Kansas Governor Unveils Schools, Abortion Ideas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer is calling for an amendment to the state constitution to protect the current state restrictions on abortion and is telling legislators that he opposes raising taxes to provide more money for public schools. Colyer outlined his positions on abortion, school funding and other issues Wednesday afternoon during a joint session of the Kansas House and Senate. It was the Republican governor's first major policy speech since taking office last week. His call for a constitutional amendment on abortion is in response to a Kansas Supreme Court case over whether the state constitution protects abortion rights. He and legislators also must respond to a Supreme Court mandate to increase education funding. He said he would support a solution that doesn't increase the tax burden on Kansas families.
Kansas Governor Plans Task Force on Addiction
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer says he is creating a task force to develop policies for combatting drug addiction. Colyer said during a speech Wednesday that former state Representative Greg Lakin will lead the new task force to develop both short-term and long-term policies for dealing with drug addiction and an epidemic of opioid abuse. Lakin is the chief medical officer at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The new governor touched on the opioid addiction during an address to a joint session of the Kansas House and Senate. It was his first major policy speech since becoming last week. Colyer said the state needs a comprehensive approach to combatting drug addiction. He called it a scourge.
Kansas GOP Leaders See Flexibility on School Aid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republicans in the Kansas Legislature say new GOP Governor Jeff Colyer is being more flexible on school funding issues than his predecessor. Colyer told legislators Wednesday that he wants to phase in an increase in spending on public schools without raising taxes. He addressed a joint session of the House and Senate in his first major policy speech since taking office last week. Colyer replaced former Republican Governor Sam Brownback when Brownback took an ambassador's post. Brownback had proposed phasing in a $513 million increase in aid to public schools over five years and relying on growth in state revenues to pay for it. Republican leaders noted that Colyer did not set a figure for the increase. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said Colyer backed off Brownback's plan.
New Kansas Governor to Issue Transparency Orders
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top aide says Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer plans to sign executive orders that would make government records less costly to obtain, limit the use of private email by officials doing public business and provide more information online about state agencies' operations. Colyer spokeswoman Kara Fullmer confirmed the outlines of the new Republican governor's planned executive orders Wednesday ahead of the his first major policy speech. Colyer was scheduled to address a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday afternoon. Colyer was expected to discuss transparency issues during the speech. He also has scheduled a Thursday news conference to formally issue the executive orders. Fullmer confirmed that under one new policy, people and groups seeking government documents will be able to obtain the first 100 pages free.
HCA Medical to Move Headquarters from Missouri to Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — HCA Midwest Health will move its headquarters from Kansas City, Missouri, to Overland Park, Kansas, in the latest move in a business "border war" between the two states. The Kansas City Star reports the company, which owns eight hospitals in the Kansas City area, will receive tax incentives from Kansas. State officials say the details of the incentives aren't final. The Kansas Department of Commerce announced the move Wednesday, saying HCA Midwest plans to invest $10.8 million in its new headquarters. The new Kansas governor, Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon, is the associate clinical director of a burn center at Research Medical Center, which HCA Medical owns. The headquarters will relocate about four miles this summer when the lease expires at its Missouri location.
Kansas Bill to Teach Gun Safety to Students with NRA Program
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill that would require certain curriculum for schools offering gun safety courses. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bill wouldn't require schools to provide gun safety training. Schools are already permitted to teach it. The bill would mandate schools offering training for children in kindergarten through eighth grade to use the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle Gunsafe" program. High schools offering training would have to use the hunter safety program offered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Most lawmakers on Tuesday supported providing gun safety training to students. But some argue that requiring a particular curriculum course would represent an overreach by state government into decisions that should be made by local school boards.
Kansas Senators Pass Resolution Condemning Porn
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a resolution condemning pornography, saying it causes infidelity and erectile dysfunction. The Wichita Eagle reports that measure passed Tuesday on a 35-4 vote. The resolution has no legal effect. The House passed a similar measure last year. Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, of Shawnee, says pornography "exploits and humiliates those being used and it dehumanizes the user at the same time." The resolution says pornography is potentially biologically addictive and is linked to lessened desire. Republican Sen. Barbara Bollier, of Mission Hills, mocked the resolution. She responded by saying: "Seriously? We'll see how excited they are about public health when it comes to guns." Some lawmakers also raised concerns about freedom of expression.
Fort Riley Soldier Dies in Germany, Cause of Death Unclear
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley officials say a soldier deployed from the fort to Europe has been found dead in Germany. The fort announced Wednesday that 1st Sgt. Nicholas Amsberry, who was from Mesa, Arizona, was found dead Sunday near a train station in Parsberg, Germany. The cause of 34-year-old's death is under investigation. Amsberry was part of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. He was serving a nine-month deployment to Europe that began in September 2017. He was stationed at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany, at the time of his death. Amsberry joined the Army in 2003 as an infantryman.
