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Headlines for Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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

Kansas Senate Fails to Override Tax Bill Veto 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the debate in Kansas over raising income taxes to balance the state budget (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Kansas legislators are not sure what path they will take to balance the state budget after failing to override Republican Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill increasing income taxes. Brownback vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have raised more than $1 billion over two years. The House voted to override his action on an 85-40 vote. But the vote in the Senate at 24-16 was three votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary. Some supporters of the bill said it's now up to Brownback and his allies to come up with a new plan. But Democratic Representative Tom Sawyer of Wichita said he would like to keep passing bills similar to the one Brownback vetoed until lawmakers are willing to override the governor.

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4:15 p.m.

Kansas legislators have failed to override Republican Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill that would have increased income taxes to help balance the state budget. The state Senate voted 24-16 Wednesday to overturn the veto. But supporters were three votes short of the two-thirds majority of 27 votes needed in the 40-member chamber. The Senate's action came after the House voted 85-40 to override the veto. Supporters there had one vote more than necessary. The bill would have raised more than $1 billion over two years by rolling back personal income tax cuts Brownback championed in 2012 and 2013. Lawmakers will have to draft a new budget-balancing plan. The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019.

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3:10 p.m.

The Kansas Senate is debating whether to override Republican Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill increasing income taxes to help balance the budget. Senators expected to vote Wednesday afternoon. Supporters of the bill would need a two-thirds majority of 27 votes in the 40-member chamber. The debate came only hours after the House voted 85-40 to override the governor's Wednesday morning veto. The bill would have rolled back key income tax cuts championed by Brownback in 2012 and 2013. The bill would have raised more than $1 billion over two years. The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019.

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1 p.m.

A majority of the Republicans in the Kansas House voted to override GOP Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill increasing income taxes to help balance the state budget. The vote Wednesday in the House was 85-40. Forty-five of the chamber's 85 Republicans supported overriding the veto. They included seven GOP members who had voted against the bill when lawmakers passed it last week. But freshman Republican Representatives Abraham Rafie of Overland Park and Adam Smith of Weskan voted against overriding the veto after supporting the bill last week. House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe voted against an override, while Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton voted yes. All 40 Democrats voted to override Brownback's veto. Four Democrats had voted against the bill last week.

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11:40 a.m.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning says the chamber will vote by Thursday on overriding Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill increasing income taxes to help balance the state budget. The House voted Wednesday to override the veto on an 85-40 vote. The bill would roll back key income tax cuts championed by Brownback in 2012 and 2013. The bill would raise more than $1 billion over two years. The state faces projected budget shortfalls totaling nearly $1.1 billion through June 2019. When the Senate approved the bill last week, the vote was 22-18, leaving supporters five votes short of the 27 needed for a two-thirds majority to override a veto. But supporters also had been short in the House and picked up nine votes for the bill.

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10:35 a.m.

The Kansas House has voted to override Republican Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill increasing personal income taxes to help balance the state budget. The vote Wednesday was 85-40. That's one vote more than the two-thirds majority necessary in the 125-member House. The House's action clears the way for an attempt to override in the Senate. The bill would raise more than $1 billion over two years starting in July. It would increase income tax rates and end an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since GOP lawmakers slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging. The bill would reverse key Brownback tax policies.

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9:35 a.m.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he'd consider capping a personal income tax exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. But Brownback told reporters Wednesday that he wants to preserve the core of the exemption to help small businesses. The Republican governor made his comments after vetoing a bill that would have increased income taxes to help balance the state budget. The measure would have raised more than $1 billion over two years. The bill would have ended the exemption for farmers and business owners enacted in 2012. Brownback has championed the policy as pro-growth. The governor said lawmakers could restore income taxes on the profits of farmers and business owners above $150,000.

