Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on School Funding
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is turning its attention to whether the state is spending enough money overall on its schools. The justices issued a brief order today (WED) setting oral arguments on that issue for September 21. The court wants the parties to also address at that time a lower court's remedial orders and any changes it should make to them if it ultimately upholds their findings. The lower court - a three judge panel - ruled last year the state must increase its annual aid by at least $548 million. It also gave the parties until August 12 to file any supplemental written arguments. The Supreme Court signed off last week on a new education funding law that boosts state aid to poor school districts, ending a threat that the state's public schools would be shut down.
Kansas State Senator: School Leaders Want to Oust Incumbents
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A state senator from southern Kansas says school district superintendents are working to defeat incumbent Republican conservative lawmakers in this year's elections. State Senator Forrest Knox, a Republican from Altoona, made that allegation in an email to supporters last week and in an interview with The Wichita Eagle. Knox says he sees signs for his opponents at the homes across the state belonging to people connected to the state's schools. He suggested some superintendents are intimidating teachers into supporting his opponents. Cory Gibson, president of the Kansas School Superintendents Association, says the organization doesn't ever make endorsements in legislative races. He says school employees are free to campaign for a candidate on their own time but many superintendents don't because they have to work with whoever wins the election.
Judge: Kansas Can't Cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas has blocked the state of Kansas from cutting off Medicaid funding for two Planned Parenthood affiliates. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued the temporary order yesterday (TUE) in a lawsuit filed by local Planned Parenthood affiliates. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment planned to cut off funding Thursday for services such as exams and cancer screenings for poor patients receiving health coverage through Kansas' Medicaid program. Federal courts have prevented other states from cutting Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. Kansas state health officials have cited a dispute over a clinic inspection in December and allegations against Planned Parenthood affiliates in Oklahoma and Texas that Planned Parenthood has called unfounded. Planned Parenthood says it's being targeted because it provides abortions, even though Medicaid funds don't cover abortions.
Leavenworth Woman Charged with Murdering 85-Year-Old Mother
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth woman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 85-year-old mother. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson says 59-year-old Victoria Smith was charged Tuesday. Her mother, Anna Higgins, was found dead Sunday at a home in Leavenworth. Police have not said how Higgins was killed. Smith was taken into custody at the home after her mother's body was discovered. She requested a court-appointed attorney during a hearing yesterday (TUE) in Leavenworth County District Court.
Imprisoned Transgender Soldier Chelsea Manning Hospitalized
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army says imprisoned transgender soldier Chelsea Manning was briefly hospitalized this week, though few details have been provided. Army spokesman Wayne Hall says the 28-year-old Manning was taken to a hospital Tuesday near Fort Leavenworth and was later returned to the Kansas military base's prison, where Manning is now being monitored. Hall and other Pentagon officials didn't say why Manning was hospitalized. Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in military court in 2013 for sending classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence. Manning's appellate attorney, Nancy Hollander, said she was unaware of the hospitalization until Wednesday and was "profoundly distressed by the complete lack of official communication about Chelsea's current situation." A Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman declined comment, citing medical privacy laws.
Sedgwick County Passes Resolution Targeting Undocumented Immigrants
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County commissioners are officially asking the Kansas Legislature to ban immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from receiving in-state tuition or help from a federal nutrition program. The resolution passed 3-2 Wednesday after almost two hours of public debate. The Wichita Eagle reports that some speakers supported the resolution but most were opposed. Commissioners supporting the resolution said they were seeking a clear directive from Kansas government on issues related to those in the country illegally. The resolution is not binding. The resolution will ask the state lawmakers to keep immigrants in the country illegally from receiving in-state tuition. It also asks the state health department to ban them from receiving help from the Women, Infants and Children program, which provides nutritious foods to low-income mothers and their children.
