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Headlines for Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A review of today's news headlines, mostly from the Associated Press and the KPR Newsroom

White House Issues Veto Threat on Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama would veto legislation approving construction of the long-stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline.  A bill that would have forced Obama's hand on the issue failed to clear Congress in its final days last year. But the Congress that convened Tuesday is Republican-controlled and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the pipeline bill will be among the first issues voted on.  White House press secretary Josh Earnest says he does not expect Obama would sign any Keystone legislation that reaches his desk.  The spokesman says there is a "well-established" review process that is being run by the State Department that should not be undermined by legislation.  Earnest also says the pipeline's route through Nebraska also must be resolved.


Kansas Leaders Approve Additional $231 Million in Bonds for NBAF

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A state panel consisting of the Kansas governor and legislative leaders has authorized an additional $231 million in bonds to help pay for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility under construction near Manhattan.  The State Finance Council's authorization Tuesday is contingent on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreeing that Kansas won't be asked to pay any more for the estimated $1.15 billion facility. Kansas lawmakers initially authorized $105 million in bonds when the state was awarded the project in 2009.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Finance Council in November balked at authorizing additional bonds until Congress appropriated money to fund its share of the project.  Congress approved funding for Homeland Security in December that includes $400 million for the remaining federal share of the NBAF project.


Efficiency Commission Recommends Annual School Audits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state panel looking for financial efficiencies within the state's public school system plans to recommend that school districts be audited annually.  The panel stopped short of endorsing a limit on required teacher negotiation rights.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission approved the final draft of its recommendations on Tuesday. The commission was appointed last year to identify potential cost-savings in school spending plans.  The group decided to recommend a bill requiring annual audits, but added language saying the Legislature must pay for those audits.  


Auto Repair Worker Goes on High-Speed Ride on Roof of SUV

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City auto repair worker escaped injury after jumping onto the roof of a customer's Cadillac Escalade and going for a three-mile, high-speed ride after she tried to leave without paying a $3,000 auto repair bill.  The Kansas City Star reports auto shop employees in another vehicle tried to stop the Cadillac on Monday afternoon by firing shots at its tires before the chase ended at Kansas City police headquarters.  Police say one of the bullets hit the Escalade's driver's side door but nobody was wounded.  They say the woman left after being told she needed to pay $3,000 and would owe $700 more in storage fees if she left the vehicle there.  The woman and the man who fired the shots were taken into custody.


Firefighters Find Body of Woman in Rubble of KC House Fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The body of a woman who had been missing since a house fire in Kansas City on Sunday has been found.  Fire officials found the body of a woman relatives identified as 31-year-old Susan Herrera Tuesday in a house that was destroyed in the fire late Sunday. The fire caused floors of the upscale home to collapse. Her mother escaped the blaze.  Fire Captain Charlie Chasen was treated for second-degree burns on his arms and back after he became trapped in the house while searching for Herrera. He was rescued by other firefighters.  The Kansas City Star reports Herrera was staying with her parents and planned to move to an apartment Monday. Two family dogs also died in the blaze.


Pledge to Save More Animals Hurts KC Humane Society Finances

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Humane Society of Greater Kansas City is saving more severely sick or abused animals since it signed a contract to become the official veterinarian of Kansas City, Kansas. But that effort has severely hurt the organization's budget.  Kate Fields, the organization's chief operating officer, says the life-saving work will continue but it is seeking extra donations for the effort.  The Kansas City Star reports the contract with the city covers only preventive and basic medical care for 1,300 to 1,800 dogs and cats collected by animal control within the city's limits each year. But it does not cover extra care needed for about 140 severely sick, neglected, or injured animals. The Humane Society adds about $80,000 to its budget every year for that care.


Arctic Blast Should Spare Kansas Wheat Crop

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Arctic air pushing into the Midwest is expected to cause winterkill damage to wheat in some areas but will mostly spare Kansas.  Agricultural meteorologist Don Keeney of MDA Weather Services says a third of the nation's wheat belt will likely be affected. Some damage is expected Wednesday, but the bulk of the winterkill is expected Thursday morning.  Winterkill damage is anticipated as subzero temperatures hit in eastern Nebraska, southwestern Iowa, northern and eastern Missouri, south central Illinois, southern Indiana and southern Ohio. Two counties in northwestern Kansas may be affected.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports 49 percent of Kansas wheat is now in good to excellent condition, 42 percent is reported as fair and 9 percent is in poor to very poor condition.


Settlement Prospects Dim in Wheat Lawsuits against Monsanto

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — No agreement has been reached yet on the settlement of remaining claims in lawsuits over the May 2013 discovery of genetically engineered Monsanto wheat in an Oregon field.  On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil set a status conference for January 29 in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas.  A joint status report filed Monday says the parties have been exchanging settlement offers. The report also said the last offer from non-soft white wheat plaintiffs is under consideration by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. The lawsuits from across the country have been consolidated in Kansas.  The filing says the parties will discuss an amicable resolution but urges the court to vacate its earlier order staying proceedings.  The parties want the court to address Monsanto's motions seeking to dismiss the cases.


Dodge City Inmate Death Ruled Suicide

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says it will look into the suicide of a 61-year-old inmate at Ford County Jail. Authorities say Rickey Schweitzer of Dodge City was found dead in his cell on New Year's Day. The Ford County sheriff says it's the first suicide at the jail in 14 years.


Hutch Man Guilty of Assaulting Police Officers

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man accused of running toward two police officers with a knife last spring has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Fifty-three-year-old James Paige Jr. entered the plea Tuesday in Reno County. Paige will be sentenced on February 6th.


Interim Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Named

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 25-year veteran of the Kansas Highway Patrol has been appointed interim superintendent of the organization.  Governor Sam Brownback has appointed Major Mark Bruce as interim superintendent to replace outgoing superintendent Colonel Ernest Garcia, whose retirement was effective Monday.  Bruce has served in several capacities for the patrol, in field and administrative positions. In recent years, he has been the patrol's west region major over Garden City, Salina, Hays and Wichita.  A search for a permanent superintendent continues.




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