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8:45 a.m.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has fulfilled his promise to veto a bill that would have increase personal income taxes to help balance the budget. Brownback acted Wednesday during a Statehouse news conference. He had pledged to veto the measure during a Tuesday night banquet of the supportive Kansas Chamber of Commerce. The bill would have raised more than $1 billion over two years starting in July. It would have increase income tax rates and ended an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since GOP lawmakers slashed income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging. The House expected to consider overriding the veto almost immediately. But the bill did not pass with the two-thirds majorities required.

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Kansas House Advances Medicaid Expansion 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given first-round approval to providing Medicaid to more low-income, non-elderly adults. The proposal would expand coverage to those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, about $16,000 for a single person. It also would apply to those under age 65. The bill passed 83 to 40. Final action is set for Thursday. Supporters say expansion would bring in federal funds and be budget neutral, pointing to budget savings in other expansion states. But opponents, including a state agency that oversees KanCare, say it would be a huge cost to the state. A recent proposal by Congressional Republicans could also eliminate money for the currently largely federally-funded Medicaid expansion, which created some concern. Previous Medicaid expansion bills have been unsuccessful and died in committees.

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Kansas Rejects Higher Limits on Donations to Candidates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators have overwhelmingly rejected doubling most of the state's limits on contributions to candidates and political parties. The House voted 101-22 against the bill that would have raised contribution limits. Lawmakers had been encouraged to raise contribution limits by Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Clay Barker. He argued that he move would have diverted donor dollars from so-called independent, "dark money'' groups. But critics in both parties mocked the argument. They said the bill would have made small contributions less meaningful and would have led to more expensive and nastier campaigns.  The bill would have increased the contribution limits for gubernatorial candidates to $4,000.  The limit for state Senate candidates would have increased to $2,500 from $1,000. The limit for state House candidates would have doubled to $1,000.  

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Kansas House Votes to Restore Teacher Tenure 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given final approval to a bill restoring guaranteed teacher tenure. The bill now goes to the Senate. The body passed the bill Wednesday with a 72 to 53 vote. It originally dealt with arbitration but was amended Tuesday to include the tenure measure so that a separate tenure bill wouldn't die in committee. The Education Committee Chairman had refused to hold a vote on the tenure bill, and an upcoming deadline for bills to pass their chamber of origin could have killed it. Supporters argued that the bill guaranteed due process for teachers who are fired. Opponents urged their fellow lawmakers to give local boards and districts control of tenure decisions. Lawmakers voted to remove guaranteed tenure as part of a broader bill in 2014.

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Kansas House Votes to Limit Access to Police Records 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill limiting public access to records about police officers who have been disciplined or fired will move to the Senate after the House passed it by a wide margin Wednesday. The bill passed 107 to 18. It would exempt police records held at a central registry from the Kansas Open Records Act. That would limit access to the list of registered police officers, records about those who have been fired and complaints against officers. Those records would be treated like personnel and investigatory records. Supporters say the records could still be released by the local law enforcement agencies that produce them. Opponents say those agencies won't release the records if they don't have to, limiting transparency. Under the bill, people could petition a court to open the records.

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Searchers Find Body in Lake Believed to Be Gardner Man 

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says searchers have recovered what is believed to be the body of an 18-year-old Gardner man who has been missing since Saturday. The office said in a news release a body was found Wednesday afternoon in the Douglas County State Fishing Lake near Baldwin City. Authorities are awaiting confirmation from the coroner but the sheriff's office said in a news release that searchers believe it is the body of Cameron Kirchner. Kirchner has been missing since his boat capsized at the lake Saturday night. A 17-year-old male with Kirchner was able to swim to shore but Kirchner did not resurface. It is not yet clear what caused the boat to capsize. The boat was recovered on Monday.

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Missouri Man Charged with Trying to Plan Terrorist Attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Federal officials say a Missouri man is charged with helping to plan what he believed would be a terrorist attack in Kansas City. Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr. was charged in federal court in Kansas City with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The 25-year-old Hester of Columbia was arrested Friday and the criminal complaint was released Tuesday after he made his first court appearance.  The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City says Hester, who served less than a year in the U.S. Army, met several times with people he believed to be Islamic State group sympathizers. They were actually undercover FBI agents. Prosecutors say Hester agreed to participate in an attack scheduled for Monday that would injure or kill many people. 

