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Headlines for Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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

Kansas Democrats Seek $600 Million Boost in Ed Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Legislature's top Democrats are proposing that the state phase in a $600 million increase in spending on public schools over three years.  Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka and House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita made their proposal public today (WED). They also sent a letter to GOP leaders.  A House committee has proposed phasing in a $280 million increase in spending over two years. The increase in aid under the Democratic plan after two years would be $400 million.  A Senate committee is drafting its own proposal.  Kansas spends about $4 billion a year on aid to its 286 school districts. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that education funding is inadequate.  The Democrats said they believe their plan would satisfy the court's order.

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Sales Tax to Help Fill Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators are wrestling with whether to end sales tax breaks in a larger plan to fix the state budget and raise additional funds for public schools.  Senate tax committee members were cold toward a House-passed plan to raise $110 million over two years by imposing the state's 6.5 percent sales tax on a few untaxed services. They include towing, pet boarding and bill-collecting.  The panel heard testimony from collection agency operators that their businesses would be harmed in competition with out-of-state firms.  But backers of the House bill are working on a new plan to raise about $330 million over two years by eliminating sales tax exemptions.  Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 through June 2019, and the Kansas Supreme Court has said education funding is inadequate.

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Tornado that Began in Oklahoma Injures One Person in Kansas

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) -  Authorities say at least one person was hurt when a tornado touched down in central Kansas last (TUE) night. The National Weather Service says the storm started in the Oklahoma panhandle and then tracked into Kansas.  One confirmed tornado was reported southeast of Dodge City. The storm then headed toward the small central Kansas town of Pawnee Rock, where at least one home was destroyed and one person was injured.  The National Weather Service says radar images suggest the storm may have produced other brief tornadoes as it moved over rural farmland in Kansas. Assessment crews were out in the field today (WED) trying to determine the extent of the damage.

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Manhattan Reports Doubling of Rape Reports

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Riley County authorities say the number of rapes reported in Manhattan and surrounding areas has doubled during the first quarter of this year compared with the same time last year.  The Manhattan Mercury reports 16 rapes were reported in the first quarter of 2017.  That’s up from eight in the same period last year.  A total of 40 rapes were reported in Manhattan in 2016.

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Kansas Board Hears Testimony on Parole for Wichita Sniper

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Several witnesses asked the Kansas Prisoner Review Board to keep a man called the Wichita Holiday Inn sniper in prison.  During a hearing TODAY (WED), no one spoke in favor of paroling 59-year-old Michael Soles, who killed three people and wounded eight others in 1976 in a sniper attack in downtown Wichita.  Soles is eligible for parole in July.

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Kansas Lawmakers Delay Talk of Taxes, School Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers have delayed discussions about public school funding and raising taxes to fix the state budget.  House and Senate negotiators who had planned to convene Tuesday to discuss proposals for increasing income taxes never scheduled a meeting.  Lead House negotiator Steven Johnson said he doesn't know when the group will convene again. The Assaria Republican said it's an indication that lawmakers remain divided on tax issues.  The House postponed a debate until at least tomorrow (THUR) on a plan to phase in a $280 million increase in spending on public schools over two years. Leaders want to give House members more time to review the details.  Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019, and the state Supreme Court ruled in March that education funding is inadequate.

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Kansas Senate Backs Away from Floor Debate on Concealed Guns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate has backed away from a floor debate on the state's controversial concealed carry law and opted to send a bill back to committee. Senators voted to send back a bill that would allow public hospitals and nursing homes, community mental health centers, low-income health clinics and the University of Kansas Medical Center to ban guns in their facilities.  Under a law taking effect July 1, those health care facilities will have to either allow guns on the premises or secure building entrances using metal detectors and armed guards. This latest bill would allow the facilities to ban guns without paying for the added security. 

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Former Democratic Lawmaker Runs for Kansas Governor

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) - Former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty says he's running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018. Svaty announced his candidacy Tuesday. The 37-year-old Ellsworth resident was elected to the Kansas House in 2002 and served there until Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson appointed him agriculture secretary in 2009. His announcement sets up the first contested Democratic primary for governor since 1998. He joins former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer in the race for the Democratic nomination. Former state legislator Ed O’Malley and Wichita oil executive Wink Hartman have launched exploratory campaigns on the Republican side. Several other Republicans are also considering the race. 

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Lawrence Cable News Station to Convert to All-Sports Network; Will Lay Off 20 Employees

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A cable news station serving the Lawrence area will convert to an all-sports network and end local news this summer.  6News Lawrence says its parent company, Midco, has announced it will expand its Midco Sports Network into the Lawrence market.  That will mean the end of local and area sports and news and will dissolve Channel 6 and 6lawrence.com, which originates local programming.  Yuchen Lin, web/social media producer for 6 News Lawrence, says more than 20 employees will be laid off.  Channel 6 will continue to air local news, weather and sports until a final newscast August 4.  Midco, which provides cable, internet and other services in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota, acquired the Lawrence cable system in October 2016.

