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Headlines for Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kansas Regents Adopt Revised Social Media Policy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has revised a policy allowing state universities to discipline or fire faculty and staff for improper use of social media. The changes approved Wednesday include new statements that academic freedom and free-speech rights still will be protected. The board retained language defining improper use of social media as messages that incite violence, disclose private student or health care information or are contrary to the best interests of the university. The regents acted after months of criticism of the policy they adopted in December in response to a University of Kansas professor's tweet denouncing the National Rifle Association. It permits each university's top administrator to discipline, suspend or fire staff who used social media improperly.


Kansas to Increase Sentences for Some Murders

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is doubling the presumed prison sentence for premeditated first-degree murder to life with no chance of parole for at least 50 years. Governor Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he signed a bill this week to make the so-called "Hard 50" the presumed sentence for premeditated first-degree murder. The provision will apply to killings committed after June. The new law will allow judges to decide whether a more lenient sentence than the "Hard 50" is warranted in first-degree murder cases. Currently, prosecutors can seek a "Hard 50" sentence, but it can only be imposed by juries after weighing factors presented during a trial. The new law also sets a minimum 25-year prison sentence for defendants convicted of attempted capital murder or committing murder during another felony.


Missouri Baby Diagnosed with Measles after Trip

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ An unvaccinated infant in northwest Missouri has been diagnosed with measles after the family returned from traveling abroad. The Kansas City Star reports Clay County health officials say the baby -- who does not attend day care -- was treated at an area hospital and released, and family members are being vaccinated.  Officials say measles is a highly contagious disease that is rare in the U.S. So far this year there have been 187 cases reported in 17 states, including Missouri. Symptoms of measles include fever, rash, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Public health officials remind parents to immunize their children.


Moody's: Spending Cuts Needed to Offset Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Moody's Investors Service says Kansas will need to make more spending cuts to offset tax cuts that have sharply reduced state revenues. Moody's downgraded Kansas bonds last month on the same day the state announced April revenue collections fell $93 million below estimates. Moody's says most of the state's revenue shortfall was because less money was collected in individual income taxes.  A Moody's report issued Tuesday suggests more spending cuts will be difficult to achieve because of court-ordered school funding, federal mandates in programs like Medicaid, and legal requirements to fund the state pension system. But Governor Sam Brownback blamed the revenue decrease on President Barack Obama and said wealthy taxpayers filed their capital gains income in the 2012 tax year instead of 2013.


KS, AZ Claim Sovereignty in Voting Dispute

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas and Arizona say they have a sovereign right to require proof of citizenship for voting residents in their respective states, even for federal elections. The two states are urging a federal appeals court to let them do just that.  The appeals court halted a ruling from a federal judge in Kansas requiring the federal Election Assistance Commission to modify its voter registration form for Kansas and Arizona residents.


Stats Show KS Inspectors Going Easy on Pet Breeders

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Animal welfare advocates say Kansas Department of Agriculture inspectors are reluctant to cite pet breeders who don't meet state standards for violations. Instead, they are providing the breeders with notes on things that need fixing. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that more than 200 KDA inspections of licensed breeders in fiscal year 2013 recorded no violations, including in cases where the inspector wrote notes indicating a violation had existed. Of 13 "problem dealers" in the state identified by the Humane Society of the United States, the KDA last year didn't inspect six, cited two and found no violations for the remaining five. Michael Faurot, director of the KDA's animal facilities inspections, says the agency tries to be consistent and noted conditions cited by investigators in some of the reports sounded like violations to him.


KS Congressman Works to Cut Fish & Game Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp says he's working with other members of Congress on proposals to cut the budget of the Fish and Wildlife Service. He says the goal is to get the agency to back off its decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. Kansas officials are worried that designation will lead to restrictions on farming, ranching and oil and gas production and harm the state's economy.  


Motorcyclists to Cross Kansas During Weekend

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of motorcycle riders will cross Kansas on Interstate 70 beginning Saturday on their way to a massive gathering in the nation's capital to honor military veterans. The annual "Run for the Wall" begins in California and ends at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. The riders take three different routes before joining back together in Washington. Motorcyclists taking the central route are scheduled to arrive Saturday evening in Goodland. Sunday's itinerary takes them to Junction City, where they'll take part in a ceremony at Heritage Park. Many of the riders are expected to stop Monday at the Kansas Turnpike service area in Topeka, where they'll be welcomed by state and local officials before proceeding into Missouri. This year's 10-day Run for the Wall began Wednesday in Rancho Cucamonga, California.


KS Congressman Huelskamp Files for Re-election Run

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican congressman Tim Huelskamp has filed for re-election in the Kansas 1st District in western and central Kansas and is promising to battle leaders in both political parties. Huelskamp filed the paperwork Tuesday for a spot on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. He is seeking his third, two-year term. The tea party congressman from Fowler has been a vocal critic of Democratic President Barack Obama over the health care overhaul and numerous other issues. But he's also been critical of Republican House Speaker John Boehner for not being conservative enough.


Lawyer: Manning to Seek Treatment at Leavenworth

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for convicted government secrets leaker Chelsea Manning says the Army private wants to get treatment for her gender dysphoria at the Fort Leavenworth military prison, not at a civilian federal lockup. That word comes after military officials told The Associated Press the Pentagon is trying to transfer Manning to the federal Bureau of Prisons. Lawyer David Coombs says the federal prison system is not as safe as the military prison in Kansas. He says the proposed transfer would force Manning to choose between medical treatment and her personal safety. Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the military. The Defense Department doesn't provide such treatment, but Manning can't be discharged from the service while serving her 35-year prison sentence.


