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Headlines for Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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

Campaign Finance Reports Show KS Chamber PAC Funding Attack Group 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Campaign finance reports show that the Kansas Chamber of Commerce's political action committee has provided money to a group attacking moderate-leaning Republicans. The Wichita Eagle reports that documents filed this week with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission show that the chamber's PAC contributed $61,500 to the Main Street Kansas PAC. The group has paid for radio ads and mailers ahead of the August 2 primary.


S&P Drops Kansas Credit Rating, Citing Ongoing Budget Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - S&P Global Ratings says it's downgraded the state's credit rating because of its ongoing budget problems. The rating agency said Tuesday it has dropped its rating for Kansas to "AA-" from "AA." The action comes three months after S&P put the state on a negative credit watch. State Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says the S&P report cites a continued underfunding of the state's pension system. He says Kansas is still being penalized for years of neglect before improvements made in 2012.  The report also cites the state's continued diversion of funds from highway projects to general government programs. The state has struggled to balance its budget since slashing income taxes in 2012 and 2013. S&P downgraded the state's credit rating in 2014. 


Audit: Kansas Foster Care System Puts Children at Risk 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State auditors say the Kansas Department for Children and Families is struggling to adequately oversee private foster care contractors, putting children in the system at risk. Shortly after the 59-page audit was released Wednesday, two Democratic senators called for department Secretary Phyllis Gilmore to resign. Among other things, auditors said the agency has implemented only one of nine recommendations in a 2013 assessment of services. It also said the department doesn't ensure that background checks of individuals in foster homes are as frequent and thorough as they should be. Some state lawmakers sought the audit in response to reports of children dying or being mistreated while in the agency's care. The audit did not address allegations that the agency discriminates against same-sex couples when deciding where to place children.


KanCare Medicaid Providers Worry About Reimbursement Cuts 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Medicaid providers have told federal officials that reimbursement cuts by the state are placing them under an added financial strain. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that providers for KanCare recipients told officials at a forum Tuesday that they worry the cuts will harm patient access to services. Governor Sam Brownback's administration cut KanCare provider reimbursement rates earlier this summer by 4 percent as part of measures to balance the budget. The cuts went into effect July 1 and save the state about $38 million a year. Sean Gatewood with the KanCare Advocates Network says the program is in crisis. Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services spokeswoman Angela de Rocha says most of the program's 420,000 beneficiaries and the more than 52,000 enrolled in the childrens' health insurance program are receiving the care they need.


Unity Plea Draws Some Kansas Sanders Backers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A push for unity behind Hillary Clinton from Bernie Sanders is pulling his Kansas delegates at the Democratic National Convention into her camp, though not all of them. The state's delegation on Tuesday cast only 14 of its 37 votes for Clinton. It cast 23 votes for Sanders, in line with the results of state's presidential caucuses in March. Sanders delegate Sage TeBeest of Wamego said she is now "reinvigorated to continue the revolution." She texted from the convention in Philadelphia that she is supporting Clinton as the Democratic nominee. But Julie Perry, a Sanders delegate from Mission, said she's not going to lower her expectations for real change and Clinton still must earn her vote. The registered nurse said she'll continue fighting for universal health care coverage.


Kansas to Seek Partial Recertification of Osawatomie State Hospital  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top social services official says Kansas expects to ask the federal government soon to partially recertify its state mental hospital in Osawatomie. Interim Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck said Wednesday that the agency will seek recertification of 60 of Osawatomie State Hospital's 206 beds. Federal officials decertified Osawatomie in December over an employee's rape and other safety issues. A legislative committee reviewed an audit that said the state is losing about $1 million a month in federal funds. Keck said renovation on a 60-bed unit is almost complete and staffing at the hospital has improved. He would not say exactly when his department would apply for recertification. Auditors said the state still would continue to lose some federal funds even with 60 beds certified.


County Commissioner in Kansas Convicted of Election Crime

OAKLEY, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas county commissioner who was accused of offering to loan a stock trailer to a woman in August 2012 in exchange for her vote has been convicted of a misdemeanor. The Kansas attorney general's office said in a news release Tuesday that 38-year-old Clinton Lee Kvasnicka was sentenced to 12 months of probation last week after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor count of disorderly election conduct. He also was fined $1,000. As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to resign his seat as a Logan County commissioner. He's also disqualified from holding a public office or position of trust in the state. Kvasnicka was tried in March on a felony count of election bribery, but a mistrial was declared when jurors couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.


University of Kansas Hospital Expands in Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas Hospital is breaking ground on a new inpatient hospital in Overland Park. The Kansas City Star reports that hospital and government officials will gather this (WED) afternoon to mark construction of the new $100 million building. It is being built on the hospital's Indian Creek Campus and is scheduled for completion in 2018. The 122,507-square-foot facility will start with 18 patient rooms and eight operating rooms. It is designed to accommodate 17 more beds in the planned space. The new building will be connected to the existing Indian Creek surgical building, which has seven operating rooms and 19 patient beds. The facility won't have an emergency room.


Lawrence Man Accused of Abandoning Infant in Trash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Lawrence say a 9-month-old girl's stepfather is accused of abandoning the infant in a trash bin earlier this month. The Kansas City Star reports that 27-year-old Marquis Jamall Young is charged in an arrest warrant with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse. The child was found early July 7 in the trash receptacle at an apartment complex. The infant was treated at a Kansas City-area hospital and was released about two weeks later. A Lawrence police spokeswoman says the girl is in the state's custody and will continue to receive outpatient treatment for her injuries.


