Next Kansas House Speaker Tells Lawmakers to Avoid Cliques
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The newly elected speaker of the Kansas House has advised freshman lawmakers to avoid cliques. The Wichita Eagle reports that Republican Representative Ron Ryckman encouraged new lawmakers to avoid sticking to one of the competing groups within the state Republican Party. Conservatives and moderates have fought for control of the party for decades. Under Governor Sam Brownback, the conservative wing has been dominant in recent years. But more moderates made major gains in this year's election and could cast deciding votes as lawmakers grapple with the state's budget shortfall and work to create a new school finance formula. Ryckman is the House budget committee's chairman. The Johnson County businessman was chosen by House Republicans on Monday to be the new speaker. He'll officially take over that role in January.
Coalition Seeks Income, Gas Tax Hikes to Fix Kansas Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A coalition of Kansas teachers, state workers, contractors and others is proposing to increase income and gasoline taxes to fix the state's budget problems. But the plan outlined Wednesday by the Rise Up Kansas Coalition also would reduce the state's sales tax on groceries to help poor families. The plan would undo some of the massive income tax cuts the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted in 2012 and 2013 at GOP Governor Sam Brownback's urging in an effort to stimulate the economy. The coalition's plan would increase revenues by $821 million for the next fiscal year, which begins in July. The plan would revive a third income tax bracket for the state's wealthiest taxpayers with the top rate of 6.45 percent. It would boost the gas tax 11 cents a gallon.
Kansas to Review Amber Alert System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has announced plans to review its Amber Alert system after a faulty alert this week. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a release Wednesday that he's ordered a review of the state's Amber Alert operations after a Wichita Amber Alert on Tuesday failed to activate on cellphones. The alert was issued after a woman and three children were reported abducted from their home. An Amber Alert was issued, but Schmidt says a method of broadcasting the Amber Alert by a signal that activates individuals' cellphones failed to activate. The woman and children were later found safe. Schmidt says KBI Director Kirk Thompson will oversee a review of the program and issue a report by January 31.
Kansas High Court to Hear Kahler's Death Penalty Appeal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments this month in the appeal of a death row inmate convicted of killing members of his family. The state Office of Judicial Administration said Wednesday in a release the state Supreme Court will hear arguments for James Kraig Kahler's case on December 16. Attorneys for Kahler and the state will each have an hour to argue their sides, and the proceedings will also be broadcast online. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kahler was sentenced to death for the November 2009 shooting deaths of his estranged wife, Karen Kahler; her grandmother, 89-year-old Dorothy Wight; and his daughters, 18-year-old Emily and 16-year-old Lauren. Kahler raised several issues in his appeal, claiming trial error and issues with his death sentence.
NAACP Critical After Teacher Accused of Racist Remarks
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The NAACP in Lawrence is critical of school officials' handling of a middle school teacher who was suspended after he was accused of making racist comments during class. A letter to district officials expresses disappointment that school board members last month broke from past practice and agreed to accept the resignation of a teacher without publicly naming the teacher. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the teacher who resigned is believed to be the same South Middle School social studies teacher who was under investigation. Ursula Minor, president of the NAACP's Lawrence branch, objected in the letter, saying future potential employers would be unaware of the troubling allegations against the teacher. Superintendent Kyle Hayden said in a statement that the district is committed to "providing learning environments free from harassment and discrimination."
Kansas Nominee Withdraws from Federal Bench Consideration
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence attorney nominated to the federal bench in Kansas nearly a year ago is withdrawing his name from consideration. Terrence J. Campbell made public on Wednesday letters he sent to President Barack Obama and to Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran. He cites the short time remaining for Congress to complete its business and the results of the recent election, saying it is apparent he will not be able to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Moran says he is disappointed Campbell was not able to be confirmed before the election. Obama nominated him in January to the vacancy created in 2014 when U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil took senior status, a form of semi-retirement. Campbell practices civil and criminal litigation at the law firm of Barber Emerson, L.C.
WWII Vets George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole at Pearl Harbor Event
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Hundreds of well-wishers applauded World War II veterans George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole during a patriotic Texas ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The ex-president, who's 92, and the 93-year-old former Kansas senator attended Wednesday's event at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station. Bush and Dole, both using wheelchairs, waved to the crowd that welcomed them during ceremonies at the complex on the Texas A&M campus. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath says the commemoration, attended by about 800 people, included flyovers by vintage WWII planes. Dole received the George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Dole says working with Bush to get the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990 was one of his proudest public service moments.
