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Regional Headlines for Friday, January 25, 2013



Kansas Officials Struggle with Corporate Income Tax Reductions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republican officials in Kansas are interested in lowering corporate income taxes, but are struggling to figure out how to mesh such reductions with GOP plans for more cuts in individual income tax rates. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said Friday that cutting corporate income taxes would boost the economy and that the state needs to consider the issue. But Jordan said the issue also is complicated, and GOP Governor Sam Brownback's proposals focus on reducing individual income tax rates again after aggressive reductions last year. State Representative Marvin Kleeb, an Overland Park Republican who serves on the House Taxation Committee, said he and his colleagues are interested in lowering corporate income tax rates. He said they haven't figured out how to do it.

Kansas Prayer Vigil Set for Immigration Reform

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nonprofit group is joining other grassroots organizations in a campaign for what it calls comprehensive immigration reform. Sunflower Community Action says the "Keeping Families Together" campaign will be launched during a community prayer vigil at 7 pm Friday at Newman University in Wichita. The group says it plans to call on U.S. Senator Jerry Moran to support an overhaul of the system and work on a path to citizenship that allows families to stay together. It's also asking Governor Sam Brownback to oppose policies it considers hostile to immigrants.


Kansas Supreme Court Orders New Capital Murder Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a new capital murder trial for a Topeka man who was convicted of two murders that occurred in 2003. The court ruled Friday that, among other things, Phillip D. Cheatham did not receive effective counsel at his 2005 trial. The ruling Friday sends Cheatham's case back to Shawnee County District Court. Cheatham was convicted of killing Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones and wounding a third victim, Annetta Thomas, at a Topeka home. He was represented by Ozawkie attorney Dennis Hawver. During the trial, Hawver repeatedly referred to Cheatham as a "professional drug dealer" and "shooter of people" based on a previous manslaughter conviction. Justice Dan Biles wrote in Friday's opinion that Cheatham was denied a fair trial.

Hawker Beechcraft Closer to Emerging from Bankruptcy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft says key creditors are overwhelmingly backing its proposed reorganization plan in a vote that moves the company closer to emerging from bankruptcy protection. The company said Friday that it will seek court approval to exit bankruptcy at a hearing Thursday and expects to emerge from Chapter 11 in February. It also said it has secured an underwriting commitment for $600 million in exit financing consisting of a term loan and revolving line of credit from JPMorgan Chase Bank and Credit Suisse AG. Hawker Beechcraft Inc. CEO Robert "Steve" Miller said in a news release that the show of support from creditors will dramatically reduce the company's debt load, while the financing commitment marks an important milestone as the company emerges from restructuring.

GOP Turns to Governors in Post-2012 Review

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Looking for a new direction, many Republicans are turning to the states for ideas on how to come back from their 2012 election defeat. Republicans are promoting the tax and economic growth policies of several Republican governors as a way for the party to appeal to voters on the economy and avoid social issues that they say hurt Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Members of the Republican National Committee are meeting in Charlotte to discuss ways to rebound from the outcome of the 2012 elections. Republicans currently hold governors' offices in 30 states. Many Republicans say the work of such governors as Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sam Brownback of Kansas can be case studies for Republicans searching for ways to change the tone and direction of the party after President Barack Obama's re-election.


Kansas Legislators to Take Education Road Trip

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — More than two dozen Kansas legislators are planning a daylong bus trip to the Wichita area and Oklahoma to view examples of education innovation. Members of the House and Senate Education committees will travel on February 1 to the Walton Rural Life Center near Wichita and the Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City. The trip is part of efforts by leaders of the two committees to inform new members about all aspects of education, including school finance and curriculum.

Kansas Parks Agency Sets 2013 Legislative Agenda

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — This year's legislative agenda for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism focuses heavily on boats and boating. The department says on its website its legislative initiatives this session include a proposal that would phase out the property tax on boats. The proposal calls for reducing the tax from 30 percent of appraised value to 20 percent in 2014, 10 percent in 2015 and zero in 2016. The agency also wants to bring laws on boating under the influence in line with those for driving motor vehicles, and require people 21 and older to take boater education before operating without supervision. Kansas currently exempts people 21 and older from having to take a boating course.

