonald's Quashes All-You-Can-Eat Fries Reports
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — McDonald's Corporation is quashing reports that a coming Missouri restaurant will test all-you-can-eat fries, saying the endless spuds will be available for a limited time only to promote the site's scheduled July grand opening. The buzz is around a reported "test" of unlimited fries for customers at the pending location in St. Joseph, north of Kansas City. But McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb says no such test is in the works. McComb says the 6,500-square-foot Missouri restaurant will be unique because it will allow its customers to place their orders at digital kiosks and customize their burgers and desserts. McComb said more details will be available closer to the restaurant opening. Messages left Wednesday with the Missouri location's franchise owner, Chris Habiger, were not immediately returned.
Missouri Seeking Death Penalty in Montgomery County Homicide
MONTGOMERY CITY, Mo. (AP) — A hearing for a Mexican national accused of killing a man in Missouri and four others in Kansas is being postponed, with prosecutors planning to seek the death penalty in the Missouri case. Court records show that a Montgomery County judge on Wednesday delayed Pablo Serrano-Vitorino's preliminary hearing from April 28 to May 12 at the request of Serrano's attorneys. Prosecutors didn't oppose the delay. The defense motion for the postponement cited conversations with a state assistant attorney general "indicating their intention to seek the death penalty" in the March 8 death of Randy Nordman at Nordman's home near New Florence. State and local prosecutors are not publicly discussing that case. Serrano also is accused in Kansas of killing four men the night before Nordman was slain.
Kansas State Architecture School Receives $8 Million Gift
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University's College of Architecture, Planning & Design has received an $8 million gift, the largest in the design college's history. The university said in a news release Wednesday that the donors asked to remain anonymous. APDesign Dean Tim de Noble says the gift will be invested, with an expected distribution of about $400,000 annually. Most of the annual distributions will support full-ride scholarships for Kansas students with financial need and a minimum 3.5 grade point average who are in at least their third year of study in the design college. The donors also asked that part of the distributions for the dean's excellence fund, which helps address emerging opportunities and priorities. The gift is a part of Kansas State University's $1 billion Innovation and Inspiration Campaign.
Perez Drives in Career-Best 5 Runs as Royals Top Tigers, 8-6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer and had a career-high five RBIs as the Kansas City Royals beat the Detroit Tigers 8-6 Tuesday night. Royals' starter Yordano Ventura (1-0) allowed two runs on six hits in five innings. The Tigers' Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered in the seventh inning cut a six-run deficit in half. Detroit loaded the bases with one out against Joakim Soria in the eighth but Kelvin Herrera took the mound to retire the next two batters and limit the damage. Wade Davis took over in the ninth inning for his sixth save. Perez hit a two-out, two-run double in the third before his two-out shot in the fifth gave Kansas City an 8-2 lead. Miguel Cabrera had a pair of RBIs for Detroit but he struck out in his other four at-bats.
KU QBs Cozart, Ford Receive Hardship Waivers
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford were granted hardship waivers Wednesday after sustaining injuries last season, giving both redshirt juniors two years of eligibility remaining. Cozart started three of the first four games before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury in a game against Iowa State. He was 66 of 105 for 752 yards with two touchdowns while running for another touchdown. Ford appeared in two games before a season-ending thumb injury. The quarterback job appears to be wide open heading into next season. Ryan Willis started when Cozart and Ford went down, but he's been dealing with a wrist injury. Young prospects Carter Stanley and Keaton Perry have also shown promise, though both were inconsistent during spring practices. KU opens its football season September 3 against Rhode Island.