Kansas Couple Accused of Running Illegal Moonshine Operation
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas couple is accused in federal court of an illegal moonshine operation in their basement. A federal grand jury in Wichita indicted 41-year-old Ryan Penner and 37-year-old Jennifer Penner of Newton on one count of possession of an unregistered still. They're also charged with one count apiece of unlawful production of distilled spirits, and one count of failing to be bonded as a distiller. Prosecutors say moonshine is illegal liquor on which federal and state excise taxes have not been paid. Authorities say the investigation began in August when Newton police fielded reports that the couple were making and selling moonshine in their home. Prosecutors say undercover agents later repeatedly bought some of the liquor. Online court records don't show whether the Penners have an attorney.
Andover Middle School Boosts Security After Written Threat
ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — A middle school in southern Kansas is stepping up security after authorities found a written bomb threat in a bathroom. The Wichita Eagle reports that Andover Middle School will have extra security Thursday after a threat was discovered written on a toilet paper dispenser in a school bathroom. Andover public schools spokeswoman Nicole Gibbs says the threat found Wednesday referenced a potential incident Thursday. She says the school takes such threats seriously. She said in an email that students and staff can expect increased security Thursday, with police officers joining district and school security officers "to provide additional safety measures" at the school.
Former Kansas Town's Clerk Admits Stealing on the Job
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas city clerk awaiting federal sentencing for embezzling more than $100,000 from a real estate company has admitted in court that she bilked her town of more than $75,000. Forty-three-year-old Janetta Marie Buttery of Bennington pleaded guilty Monday in Topeka to one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds. Prosecutors say Buttery admitted that as Bennington's clerk from October 2014 to last May, she misused credit cards belonging to the city and its recreation commission. Buttery already had pleaded guilty in May to charges that she stole more than $109,000 while she worked as a secretary, bookkeeper and executive assistant at Realty Associates of Salina. Buttery faces up to a decade in prison and up to $250,000 in fines when sentenced in both cases.
2 Bound Over for Trial in Motorist's Shooting Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has found sufficient evidence for two men to stand trial in the shooting death of a Topeka motorist. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 35-year-old Use David Laeli Jr., of Topeka, and 20-year-old Joseph G. Cooney, 20, of Rock Port, Texas, will be tried on charges of felony first-degree murder. A judge also bound Laeli over for trial Tuesday on an interference with law enforcement charge. He is accused of ordering the disposal of the pistol used to shoot 28-year-old Xavier Patrick McCollough. Prosecutors say the shooting happened after McCollough was lured in July to a parking lot, where Laeli, Cooney and a third suspect waited. Prosecutors say McCollough then drove out of the lot before crashing into an apartment building. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police: Officers Shot, Killed Hutchinson Man Who Pointed Gun
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say officers shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at them. Police said in a media release that the shooting happened at 2 am Tuesday when officers responded to a home and encountered a man in a bedroom armed with a handgun. The release says officers fired their weapons when the man pointed the gun at them. Police identified the man killed as 55-year-old Richard Jones, of Hutchinson. None of the officers were injured. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is leading the inquiry into the shooting.
Court Filing: In Army's Eyes, Chelsea Manning Is a Man
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A military prison psychologist is refusing to recommend that Chelsea Manning's gender be officially changed to female in her Army employee-benefits file. Lawyers for the transgender solider imprisoned for leaking classified information made the assertion in a federal court filing in Washington. The document says the chief of mental health at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, prison recently declined Manning's request. Manning contends she has "achieved stability in her female gender." The document doesn't say why psychologist Ellen Galloway declined the request. Manning's lawyers say an Army policy enabling soldiers to officially change their gender does not provide an avenue for Manning to do so unless she is released or receives transgender surgery. Her lawsuit seeks a court order allowing Manning to wear her hair longer than 2 inches.