Kansas House Panel Endorses Union Fundraising Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has endorsed legislation to restrict political fundraising by public employee unions. The measure would prohibit groups representing teachers and government workers from automatically deducting money from members' paychecks to finance political activities. Thursday's 10-5 vote by the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee sent the bill to the full House for debate, possibly next week. The committee's action came a day after a Kansas Chamber of Commerce lobbyist caused a stir by telling lawmakers he wanted the bill to pass so the state, in his words, could "get rid of public sector unions." The lobbyist, Eric Stafford, said later that he had become frustrated while being questioned and said the real goal is to protect workers from being forced to finance causes they don't support.


Kansas Strip Club Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a Salina strip club faces possible prison time after admitting he underpaid his federal income taxes by more than $153,000. The U.S. Attorney's office says 49-year-old Kirk Roberts pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to three counts of filing false income tax returns. Prosecutors said Roberts failed to report $538,000 in cash receipts from customers and dancers at his Wild Wild West club from 2006 through 2008. Roberts could be sentenced to three years in prison on each of the three counts. The sentencing is scheduled for April 22.


Kansas Woman Sentenced to Life in Daughters' Rapes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas woman who arranged for a man to have sex with her underage daughters has been sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors say the woman drove her daughters to a Wichita hotel at least five times and watched as 49-year-old James Lamont Brown raped them. The girls were 11 and 12 during some of the encounters. Under a sentence imposed Friday, the woman won't be eligible for parole for 25 years. Brown is serving 17 life sentences without parole after being convicted in November on nine counts of rape and eight counts of aggravated human trafficking. The mother's name is not being published to protect the identity of her daughters.

Judge Sets Hearing for Former KU Ticket Consultant

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge wants a previous attorney for a former University of Kansas athletics consultant to testify before he rules on a request seeking a shorter sentence in a ticket-scalping conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said Friday he was surprised neither side called the former attorney for Thomas Ray Blubaugh at an evidentiary hearing last week. Blubaugh claims attorney Stephen Robinson did a poor job during his trial. Belot wants Robinson to testify at a February 11 hearing. Blubaugh is serving a 46-month sentence for conspiracy to defraud the United States. He is the husband of Charlette Blubaugh, former ticket director for Kansas athletics. They were among seven people convicted in a $2 million scheme involving the theft and sale of Jayhawk athletic tickets.

Kansas Companies Dislike Corps' River-Dredging Decision

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to not renew three dredging permits in the Kansas River has upset dredging companies, but found support from a conservation group. Laura Calwell of Friends of the Kaw says her group is pleased the corps is moving three of 10 dredge operations off the river because it will help the river. The group would like to see all dredging stopped on the Kaw. But David Penny is owner of Master's Dredging, which operates one of the three dredges affected by the corps' decision. He told The Lawrence Journal-World the decision puts him out of business because he was also denied a new permit for Missouri River dredging. The corps stopped dredging at those locations because the Kansas River is too low.


Missouri Education Board Head Resigns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The president of the Missouri State Board of Education has resigned after a second lawsuit accused him of using his position as a pastor to engage in sexual misconduct. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced Friday he accepted the Reverend Stan Archie's resignation. Nixon says the board needs "to have a clear focus without distraction from its mission." Archie leads Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Kansas City. He was appointed to Missouri's education board in 2006 and began serving as president this month. A former congregant alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that Archie made lewd comments about his sexual prowess after he began counseling the now 23-year-old plaintiff when she was 15. Archie also is accused of encouraging the teenage girl to act promiscuously and report her experiences to him.

Number of Passengers Drops at Wichita Airport

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Passenger numbers are in a holding pattern at the Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita. The airport's latest passenger figures show the number of passengers at the airport fell 4 percent in December, compared to the same month of 2011. Passenger numbers for all of 2012 dropped 2 percent. The Wichita Eagle reports that almost 116,000 passengers used the airport in December, compared with almost 121,000 in December 2011. In all of 2012, there were 1.51 million passengers, compared with 1.54 million in 2011. Airport officials say the numbers were down because Allegiant Air and Frontier stopped services to the airport. However, Southwest Airlines is expected to begin flying in Wichita on June 2, with daily flights to Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas.

