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Headlines for Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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

Kansas Legislators Abandon Brownback's Tax Experiment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have repudiated the tax-cutting experiment that brought Republican Governor Sam Brownback national attention. The Kansas House voted Tuesday night to overturn Brownback's veto of a plan that reverses many of the income tax reductions he championed. The legislation aims to fix the state budget and provide additional funds for public schools. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million through June 2019. The state Supreme Court ruled in March that education funding is inadequate. The plan is expected to raise $1.2 billion over two years by increasing income tax rates and ending an exemption for 330,000-plus farmers and business owners. Supporters had four votes more in the House than the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto. The Senate earlier voted for an override, with exactly a two-thirds majority.

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Brownback Says Tax Hike Bad Long-Term for Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback says the income tax increases legislators enacted over his veto will be bad for the long-term health of the state's economy. The governor said during a news conference Wednesday that he believes the increases will slow job growth and discourage companies from moving to Kansas. Legislators repudiated past income tax cuts championed by Brownback in passing a measure that is expected to raise $1.2 billion over two years. It increases income tax rates and ends an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. Brownback said the debate became too much about him. The governor refused to take questions after making his statement. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million, and the state Supreme Court ruled in March that its education funding is inadequate.

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Kansas Governor Signs New Abortion Information Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will require abortion providers to give women more information about their doctors' histories and provide it on white paper in 12-point Times New Roman type. Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill into law Wednesday flanked by fellow abortion opponents. The new law takes effect July 1. Brownback said the law will protect women by giving them the information they need to make informed decisions. But critics say the law is meant to discourage women from having abortions. The law will require abortion providers to give women information about the physician at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed. The information would include the doc2tor's credentials, malpractice insurance, hospital privileges and disciplinary record. The abortion clinic also must disclose the doctor's age and medical school.

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Wichita Gives Initial OK to Some Lower Marijuana Penalties 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More lenient penalties for first-time marijuana offenders in Wichita are a step closer to reality. The Wichita City Council on Tuesday unanimously gave initial approval to an ordinance that would reduce some marijuana penalties. The council will have to give the ordinance final approval at a later meeting. Among other things, the ordinance would require a $50 fine for first-time offenders, who will not have to undergo drug-related counseling if they are over 21. A second marijuana conviction would bring a fine not to exceed $2,500 and one year in jail. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita voters approved more lenient penalties in a 2015 special election. The Kansas Supreme Court invalidated the election because of a technicality in the petition-gathering process.

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China Trade Lawsuit Against Syngenta Continues in Kansas 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The first of thousands of U.S. lawsuits over the introduction of a genetically engineered corn seed variety is continuing this (WED) morning in a federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. The farmers suing the Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta say the company introduced the seed variety to the U.S. market before China approved it for imports. Without sales to China, one of the largest buyers of U.S. corn, the plaintiffs allege that the market for corn collapsed causing significant financial damage. Syngenta denies it caused the losses. The company argues that the U.S. government and 50 other countries found that corn grown with its modified seed was safe. The Kansas trial is the first test case. Another trial is set to begin next month in Minnesota. 

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Kansas Hog Farm Fire Burns Worker, Kills Thousands of Pigs 

LONG ISLAND, Kan. (AP) — A fire at a north-central Kansas hog farm has injured a worker and killed 9,000 animals. Phillips County sheriff's deputy Pat Hewitt says the fire started about 11:20 am Tuesday at a barn for sows and piglets at Husky Hogs in 130-resident Long Island. The fire spread to two other farrowing barns before being controlled about two hours later. Hewitt says the injured worker is hospitalized in Wichita with arm and leg burns not considered life-threatening. The fire's cause wasn't clear. The Kansas State Fire Marshal's office is investigating. Husky Hogs' Julia Nelson told The Associated Press the blaze killed about 2,000 sows and 7,000 piglets, though roughly 4,500 sows were spared. Nelson calls it a tragedy, and that "we did what we could to save everything we could."

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Wichita State Professor Resigns Due to New Campus Gun Law 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A communications professor at Wichita State University says she's resigning because a law allowing concealed weapons on campus is "in opposition to the values of higher education." The Wichita Eagle reports that Deborah Ballard-Reisch submitted a letter to university President John Bardo on Monday saying she plans to retire July 1, the day the law goes into effect. The Kansas 2013 law allowing people to bring guns into public buildings had given colleges until this summer to comply. As of 2015, Kansas no longer requires anyone carrying a concealed handgun to obtain a permit. Republican state Representative John Whitmer of Wichita says more than 100 colleges have accepted concealed-carry without incident. Ballard-Reisch, who was robbed at gunpoint in 2014, says she and other gun violence victims have told administrators they feel scared with more guns on campus.