Trooper-Involved Crash Kills 59-Year-Old Kansas Woman
SPEARVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman is dead after a state trooper who was responding to an accident lost control of his patrol car and slammed into her vehicle. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports 24-year-old trooper Dillon Keller of Dodge City was eastbound on U.S. Highway 50, near Spearville, yesterday (TUE) morning when a truck pulled onto the highway from a truck stop. Keller drove onto the shoulder and braked hard before coming back onto the highway, crossing into the westbound lanes and striking a car driven by 59-year-old Lucinda Lampe of Offerle, who had moved to the westbound shoulder. Lampe's vehicle then struck a third car that was stopped behind her. Lampe was killed in the crash. Keller was taken to a Dodge City hospital, where he was treated and released.
Lockdown Lifted at Lansing State Prison
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Lansing Correctional Facility's maximum-security unit returned to normal operations after being on lockdown since Thursday. Corrections spokesman Adam Pfannenstiel says normal operations returned yesterday (TUE) and visitation for inmates in the maximum custody unit also resumed. The lockdown was imposed last Thursday after different inmates attacked staff in what is believed to be four unrelated incidents. Pfannenstiel says the staff members involved suffered only minor injuries. He says an investigation continues. (Find more on this story, here.)
Federal Government Sides with Women Suing Kansas State for Not Investigating Rape Claims
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Two women who are suing Kansas State University for refusing to investigate complaints that they were raped off-campus are getting support from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education say in a court brief that the university is incorrect in its conclusion that it isn't responsible for what happens to students at off-campus fraternity houses. The Kansas City Star reports Sara Weckhorst of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and Tessa Farmer of Overland Park have filed separate federal lawsuits accusing Kansas State of violating Title IX, the gender discrimination law that protects students from sexual violence and harassment. The Associated Press generally doesn't name sexual assault victims, but the two women have gone public with their case to stand up for victims of rape on college campuses.
Lawrence Police Search for Suspect Who Dragged Officer with Vehicle
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police are searching for a man who dragged a police officer with his vehicle while fleeing a traffic stop. WIBW-TV reports the officer stopped a white Ford Fusion with Missouri plates Tuesday afternoon and somehow became caught up in the car and was dragged when the driver took off. The officer was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. The suspect was described as a clean-cut man wearing aviator-style sunglasses.
Topeka City Council Considers Doubling Pay for Council and Mayor
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka City Council members said in a non-binding vote they want to double their pay and that of the city's mayor. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the City Council voted 5-3 last (TUE) night to add roughly $132,000 to the proposed 2017 budget to raise pay for each council member to $20,000 a year — up from the current $10,000 — and for the mayor to be paid $40,000, instead of the current $20,000. Supporters say $20,000 isn't much to pay for what amounts to a full-time job. The current pay schedule was approved in 2004 and went into effect in 2005. Tuesday's nonbinding vote adds the pay increase to a budget committee report that the council will consider in August when finalizing its budget for the coming year.
Ground Broken on $7 Million Loading Facility
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Construction has officially started on a new facility that will allow easier loading of cargo between trains and trucks in central Kansas. The Kansas Department of Transportation says groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday for the Great Bend Transload Facility just west of the Great Bend airport. The rail shipping facility is expected to open by the end of the year. The public-private partnership is expected to improve movement of goods between trains and trucks. The transportation department will contribute $3 million to the $6.8 million project. The facility will be operated by Sherwood Companies of Oklahoma City will operate the facility.
ACLU: Kris Kobach "Deliberately" Creating Voter Chaos in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Civil rights groups are calling on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to rescind instructions telling local election officials to throw out votes in local and state races cast by tens of thousands of people who registered to vote at motor vehicle offices without proving their U.S. citizenship. The organizations wrote a letter noting that a Kansas judge has already twice ruled Kobach lacks the legal authority to operate such a two-tiered election system. Their letter says that for him to disregard the court's rulings and knowingly operate an illegal system shows a "troublingly cavalier attitude" toward the rule of law and disrespect for voters. Kobach did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Micah Kubic, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, says Kobach is "deliberately creating chaos" for voters.