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Former Kansas Police Chief Enters Plea in Theft 

HALSTEAD, Kan. (AP) — A former southern Kansas police chief has entered a no contest plea to two misdemeanors involving the theft of ammunition from the town of Halstead. The Wichita Eagle reports that a 60-day jail sentence was suspended after Steven Lewis agreed to pay $1,255 in restitution to the city, $230 in court costs and to surrender his law enforcement certification. In exchange for the plea, the Harvey County prosecutor dismissed a felony charge alleging Lewis misused public funds. The charges against Lewis arose after a KBI investigation found that Lewis deposited into his personal bank account checks meant to reimburse the city for ammunition he ordered for private individuals. Halstead's former city administrator is facing a felony perjury charge. He's accused of failing to disclose the reason for Lewis' retirement.

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2 Kansas Administrators Charged with Failing to Report Abuse 

LA CYGNE, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas school administrators are charged with failing to report suspected child abuse involving a former teacher who is accused of having sex with at least one student. Prairie View High School principal Tim Weis and former Prairie View School District superintendent Chris Kleidotsy were charged Tuesday in Linn County. They are accused of not reporting potential sex crimes involving Keaton Krell, a former English teacher and girls' basketball coach who was charged in May with 20 counts of unlawful sexual relations. Kleidotsy was named superintendent of the Tonganoxie district in May and has been suspended with pay from that job. The Prairie View district said in a statement that it has placed a staff member on leave. It wasn't immediately known if Weis, Kleidotsy or Krell had attorneys.

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No Injuries in Explosion at Kansas Natural Gas Facility

BUSHTON, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say no one has been injured in an explosion at a Kansas natural gas facility. KWCH-TV reports that the Tuesday night blast destroyed a building that was used to store records at the ONEOK facility in Rice County, near the town of Bushton. The blast was felt up to 55 miles away in Hutchinson. Rice County Sheriff Bryant Evans says there is no danger to the public.

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2 Men Sentenced for Kansas Hate Crime Attack 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas men have been punished for their roles in a hate crime attack on three Somali men. A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Omar Cantero Martinez to 26 months. Armando Sotelo was given a time served sentence for the 20 months he has already been in jail. Prosecutors say the two yelled racial and anti-Somali slurs at the men, who were sitting on a bench outside an African grocery store in Dodge City. They then attacked them. Martinez used a broken glass bottle to stab one man and slash another man. A third injured man escaped to get help. The men were tried last year on hate crimes charges but the trial ended in a hung jury. They later pleaded guilty — Sotelo to one hate crime count and Martinez to one perjury count.

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4 Hurt in Crash Involving Sedgwick County Sheriff's Deputies 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say four people have been injured in a collision involving a Sedgwick County sheriff's patrol car. The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash occurred around 5:45 pm Tuesday at an intersection in northeast Wichita. Lieutenant Lin Dehning says two sheriff's deputies were responding to a call when their patrol car was hit by a vehicle at the intersection. Both deputies were injured. Authorities say two others sustained minor injuries.

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Park University to Open Lenexa Campus in July 

PARKVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Park University plans to open a campus in Lenexa this year. The university in Parkville, Missouri, says it will open a campus at the Lenexa City Center inside the new City Hall building. The Kansas City Star reports that Park University will begin operations in Lenexa in July, with classes starting August 14. The university currently has 40 campus centers across the country, including 33 at military installations. University president Greg Gunderson and Lenexa Mayor Michael Boehm signed documents sealing the deal on Tuesday. The Lenexa campus will offer five classrooms, offices, a common work space and a kitchen/vending area. Gunderson said the university expects the new campus bring in between 100 and 200 students.

