Kansas Board Approves Rule to Reject Votes over Citizenship Proof
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas board has approved a temporary rule requiring county election officials to throw out thousands of votes cast in state and local races by people who have registered without providing proof of their U.S. citizenship. The State Rules and Regulations Board's action Tuesday came only a day before Kansas opens advance voting for its August 2 primary. The rule was sought by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and will be in effect for 120 days, through the November 8 general election. The affected voters registered at motor vehicle offices without providing citizenship papers as required by a 2013 state law. About 17,000 are in that category. A federal judge ruled in May that federal law requires the state to register them as voters for federal races.
Appeals Court Agrees to Quickly Hear Voting Rights Appeal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has agreed to quickly hear an appeal that could affect the voting rights of thousands of voters in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set on Wednesday an expedited schedule in the case of a U.S. election official who without public notice required documentary proof-of-citizenship on a federal registration form for residents of the three states. People in other states need only swear they are citizens. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., sided against a coalition of voting rights advocates who seek a temporary order overturning the move by Brian Newby, the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The appeals court set deadlines for July and early August for the parties to submit written arguments.
Kansas Lawmaker Questions Length of Interim Leader's Service
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Kansas lawmaker is questioning an arrangement that has seen a state agency's interim leader in the position for more than six months. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Tim Keck has served as interim secretary for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability since January 1. Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley says a state law appears to prohibit acting secretaries from serving more than six months. Governor Sam Brownback's office said the six-month limit doesn't apply in this case because Keck in an "interim" secretary, not an "acting" secretary. Keck began serving as the interim secretary before the legislative session and hasn't been confirmed by the Senate. He also hasn't been nominated by Brownback. Keck took over as secretary after Kari Bruffett resigned to become the Kansas Health Institute's policy director.
Advocates Seek Federal Action on Kansas Medicaid Backlog
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for people with disabilities are urging the federal government to require Kansas to quickly clear its backlog of Medicaid applications and to resolve problems with its application process as a condition for approving any renewal of its privatized program. The Disability Rights Center asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to force Kansas to document a "realistic plan" to eliminate the backlog and to notify all applicants of their appeal rights. It also wants Kansas to inform approved applicants they are entitled to retroactive coverage. The Kansas Department for Health and Environment told the Topeka Capital Journal that the state is not required to inform people of their right to a hearing, but does so anyway if an application takes longer than 45 days to process.
Huelskamp Among House Conservatives Trying to Force Impeachment Vote for IRS Head
WASHINGTON (AP) — House conservatives have taken the first step to force an impeachment vote on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Conservatives accuse Koskinen of gross negligence, arguing he stonewalled their investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups. But House GOP leaders have not gotten behind their drive to hold impeachment hearings just months from the election. The hard-line House Freedom Caucus announced Wednesday that two members, John Fleming of Louisiana and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, were introducing a so-called privileged resolution that could result in an impeachment floor vote on Koskinen. The aggressive move by the Freedom Caucus could signal new problems for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who thus far has not faced the opposition from his right flank that forced the previous speaker, John Boehner, out of office last fall.
Kansas Agency Settles Lawsuit over Boy's 2013 Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Court records show that a Kansas agency has reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit over the case of a 4-year-old boy fatally beaten by his father in 2013. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department for Children and Families has reached the deal with the Naomi Boone, mother of the late Mekhi Boone. The settlement's terms weren't disclosed. The deal must be approved by the State Finance Council, comprised of legislative leaders and the governor. The boy's father, Lee Davis, is serving nearly 20 years for second-degree murder. Naomi Boone has contended the boy shouldn't have been placed with his father, and that one of the state's foster care contractors placed the child with Davis while aware that he had a history of domestic violence.
