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Headlines for Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Top Kansas Republicans Say They'll Back Trump; Some Others Won't

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's chairman and other top GOP officials say they'll support Donald Trump as the party's nominee for president. But not all Republicans are ready to back the brash billionaire now that he is the presumed GOP presidential candidate. State GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold predicted Wednesday that Kansas Republicans who've opposed Trump's bid for the nomination will "come home" during the general election. Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the state's caucuses to claim 24 of its 40 convention delegates. Arnold is one of those delegates but said he will support Trump. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts reiterated promises to support the GOP nominee. But state Representatives Amanda Grosserode of Lenexa and Brett Hildabrand of Shawnee said they never can support Trump. They supported Cruz.


Moody's Changes Outlook for Kansas Credit Rating to Negative

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An international rating agency has revised its credit outlook for Kansas to negative from stable because of its ongoing budget problems. Tuesday's announcement from Moody's Investors Service came a day after lawmakers approved a plan leaving most of the work of balancing the budget through June 2017 to Governor Sam Brownback. Even as Moody's changed its outlook, it reaffirmed its Aa2 rating for Kansas for issuing bonds. Its report cited the state's problems in balancing its budget since lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging to help stimulate the economy. Standard and Poor's Rating Services last week put Kansas on a "credit watch." Brownback told reporters Tuesday that Kansas faces financial strains because of slumps in agriculture and energy production, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.


Kansas Halts Medicaid Reimbursements to Planned Parenthood

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is cutting off Medicaid reimbursements to a Planned Parenthood affiliate largely based on allegations against affiliates in other states. The state Department of Health and Environment sent a letter dated Tuesday informing Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri that it was terminating its status as a provider under the state's Medicaid program. Department spokeswoman Cassie Sparks confirmed the action Wednesday, as did the group. Planned Parenthood affiliate President and CEO Laura McQuade called the action "outrageous." Documents obtained through an open records request show KDHE first informed Planned Parenthood it intended to cut off Medicaid reimbursements in a letter in March. That letter cited allegations against Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas and Oklahoma, including from videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group about the handling of fetal tissue.

UPDATE: Planned Parenthood Sues Kansas for Ending Medicaid Reimbursements 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Planned Parenthood affiliates have filed a federal lawsuit over Kansas' decision to cut off Medicaid reimbursements to the abortion provider. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region against the state Department of Health and Environment's top administrator. The lawsuit contends that Kansas has "no possible legitimate basis" to cut off Medicaid funds. The state health department sent a letter Tuesday to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri informing it that it would cut off Medicaid funding as of next week. The St. Louis affiliate is involved in the lawsuit because its Joplin, Missouri, clinic sometimes serves participants in Kansas' Medicaid program. The state health department's spokeswoman said the agency had not seen the lawsuit.


Petition Urges Investigation into US Election Agency

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  More than 116,000 people have signed an online petition urging the inspector general to investigate what it calls voter suppression at a federal government agency entrusted with making voting more accessible. The progressive advocacy group CREDO Action said it planned to deliver petition signatures Wednesday to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's Inspector General Patricia Layfield. The commission referred any comment to Layfield, who said in an email that she had not yet received the petition. She said she was not willing to comment on any of her office's existing or planned projects. At issue is the unilateral action by Executive Director Brian Newby that without public notice required residents of Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to provide documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote when using a federal form.


Man Admits Voting in Kansas, Colorado in Same Election 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says a Wichita man who voted in Kansas and Colorado during the same election has agreed to pay $5,500 in fines. The guilty pleas to two misdemeanor counts against Ron R. Weems mark the fourth conviction Kobach has obtained since receiving prosecutorial authority from the Kansas Legislature last year. In exchange for those pleas, Kobach dismissed two felony charges of election perjury. Weems was convicted of two counts of voting without being qualified and one count of unlawful advance voting. The complaint alleges he voted illegally in Kansas in the 2012 and 2014 general elections, while also voting in Teller County in the same elections. Kobach says in a news release that the prosecutions demonstrate the commitment to ensuring Kansas has the most secure elections in the country.


GM to Resume Full Production at Fairfax Assembly Plant, 3 Others 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — General Motors is on track to resume full operations at four North American plants where vehicle assembly was halted because of supply chain interruptions caused by earthquakes in Japan last month. Manufacturing that was put on hold on April 25 is expected to resume on Monday at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Production will also resume at plants in Spring Hill, Tennessee; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Canada. U.S. workers covered by the United Auto Workers contract with GM receive about three-quarters of their gross wages while assembly is idled. The powerful earthquakes that struck southwestern Japan killed 49 people and disrupted manufacturing and logistics. Union leaders at the Tennessee facility told reporters last week that parts affected by the disrupting are "integral electronics" that are only made in Japan.


The Latest: Civil Trial Begins for Anti-Abortion Activist 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Justice Department lawyer says an anti-abortion activist intended to intimidate a Kansas doctor by suggesting in a letter that someone might place an explosive under her car. Angel Dillard's civil trial began Tuesday in Wichita. The federal government is suing her under a law aimed at protecting women's access to abortion services and is seeking damages, financial penalties and an order of protection keeping her away from Dr. Mila Means. One of Dillard's attorneys told jurors that the government is trying to shut down free speech about matters with which it disagrees. Dillard sent the letter to Means in 2011, when Means was training to provide abortions. At the time, there hadn't been any doctors providing abortions in Wichita since the 2009 killing of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion zealot.


