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Headlines for Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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

Kansas Court Mulls Shifting Existing School Aid 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the Kansas Supreme Court's hearing on a school funding lawsuit (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

Kansas Supreme Court justices have briefly considered whether the state could pay for a suitable education for every child by shifting funds out of programs for gifted students. The court heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts. They argue that the state's nearly $4.1 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts is not enough to provide a suitable education for every child. Justice Dan Biles suggested during the arguments that the court might have to target its order to helping underachieving students. State Solicitor General Stephen McAllister said school districts might be able to help underachieving students by taking money out of Advanced Placement courses. But he said he wouldn't want that to happen and educators rejected the idea.

11:15 a.m.

A Kansas Supreme Court justice is suggesting that an order from the court on education funding might have to be targeted to help underachieving students in the state's public schools. Justice Dan Biles raised the issue Wednesday during arguments before the court in a lawsuit filed by four school districts in 2010. The districts argue that the state's nearly $4.1 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts is not adequate. Biles questioned districts' attorney Alan Rupe about his argument that the state needs to boost its annual spending by $800 million. Rupe said a third to half of the state's public school students are struggling. But Biles said the state constitution appears to require the state to target struggling students because others already receive an adequate education.

10:25 a.m.

An attorney for four Kansas school districts has told the state Supreme Court that too many students are being left behind in their educations because the state isn't spending enough money on its public schools. Attorney Alan Rupe argued Wednesday before the justices that legislators have failed to meet their duty under the state constitution to provide a suitable education to every child. The state's annual aid to its 286 districts is nearly $4.1 billion, but Rupe suggested that falls about $800 million a year short of being adequate. Rupe said that students' test scores on standardized English and math scores show that between a third and half of them are struggling. The state argues that its education system compares well with those in other states and that funding is adequate.

9:35 a.m.

Kansas Supreme Court justices are expressing skepticism with the state's arguments that its current education funding is adequate as they consider a lawsuit filed by four local school districts. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and four other justices on the seven-member court on Wednesday peppered state Solicitor General Stephen McAllister with questions after he suggested that the high court should defer to the Legislature. The state argued that its annual aid of nearly $4.1 billion a year to its 286 districts is sufficient for legislators to meet their constitutional duty to provide a suitable education for every child. Several justices pointed to data from state standardized tests suggesting many children aren't on track to be ready for college and they challenged McAllister when he suggested spending isn't necessarily crucial to student performance.

9:15 a.m.

The Kansas solicitor general has opened his arguments on an education funding case before the Kansas Supreme Court by telling the justices that the Legislature is entitled to substantial deference in its decisions about how much to spend on public schools. Solicitor General Stephen McAllister appeared Wednesday before the court in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts. The state is trying to persuade the court that the state's annual aid of nearly $4.1 billion a year to its 286 districts is sufficient. The Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas districts argue that legislators are hundreds of millions of dollars short each year in fulfilling their constitutional duty to give every child a suitable education. A lower-court panel sided with the districts. The state appealed.


Judge Considers Whether to Count Some Votes 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on a court hearing to determine whether to force Kansas to count potentially thousands of votes cast in November (all times local):

1 p.m.

A Kansas judge did not immediately decide whether to permanently force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to count all ballots cast in local and state elections by voters who registered at motor vehicle offices or used a federal form without providing proof of citizenship. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks heard arguments Wednesday on whether to issue a permanent injunction blocking Kobach from implementing a dual registration system in which some votes are counted only for federal races. Hendricks's earlier order temporarily blocked Kansas from discarding those votes in the August Kansas primary. The judge told The Associated Press after the hearing that his earlier order still remains in effect for the November election. The judge did not indicate from the bench when he might rule.

10:55 a.m.

A Kansas judge is being asked to issue a permanent injunction forcing Kansas to count all votes cast in state and local elections amid ongoing litigation. The American Civil Liberties union urged the Kansas court Wednesday to issue order before the November election. The ACLU says federal cases are still ongoing over voters who registered at motor vehicle offices or with a federal form. Federal courts have issued temporary orders requiring the state to register those voters for federal elections. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks is hearing arguments on whether to also count votes cast in state and local races by those voters. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has argued that there is no violation of ballot secrecy by giving them provisional ballots that count only the federal votes.

2:20 a.m.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A case playing out in a Kansas courtroom will determine whether potentially thousands of votes will be counted in November when they are cast in state and local elections by people who registered at motor vehicles offices or with a federal form without providing citizenship documents. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks will hear arguments today (WED) on whether to temporarily block Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from throwing out the votes in local and state elections cast by people who fall into those categories. The judge had earlier ordered the state to count them for the August primary, and he must now rule on whether to extend that order for the November general election as well.


Voting Rights Group Says 6,570 Kansas Registrations Purged

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The League of Women Voters says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has discarded the registrations of about 6,570 prospective voters under a rule that allows him to toss them after 90 days because they did not prove citizenship. The League says Kobach's office discarded the ballots in August.  Those prospective voters likely registered at some place other than a motor vehicle office without providing citizenship documents, so their voting rights are not protected by recent court orders. They would need to register again to vote in November. Kansas requires proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. The League purchased copies of the Kansas voter suspense list in March and in August, and compared them to calculate the number of missing registrations.   