Topeka Spending Limits Aim to Prevent Property Tax Hike
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Topeka is setting spending limits targeted at keeping the city from raising property taxes next year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a city governing body that consists of the mayor and nine council members made the decision Tuesday night. The vote comes as cities begin preparing for a new state-imposed property tax lid to take effect. The tax lid is meant to limit the growth of city and county governments. Local governments will have to hold a special election starting with next year's budget if they want to keep any revenue above the tax lid. The Topeka governing body also scheduled a public hearing on the proposed 2017 budget for its next meeting, on August 9. The governing body plans to consider finalizing that budget on August 16.
Storms Down Trees, Power Lines in North-Central Kansas
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Storms that swept through north-central Kansas left damage in Ellis, Russell and Lincoln counties. The storms early Wednesday caused heavy rain and winds up to 80 mph, downing power lines and trees, with the heaviest damage reported in Hays and Russell. No injuries were reported. Hays officials say some roads were blocked and some traffic signals were not operating. KAKE-TV reports that 95 city employees were working to clear streets and assist with traffic control. Hays spokeswoman Officer Kim Rupp says it could take several days to clean up the city. Midwest Energy reported about 4,400 of its customers in Ellis and Russell counties were without power early Wednesday. More storms are forecast for Thursday in parts of central Kansas.
Hundreds in Wichita Peacefully Protest Police Shootings
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of people gathered in Wichita Tuesday night for a peaceful protest against recent fatal police shootings. TV station KWCH reports a group of about 400 people met at a park and walked toward Interstate 135, where state troopers prevented them from accessing the highway. The group continued marching for about three hours, ending at a city park around 10 p.m. Among their chants was, "Black lives matter. All lives matter." No injuries were reported. The protest comes after the recent fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
Kansas Investigator Overcome by Drug in Evidence Room
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Wichita, Kansas-area sheriff's investigator was briefly hospitalized after being overcome with an unknown substance in a department evidence room. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department says the detective was processing evidence as part of a drug investigation when he opened a plastic bag and was overcome by a strong smell. The investigator then experienced sweating, slurred speech and dizziness. The department says it's unclear what the substance is and that it's being tested. But the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has warned law enforcement agencies about fentanyl, a synthetic opioid said to be 50 times more powerful than heroin.
Kansas Lawmakers Approve Interim Study Topics
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas foster care system is among the topics that legislative committees plan to study before the start of the 2017 session. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Larned and Osawatomie State Hospitals also will be studied. The review will include the Sexual Predator Treatment Program at Larned. A group called the Legislative Coordinating Council, which is made up of the top Republican and Democratic leaders from both chambers, approved the list of study topics Monday. School funding isn't on the list, although an interim committee could be approved to examine the issue later. The panel also approved a three-year, $271,070 contract to move the Legislature's public website and backup data center to a third-party web hosting company. Currently, the website is hosted in-house.
Brownback Says He Has Right to Wait to Fill Magistrate Role
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he has the right to wait longer than 90 days to fill a vacant district magistrate position. A written response filed Monday in the Kansas Supreme Court on Brownback's behalf says the "precise timing of the appointment is left to the Governor's constitutionally-provided executive power." Three 26th District judges filed a petition last month after Brownback announced he would wait until after the August primaries to consider filling the vacancy. The opening was created when Judge Tommy Webb of Haskell County announced his retirement in February. The petition seeks to force Brownback to fill the position, saying Kansas law requires five magistrate judges to serve the six-county district. Brownback contends in the court filing that granting the request would "violate the separation of powers."
Ex-College President Challenges Kansas Senate Majority Leader
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former longtime leader of Hutchinson Community College is challenging one of the top Republican leaders of the Kansas Senate in the upcoming primary election. Ed Berger, president of Hutchinson Community College for 23 years, is running against Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson in a primary race in Reno and Kingman counties. Berger, who retired from the college in 2014, says that income tax cuts approved by the Legislature in 2012 have led to mismanagement of the state's budget. He says he's open to both looking for cost savings and finding ways to increase revenue. Bruce was a strong supporter of the tax cuts and says they have forced lawmakers to focus on spending and cut some government pork.