Transgender School Bathrooms Debated in South-Central Kansas Town

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas school district is letting students use bathrooms matching their gender identity as a local task force explores the issue. The Wichita Eagle reports the governing board of the Derby school system made that decision Monday. The federal government in May directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. The state's education board voted to ignore the directive, arguing local schools are best suited to decide how to handle issues transgender students face. Derby officials have said they'd comply with the federal order. Parents and others have formed Facebook groups and circulated petitions to either support the district's decision or urge them to reconsider. People spoke on both sides of the issue during a meeting this week..


Kansas City, Kansas, Man Sentenced for Bomb Hoax 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for forcing the evacuation of a terminal at Kansas City International Airport when he lied about having a bomb in his truck. The Kansas City Star reports that 35-year-old David James Cain was sentenced Tuesday to one year and six months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge stemming from the August 2014 incident at the airport's Terminal B. Prosecutors say Cain left his truck parked in front of the terminal for more than an hour. After airport authorities announced they'd tow the truck if it wasn't moved, Cain told airline employees a bomb was in the vehicle. The terminal was evacuated until law enforcement found no explosives.


Kansas City Police Investigating Death of Manute Bol's Kin 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City are investigating the hit-and-run death of the sister of former NBA player Manute Bol. The Kansas City Star reports that Achiul Bol, a 24-year-old mother of three, was walking along Interstate 35 when a black Nissan Altima hit her on July 17. The car dragged Bol's body several feet, and a second northbound vehicle then struck her. Both motorists drove away without stopping. Bol was taken to a hospital, where she later died. Achiul Bol is the younger sister of NBA player Manute Bol, a 7-foot-7 shot blocker from Sudan who spent several seasons in the NBA beginning in the 1980s. He died in 2010 at age 47. Achiul Bol's sister, Dot Bol, says the family hopes witnesses come forward with information about the fatality.


Investigation Continues After Kansas Skydiver's Body Located 

CUSHING, Okla. (AP) — Investigators are trying to determine how a Kansas skydiver was separated from her parachute harness during a jump in Oklahoma. The body of 26-year-old Sheralynn Neff was found Monday by authorities south of an airport near Cushing, Oklahoma. Neff was reported missing on Sunday after she made a jump with the Oklahoma Skydiving Center. Cushing police Chief Tully Folden says Neff's parachute harness was found in a tree about 5 miles away. The Oklahoman reports the Federal Aviation Association is assisting with the investigation. FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford has said the agency's main focus is determining whether the parachute was packed properly and if the harness was in good shape.


Man Sentenced for Shooting Kansas Deputy During Chase 

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 31 years for crimes he committed in Kansas while fleeing from Oklahoma. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says Alejandro Arturo Garcia was sentenced Tuesday for attempted capital murder and other crimes. Authorities allege he and two other people fled after shooting a police officer in northern Oklahoma in May 2015. The officer survived his injuries. The two other suspects were caught in South Coffeyville, Oklahoma. Garcia drove into Kansas, stole a pickup truck after firing at the driver and then shot at Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Grimes, who was not injured.  After a long standoff, officers found Garcia in a home near Liberty, Kansas. Garcia still faces charges in Oklahoma in the shooting there. 


Massive Flock of Egrets Causing Problems at Kansas Zoo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials at a Kansas zoo say almost 5,000 egrets in the area are causing problems. The Wichita Eagle reports that the federally protected birds have taken up residence in a corner of the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita. Zoo bird curator Scott Newland says he's been dealing with the flock for about two years and that eggs, chicks and nesting twigs have been falling onto public pathways and into animal exhibits. Newland says it's posing a risk to animals. The zoo has devoted more than 500 hours and $50,000 to keep the birds under control. Newland says that a zoo keeper could remove 10 wheelbarrows full of waste and fallen twigs on any given day due to the egrets. The zoo has had a depredation permit, which allows it to scare away, capture or kill birds if necessary for health and safety.


Missouri Senator Blunt Prodding Challenger Kander with Jayhawk Mascot

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is using a Kansas Jayhawk to take a political swipe at Democratic challenger Jason Kander. When Kander made a campaign stop Tuesday in Jefferson City, the applauding audience included someone dressed like a Kansas Jayhawk mascot. A Blunt spokesman said later that it was a campaign volunteer. Blunt's campaign is trying to make an issue of Kander's assertion that he is a fifth-generation Missourian. Kander was born and attended high school in Kansas. But he has made Missouri his home since graduating from Georgetown University law school in 2005. Kander currently lives in Columbia and also has served in the Missouri National Guard. Kander said Blunt should be "embarrassed'' for having a supporter dress in such attire.   


Apartment Fire Kills 1 Early Wednesday Morning

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has died in a Wichita apartment fire. A Sedgwick County emergency dispatcher says the fire was reported around 3:40 am Wednesday at the Buttonwood Tree apartments in the southeast part of the city. The Wichita Eagle reports that crews have knocked down the flames. The dispatcher said no other injuries have been reported. No other details were immediately available, including the name of the victim.


Royals Shut Out by Angels, 13-0

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  The Los Angeles Angels' Tyler Skaggs pitched seven innings in his first big league start in two years and Yunel Escobar went 5 for 5 to help the Angels pound the Kansas City Royals 13-0 on Tuesday night. Kole Calhoun drove in four runs and Carlos Perez had four hits, including a home run. Mike Trout drove in three runs, and Johnny Giavotella had three hits, including two doubles, and scored three runs. Escobar matched a career high for hits and the Angels collected 22 overall, equaling their season best. Meanwhile, the Royals fell to 6-13 for the month and are three games below the .500 mark. They have one more chance versus the Angels at Kauffman Stadium tonight (WED) before leaving on a road trip to Texas and Florida.

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