Kansas Joins 20 Other States Challenging New Overtime Rule 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is joining a challenge to a new federal overtime rule that would allow hundreds of government workers to receive overtime for working more than 40 hours a week. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the rule goes into effect in December and will affect about 550 state employees in the executive and judicial branches who aren't currently entitled to overtime pay. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office announced Tuesday that Kansas would join 20 other states in fighting the U.S. Department of Labor mandate. Schmidt estimates the rule also will affect about 36,000 private employees in Kansas. He called the initiative part of a "cascade of unauthorized rules and regulations emerging from Washington" in the final months of the Obama administration.


Campus Gun Policy Transparency Act Introduced in U.S. House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ U.S. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota has introduced federal legislation that would require schools with to provide fuller disclosure of their campus gun laws. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the proposed law would require federally-funded universities to publish their gun policies on their websites and in other promotional materials. Kansas law allows concealed carry by anyone who is legally eligible to own a gun. Ellison introduced the legislation after Minnesota resident Marti Priest contacted Ellison with concerns regarding the University of Kansas's lack of disclosure regarding its campus gun rules. Priest was worried for her son Erik Nelson after a professor disclosed that the school would comply with the state's concealed carry law. University of Kansas officials say they have not yet decided what their specific policy will be regarding concealed carry of weapons on campus.


Fire Chief Accused of Setting Fires Tribe Was Paid to Fight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former head of an American Indian reservation's volunteer fire department is accused of setting fires the tribe was paid to fight. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas says former Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department chief Stephen Ramirez of Horton was charged Wednesday with four federal counts of wire fraud. Former volunteer firefighter Arlene Negonsott also was indicted on the same charges. Prosecutors say Ramirez recruited Negonsott to set fires on the Kickapoo reservation from July to November 2015 that the fire department was called to fight. The Bureau of Indian Affairs paid the fire department $600 for each fire it fought. The indictment alleges the defendants set six fires on the reservation. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said he didn't know if either defendant had an attorney.


Study: Topeka Regional Airport Could Lure Passenger Service 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A study says say business and travel growth in the Topeka area could lure an airline to the Topeka Regional Airport, which hasn't had passenger flights since 2014. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that a consulting group studied passengers' habits in the region using data from a year of travel. The study shows that on average, nearly 1,700 people from the region fly in and out of Kansas City International Airport per day for business or other activity. That is a 25 percent increase in flights since 2012. The consulting group told the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Board Authority on Tuesday that business growth in the city contributed most to the flight increase. U.S. Airways Express in Topeka offered three flights daily to and from Kansas City International Airport until May 2003, when a substantial decrease in passengers lost the airline. The airport will present the study to airlines to gauge their interest.


Kansas Ag Groups Push for Lifting of Trade Embargo with Cuba 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas agriculture groups have formed a group to push for the lifting of a trade embargo with Cuba. The Wichita Eagle reports that Engage Cuba's Kansas State Council includes representatives of the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Soybean Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Corn Growers Association. The state council is part of Engage Cuba, a coalition of private U.S. companies and organizations working to build support for congressional action to end the ban in order to sell more grain and other commodities in Cuba. Jay Armstrong, past chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission, said in statement that a level playing field with Canada and Europe is critical for U.S. wheat farmers to fully realize their export potential to Cuba.


Kansas Man Pleads Not Guilty in Death of His 7-Year-Old Son 

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (AP) — A Kansas man has pleaded not guilty to charges in the death of his 7-year-old son whose remains were found near the family's pigs. Michael Jones pleaded not guilty Wednesday to premeditated first-degree murder and other charges in the death of the child, who authorities discovered was missing last November when they responded to a domestic disturbance. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman has declined to discuss reports that the child's remains were fed to pigs, but said the boy's remains were found near swine on the family's Kansas City, Kansas, property. Michael Jones's lawyer entered a not guilty plea for Jones on Wednesday and also waived a preliminary hearing. Jones' wife, Heather Jones, waived her preliminary hearing Tuesday but didn't enter a formal plea then. Their lawyers declined comment.


6 Indicted in Kansas City Fake Marriage Conspiracy 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five women and a man from Kansas City have been indicted in a conspiracy to arrange fake marriages for immigrants wanting to live in the U.S. The U.S. attorney's office says the 14-count indictment was returned last month and unsealed Tuesday when the six had their initial court appearances. The indictment alleges that 48-year-old Delmar Dixon arranged marriages between Americans and African nationals from Kenya and Tanzania. Defense attorney John Jenab declined to comment, saying he'd just received the case. Federal prosecutors allege Dixon charged the African nationals $1,000 upfront for introductions. Prosecutors say the African nationals were required to pay the spouses $500 at the time of the wedding, $500 after the completion of the wedding and $250 each month after the wedding until the immigration process was complete.


