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Headlines for Sunday, June 14, 2015

State Budget Plan to Raise Sales and Cigarette Taxes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A plan approved by Kansas legislators for balancing the state budget would increase sales and cigarette taxes but also make numerous other policy changes. Lawmakers passed two bills that together would raise $384 million during the fiscal year beginning July 1. A deficit would be averted. But Republicans who drafted the plan acknowledged that GOP Governor Sam Brownback still might have to cut up to $50 million in spending to ensure that the state has a small cushion of cash reserves going into July 2016. Under the new plan, sales tax would increase from 6.5 percent from 6.15 percent. The cigarette tax would jump by 50 cents a pack to $1.29 and starting in July 2016, the state will impose its first tax on electronic cigarettes.  


No Charges Filed in Shooting Death of Wichita Veteran
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ No charges will be filed in the shooting death of a man accused of lunging at a Wichita police officer with a knife. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick county District Attorney Marc Bennett made the announcement Friday. Icarus Randolph was fatally shot last July 4th while police were responding to a call from his family. Relatives described Randolph as a veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Police said a stun gun was ineffective against Randolph. And Bennett says the officer ``objectively and reasonably felt he needed to defend himself.''Sunflower Community Action spokesman Djuan Wash says the activist group is "disappointed.'' Wash says the officer should have de-escalated the situation, distanced himself from it, and gotten Randolph to a mental health facility.  


Westar Drops Plan for 3 New Energy Efficiency Programs  
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Westar Energy has dropped plans for three new energy efficiency programs. The Kansas Corporation Commission issued an order Thursday allowing the utility to withdraw its request for the programs. A current program, called WattSaver, which installs special thermostats in homes, will serve existing customers but will add no new customers. The utility had proposed funding home energy audits, incentives for small businesses to install more efficient lighting and weatherization assistance for low-income customers.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board and KCC staff raised concerns about the programs' cost-effectiveness. They also suggested the programs might cause one group of customers to subsidize those who benefited from the programs.


New Website Promotes Crowdfunding for Nonprofits
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _A Kansas City man is preparing to launch a website that promotes crowdfunding for local nonprofit agencies by giving people a chance to donate small amounts of money and steer it toward their chosen causes.The Kansas City Star reports Tim Racer's Daily Deeds website is scheduled to go live next week. He believes it is the first of its kind in the country.The site will let small nonprofit agencies fill out a 12-question form on the website to describe how much money they need and specific things the money will buy. People who have signed up as donors can review nonprofit appeals and can send a donation as little as $1 to their desired charity from money they have deposited.


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