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Kansas Woman Killed in Nebraska Crash

HOLDREGE, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say a Kansas woman has died in a head-on collision in south-central Nebraska. The collision was reported late Tuesday night on U.S. Highway 183, about four miles north of Holdrege. The Nebraska State Patrol says a northbound car collided with a southbound semitrailer, killing the car driver. She was identified as 26-year-old Satien Marie Vest, of Emporia, Kansas. The patrol identified the truck driver as 63-year-old Wayne Tresz, of Vinton, Iowa. He was hospitalized for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The collision is being investigated.

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Mexican Woman Tied to Kansas Gun Killing Deported 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Mexican woman who tried to hide a gun her boyfriend used to fatally shoot a Kansas teenager has been deported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson said Wednesday that prosecutors got confirmation that 22-year-old Azucena Garcia-Ferniza was deported Friday. Garcia-Ferniza was sentenced in December to the 15 months she had been in custody after pleading guilty to a weapons count. Court documents say she legally entered the U.S. at the age of 3, but her visitor visa expired in 1998. She had been granted a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Seventeen-year-old Allie Saum was killed in 2015 in Salina while riding in a pickup truck mistaken for someone else's truck. Garcia-Ferniza's boyfriend, Macio Palacio Jr., has been sentenced to more than 50 years in prison.

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Wichita Votes to Close 6 of 9 Public Swimming Pools

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita city officials plan to close six of the city's nine public pools by 2023. The city council voted Tuesday to close the pools despite opposition from some black community leaders. The Wichita Eagle reports that the pools remaining open are College Hill, Harvest Park and Aley Park. Five of the pools being closed will be replaced by splash parks, which are children's play areas and not planned for swimming. Recreation director Troy Houtman says the splash parks are much less expensive to operate and don't require lifeguards or much staffing, so they can be open for longer hours and more days than swimming pools.  Some opponents said closing the pools would hurt neighborhoods and increase use at the remaining pools.  
      
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Wichita Native Appointed as New School Superintendent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita schools will soon be led by a woman who grew up attending the city's public schools. The Wichita School Board voted Tuesday to appoint Alicia Thompson as the next superintendent of the state's largest school district. If her contract is approved, Thompson would replace John Allison, who is leaving in June to become superintendent of Olathe schools. She would take over the job July 1. The Wichita Eagle reports the 47-year-old Thompson currently is assistant superintendent for elementary schools in Wichita. She began her education career in 1992 as a third-grade teacher in Wichita and served in several other positions. If her contract is approved, Thompson would be Wichita's first female and first black superintendent.
  
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Man Dies Near Mulvane When Truck Hit by Train 

MULVANE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a man was killed when a train hit his truck southeast of Mulvane. The man's name has not been released. Trooper Chad Crittenden says it's unclear if the man saw the train coming as he drove into the path of the train. The railway crossing on a gravel road is marked with signs but has no other warning signals. The man died at the scene.

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Man Wanted in 2007 Wichita Homicide Arrested in Texas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man wanted in a 2007 homicide was arrested as he tried to enter the U.S. in El Paso, Texas. Wichita police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says 29-year-old Rogelio Reyes was arrested by border patrol agents Tuesday night. He is being held by El Paso police while awaiting extradition. Reyes is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Avelino Galvez in September 2007. Police say Galvez was shot in a QuikTrip parking lot. Reyes is a U.S. citizen who was living in in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

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Woman Who Stole from Missouri Lottery Winner Sentenced 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City woman who stole more than $400,000 from a Missouri Lottery winner has been sentenced to five years in federal prison. Freya Pearson, of Conyers, Georgia, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City. She also was ordered to pay $441,830 to the victim, a 61-year-old former hospital housekeeper. The victim won $2.4 million in the Missouri Lottery in 2008. Because of the fraud, she is now financially insolvent. Prosecutors say Pearson convinced the woman to withdraw her lottery money from an annuity she had established and deposit it in three checking accounts Pearson established. Pearson spent much of the money on gambling, vehicles and travel. Pearson also fraudulently obtained federal housing benefits and didn't pay some taxes, causing a total loss of $640,667.

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