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Regional Headlines for Friday, September 20, 2013


Kansas Unemployment Rate 5.9 Percent in August

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Despite a drop in the number of unemployment benefits being paid, the Kansas jobless rate remained stuck at 5.9 percent in August. The data released late Thursday by the Kansas Department of Labor shows that the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in August 2012. Labor Secretary Lana Gordon says the drop in unemployment claims from nearly 132,000 in July to 103,500 in August was an indication of an improving labor market. There were more than 140,000 unemployment benefits paid in August 2012. The unemployment rate has been below 6 percent since January 2012, dropping to as low as 5.5 percent from November 2012 through February 2013. A labor economist says private sector job growth did increase in August, but there were still signs of softness in the market.


Kansas Voter Rule hits Unaffiliated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A majority of the prospective Kansas voters whose registrations were put on hold after the state began enforcing a proof-of-citizenship law claim no political affiliation. An Associated Press computer analysis shows that 57 percent of the registrations put on hold since the law took effect in January were from people listing themselves as unaffiliated. Such residents make up only 30 percent of the state's 1.7 million registered voters. Thousands of Kansas residents have registrations on hold and cannot legally vote because they have yet to provide citizenship papers. AP analyzed a state list of registrations on hold as of Aug. 28. The analysis shows that since the rule took effect, such registrations have remained on hold on average for close to four months.


KS Members of U.S. House Vote to Cut Food Stamps

All four Kansas members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voted for a Republican plan that cuts the national food stamp program by $39 million. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Congressmen Kevin Yoder, Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp all supported the plan. It would result in nearly 4 million people losing their benefits under SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Republicans say there's too much waste, fraud and abuse in the program. The bill passed the House with only Republican support.


President Obama to Visit KC Area Auto Plant

President Obama will be in the Kansas City area today (FRI). He's visiting an auto plant that makes the Ford F-150 pickup. The president wants to highlight the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry.


Governor to Host 2nd KS Obesity Summit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback and top state health officials will host the 2nd annual Kansas Obesity Summit on Sept. 30 in Topeka. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the focus will be on identifying the best strategies to address rising obesity rates, and on the health and economic effects of obesity. Topics include ways to make physical activity part of Kansans' daily life. Speakers will also address an expanded role for employers, insurers and health care professionals in preventing obesity. Brownback held a weight-loss challenge for state and local government employees from January through May as part of his efforts to encourage Kansas residents to get healthier.


Donation Will Keep Jayhawk Display at KU Union

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 1,000-piece collection of Jayhawk memorabilia will stay at the University of Kansas Union. James and Mary Ascher of Overland Park, Kan., have donated $130,000 to the KU Endowment so the union can buy the collection. Bud Jennings began collecting the memorabilia in 1939. He donated it to the union four years ago, saying he hoped someone would buy it to help fund his retirement. But when no offers came in, the union said it would auction off the pieces or sell them on eBay. 6News Lawrence reports the Aschers said they wanted to help Jennings while also keeping the collection on the Kansas campus. Kansas spokesman Mike Reid says now that the collection will be permanent, some improvements will be made to the presentation.


City Gives Cabbies Permission to Charge Vomit Fees

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan city commissioners have given cab drivers permission to charge a $75 fee to customers who vomit or otherwise soil their vehicles. The city regulates taxi charges and a cleaning fee previously was not an approved charge. Local taxi service owner Richard Gibson says the new fee will cover cleaning and the amount of time a cab is out of service. The Manhattan Mercury reports Gibson brought the proposal to the city commission, which unanimously approved the fee Tuesday. He says customers throwing up are not a big problem most of the time, though it gets bigger on Fake Patty's Day and New Year's Eve. Gibson says cab companies would be a little more understanding if most of the vomiting wasn't caused by overindulgence in alcohol.


Christians Gather in KS to Discuss Homosexuality

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old Wichita man who gained attention with an online lecture about the Bible and homosexuality has gathered 50 people from Christian churches around the country for a program on his perspective that the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality as a sexual orientation. Matthew Vines says liberal and moderate Christian churches have adopted more gay-friendly stances, but conservative churches remain steadfast against homosexuality. Vines hopes to change that with his message that the Bible doesn't say same-sex orientation is a sin. In 2012 Vines posted his presentation on the topic online. Since then the video has garnered about 600,000 views and been translated into several languages. He says this week's three-day conference in Prairie Village is aimed at giving participants tools to change the minds of conservative Christians about same-sex relationships.


Man Charged in Death of MO Woman Found in Box

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A 51-year-old man is accused of causing the death of a St. Joseph woman and dumping her body in rural Platte County inside a box. The St. Joseph News-Press reports Martin Lee Williams was charged Thursday in Buchanan County with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and abandoning a corpse. He was jailed on a $50,000 bond and did not yet have a lawyer. The makeshift wooden box containing the body of 35-year-old Tangela Fisher was found Sept. 6 in a creek bed. Investigators said Fisher had become unresponsive after Williams injected her with an illegal drug. Police also said Williams put Fisher in the box and took it to Platte County. The News-Press reports Williams was on supervised parole from Kansas and was barred from living in that state.


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