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Kansas Man Who Fled State in 2014 Arrested in Mexico 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who fled the state three years ago before sentencing on a child rape charge has been captured in Mexico. The U.S. Marshal's Service said Wednesday 31-year-old Jeffrey Dane Swindler is jailed in Texas awaiting extradition to Kansas. Swindler fled in May 2014, a month after he was convicted for a second time in the 2008 rape of an 11-year-old child in Sumner County. Marshals and Mexican authorities determined Swindler was living in Monterrey, Mexico, where he was taken into custody without incident and sent to Texas to await extradition. It was not immediately clear when Swindler was arrested. Swindler was first convicted in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned that conviction but he was convicted again in 2014.

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Kansas Man Sentenced After Armed Carjacking 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 27-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man was sentenced to nearly 13 years in federal prison for an armed carjacking that ended with the victim's dog dying in a wreck. Prosecutors say Stephen Bagley was sentenced Tuesday for carjacking. The Kansas City Star reports prosecutors say in June 2014 Bagley pulled a gun at a convenience store, demanded a woman give up her vehicle and sped away with a dog named Mister in the car. The car wrecked a few minutes later. Police found Mister dead inside the vehicle and recovered a spent .40-caliber shell casing. The dog's body was not examined to determine how he died. Bagley was released from prison a few months before the carjacking after serving time for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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Lawrence Officer Hurt After Vehicle Strikes Stopped Patrol Cruiser 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence police officer was taken to a hospital after his patrol vehicle was struck while it was stopped at the scene of a rollover crash Tuesday. KSNT-TV reports that the officer's injuries were believed to be non-life threatening. Police have not released the name of the officer or of the other driver involved in the crash. Authorities say the 8-year veteran of the department was in his vehicle Tuesday when a pickup truck collided with it. The crash briefly stopped traffic while officials investigated.

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Topeka Police Say Woman Taken from Her Home by Acquaintance 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say they are looking for a 33-year-old woman who they believe was taken against her will from her home by a man who knew her. Police said in a news release Wednesday morning that they believe Viviana Vazquez was taken from her home Wednesday morning by 38-year-old Pedro Enriquez. Vazquez and Enriquez were seen leaving her home in a silver Chrysler PT Cruiser with the Kansas license plate 057 JJU. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports police at the scene said Vazquez's child witnessed the attack but was left behind and not physically injured.

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Eastern Kansas Teen Injured in Accidental Shooting Dies 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an eastern Kansas teen who was critically injured in an accidental shooting last week has died. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Lieutenant Colleen Stuart identified the victim as 16-year-old Angel Quinones. Quinones was taken to a local hospital last Wednesday night. Police officers arrived at the hospital and found him with a life-threatening gunshot wound. Police investigated the shooting scene in central Topeka and found that the shooting was accidental. Topeka Unified School District 501 spokeswoman Misty Kruger says Quinones wasn't enrolled in any of the district's schools.

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Air Traffic Privatization Plan Hits Turbulence in Congress 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system is running into bipartisan opposition in Congress. Lawmakers fret the plan could raise costs for air travelers and hurt small airports. Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi said the plan "is a tough sell" in states like his, where small airports are common. Wicker told Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a hearing Wednesday that that "the sale needs to be made, and it needs to be made convincingly." Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas said the administration's plan would hurt "all but our largest airports nationwide" and remove needed congressional oversight. Lawmakers from both parties also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system. Eight years have passed since the last fatal crash of a domestic airliner.

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Lawrence Green Beret Among 3 US Troops Allegedly Murdered by Jordanian Soldier 

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A government official says a Jordanian soldier faces murder charges in the shooting deaths of three U.S. military trainers at a Jordanian air base He says the soldier will be tried by a military court, starting today (WED). The U.S. Army Green Berets were killed November 4 at the al-Jafr air base in southern Jordan. They came under fire as their convoy entered the base. Jordanian officials initially said the trainers sparked the shooting by disobeying orders from Jordanian soldiers. The slain Americans were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, of Lawrence, Kansas; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.