Kansas Man Accused of Trying to Buy Child for $250, Meth
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kansas man awaits extradition to Kentucky on a human trafficking charge after he allegedly tried to buy an 11-year-old girl for $250 and some meth. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports a Franklin County grand jury indicted 48-year-old Ernest Merle Anziana on Tuesday. Franklin Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Zach Becker says Anziana was snared during an undercover investigation by the Kentucky Attorney General's Cyber Crimes Branch, and there was no actual girl for sale. He says Anziana intended to have sex with the 11-year-old girl, impregnate her and keep that child. Kansas Department of Corrections records indicate he was previously convicted of incest. He's being held in Kansas, pending extradition. It's unclear whether he has a lawyer.
Wichita YMCA Reacts to Rape Charges Against Employee
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Greater Wichita YMCA will begin daily sex offender registry checks after an employee was charged with raping a 4-year-old girl. The Wichita Eagle reports 21-year-old Caleb Gaston is charged with raping the child January 29 at the Downtown Y. Gaston, who worked for the YMCA since 2013, bonded out of jail Tuesday. YMCA president and CEO Ronn McMahon said Tuesday the new procedure will notify officials every day if any staff, member, guest or participant is on the sex offender registry. Gaston was fired from a church preschool last year after a complaint about inappropriate touching. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment concluded the allegation was not substantiated. McMahon said Gaston underwent a background check but child abuse registries don't indicate a problem unless formal charges are filed.
Procter & Gamble Closing Kansas Plant, Affecting 280 Workers
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Procter & Gamble says it is closing its plant in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2020. Company officials told about 280 full-time employees of the decision on Wednesday. The Kansas City Star reports the company plans to transfer production of its Our Dish Care business from Kansas City to its plant in Tabler Station, West Virginia. The West Virginia plant will also absorb jobs from the company's Iowa City, Iowa, plant, increasing the workforce in West Virginia from 700 to 900. Procter & Gamble said it will negotiate with the local labor union to help employees during the transition. The Kansas City plant was built in 1905. Its products include Dawn, Gain, Ivory and Joy hand and dishwashing detergents.
Fire Destroys Classic Cars, Business Near Topeka
MERIDEN, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a Topeka-area auto body and restoration shop says it was "brutal" watching his business burn, knowing that six classic cars inside the building were destroyed. High Torque Racing Auto Body and Paint in Meriden was destroyed in the fire early Wednesday. The company owner, Mike Garrison, said the fire destroyed a 1967 Buick GS-400 convertible, one of only 421 ever built. Other cars included a '69 Camaro convertible Restomod, a 1957 Chevy and a 1972 convertible. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Garrison says he hopes his insurance is enough to cover a claim that could reach $1 million. The cause of the fire is under investigation. He says he plans to rebuild the Meriden business.
Paralyzed Kansas Accident Victim Wins $38.5M Verdict
COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — A woman paralyzed from the chest down in a 2014 southeast Kansas crash has won a $38.5 million verdict. The Joplin Globe reports that Cherokee County jurors returned the verdict last week after a five-day trial. Kara Hansen was just 16 and behind the wheel of a 1966 Ford Mustang when she was struck from behind while waiting to turn left into the driveway of her family's home. The Mustang had only a lap belt and the back of her driver's seat broke. She hit her head on the windshield and now needs around-the-clock care. A deputy testified that the driver who rear-ended Hansen was following too closely and not paying adequate attention. The driver was minimally insured, raising questions about how much of the verdict Hansen will receive.
2 Pediatric Flu Deaths Reported at Wichita Hospital
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita hospital says two children have died from the flu there. Wesley Healthcare spokeswoman Susan Burchill could provide no details about the pediatric flu deaths because of privacy laws. The Wichita Eagle reports that the hospital defines pediatric as newborns through 18-year-old. The city's other hospital, Via Christi, doesn't release information about pediatric flu deaths. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a rapid increase in flu-related illnesses after the winter holiday season has been seen among all ages but was higher in children. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says influenza has been the direct cause of death in 68 people and a contributing cause of death in 32 people.
Food Pantry Opens for Low-Paid Courthouse Workers in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A courthouse in south-central Kansas has opened a pantry for low-paid judicial workers who can't afford to buy food. The Wichita Eagle reports that the pantry at Sedgwick County District Court is about four months old. Courthouse employees facing financial struggles can take home food from the pantry. The judicial branch is seeking more funding from lawmakers to boost salaries. Chief Judge James Fleetwood told a House committee Monday that the need for a pantry is embarrassing and that employees deserve better. Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss says that nearly a third of all Kansas judicial workers have starting salaries below the 2017 federal poverty level for a family of four. Some lawmakers say that workers deserve more money, but court funding must be balanced with other needs.
Kansas Bill Would Protect Those Saving Kids, Animals in Cars
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas bill would legally protect Good Samaritans who break into vehicles to save overheating children and animals. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that lawmakers heard testimony Monday for the potential legislation. The bill states it would provide immunity from civil liability when a vehicle is damaged by a person trying to aid a "vulnerable person or domestic animal" in situations where there is "imminent danger of harm" and law enforcement has been notified. Greg Smith of the Johnson County Sheriff's Department says the bill could cause confusion with its definitions of a vulnerable person and of signs of impairment. Carla Lewis of the Kansas Animal Control Association says the bill could increase public awareness about the dangers of leaving a child or pet in a car during dangerously hot weather.