2 Hospitalized in Early Morning Topeka Apartment Fire 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people are hospitalized after a Topeka apartment fire. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that heavy smoke was coming from the east side of the 12-unit building when crews responded around 12:30 am Wednesday. Firefighters conducted a search and removed two adults from the building. Fire officials said they were taken to a Topeka hospital and later transferred to The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Their injuries aren't believed to be life-threatening. The fire was classified as accidental and blamed on improperly discarded smoking materials. Damages to the three-story building and its contents are estimated at $150,000.


Suspect in Fatal Crash Allegedly Drove with Illegal Blood Alcohol Level

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Court documents allege that a man's blood-alcohol level was double Kansas's legal threshold when he caused a crash that killed a Johnson County sheriff's deputy. The Kansas City Star reports Adrian Espinosa-Flores' blood-alcohol content measured .160 after the September 11 crash. Espinosa-Flores is charged with involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatality traffic crash in connection with the accident that killed Master Deputy Brandon Collins. Collins was conducting a traffic stop on U.S. 69 in Overland Park when authorities say a pickup truck driven by Espinosa-Flores ran into Collins's parked patrol vehicle from behind.  Adrian Espinosa-Flores told police he had been drinking beer at a friend's house before the crash and that he was in the country illegally.


Kansas City Metro Students Wear Black to Support Schoolmate 

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — Students throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area dressed in black to support a Kansas girl who says she was sexually assaulted in a school bathroom. The Kansas City Star reports hundreds of students at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas wore black on Wednesday in support of their schoolmate. The freshman says she was groped last week by a boy inside a boys' bathroom while a second boy held the door shut. Word of the "wear black to stop attacks" effort spread on social media Tuesday night soon after news broke that police were investigating the alleged assault. A Twitter user tweeted a photo of young men at all-male Rockhurst High School in Missouri also wearing black or dark-colored shirts in support of the effort.


Kansas Man Sentenced in Crash That Killed 6-Year-Old 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for a drunken driving crash that killed his 6-year-old daughter. The Manhattan Mercury reports that 39-year-old Joshua Mall, of Riley, was sentenced Monday for second-degree murder in the October death of Madilyn Mall. His criminal history includes a guilty plea in a 2001 vehicular homicide in Colorado in which prosecutors dropped two driving under the influence counts. Authorities say that before Madilyn's death, he consumed more than a half-liter of whiskey, lost control of his speeding pickup truck and crashed into a tree. His blood alcohol level measured .13; the legal limit in Kansas is .08. Mall said he felt he let Madilyn down and that keeping her safe was his "one job as a father."


Missouri Man Accused of Sexually Attacking, Killing Daughter 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man is accused of sexually attacking and suffocating his 18-year-old high school honors student daughter whose body was found months ago in a motel. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors charged 40-year-old Jerry Bausby on Tuesday with first-degree murder, sodomy, incest and sexual abuse. A prosecutor's spokesman says Bausby, of Kansas City, was arrested Tuesday night and was jailed Wednesday on $750,000 cash bond. Online court records don't show whether Bausby has an attorney to speak on his behalf. Bausby's voicemail was not accepting messages Wednesday. Daizsa Laye Bausby's body was found March 21 in a Kansas City motel room. She was an honors student who had been first in her class. She ran track, played basketball and was a Junior ROTC member.


2 Bodies Found Inside Suburban Kansas City Home

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) - Police are investigating the deaths of two people whose bodies were found inside a suburban Kansas City home. The Kansas City Star reports that officers made the discovery Tuesday afternoon in Prairie Village after they were called to check on the welfare of the residents. No information was released about the victims or how they died.


2 Die in Single-Engine Plane Crash at Lee's Summit Airport 

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say an Iowa pilot and his passenger have died after a single-engine plane crashed at a suburban Kansas City airport. Lee's Summit police Sergeant Chris Depue says the crash happened around 6:10 pm Tuesday at Lee's Summit Municipal Airport. Responding crews found the 1964 Piper PA-28 on the west side of the airport tarmac. The victims were identified Wednesday as 53-year-old Vincent Basile and 24-year-old Kelli Basile, both of Des Moines, Iowa. Depue says the initial investigation indicates they crashed while traveling to Lee's Summit to meet family. Depue says no one else was aboard the plane, and no other injuries were reported.


Wichita State Guard Allen Withdraws from School, Program 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State guard Peyton Allen has left the program and withdrawn from school. Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said in a statement Wednesday that the redshirt sophomore decided to leave for personal reasons. Marshall did not elaborate on the reason, though he did say it was unrelated to basketball or any off-the-court conduct or violation of team rules. Allen transferred to Wichita State from Texas A&M last fall, and spent the season on the Shockers' practice squad while satisfying NCAA transfer rules. The native of Springfield, Illinois, started eight games and played in 32 as a freshman for the Aggies, averaging 4.5 points in 14.1 minutes. He scored a career-high 16 points in a game against New Orleans, and also reached double-digits against Alabama and Missouri.


Single in 9th Inning Lifts Cleveland Indians over Royals, 2-1

CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians' Pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer singled in a run with two outs in the ninth inning as Cleveland took a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. The Indians move closer to an AL Central title and lead Detroit by seven games in the division. The Royals, the 2015 World Series champions, could be eliminated from contention in the division if they lose to Cleveland again on Wednesday night.


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