UPDATED! Kansas Governor Sets Date for Special Session; Backs $38 Million Fix for Public Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is embracing a $38 million increase in state aid for poor Kansas school districts ahead of a special session of the Legislature. Brownback issued a proclamation today (WED) calling lawmakers back to the Statehouse on June 23 to respond to a state Supreme Court order last month on education funding. He said during the news conference that he's looking for legislators to meet a single day to fashion a plan for providing the extra dollars to poor districts. But he also said he's willing to consider a variety of ways to raise the funds that include shifting it from other pots of aid for public schools. He said he's willing to consider education policy proposals to help gain support for the additional aid for poor districts.
Kansas Legislature's Special Session Could Cost at Least $43,000 Per Day
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state official says the Kansas Legislature's special session on education funding will cost at least $43,000 a day. Legislative Administrative Services Director Thomas Day said Wednesday that lawmakers' salaries and expense payments will be most of the cost. He said the Legislature would operate with a skeleton staff. Governor Sam Brownback called a special session that will begin June 23 to respond to a state Supreme Court order last month. The court rejected changes in school finance laws made earlier this year. It warned that schools will not be able to open after June 30 unless legislators make the education funding system fairer to poor districts. When lawmakers are in session, they receive $88.66 in salary and $140 for expenses each day, for a total of $228.66.
EARLIER VERSION: Kansas Governor to Set Date for Special Session
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback is preparing to set the date for a special session of the Kansas Legislature on school funding. Brownback plans to sign a proclamation this (WED) afternoon formally calling the Legislature into special session. The governor said in a statement that he is calling the session to "keep Kansas schools open" in response to a state Supreme Court order last month. The court rejected changes in school finance laws made by Republican lawmakers earlier this year to improve funding for poor districts. The justices said poor schools still wouldn't get their fair share of the state's more than $4 billion in annual aid to its 286 districts. The court warned that schools won't be able to open after June 30 if lawmakers don't approve further fixes. Many Republicans have strongly criticized the ruling, and some have wanted to defy the court. Read more about this story from KPR Statehouse Correspondent Stephen Koranda HERE.
Retired Military Officer Dis-invited from Prayer Breakfast
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A war of words is being waged at a Kansas military base after a highly decorated retired officer was disinvited from a prayer breakfast because of complaints about his outspoken Christian conservative views. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that retired Lt. General Jerry Boykin was scheduled to speak Monday at Fort Riley as part of the 1st Infantry Division's "Victory Week." Boykin spent 36 years in the Army and led the elite Delta Force in attempts to recover hostages in Iran, apprehend Manuel Noriega and track drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. But he also has drawn attention for claiming Islam doesn't deserve First Amendment protection and that President Barack Obama subliminally supports al-Qaeda. Boykin was disinvited from the breakfast after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation protested his appearance at the event.
Police: Body Identified as that of Kansas Boy Swept Away in Flood Waters
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a body found in a Kansas creek has been identified as that of an 11-year-old boy swept away by high waters late last month. Crews had been searching since May 27 when Devon Cooley went missing after he fell into fast-moving water from heavy rains. Authorities said the boy and some friends had been trying to cross a stretch of Gypsum Creek in Wichita when he fell. Wichita police Sergeant Nikki Woodrow says the coroner identified the body from dental records. Police said earlier that his body was found Saturday by a kayaker about a mile downstream from the general search area. The family has said plans for a memorial service are pending.
Manhattan Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Illegal Firearms
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A Manhattan, Kansas, man has pleaded guilty to six counts of exporting and attempting to export firearms to other countries illegally. Authorities say 35-year-old Michael Andrew Ryan used a hidden internet marketplace known as a "dark net" site because of its anonymity and secrecy. The indictment says he sometimes lied about who was purchasing the guns and then shipped them using FedEx Airway. The indictment says that Ryan made false statement to purchase guns from Manhattan-based Santa Fe Enterprises and Flint Hills Gun Works. The Wichita Eagle reports the indictment says Ryan shipped a variety of guns to England, Scotland, Ireland and Australia. Ryan is scheduled for sentencing September 12.
Charges Filed in Great Bend Swim Team Assault Case
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) _ The Barton County attorney says he is charging a juvenile with battery and criminal restraint in connection to a school bus incident involving members of the Great Bend High School boys swim team. County Attorney Douglas Matthews says in a news release Tuesday that the charges stem from a February 6 incident in Barton County. The prosecutor in neighboring Ellsworth County said last week that a 17-year-old member of the swim team was convicted of misdemeanor battery on another team member in Ellsworth County and will be sentenced July 5. A 16-year-old was sentenced to a year of probation for misdemeanor battery. The team was returning from a swim meet in Manhattan.
Topeka Authorities Investigate Body Found in Lake Shawnee
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are investigating after a body was found in Lake Shawnee. Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones says the body was found Tuesday and was recovered by the Shawnee Heights Fire District dive team near the bank. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports authorities haven't released an identity or cause of death. The sheriff's office is leading the investigation.
Another Vacancy Created in Federal Courts in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten plans to take a form of semi-retirement that will effectively create another vacancy on the federal bench in Kansas. The 64-year-old chief judge notified President Obama of his intention to take senior status on May 1, 2017, following 21 years of service. Marten was appointed to the post by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Marten plans to continue hearing cases for the time being. Kansas has one other federal judicial opening created when U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil took senior status in Topeka. Obama's nomination earlier this year of Lawrence attorney Terry Campbell to fill that seat is still pending.