Report: Rural, Urban Kansas Areas Struggle to Find Teachers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A report says rural and urban schools in Kansas are struggling to fill teaching positions as applicants opt for jobs in suburban locations and fewer college students major in education. The Topeka Capital-Journal says the report was issued by a task force of academics and educators and was presented to the Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday. Areas that are having a particularly difficult time include southwest Kansas, Wichita and Kansas City. The report says 40 percent of the 277 teaching vacancies were in southwest Kansas. Vacancies were clustered in Wichita Unified School District 259 and Kansas City Unified School District 500, which are the state's two largest, high-poverty urban districts. According to the report, northeast and northwest Kansas are attracting teachers from other parts of the state.
Company Plans $40 Million Hospital for Derby by 2018
DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City-based real estate company says it will build a $40 million hospital in Derby. The CBC Real Estate Group says in a news release that the hospital, to be called Rock Regional Hospital, is expected to open in 2018. The company says the 65,000-square-foot hospital will include 12 inpatient beds, 12 surgical beds and six intensive care unit beds. It also will have three operating rooms, two procedure rooms, three catheterization lab rooms and three emergency rooms. An adjacent 40,000-square-foot building will house medical offices. Candor Healthcare, a Texas-based hospital management company, will oversee the hospital. The Wichita Eagle reports that health care offerings in Derby have been expanding. Wesley Healthcare plans to open its Derby ER in November and another walk-in clinic opened last week.
Only 1 Saline County Blood Test Shows High Lead Level So Far
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Lead testing that was started after elevated levels of the substance were detected among some children in central Kansas' Saline County has uncovered just one additional case so far. The Salina Journal reports that about 65 percent of the 342 blood samples recently sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have been tested for lead. Saline County Health Department director Jason Tiller told Saline County commissioners Tuesday that only one sample has showed an elevated level. The health department provided free blood tests for lead when the KDHE launched an investigation because of an unusually high number of children in Saline County showing elevated lead levels since the beginning of 2015. The KDHE is continuing its investigation to try to determine what has caused those elevated levels.
Grain Belt Express Power Line Application Rejected in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Regulators have rejected a second application for the Missouri portion of a power line that would carry wind energy from Kansas to Indiana. However, the Missouri Public Service Commission's vote on Tuesday on the application from Clear Line Energy Partners cited a filing technicality and the Houston-based company plans to file another application. Clear Line is proposing a $2.3 billion power line from Dodge City, Kansas, to a substation in Sullivan, Indiana. Its second application was rejected because the company hadn't filed the required 60-day notice before refiling its application. The commission rejected the original application last year after some landowners along the line's proposed Missouri route raised objections. Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have approved the project. Clear Line filed a notice Tuesday that it intended to refile its application.
Southeast Kansas District Seeks to Join School Program
FREDONIA, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas district is seeking to join a program that waives state laws and regulations for participating schools. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Fredonia district officials told the Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday why they want to join the Coalition of Innovative School Districts. The program is meant to remove school performance barriers, but critics have raised accountability concerns. The approximately 700-student Fredonia district has a five-part plan that includes creating an academy focused on science, technology, engineering, math and arts education. Superintendent Brian Smith says it's "put a lot of time and effort into meeting with public, meeting with businesses to establish a common vision." The state board could vote on Fredonia's application as soon as next month. Six districts are currently part of the coalition.
Kansas Police Save Dog Found Hanging from Door of Truck
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have rescued a dog that was found hanging by its leash from the handle of a parked truck in southern Kansas. KSAL-AM reports that Arkansas City police Sergeant Jason Legleiter and Officer Wade Hammond were at a Wal-Mart for a shoplifting case Friday when a store employee saw that the dog had essentially hung itself. The dog was motionless and appeared to be dead. Legleiter used his patrol duty knife to cut the dog down, while Hammond helped the dog breathe by removing the constricting collar and applying intermittent pressure to the dog's side. The dog gradually showed signs of life and eventually was able to stand.