Wheat Harvest Wrapping Up in Southern Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report says growers have cut about 79 percent of their winter wheat crop in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service says progress is near the five-year average for this time of year. Harvest is almost completely wrapped up in some parts of Kansas. More than 90 percent of the crop is now in the bin in central, south-central northeast, east-central and southeast regions of the state. Harvest is 43 percent finished in the northwest corner of the state, with 58 percent of the crop cut in the west-central region. The agency also gave mostly favorable crop condition updates this week to corn, soybean and sorghum crops now growing across the state.
Kansas Names First Director of Unmanned Aircraft Systems
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel will lead the state's efforts to establish policies and procedures for the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones. Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King has announced the appointment of Bob Brock, a Pittsburg native. Brock worked with drones during his 22-year Air Force career. He also was a flight safety officer and instructor pilot. King said in a news release that protecting the privacy and public safety of Kansans as the use of drones increases will be Brock's top priority. Brock will have offices in Topeka and at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina.
Writer Highlights Route 66 Safe Havens for Black Travelers
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It was called the "Mother Road," a vital highway bridging Chicago and Los Angeles through the Southwest that represented unlimited possibilities in 20th Century America. However, for decades, black travelers needed a guide known as the Green Book to help locate the few motels and restaurants that would serve African-Americans. Now a writer is hoping to bring attention to the businesses along the historic Route 66 that once provided safe havens for black travelers who braved the road for simple family vacations. Candacy Taylor says the world of rural barber shops, hospitable gas stations, and multicultural desert motels are at risk of being lost forever unless something is done to map their legacy. She is working on a project to map such businesses as the De Anza Motor Lodge in Albuquerque. A small section of Route 66, about a dozen miles, runs through the extreme southeast corner of Kansas.
KCP&L Requests Another Rate Increase for Some Missouri Areas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Power & Light is seeking a 7.5 percent rate increase for some of its Missouri customers. Utility spokeswoman Courtney Hughley says if the increase is approved, it would generate $62.9 million in revenue and raise the average customers' bills about $9 a month. The request comes after the Missouri Public Service commission approved an 11.7 percent increase in September. If it is approved, the increase won't take effect until April 2017. The Kansas City Star reports that the increase would affect customers in the utility's service area around Kansas City. Missourians previously served by Aquila won't be affected. The commission is still considering an 8.2 percent rate increase request for those customers. This is KCP&L's seventh rate request in 10 years for the Missouri service area.
Kansas City Royals Tumble Again; Fall to Blue Jays 8-3
TORONTO (AP) — Josh Donaldson hit two solo home runs, Troy Tulowitzki had a three-run blast and the Toronto Blue Jays connected four times to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 on Tuesday night. Fresh off being named a reserve to the AL All-Star team, Donaldson went 3 for 4 and scored four runs while the Blue Jays won their fourth straight. Donaldson has scored 77 runs, a franchise record for runs before the All-Star break. Carlos Delgado had 76 in 2003. All four Toronto homers came off Royals right-hander Chris Young, who matched Runelvys Hernandez's team record by allowing at least one home run in 13 consecutive starts. Hernandez did it from October 2005 to August 2006. Young (2-8) has surrendered a major league-worst 26 home runs this season. Toronto's R.A. Dickey (6-9) allowed two runs, none earned, and four hits in seven innings.
Royals Place Closer Wade Davis on 15-Day DL with Forearm Strain
TORONTO (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have placed closer Wade Davis on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right forearm. Kansas City called up right-hander Brooks Pounders from Triple-A Omaha. Davis is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 19 saves in 30 games. He is the third Royals All-Star from 2015 on the disabled list, joining third baseman Mike Moustakas (right knee) and outfielder Lorenzo Cain (left hamstring). Pounders was 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 games at Omaha. To make room for Pounders on the roster, Kansas City designated minor league left-hander Tyler Olson for assignment. Manager Ned Yost said right-hander Yordano Ventura, who left Sunday's start in the third inning after he sprained his right ankle running the bases, will throw a side session Wednesday. Ventura remains on track to start Friday against Seattle.