Spirit Aerosystems CEO Lawson to Retire in July
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Spirit AeroSystems has announced that the aviation company's CEO is retiring next month. Larry Lawson, president and CEO of Wichita-based Spirit, plans to retire July 31. Lawson has been with Spirit since 2013. The Wichita Eagle reports that Tom Gentile, Spirit's chief operating officer, will replace Lawson. Spirit said in a release that Gentile joined Spirit earlier this year after holding leadership positions at GE. A Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday showed Lawson will be retained as a consultant to the company for two years at an annual salary of $150,000 and will receive separation payments totaling $1.3 million and a cash award of $1.1 million for 2016. Spirit employs about 14,800 people worldwide and in 2015 recorded $789 million in net income on revenue of $6.6 billion.
Judge Delays Ruling on Planned Parenthood Kansas Lawsuit
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge is delaying a ruling on a bid by Planned Parenthood attorneys to prevent Kansas from halting the organization's Medicaid funding. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson didn't indicate after a hearing Tuesday when she might rule on the state health department's action, while a lawsuit by two Planned Parenthood affiliates proceeds. Kansas has said it plans to cut off funding July 7 because the health provider performs abortions, though attorneys for the state suggested Tuesday it may not be until September to allow for an administrative appeal. Federal courts have blocked similar attempts to cut off Medicaid funding in other states. Planned Parenthood argues the Kansas is acting out of "animus'' toward the organization. The state calls court intervention premature because Medicaid hasn't yet been cut off.
Kansas Congressmen Among Those Denied Iranian Visas
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran says it won't grant visas to Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas and two other U.S. congressmen opposed to Iran's recent nuclear deal with world powers. The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Tuesday saying it refused to issue visas to Pompeo and two other Republicans, Representatives Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Lee Zeldin of New York. The three wanted to monitor the nuclear agreement. The ministry said in a statement that it refused the request over "the completely inappropriate way you have demanded to visit Iran and interfere in what is of no relevance to (your) official functions.'" In a statement, LoBiondo said it was "deeply disappointing, though not surprising" that Iran denied "our legitimate request with insults and deflections." The other two congressmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Latest Kansas Scenic Byway Designated in Northwest Kansas
The Kansas Department of Transportation has announced that the Kansas Byways Program has grown by one - with the addition of the newly- designated Land and Sky Scenic Byway in northwest Kansas. Land and Sky is the 12th Kansas byway to receive official designation from KDOT. The byway covers parts of Wallace, Sherman and Cheyenne counties. “We are excited to extend the byway program into northwest Kansas with the Land and Sky Scenic Byway,” said Kansas Transportation Secretary and Director of the Kansas Turnpike Mike King. The 88-mile route on K-27 begins in Wallace County in Sharon Springs, runs north through Goodland in Sherman County, and ends in Cheyenne County north of St. Francis at the Kansas/Nebraska border. The byway is also the only one in the state that focuses on agriculture and features thousands of acres of rotating crops, livestock and wildlife along the route. “With its unique land formations and strong agricultural roots, we feel the Land and Sky Scenic Byway can help tell the story of agriculture to an increasingly urbanized nation,” Secretary King said. “Those driving along the byway will be able to see where some of their food is grown and maybe better understand the work of Kansas farmers and ranchers.” Want to see and read more? Click here.
Wells Fargo Returns Some Money to Missouri from Email Scam
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A western Missouri county has gotten back more than half of the $48,200 it lost after one of its officials fell for an email scam. The Kansas City Star reports Platte County, Missouri Treasurer Rob Willard was duped last week into sending a wire transfer to a bank in Florida at what he thought was the request of Presiding Commissioner Ron Schieber. But Schieber didn't make the request and Willard was caught up in an internet scam that has victimized several other counties in Missouri and Kansas. Willard says Wells Fargo transferred just over $28,000 on Monday afternoon into the county's general fund. Other financial institutions and law enforcement agencies are involved in the effort to recover the remaining funds.
Hot, Dry Weather Spurs Kansas Winter Wheat Harvest
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Combines are rolling across wheat fields in south-central Kansas. Elevators in in the Kiowa area as well as those in Cowley and Sumner counties are now receiving grain. The industry group Kansas Wheat says early reports show good test weights and farmers are eager to get into the field because they believe there is a good wheat crop there. If the hot, dry weather holds cutting should extend from central Kansas to northern Texas by this weekend. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that 60 percent of the Kansas wheat is in good to excellent condition. About 32 percent is rated as fair and 8 percent as poor to very poor.
Orioles Beat Royals 9-1 After Bench-Clearing Scuffle
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles extended the Kansas City Royals' losing streak to a season-high six games with a 9-1 rout Tuesday night in Baltimore. Royals' pitcher Yordano Ventura hit the Orioles' Manny Machado with a pitch to spark a bench-emptying fray in the fifth inning. Ventura (4-4) drilled Machado in the back with a 99 mph fastball. In the second inning, with Baltimore leading 5-0, the two exchanged words after Ventura twice threw inside to the two-time All-Star. In the fifth, an instant after the ball hit him, Machado charged the mound. Ventura prepared for the onslaught by slinging aside his cap and glove, but Machado landed a solid punch before the pitcher tackled him to the ground. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied before peace was restored. Machado and Ventura were both ejected and the Orioles went on to win the game.