Kansas Governor to Require Annual Sexual Harassment Training
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer plans to require all employees and interns working for executive branch agencies to undergo annual sexual harassment training. Colyer announced the new policy Monday during a Cabinet meeting and planned to sign an executive order to put it into effect. He allowed The Associated Press into the meeting. The executive branch has not had a single anti-harassment policy across all agencies. Colyer said he wants to ensure that state government has a culture of respect. He said his executive order will require an outside, independent review when an elected official or Cabinet secretary is accused of harassment. He said the order also will require agencies to review their anti-harassment policies at least once every three years. It's Colyer's first executive order since taking office last week.
St. Joseph Police: Bar Employee Dies After Being Stabbed by Customer
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A St. Joseph man is being held without bond after being charged in the death of a mother during a stabbing at a bar where she worked. Buchanan County authorities charged 26-year-old Eliseo Hernandez-Sebastian Monday with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. Police say Hernandez-Sebastian stabbed a male employee who asked him to leave the Legend's Sports Bar and Grill Saturday night. He was treated and released at a hospital. Thirty-eight-year-old Terra Reents was not aware the employee had been stabbed when she also told Hernandez-Sebastian to leave. She was also stabbed and died. The St. Joseph News-Press reports prosecutors said during a hearing Tuesday that Hernandez-Sebastian was convicted in 2016 of stabbing someone with a knife but he fled the state before trial. Hernandez-Sebastian does not yet have an attorney.
Wichita Man Admits Not Paying Taxes on Gambling Income
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man pleaded guilty to not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal bookmaking on his federal income taxes. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said 65-year-old Daniel Dreese, of Wichita, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of making false statements on income tax returns. He admitted that he didn't report about $89,000 from illegal bookmaking in 2011 and about $137,000 in 2012. And he admitted he didn't $383,684 in income in 2010. As part of his plea agreement, Dreese agreed to pay $214,540 in restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for April 23.
Wichita Police Recover Stolen Documents from 7 Cases
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a traffic stop led to the recovery of stolen property from seven cases, many involving identity theft. Officer Charley Davidson says a vehicle was pulled over Saturday because the tag on the car was reported stolen. He says the officer found stolen documents including mail, debit cards, identity cards, Social Security cards and birth certificates. The documents come from six cases in 2017 and one from 2013. A 37-year-old woman in the car had brass knuckles, drug paraphernalia and multiple documents. She was jailed on charges of aggravated weapons violations, possession of drug paraphernalia and seven counts of possession of stolen property. The 54-year-old driver was arrested for driving on a suspended license and a tag violation.
Wichita Approves Late-Night March Madness Parties Downtown
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Fans attending the NCAA basketball tournament in Wichita next month won't have to close up their downtown partying by midnight. Wichita officials on Tuesday approved an ordinance to allow after-midnight entertainment and drinking in downtown Wichita. Currently, outdoor events must close by midnight on Friday and Saturdays and 11 pm Sunday through Thursday. The Wichita Eagle reports promoters wanted to hold special late-night events to entertain the thousands of people expected to visit Wichita March 15-18. John D'Angelo, manager of the city's arts and cultural services division, says the NCAA tournament games will be played late into the night because of West Coast games. City Attorney Jennifer Magana said the ordinance would allow the council to waive the usual limits on late-night events for any events in the future.
Jasper District Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzling
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A former employee of the Jasper School District pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $145,000. Prosecutors say 55-year-old Karla Justice, of Columbus, Kansas, pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud and credit card fraud. She was head bookkeeper for the district from 2009 until she resigned in 2016. The Joplin Globe reports she authorized more than $80,000 in extra pay for herself between 2014 and 2017. Justice, who is also known as Karla Jessee, also added more than $6,000 to her retirement account and made about $14,000 in payments for transactions unrelated to education. Prosecutors say Justice also opened a Home Depot credit card and made personal purchases of more than $2,100 using district funds.
2 Teenagers Sentenced in Baseball Bat Beating of Wichita Man
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two teenagers were each sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for beating a man with a baseball bat and stealing about $20, two guns and some food. The man, Horace Johnson, was beaten in May in his Wichita home and remains in a coma. Police say a relative found him unconscious on the floor, likely two days after he was attacked. The family went to the home after police found Johnson's car abandoned and couldn't reach him. District Attorney Marc Bennett says 16-year-old Jalen Oliver and 17-year-old Matthew Florez-Duran broke into Johnson's home, robbed him and beat him in the head with the bat several times. The teenagers were prosecuted as adults for attempted first-degree murder. Florez-Duran was sentenced Wednesday. Oliver was sentenced two weeks ago.
Wichita Police Identify 18-Year-Old Woman Killed in Drive-By Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police have identified the 18-year-old woman who died in a drive-by shooting as she sat in a car with her mother and boyfriend. Police say Myranda Keck died of a single gunshot wound early Tuesday. Officer Charley Davidson said Keck, her 40-year-old mother and her 18-year-old boyfriend had just arrived at a home when a car drove by and someone fired shots into their car. The mother and boyfriend were not injured. Police don't have a description of the suspects or their vehicle.