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Headlines for Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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

Kansas Lawmakers Vote to Expand Medicaid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Legislature has approved an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. The state Senate voted 25-14 on Tuesday for legislation that would expand state health coverage to thousands of poor adults. The House approved it last month on an 81-44 vote, meaning the measure now goes to Governor Sam Brownback. Brownback has been a vocal critic of the federal health care law championed by former President Barack Obama. Brownback hasn't said he would veto the bill, but lawmakers expect that he will. The bill's supporters would need 27 of 40 votes in the Senate and 84 of 125 in the House for the two-thirds majorities for overriding a veto.


Kansas Senate Advances Budgets with Pension Move 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  The Kansas Senate has decided to short state contributions to public employee pensions under the state's 2018 and 2019 budgets to give lawmakers more options in raising taxes to make the books balance. But senators expect to revisit the pension issue later. They gave first-round approval Wednesday to proposed budgets for the 2018 fiscal year starting in July and the 2019 fiscal year beginning in July 2018. The Senate's voice vote on the single "mega" budget measure for two years advances the measure to a final vote Thursday. The House is working on its own bill. Senators decreased state contributions to public employee pensions by a total of $330 million over two years. The move lowers the amount of new revenue needed from higher taxes to $545 million for the period.


Kansas Lawmakers Mull Multiple 'Flat' Tax Plans 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Republican legislators in Kansas are working on multiple proposals for raising personal income taxes that would move the state to a single rate for all filers. The House Taxation Committee planned to vote Wednesday on a bill imposing a "flat" personal income tax of 5 percent for all filers. The state has two tax brackets, with a lower rate of 2.7 percent and a top rate for higher-income filers of 4.6 percent. Supporters believe the proposal would raise $871 million in new revenue over two years, starting in July. The state is facing projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019. In the Senate, the Assessment and Taxation Committee is working on its own proposal for a single, 5 percent personal income tax rate.


Kansas Legislators Accelerate Work on New Amusement Park Rules 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are accelerating work on stricter regulations for amusement park rides following the death last summer of a lawmaker's 10-year-old son on a giant waterslide. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would require owners of permanent amusement rides to have them inspected annually by a professional engineer. Ride operators and patrons would be required to report serious injuries to the state. The committee's voice vote sends the bill to the House for debate on a track possibly allowing both chambers to approve it next week. The state's requirement for parks to self-inspect rides annually came under scrutiny after Representative Scott Schwab's 10-year-old son, Caleb, was killed on Schlitterbahn Waterpark's Verruckt waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas. It was billed as the world's tallest.


Kansas Mulls New Requirements for Abortion Providers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas already requires abortion providers to inform women about the risks involved in the procedure. Soon, it may also require them to tell women where the doctor performing an abortion went to medical school — in black, 12-point Times New Roman font, no less. The Kansas House voted 85 to 38 on Wednesday to advance a bill that supporters and opponents believe is the first of its kind. It would require Kansas providers to give women printed information at least 24 hours before the procedure that includes the name of the physician performing the abortion and information on the physician's credentials, start date at the clinic, malpractice insurance, hospital privileges, state of residency and disciplinary record. It even specifies the font type, size and color in which it needs to be written.


Kansas House Approves Anti-Pornography Resolution 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a resolution condemning pornography as a public health hazard. The resolution approved Wednesday on a voice vote has no legal effect. The Wichita Eagle reports the resolution warns that pornography treats women and children as objects, reduces the desire to marry, can cause erectile dysfunction and creates a sexually toxic environment. Supporters also said pornography can lead to risky sexual behavior, particularly in adolescents. Opponents of the resolution said they don't support pornography but U.S. citizens have a right to freedom of expression, even if the price of freedom is high.


Lawsuit Filed Against Man in Deadly Topeka Crash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Topeka man charged with driving drunk and killing a woman is being sued. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the wrongful death lawsuit against 33-year-old Jason Patterson alleges negligence. Patterson is charged with involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. He also could face an alternative charge of reckless second-degree murder in the Fourth of July death of 60-year-old Tara French. Shawnee County District Court records show the victim's widower, Rodney French, is seeking more than $75,000. Patterson is accused of hitting French with a pickup truck as she crossed a street after arguing with another woman over fireworks that had been shot off near Topeka's Lake Shawnee. Patterson denied drinking, but police say his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.


2 Dead in Wrong-Way Crash on I-70 in Kansas 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say two people were killed when a man driving the wrong-way on Interstate 70 in Kansas City, Kansas, collided with a pickup truck. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 34-year-old Troy Reliford of Lee's Summit, Missouri, and 30-year-old Tyrone Jennings Jr. of Kansas City, Kansas, died in the crash shortly before 10 pm Tuesday. The patrol says Reliford's sport utility vehicle was eastbound in the wrong direction in one of the middle lanes when it collided with Jennings' pickup truck.