Girl, 9, Who Inspired Archers Everywhere Dies of Rare Cancer
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 9-year-old Kansas girl whose battle with brain cancer sparked an outpouring of support from fellow archers has died. Downing & Lahey Mortuary says Addison Kye Adams died Monday. The Wichita Eagle reports that she was at her parents' home in Goddard when she died. Archers from around the world put the letter "A'' for Addison on arrows and kept them in their quivers to take her, in spirit, hunting and target shooting. They also sent photos and arrows to Kansas. A vase in her parents' home holds a bouquet of about 75 arrows. Addison's mother, Kindra Adams, says the arrows will "be an heirloom." Christina Jones, Addison's archery coach, says the tribute was perfect for the girl who deeply loved target shooting.
Off-Duty Kansas City Officer Unhurt After Shooting Incident
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City police officer is unhurt after coming under fire while working an off-duty job. Police say the officer was sitting in a personal vehicle Tuesday night when someone approached on foot and fired at the vehicle. The suspect fled after the shooting and was last seen leaving the area in a silver vehicle. No other details were immediately available. Anyone with information is urged to call police or a tips hotline.
2 Bound Over for Trial in Shooting Death of Driver
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A judge has found sufficient evidence for two men to stand trial in the shooting death of a Topeka motorist. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 35-year-old Use David Laeli Jr., of Topeka, and 20-year-old Joseph G. Cooney, 20, of Rock Port, Texas, will be tried on charges of felony first-degree murder. A judge also bound Laeli over for trial on an interference with law enforcement charge. He is accused of ordering the disposal of the pistol used to shoot 28-year-old Xavier Patrick McCollough. Prosecutors say the shooting happened in July after McCollough was lured to a parking lot, where Laeli, Cooney and a third suspect waited. Prosecutors say McCollough then drove out of the lot before crashing into an apartment building. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Transgender Student Named King of Kansas School Dance
DERBY, Kan. (AP) _ A 17-year-old transgender student who advocated for LGBTQ rights at a suburban Wichita high school was crowned king of a winter formal at the school. The Wichita Eagle reports that Tyler Krayer received the most votes from classmates for Holly Ball King at the school's annual event Saturday night. Krayer, a senior, says he was surprised to win the honor. He was one of several students who testified in July before the Derby school board in favor of a school policy that allows students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. He says he was bullied and harassed at previous schools before moving to Derby.
Kansas Jayhawks Roll Over UMKC, 105-62
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — No. 3 Kansas rolled to a 105-62 victory over Missouri-Kansas City on Tuesday night. The win gave coach Bill Self career win No. 600. KU's Frank Mason scored 30 points to match his career high and Devonte Graham finished with 18 points. Josh Jackson also had a big game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. The win by the Jayhawks (8-1) allowed Self to became the ninth-fastest coach to reach 600 wins, just behind Phog Allen, whose name adorns their building. The former Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois coach is 394-84 with the Jayhawks.
Kansas State Defeats Prairie View A&M, 74-55
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State knocked down 11 3-pointers as the Wildcats cruised to a 74-55 win over Prairie View A&M Tuesday night. While Prairie View struggled from the field, the Wildcats were 11 of 20 from distance and hit five 3-pointers in the second half. The Wildcats' Dean Wade scored a season-high 19 points, hitting 6 of 8 from the field, and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Kansas State (8-1). The Wildcats remain undefeated at home. Barry Brown and DJ Johnson each finished with 12 points and Kamau Stokes finished with 11. Prairie View (2-7) kept it close in the first half, even taking the lead at one point, but turnovers and poor shooting allowed Kansas State to pull away in the second half.
Cubs Get Closer Wade Davis from Royals for OF Jorge Soler
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The World Series champion Chicago Cubs have acquired star closer Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Jorge Soler. The trade was announced Wednesday at the winter meetings. Davis will take over the ninth-inning role held by Aroldis Chapman, who became a free agent after the Cubs won their first championship since 1908. The 31-year-old Davis went 2-1 with 27 saves in 30 tries and a 1.87 ERA last season. He spent time on the disabled with a forearm injury and was limited to 43 1/3 innings, but returned to pitch in September. Davis has done especially well in the postseason and helped the Royals win the 2015 crown. In 27 1/3 postseason innings as a reliever, he has a 0.33 ERA with 39 strikeouts. The 24-year-old Soler hit .238 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs in 86 games last season. He missed almost two months because of a strained left hamstring.