Riley County to Pay Medical Bill for Man Hurt in Chase

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Commissioners in Riley County have agreed to pay an outstanding hospital bill for a driver who was badly injured while fleeing from police. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the commission decided to pay $6,300 sought in a lawsuit by Stormont-Vail Healthcare in Topeka, rather than risk a trial. Marysville resident Jason Fisher suffered severe internal injuries in February 2011 when he rolled a pickup truck while being chased by police. Fisher spent two days at Stormont-Vail, which put the cost of his care at nearly $40,000. Riley County's liability was reduced to the Medicaid rate. County officials had questioned the county's liability because Fisher was not in police custody when he was injured.


Dole Completing 2nd Leg of KS Tour Thursday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole plans to wrap up the second leg of his homecoming tour of Kansas with events Thursday in Topeka and Kansas City. The 90-year-old former U.S. Senate majority leader is visiting 16 communities this week in northeast, central and south-central Kansas. The stops have included Manhattan, Junction City, Salina, Wichita and Emporia.  He's having a Thursday morning reception at the Crestview Park community center in Topeka, followed by an afternoon event at the Hilton Garden Inn near downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Dole toured northeast Kansas communities in April.  


Woman Killed During Late-Night Walk with Husband

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 24-year-old woman is dead after being shot while walking in a south Wichita neighborhood with her husband, a documented gang member. The Wichita Eagle reports that the couple was walking at 11:45 pm Tuesday when several shots were fired toward them. Police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says both the man and the woman began running, but one of the shots hit the woman in the head. The woman is identified in a police document as Nichole Saldana, who was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before midnight. Ojile says one person was detained for questioning but no arrests have been made. Police believe more than one weapon was fired at the couple. He says the couple lived a few blocks from where the shooting occurred.


National Agricultural Center Closes Temporarily

BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) _ The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs says it's closing for the rest of the year. The Board of directors said in a news release that the time is right to rethink the future of the ag center. Located in Bonner Springs, the National Agricultural  Center and Hall of Fame describes its mission as educating the public on the historical and present value of American agriculture. Board members say the center will be completely reimagined in the months ahead.  


Year's 3rd Kansas Honor Flight Headed to DC

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The year's third Kansas Honor Flight is headed to Washington, D.C., to give veterans a chance to visit memorials to their wars and others. The flight was scheduled to leave Wichita on Wednesday carrying four World War II veterans and 23 Korean War vets, along with their guardians, to the nation's capital. The trip is organized by Kansas Honor Flight Inc., whose mission is to transport veterans to Washington to visit the memorials at no cost to them. World War II veterans have priority, with Korea and Vietnam vets following in that order. Among the memorials on the itinerary are the World War II Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial Wall, Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Boy Who Found $10,000 in KC Won't Get to Keep It

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A boy who found $10,000 in a Kansas City hotel room won't get to keep the cash even though it remains unclaimed. Tyler Schaefer stumbled upon the neatly stacked bills in a hotel drawer last May 25 and handed it over to two uniformed off-duty police officers working at the hotel. The Kansas City Star reports that the Police Department is still storing the money. If an owner is not identified after four more years, the money will go to the state treasurer's office. State law requires finders such as Tyler to file an affidavit with a state court judge within 10 days and physically post a list describing the money on the courthouse door and at four other public places in the city, which he didn't do.


Murderer Gets Another 10 Years for 2012 Prison Break

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) _ A convicted murderer has been sentenced to more than 10 additional years in prison for escaping from the Ottawa County jail in 2012. Twenty-four-year-old Santos Carrera-Morales was one of four inmates who broke out of the jail. Carrera-Morales was sentenced yesterday (TUE) to an additional 10 years and eight months in state custody.


Missouri Teen Sentenced for Boy's Drug Death

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City girl who sold a synthetic form of LSD has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the death of teenage buyer. The Platte County prosecutor says that 17-year-old Krista Meeks, of Riverside, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges including first-degree involuntary manslaughter and distribution of an imitation controlled substance. Meeks admitted selling the synthetic LSD last October 3 to two boys, ages 14 and 15. Both boys ingested the drug and were taken the following day to a hospital. The 15-year-old died of what an autopsy found was intoxication from a synthetic compound. Investigators said Meeks told them she refused to take the same drug because of what she called its "harsh and violent" effects.


Firefighters Rescue 105-Year-Old Woman in Tonganoxie

TONGANOXIE, Kan. (AP) _ Firefighters rescued a 105-year-old woman from a smoky house fire in Tonganoxie early yesterday (TUE) morning. Sunday school teacher Ann Jarrett is reported in good condition at the hospital.  


Colorado Governor to Sign Southwest Chief Bill

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — Colorado is joining the effort to preserve the current route of Amtrak's Southwest Chief. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is set to sign a bill Wednesday creating a commission to work with officials in Kansas and New Mexico to continue the existing service. It will also push for a new stop in Pueblo. The Southwest Chief travels between Chicago and Los Angeles, but part of the current route is in jeopardy because the Burlington Northern Santa Fe track it uses needs to be upgraded and maintained. BNSF, Amtrak and Kansas have pledged a combined $9 million to be matched by possible federal grants. Colorado's bill sets up a fund to accept donations to pay for the work but the money could only be spent if all states and parties contribute.


Time Running Out for Red-Light Camera Legislation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Time is running out for Missouri lawmakers to pass a bill regulating red-light cameras, and some say inaction could prompt cities across the state to experiment with their own fixes that would allow the cameras to operate once again. Court rulings have stifled programs around the state where camera-generated tickets didn't assign points to a driver's record. The Kansas City Star reports that a bill approved earlier this year in the Missouri House would grant a special exemption for points-free moving violations for red-light camera cases. If the Legislature takes no action, City Manager Troy Schulte says Kansas City might have to go to a system where photos are taken of drivers' faces so points can be assessed for red-light violations.



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