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Kansas City Man Pleads Guilty to Arson, Insurance Fraud 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man pleaded guilty to participating in a $235,000 arson and insurance fraud conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old Joseph Levi Little pleaded guilty Wednesday. He is the third person to plead guilty in the scheme. Tina Shonk, of Independence, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison. Roy Thieman, of Kansas City, was sentenced to one year and eight months. Shonk and Thieman were also ordered to pay about $243,000 in restitution and to forfeit about $62,000 to the government. Prosecutors say in 2014 Shonk obtained renter's insurance on a Kansas City house she rented. She and her co-conspirators burned the house and she made false claims on the insured property. She gave some of the insurance money to Little and Theiman.

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Wichita Child Improving After Being Found in Hot Car 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a child who was hospitalized in critical condition after being found in a hot car in Wichita is improving. Sergeant Jesse Hancock says the girl and her siblings apparently were playing hide and seek Monday before her father found her in the car. The Wichita Eagle reports police spokesman Officer Paul Cruz said investigators are still trying to determine what happened. The girl's condition was improving Tuesday but no other details were released. The National Weather Service says the temperature in Wichita was 88 degrees just before the girl's parents called 911 at 5:20 pm. Meteorologist Jan Null says the inside air temperature of the car could have been in excess of 135 degrees.

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1 Killed, 1 Injured in Altercation at Western Kansas Motel

QUINTER, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says a 24-year-old man is in custody after a man was killed and a woman was injured during an altercation at a western Kansas motel. The Gove County Sheriff's office was called to the 1st Inn in Quinter early Tuesday after a dispute between two males. The KBI says 24-year-old James "Dalton" Brown of Hoxie was found with several stab wounds. He was taken to the Gove County Medical Center where he died from his injuries. A woman, 23-year-old Jordyn O'Neal, of Quinter, was taken to a Wichita hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The second male was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Quinter. He was treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and booked into the Trego County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder.

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2 Men Arrested in Death After Body Found Near Salina 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two men have been arrested in connection with the death of a Salina man. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the body of 29-year-old Brandon Shelby of Salina was found Tuesday one mile east of Salina near the Smoky Hill River Bridge. A preliminary investigation found Shelby suffered blunt force trauma to the head and other severe injuries. An autopsy will determine the exact cause of death. Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan says 30-year-old Charles Rodgers and 40-year-old James Pavey, both of Salina, were arrested early Wednesday and booked into jail. Soldan says both men are accused of first-degree murder. Rodgers also is accused of theft and kidnapping. Neither has been officially charged. The sheriff says the investigation is continuing. No further details were immediately released.

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Pony Express Re-ride to Honor Nebraska Sesquicentennial

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — The annual revival of the Pony Express has been chosen as the official event to celebrate Nebraska's 150th birthday. The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports that more than 700 horse-riders began the mail service trip in Missouri Monday and will travel nearly 2,000 miles via the Pony Express National Historic Trail to California by June 15. Riders are expected to enter Nebraska Tuesday, which has the most miles among the eight states included, at 565. This year's commemorative letter honors Nebraska's sesquicentennial, describing the Great Platte River Road's history and featuring the iconic Chimney Rock. The envelope will also showcase the U.S. Postal Service-issued Nebraska Sesquicentennial postage stamp. Though the original Pony Express only operated for 19 months in the 1860s, it was the most direct means of connecting the new state of California with the rest of the U.S.

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KU Athletics Budget Will Increase to $93.3 Million Next Year 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas Athletics expects its budget to increase about 3.5 percent to $93.3 million for fiscal year 2018. The Kansas Athletics Inc. board approved the proposed budget on Tuesday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kansas Athletics CFO Pat Kaufman told the board the increase could be mostly attributed to an anticipated "modest" increase in revenues from ticket sales for all sports, along with donations. KU Athletics also receives revenue from disbursements, including NCAA and Big 12 revenues. Kaufman said an area of focus will be coaching salaries, which are low compared with peer institutions. He says the goal is to raise salaries to the middle or top-third of peers. Kansas Athletics manages and oversees intercollegiate athletics for the university but the two entities have separate budgets.

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Moustakas Homer Leads Royals to 9-7 Win Over Astros

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning as Kansas City rallied from a six-run deficit to beat the Houston Astros 9-7 last (TUE) night. Moustakas drove an 0-1 pitch out to right with Salvador Perez on base. Moustakas had four hits and three RBIs in the game. Kansas City trailed 7-1 in the fourth inning but completed its comeback with a four-run eighth. Whit Merrifield hit a three-run double with two outs in the inning to tie it at 7. Merrifield's hit drove in runs by Moustakas, Cheslor Cuthbert and Alex Gordon. Merrifield has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games. The defeat ended the Astros' eleven game winning streak, the longest in the majors this season. 

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