Inspectors Find No Violations at New Wichita Clinic

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Inspectors say they have found no evidence of city building code violations at the former Wichita clinic of slain abortion provider George Tiller. Tom Stolz, director of the Metropolitan Area Building and Inspection Department, says inspectors looked at the facility both before and after the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue filed a written complaint. Stolz said Thursday the inspectors could not find any evidence of work done so far that would require city permits. The abortion rights group Trust Women has purchased the building and plans to open an abortion clinic. Construction plans were submitted to the city last week to add bathrooms and move a wall. Stolz said the department would issue a plan review Friday allowing the owners to apply for permits to perform those changes.

Sentencing Delayed for Attack at Topeka TV Station

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man convicted of attacking employees of WIBW-TV in Topeka will not be sentenced until February. Forty-nine-year-old Ray Anthony Miles was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for several convictions arising from a confrontation at the station last May. But sentencing was delayed until February 27 after Miles objected to having two convictions from Arkansas included on his criminal history. The convictions for making a terroristic threat and third-degree battery would make him eligible for longer sentences in the Topeka case. Miles attacked the station's employees after they told him they would not report on a problem he was having with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He punched, kicked and stabbed employees before they were able to take a knife away and subdue him.


Water Utilities Share $105M Herbicide Settlement

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ More than 1,000 communities forced to filter an agricultural herbicide out of their drinking water are welcoming their shares of a $105 million settlement with the weed-killer's maker. The payouts range from $5,000 to more than $3 million and are the result of a class-action lawsuit over Syngenta's atrazine. Research has shown that runoff can wash the chemical into rivers, where it can enter drinking water supplies. The lawsuit claimed atrazine could lead to health problems. The Swiss-based company says no one has ever been exposed to enough atrazine in water to affect their health. Syngenta has denied any liability or wrongdoing linked to the chemical, which it still sells. Recipients may spend the settlement payouts as they wish, much as states did with money from a 1998 tobacco settlement.

6 Suspects Charged in Death of Wichita Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Six suspects have been charged in the deaths of a 34-year-old Wichita man. Three of the men were charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of Shawn M. Lindsey. Three others were charged with kidnapping. Utility workers found Lindsey's body January 16 in a wooded area. Authorities believe he was killed Jan. 11 but have not discussed a motive of how Lindsey was killed. Bond was set at $1 million for 32-year-old Dang Sean, 37-year-old Justin Jones and 37-year-old Jason Jones, who are all charged with murder. The other suspects, who had bond set at $750,000, are 28-year-old Anthony Garza, 27-year-old Aaron Stricker and 32-year-old Phouthalaksa Phomphihak.

Hospital to Join with Physicians Group to Streamline, Cut Costs

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Hospital and a group of physicians say they plan to form a clinical organization, although details are not final. The hospital and KU Physicians announced Thursday they plan to eventually combine to improve their patients' experience. KU Physicians is an independent group that manages 18 different physician practices. Leaders of the two groups said the consolidation would streamline operations and reduce costs while helping patients. They also hope the effort will improve doctors' training and help fund medical education. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the details of the consolidation will be worked out through the middle of this year.

Women to Give Depositions in Kansas Sperm Donor Child Support Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A separated lesbian couple has been ordered to testify on behalf of a Topeka sperm donor being sued by the state for child support. Shawnee County District Court records show the court clerk's office issued subpoenas Wednesday for Angela Bauer and Jennifer L. Schreiner. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the women have been ordered to appear February 15th to give depositions to an attorney for William Marotta. Marotta says he signed a contract waiving his parental rights and responsibilities when he answered a sperm donor ad from the two women on Craigslist. But because no doctor was involved in the artificial insemination, the state sought to hold him financially responsible when the women split up and sought public assistance. An April evidentiary hearing is planned.