Mayor: Effort to Reconfigure Kansas City Airport on Hold

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Mayor Sly James says the question of whether to build a new, one-terminal airport will not appear on a city ballot this year. The mayor announced Tuesday only 39 percent of people polled last week said they supported building a new, nearly $1 billion Kansas City International Airport. The city had discussed putting the issue on the August or October ballot. The airlines using the Kansas City airport said last week they supported the single terminal concept. The current airport is nearly 50 years old and has three separate terminals. Supporters of the existing layout proposed renovating the terminals, rather than building one terminal. James says he believes the city will eventually have a single-terminal airport, but now is not the time to pursue the project.


Kansas Mother Who Took Kids to Oregon Standoff Arrested

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who took her children to perform for occupiers during the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge says authorities have removed seven of the children from her home and arrested her for assaulting an officer. Jail officials told The Kansas City Star Odalis Sharp of Auburn was booked into the Shawnee County jail Friday for battery of an officer and interfering with a law enforcement officer. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday morning. Sharp and her children, who have a family gospel band, traveled to Oregon to support the 41-day occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. She says the arrest and removal of the children happened after a dispute involving her landlord. Neither the state Department of Children and Families nor the local prosecutor could be reached for comment.


KU's Salina Med School Program Will Move to Downtown Building

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A fledgling medical school program in Salina is moving to a downtown location. The Salina Journal reports that the Salina Regional Health Foundation has entered into a contract to purchase a former bank building. The University of Kansas Medical School campus in Salina has been housed in a building at the Salina Regional Health Center since opening in July 2011. Plans call for a $6.5 million capital campaign to renovate, furnish and equip the new space and create a maintenance endowment. Currently, eight students are accepted each year into the program. The new building will be much larger. But the dean of the Salina campus says there are no promises being made that student enrollment will grow. Dr. William Cathcart-Rake says more money and faculty also would be needed.


Former Fort Leavenworth Commander to Lead US Army Pacific

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (AP) — A new commander is taking over as the leader of Army soldiers in the Pacific. Lieutenant General Robert Brown is succeeding General Vincent Brooks as the commander of U.S. Army Pacific. Brooks is becoming the new commander of U.S. Forces Korea. Brown will lead about 80,000 soldiers from Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii to Japan. Brooks will hand over command to Brown during a ceremony at U.S. Army Pacific headquarters in Hawaii on Wednesday. Brown will be promoted to the rank of four-star general just before the ceremony. The West Point graduate comes to Hawaii from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he commanded the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. He experience commanding the I Corps in Washington state and serving as a U.S. Army Pacific plans officer and U.S. Pacific Command staff officer.


Former Veterans Affairs Police Officer Accused of Molesting Kansas Girls

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former police officer for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, is accused of sexually abusing two girls in Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports 38-year-old Sean Acree of Mission, Kansas, was arrested Monday and was being held in the Johnson County jail on $250,000 bond. He is charged with five felony counts, including aggravated indecent liberties with a child and indecent liberties. A Veterans Affairs spokesman says Acree had been a training sergeant for the VA police but resigned last month. He made his first court appearance on Tuesday and is scheduled for another next week. It was unclear after business hours Tuesday if Acree had obtained an attorney.


Former Kansas Police Chief to Change Plea in Gun Scheme

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Bel Air Police Chief John Daily plans to change his plea over his role in a scheme to buy and sell discounted firearms by falsely claiming they would be used for law enforcement purposes. A notice posted Tuesday notified the court of his intention and set May 31 for the change-of-plea hearing. Charges against two Bel Air police officers were initially filed in December 2014, and the investigation eventually ensnared the department's police chief along with a third police officer. The indictment against one officer was dismissed in January. Most charges involve wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with the alleged scheme. Prosecutors allege the officers bought and sold numerous firearms by falsely certifying they were for law enforcement use and not resale — thereby avoiding paying taxes.


Settlement Reached over Saline County Discrimination Claim

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County and a former interim director of the Saline County Health Department have reached a $75,000 settlement over a sexual discrimination claim. The Salina Journal reports the county said Tuesday that it denied liability associated with the claim, and that it would allow its insurance company to resolve the matter to avoid further litigation costs. Suzette Brotton filed a claim against the Salina Human Relations Commission after it chose Bronson Farmer to direct the health department in 2014. Brotton claimed that she was not chosen because she is a woman. Farmer was chosen despite having previously been fired from the health department after being accused of falsifying mileage reports. He has denied that charge. The Kansas Human Rights Commission had ruled there was "probable cause" to believe Brotton's allegations of sexual discrimination in hiring and pre-employment testing.


Woman, Child Die in Northeast Kansas Crash 

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman and a boy have died in a crash on Interstate 35 in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victims as 28-year-old April Brown and 9-year-old Jeremiah Persinger. Both were from Kansas City, Missouri. The patrol says the crash happened Tuesday night when Brown lost control of the car she was driving north of Ottawa in Franklin County. The crash report says Brown's car then crossed the median, where it was broadsided by another car. Another passenger in Brown's car and the other driver were transported to hospitals.


Missouri Auction of Seized Vehicles Raises Over a Million Dollars 
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A fleet of expensive cars and motorcycles seized from a Kansas City-area accountant has sold for more than $1.4 million. The U.S. Marshals Service announced the results of last week's auction on Wednesday. The Kansas City Star reports that more than 700 bidders from 30 states participated. The machines that were sold had belonged to Thomas Hauk, who defrauded more than $4 million from clients. Hauk, of Overland Park, Kansas, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty last December to federal fraud charges linked to his on-the-job theft at a financial services company. The highest winning bid at the auction was $285,000 for a 2006 Ford GT. Most of the money raised during the auction at KCI Auto Auction in Kansas City, Missouri, will be returned to the theft victims.


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