Teen Accused of Hutchinson High School Plot Sentenced
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 14-year-old Hutchinson boy was sentenced to nearly four years in juvenile detention for his role in a plan to launch a pipe bomb attack on Hutchinson High School. The teenager was sentenced Tuesday to 45 months in detention, followed by three years of aftercare. Authorities say he and a 15-year-old Hutchinson boy conspired to kill specific staff at the school with pipe bombs. Court documents allege the pair wrote plans for the bombs and used gunpowder from blasting caps to trigger the bomb. Another student alerted the high school administration of the alleged plot. Both teens pleaded no contest to a charge of conspiracy to commit capital murder. The boy apologized to the school, the court and his family for his actions.
Floodwaters Raged 65 Years Ago This Week in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Flooding that began 65 years ago this week cost 40 Kansas residents their lives. The National Weather Service says the Kansas River reached its highest level on record in Topeka on July 13, 1951. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that high waters caused the river to break through a dike to flood the city's North Topeka business district. Topeka was among 186 cities and towns in Kansas and Missouri damaged by the flooding. The flooding came after storms that began in late April dumped 28 inches of rain over the Kansas River basin by July 13. Afterward, sturdier dikes were built to protect Topeka. Also, the number of reservoirs built to hold water on the lower Kansas River basin expanded from five to 18.
Report: U.S. Wheat Production Much Higher than Expected
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report is forecasting a much bigger U.S. winter wheat crop than had been expected just a month ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday that it now expects the nation's wheat production to come in at 1.63 billion bushels. That number is up 8 percent from their estimate just last month, and up 19 percent from last year's crop. It comes amid record yields averaging 53.9 bushels an acre, making up for fewer harvested wheat acres. The updated report comes as the nation's biggest producer, Kansas, wraps up its own wheat harvest. Kansas farmers have cut more than 91 percent of their crop. In Kansas, the wheat crop is forecast at 453.6 million bushels with average yields of 56 bushels per acre from 8.1 million acres.
Kansas City Charter School Gets $1.6M from Local Groups
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Public Schools' first sponsored charter school has received $1.6 million from local groups. The Kansas City Star reports that the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation made a $1 million gift to the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy charter school on Tuesday. The Hall Family Foundation also gave a $600,000 gift to the school. The funds will be used to support the implementation of academic instruction centered on a science, technology, engineering, arts and math theme. The grants will be given out over a three-year period. The charter public school was established through a partnership between the Urban Neighborhood Initiative and Kansas City Public Schools. It is in its inaugural year, and serves about 220 students from pre-K to second grade.
Family Sues Kansas City Chiefs over Fan's Beating Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The family of a Missouri man fatally beaten in 2013 outside of Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, is suing the NFL franchise. The Kansas City Star reports the wrongful-death lawsuit was filed Monday in Jackson County on behalf of Kyle Van Winkle's widow and his son, who was just weeks old when Van Winkle died. Seeking unspecified damages, the lawsuit blames a lack of adequate security in the parking lot at the time Van Winkle was beaten during an altercation. The law firm behind the lawsuit says the lawsuit's goal is to make Arrowhead safer for fans. The Chiefs have declined to comment. Joshua Bradley of Independence has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Van Winkle's death and is serving five years of probation.
Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer Named All-Star Game MVP
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez made sure the Kansas City Royals will start at home if they get a chance to defend their World Series title. Both Royals players homered off former Kansas City teammate Johnny Cueto during a six-pitch span in the second inning. Hosmer added an RBI single and the American League beat the National League 4-2 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win in the All-Star game. Hosmer and Perez accounted for all of the American League's runs in its 4-2 victory over the National League assuring home field advantage for the American League to begin this year's World Series in the fall. Hosmer was named the American League's Most Valuable Player.