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Kansas Boy's Slaying Prompts Call for New Home School Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas prosecutor wants tougher state regulation of home schools following the 2015 slaying of a 7-year-old boy whose remains were found in a family pig sty. A Kansas House committee had a hearing Tuesday on a bill to require people living in a home where a child is abused to report the abuse.  But Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree says that's just a first step. The bill is a response to the death of Adrian Jones, who authorities say was tortured and starved. His father and stepmother claimed to be home schooling him. They've been sentenced to life in prison in his death. Authorities say at least one other adult had temporarily lived in the home. Kansas requires only that home schools be registered. Several lawmakers want more oversight.

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Classified Document Leaker Chelsea Manning Set Free from Leavenworth Military Prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Private Chelsea Manning – the soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks -- has been released from Fort Leavenworth military prison.  She says she's unclear where her life will take her now that she's free after serving seven years.  Manning, who is transgender, was known as Bradley Manning before she transitioned in prison. She was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, but President Obama granted her clemency in January.  She remains on active duty in the military but in a special status - pending her final appellate review.  Manning was convicted in 2013 of leaking secret military and State Department documents and battlefield video.  She is appealing her court-martial conviction. Manning will be on unpaid active duty in "excess leave'' status, which makes her eligible for medical care at Army treatment facilities.  The special status also allows her to wear her preferred civilian clothing, including women's attire.  Manning also will be able to live where she wants.
 
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Lawrence Cops Rescue Rowers on Kansas River

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials say emergency responders helped rescue a team of rowers stranded on the Kansas River after their boat capsized. At least eight people were stranded this (WED) morning on the river near the University of Kansas boathouse. No injuries were reported.  The Kansas boathouse is the base for the KU women's rowing team and a co-ed club team. The eight people rescued were all men.

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Kansas City Zoo to Breed Endangered African Wild Dogs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Zoo is hoping a new effort will help save an endangered species of African wild dogs. The zoo announced Tuesday that it had introduced two female African wild dogs from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, to its exhibit. The Kansas City Star reports that until last month, the Kansas City Zoo had a male and a non-reproductive female of the species. Two other females were sent to South Bend, Indiana, in 2015. Wild dogs are often called painted dogs because of their mottled coat. They also have distinctive rounded ears. A group called Painted Dog Conservation says only about 7,000 African wild dogs are left in Africa.

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KU School of Nursing to Open Salina Campus this Fall

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas School of Nursing plans to open a campus in Salina this fall.  The new venture is a partnership with Salina Regional Health Center. John Berggren, spokesman for the Salina health center, said in a news release Tuesday that the campus will accept a class of 12 students this fall.  The class sizes are expected to gradually increase until reaching a maximum of 48 students in the fifth year.  The new campus will offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree to students who have completed two years of undergraduate education at another college or university.   The goal of the new campus is to educate professional nurses to work in rural parts of Kansas.

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Last 2 Suspects Enter Pleas in Kansas City Drug Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The last two of 11 people charged in a scheme to distribute oxycodone throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area have pleaded guilty. Federal prosecutors say 50-year-old Gary Dickinson and 51-year-old Douglas Parker, both of Kansas City, Missouri, pleaded guilty Tuesday in a $1.2 million conspiracy that involved using forged prescriptions to acquire the drug at pharmacies. The oxycodone was then sold for $15 to $25 per 30mg pill. The conspirators obtained prescription-quality paper used by health care providers to write the prescriptions in a conspiracy that ran from June 2013 to January 2016. Prosecutors say undercover agents bought several fraudulent prescriptions from Dickinson. Parker was arrested in December 2013 after trying to fill a false prescription. 

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Evaluation Ordered for Man Charged in Lawrence Apartment Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Lawrence man accused of killing his 19-year-old neighbor will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial. Lawyers for 20-year-old Rontarus Washington Jr., was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday for first-degree murder in the November 2014 death of Justina Altamirano Mosso at an apartment in Lawrence. An earlier evaluation found Washington suffers from several significant mental disorders and determined he was incompetent to stand trial. Because of those findings, Washington's attorney requested he undergo the psychiatric evaluation. Judge James McCabria granted the motion and suspended the trial until the evaluation is complete. Washington will be committed to the Larned State Hospital for no more than 60 days for the evaluation.

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New York Yankees Beat Royals 7-1 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yankees's pitcher CC Sabathia got back on track as New York rolled to a 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. Pitching on six days' rest, Sabathia (3-2) went 6 2/3 shutout innings to win for the first time since April 15. He struck out five and walked two before leaving with the bases loaded, but Tyler Clippard promptly fanned Whit Merrifield to escape the jam. Clippard also handled the eighth before Jonathan Holder gave up a run in the ninth. Gary Sanchez hit a three-run home on an 0-1 pitch from Jason Hammel (1-5) with nobody out in the third, and Chris Carter pounded a 1-1 pitch with two down in the fourth. The Royals and Yankees face off in the second of a three game series tonight (WED) at Kauffman Stadium.
 

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