American Royal Barbecue to Stay at Kansas Speedway This Year 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The American Royal Barbecue contest will return to the Kansas Speedway this year but it's moving to an earlier date. American Royal officials say the barbecue, which attracts more than 50,000 people, is scheduled for Labor Day weekend. It was held in October last year. The national contest moved to the Speedway last year, where it had substantially more room than in previous venues. The Kansas City Star reports organizers hope moving the contest to the holiday weekend will attract even more barbecue fans and cooks. The agreement with the Speedway is for one year. American Royal officials say the venue and the dates may change in coming years, depending on the need for more space and scheduling around Kansas City's sports teams.


Woman Accused of Embezzling $5 Million from Kansas Credit Union

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A southeast Kansas woman is accused in an 81-count federal indictment of embezzling more than $5 million from a now-defunct credit union. The indictment returned Tuesday against 64-year-old Nita Rae Nirschl of Parsons includes 22 embezzlement counts and 37 counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges the crimes took place while Nirschl worked for the Parsons Pittsburg Credit Union based in Parsons. Federal prosecutors say that after an audit that found the credit union was insolvent, it was placed in conservatorship and ultimately liquidated in March 2014. The audit allegedly revealed that from 2010 to December 2014, Nirschl embezzled more than $5 million and deposited the money into her personal accounts.


Wichita Planning $7 Million Wetlands Park 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of Wichita, Kansas, says he hopes a planned $7.2-million wetlands park spanning 56 acres will become a tourism draw. Mayor Jeff Longwell tells the Wichita Eagle he expects the Pracht Wetlands Park to be "a wonderful, unique" site at Cadillac Lake and "certainly special for the city." The Wichita City Council this week reviewed plans for the park, which will include flood-proof, galvanized steel boardwalks and wildlife observation stations. The Slawson Company donated the wetlands to the city and is planning a hotel and restaurant development nearby.


Kansas State to Dedicate New Residence Hall 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is preparing to dedicate its first residence hall to be built in more than 50 years. The university says in a news release that the public ceremony is planned for Saturday for Wefald Hall. The coeducational residence hall can house up to 540 students and features its own coffee shop. The building's one- and two-person rooms feature walk-in closets. There also are study spaces, kitchenettes and lobbies available on each floor. The eight-story residence hall is in the same area as Goodnow and Marlatt halls on the west side of campus. The hall was named for former Kansas State President Jon Wefald, who served from 1986-2009. Wefald will speak at the ceremony. Other speakers will include U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and football coach Bill Snyder.


Kansas Man Guilty in Shooting Death of Nebraska Man 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old Kansas man will be sentenced in June in the killing of a Lincoln, Nebraska, man at a Salina motel. The Salina Journal reports DiAntre Lemmie was found guilty Wednesday in Saline County of first-degree murder and five other charges in the April 2016 death of 32-year-old Adonis Loudermilk at the Starlite Motel. Lemmie will be sentenced June 19. Loudermilk's body was found at the north Salina motel parking lot. Prosecutors say Loudermilk was shot during a botched robbery committed by Lemmie and a co-defendant, Amber Nicole Craig. Craig pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.


Kansas Man Sentenced to Prison for Woman's Death 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who said he "should be taken out back and stoned or shot" for killing a woman has been ordered to spend 22 years in prison. The Wichita Eagle reports that 61-year-old Randal Keesling made his remarks during a sentencing hearing Tuesday in Kansas' Sedgwick County. The Derby man already had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for running over 32-year-old Amber Lehman with his car after an argument in November. Lehman's father, Craig Lehman, told the judge he regrets that he didn't kill grab a deputy's gun and kill Keesling that day.


Independence Police Officer Injured in Confrontation 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City police officer is in critical condition after being shot in a confrontation while responding to a burglary call.  Centerpoint Medical Center said in a statement the Independence police officer survived surgery Wednesday and is in critical condition. Two suspects are in custody. Charges aren't expected until at least Thursday. Independence Police Captain Carl Perry says officers were called to an Independence home Wednesday morning where a burglary was in progress. He says the suspects fled the house and exchanged gunfire with police, shooting one of the officers. The suspects then fled in a vehicle, with police in pursuit. The suspects' vehicle became disabled after a short chase and they were taken into custody. Kansas City police will investigate the shooting.


Jayhawk Frank Mason Unanimous Pick for AP All-America Team 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) —Frank Mason III of the University of Kansas has been unanimously selected to the 2016-17 AP All-America team. Mason, who averaged 20.8 points and 5.1 assists this season, received all first-team votes from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Joining Mason on the first team on Tuesday were fellow senior Josh Hart of Villanova, sophomore Caleb Swanigan of Purdue, freshman Lonzo Ball of UCLA and junior Justin Jackson of North Carolina. Swanigan led the nation with 26 double-doubles and was the only Division I player to average 18 points and 12 rebounds this season. Ball received 54 first-team votes and has already announced plans to enter the NBA draft. Jackson helped the Tar Heels reach the Final Four, averaging 18.1 points. Votes were based on the regular season and conference tournaments.

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