Missouri Judge Says HCA Owes Foundation $162M


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge has ordered Hospital Corp. of America to pay a Kansas City foundation $162 million for failing to spend enough on improvements at Kansas City area nonprofit hospitals HCA acquired nearly a decade ago. Jackson County (Missouri) Circuit Judge John Torrence ruled Thursday that HCA must pay $162 million to the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. The foundation filed suit in 2009 contending HCA hadn't spent the required $450 million on improvements to the Health Midwest hospitals that HCA bought in 2003 for about $1.1 billion. Torrence also appointed an auditor to determine how far HCA has progressed toward meeting its obligation of spending about $65 million a year to treat indigent patients. HCA says in a statement Friday the company has met its obligations and will appeal.

KC Medical School Considering Joplin for Satellite Campus

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences is considering a possible satellite campus in Joplin. Two people from the school were in Joplin last week to meet with city leaders and scout possible locations. Lisa Cambridge, spokeswoman for the school, says a decision will be made in April. Joplin officials say the medical school visited Missouri Southern State University and met with city and business leaders. The medical school has discussed opening a Joplin campus in the past. The talks were derailed in 2010 after a dispute involving the school's president and board. The Joplin Globe reports  that a developer told the city council that a medical school could add $50 million a year to Joplin's economy.

Police: Mice Identified as Culprits in Wichita Evidence Tampering

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The three bags of marijuana at the police storage facility in Wichita had been torn open. Some was missing. At first blush, it seemed a clear case of evidence tampering. Wichita police duly investigated and on Thursday they told reporters they've even identified some suspects. Well, sort of. Police Lieutenant Doug Nolte says mice chewed into the bags of marijuana from some 2009 cases, nested in it and ate some. Nolte says, "We've got some mice that are stoners." But he also says it's not that uncommon because marijuana has a strong odor that attracts animals. Police took photographs, resealed the bags and reweighed the evidence. An exterminator has been contacted. Meanwhile, the suspicious rodents remain at large. No charges have been filed.

Former KU Basketball Star Chalmers to Have Jersey Retired

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Mario Chalmers remembers the first time he gazed up to the rafters in Allen Fieldhouse and read the names on the jerseys hanging above one end. Wilt Chamberlain. Paul Pierce. Clyde Lovellette. He was at Late Night at the Phog, the University of Kansas's annual celebration kicking off fall practice, during his freshman year in 2004. Chalmers read the names and imagined himself having the kind of career that might one day land his name among the pantheon of Jayhawk stars. That day will come February 16, during halftime of KU's game against Texas. Chalmers, whose buzzer-beating shot helped deliver the Jayhawks the 2008 national title, will have his number 15 jersey raised to the rafters. It will join 27 other men and three women who have had their names enshrined in one of college basketball's historic venues.


Chiefs Announce Coaching Hires, Sign Wide Receiver

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have hired former Packers defensive back Al Harris to coach their secondary and Mark DeLeone as a quality control coach and also retained assistant strength coach Brent Salazar. They also announced the signing of wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker. Harris will begin his first full season as an assistant coach. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive back played 15 seasons for the Eagles, Packers, Dolphins and Rams, and has ties to new Chiefs coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey. DeLeone spent last season working for the Jets, while Salazar will begin his seventh season as the assistant strength coach in Kansas City. Shoemaker, an undrafted free agent in 2012, was released by Tampa Bay before training camp.


Kansas Revenue Secretary to Discuss Governor's Tax Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan is preparing to discuss Governor Sam Brownback's proposals to abolish two popular income tax deductions for homeowners and cancel a scheduled decline in the state sales tax. Jordan scheduled a Friday morning briefing with reporters. Brownback's plan would eliminate a projected $267 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year that starts July 1 while also allowing future reductions in income tax rates. The state has a budget gap because it cut income taxes aggressively last year. Brownback wants to eliminate income tax deductions for the property taxes Kansans pay on their homes and the interest charged on their mortgages. The governor also seeks to keep the sales tax at 6.3 percent instead of letting it drop to 5.7 percent in July, as state law now requires.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


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