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Headlines for Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Here's what we know so far.

Kansas Senate Approves $230M Boost in School Aid 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that would phase in an increase in spending on public schools of roughly $230 million over two years. The vote Wednesday was 23-16. The measure goes next to the House, but the House has its own plan to phase in a $285 million increase over two years. Negotiators for the two chambers are likely to draft a compromise. Legislators are responding to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that education funding is inadequate. The state spends about $4 billion a year on aid to its 286 local school districts. Top Republicans believe either plan would satisfy the court, but attorneys for the four districts that successfully sued the state have said both are far short of what's necessary.


Kansas Lawmakers Could Exhaust Legislature's Operating Budget 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Kansas legislators worry about exhausting operating funds now that their annual session is among the longest in state history. But they don't have a definitive answer for when the money runs out. Wednesday was the 103rd day of what was supposed to be a 100-day session. Republican legislative leaders had said the Legislature would exhaust its funds for the session Friday and not be able to pay lawmakers. But Legislative Administrative Services Director Tom Day said Wednesday that existing funds could last into next week, depending on non-salary expenses such as printing. The Legislature reduced staffing May 12 to drop its daily session costs to about $44,000 from $65,000. Its annual budget is $17 million. Lawmakers could pass a bill to provide extra funds but that's considered a political embarrassment.


Negotiations Stall over Concealed Weapons in Kansas Hospitals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Negotiations appear to have stalled over a proposal in the Kansas Legislature aimed at keeping concealed guns out of public hospitals and other health care facilities.  Tuesday's talks involved the National Rifle Association and the University of Kansas Health System and the university's Kansas City, Kansas, teaching hospital.  The Senate postponed a debate on the bill to see whether talks bore fruit. Multiple sources said they had not.  A 2013 law requires public health facilities to allow concealed guns into their buildings starting in July unless the buildings have security such as metal detectors or guards. The measure would grant a permanent exemption to state hospitals, other public hospitals, mental health centers, some nursing homes, the KU health system and the teaching hospital.  The NRA wants a narrower bill.


Kansas Lawmakers Reject Restrictions on Schools' Lobbying

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposal to restrict lobbying of the Legislature by public school districts.  Republican Senator Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha offered the proposal as amendment to the school funding bill the Senate approved around midnight.  The amendment would have prevented school districts or school officials from using state dollars to lobby the Legislature.  Senator Pyle said state dollars should be used in the classroom.  Critics said the proposal was an attempt to micro-manage school districts.  


Autopsy: Toddler Electrocuted at Wichita Carnival by Faulty Fencing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An autopsy report concludes that a toddler fatally injured at a carnival in Wichita, Kansas, died after grabbing an electrically charged fence.  The report says 15-month-old Pressley Bartonek of Conway Springs was diagnosed as being brain dead five days after being shocked May 12.  According to the report, the toddler was at a small carnival on a parking lot when she grabbed metal fencing and became unresponsive by the time her father freed her hands.  The report says that a test by an electrical company showed about 300 volts coming from the fence.  The carnival operator, Evans United Shows based in Plattsburg, Missouri, has not publicly commented about the matter.  Wichita police are investigating.

Report: 1/4 of Kansas Wheat in Poor to Very Poor Shape

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The latest government update shows a quarter of the winter wheat crop in Kansas is in poor to very poor condition.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Tuesday reported that 30 percent of the state's wheat is rated in fair condition. About 38 percent is in good and 7 percent in excellent condition.  Wheat coloring is at 39 percent.  The agency says that hail in northwestern Kansas has damaged some wheat and recently planted spring crops. The southern half of the state was mostly dry this past week while areas in the north got up to two inches of rain.  About 82 percent of the state's corn crop has now been planted statewide. Soybean planting is at the 41 percent mark. Sorghum seeding is 11 percent complete.


Chinese Animal Vaccine Company to Open First US Site in Manhattan 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The largest animal vaccine company in China plans to open its first U.S. location in Manhattan. Kansas State University announced Wednesday that Jinyu Bio-technology will open research labs and offices at the university's office park sometime next year. The company will research and design of vaccines for pigs and cattle. It also will develop educational materials for Chinese companies and veterinarians. For now, it will employ four to six scientists. Jinyu Chairman Chongyu Zhang said the company believes Manhattan and Kansas State are leaders in animal health research that is relevant around the world. The company also was attracted to Manhattan by its connection with the KC Animal Health Corridor, which is home to more than 300 animal health companies stretching from Manhattan to Columbia, Missouri.


Man Sentenced in Teen's Death at Kansas City Water Park 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The last of three Kansas City men convicted in the death of a teenager at a Kansas City water park has been sentenced to prison. Nineteen-year-old Ce-Antonyo Kennedy was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for his role in the death of 14-year-old Alexis Kane at The Bay Water Park. Kennedy was convicted in April of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Two other men were convicted in the death of Alexis, who was beaten and stabbed at the park. Friends told police she was killed after meeting someone she was communicating with on Facebook. Isaac Carter was sentenced to 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. And Dominic McDaniel was sentenced to five years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.


Texas Woman Sentenced for Selling Designer Drugs Made in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say a Texas woman was sentenced to five years in federal prison for selling drugs manufactured in Kansas.  Thirty-seven-year-old Michelle Reulet, of Montgomery, Texas, was sentenced Tuesday and ordered to forfeit $2 million in proceeds from the crime.  Federal prosecutors say Reulet and co-defendant Michael Myers owned a business in the Houston area called Bully Wholesale. They sold products they purchased from co-defendants Tracy Picanso and Roy Ehrett in Olathe, Kansas.  The drugs, called Pump It, Head trip, Black Arts and Grave Digger, were marketed as incense, potpourri and shoe deodorizer. Reulet admitted in her plea that she knew customers bought the products to get high.  Myers was sentenced to time served of two years. Picanso and Ehrett are scheduled to be sentenced June 15.  


Kansas Law Requires Schools Give Free Tuition to Foster Kids

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas law waives tuition at state universities and colleges for foster kids, but requires the schools to cover the entire cost without state aid.  The Wichita Eagle  reports that the Kansas Foster Child Education Assistance Act enacted in 2006 waives tuition and fees at state universities, tech schools, community colleges and Washburn University for students who were in foster care.  But the state requires schools to pay for those students without providing any money for that purpose. Wichita Area Technical College President Sheree Utash says the law is a big liability because the school pays for the students' tuition and fees with scholarship money. It's waived $138,000 since 2010.  College admissions mentor Jennifer Fry says the law levels the playing field for foster kids.


Brigade Marks 100 Years as it Returns to Kansas from Korea

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Members of America's first brigade are returning to Fort Riley this month as the brigade celebrates its 100th birthday.  The Manhattan Mercury reports about 200 soldiers in the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley returned to the fort Saturday night. The rest of the 3,700 will return during the next few months.  The brigade was organized in May 1917 and has participated in nearly every campaign since World War I. Its nickname is the Devil Brigade.  The brigade is beginning to return from its current mission in South Korea.


Flint Hills Nature Trail Open for Bikers, Hikers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After 16 years of planning, the longest biking and hiking trail in Kansas is open for public use, although some spots are still a bit rough.  The Flint Hills Nature Trail is currently 90 miles long, and it could expand to 117 miles in the future. Bikers and hikers can see native grasses, wildflowers, tunnels of trees, bridges, streams and a section of hardwood forest.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the trail runs along abandoned railroad lines.  Linda Craghead, assistant secretary for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, says the trail is already being used by people who overnight in nearby state parks, private campgrounds or motels.  She believes the trail will someday stretch nearly 120 miles and meet other Kansas trails.


Kansas Man Dies in ATV Accident While Farming

MUSCOTAH, Kan. (AP) - Atchison County authorities say a man died after an ATV he was riding rolled over and landed on top of him.  Sheriff Jack Laurie says in a news release that 64-year-old Michael Bodenhausen died in the accident Monday on a farm north of Muscotah in northeast Kansas.  Laurie says Bodenhausen was spraying thistles from the ATV when it rolled over.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Kansas City's Eric Skoglund Wins Big League Debut, Royals Beat Tigers 1-0

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Skoglund pitched 6 1/3 innings of two-hit ball in his major league debut, helping the Kansas City Royals beat Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 1-0 on Tuesday night.  Skoglund, a 2014 third-round draft pick out of Central Florida, struck out five and walked one. The left-hander was promoted from Triple-A Omaha when the Royals placed Danny Duffy on the disabled list Monday with an oblique strain.  Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 14 opportunities.  Verlander (4-4) left after seven innings, allowing one run and six hits.


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