Kansas Senate Majority Leader Won't Try to Keep Post
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler says he won't run again for the leadership position after this year's elections. Chances that Emler could persuade fellow Republicans to keep him as majority leader diminished after August's primaries. Conservatives unseated eight other moderate GOP incumbents, including Senate President Steve Morris, of Hugoton. Republican senators and senators-elect are to meet December 3 to pick their leadership for the next four years. Emler became majority leader in January 2011 after Derek Schmidt took office as attorney general. Emler says he had always planned to hold the job only two years. The majority leader is the Senate's second-highest position, behind the president, and sets the chamber's daily debate calendar. Emler is an attorney from Lindsborg. He was first elected to the Senate in 1996.
UPDATE: Kansas Officials: Incidents Rare at Women's Prison
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say incidents of sexual misconduct against inmates at the state's prison for women have been rare since the start of 2011. Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts said Friday he was surprised by a finding from the U.S. Justice Department that characterized such problems at the Topeka Correctional Facility as rampant. The finding was contained in a letter Thursday to Governor Sam Brownback. Brownback said Friday the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division didn't take into account what he called aggressive steps taken since January 2011 to address the problems. The prison's warden, Hope Cooper, said since the start of 2011, there has been only one confirmed case of inmate-on-inmate abuse at the prison and none involving staff against inmates. Justice Department officials didn't immediately comment Friday.
Kansas Arts Foundation Raises $105,000 in First Year
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The private organization formed during controversy last year over state funding for the arts in Kansas has raised nearly $105,000, but made no allocations to local arts groups. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that documents submitted to the IRS show the Kansas Arts Foundation had 2011 revenue of $104,900. The foundation was formed before Governor Sam Brownback vetoed legislation last year that allocated $700,000 in state aid to the Kansas Arts Commission, making Kansas the only state in the nation without a state-funded arts organization. The records show the foundation had $16,800 in operating expenses, with almost $15,000 spent on receptions. The IRS documents show the foundation made no donations tied to the arts. Foundation president Linda Browning Weis says it took a lot of work to set up the foundation, which is currently visiting with communities.
Kansas AG Touts Mortgage Settlement for Residents
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt says Kansas homeowners have realized $8.4 million in mortgage assistance as a result of a nationwide settlement reached in March. Forty-nine states and the federal government reached the settlement with five mortgage service companies over allegations of illegal conduct. Schmidt said Friday the first report on the settlement's effects shows 315 Kansas homeowners received assistance, with the average mortgage relief of nearly $26,800. Schmidt says the relief has come in the form of loan modifications, short sales, refinancing and other technical adjustments.
Kansas Files Supporting Legal Brief in MD Concealed Carry Case
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the state has joined 13 other states supporting a lawsuit over Maryland's restrictions on concealed-carry permits. Schmidt said Thursday that he added Kansas to a friend-of-the-court brief filed in an appeals court case being heard in Virginia. The court is reviewing a Maryland district court ruling that struck down a requirement that residents must give a reason for needing a concealed-carry permit. Schmidt says the government does not have the right to ask citizens why they want a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Kansas is one of 39 states with a concealed-carry law that doesn't require a reason for needing the license. The Wichita Eagle reports 10 states, including Maryland, have more restricted concealed-carry laws.
Brownback Highlights Kansas Preparedness Events
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and other state officials are reminding residents to prepare for disasters and emergencies as drought conditions create a fire risk. The governor signed a proclamation Friday declaring September "Emergency Preparedness Month in Kansas." He said winter would be arriving in few short months bringing the threat of ice and snow to Kansas. On Monday, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management will sponsor "Emergency Preparedness Day" at the State Fair in Hutchinson. Officials recommend preparing home emergency kits that include water, medicines, flashlights, batteries, copies of important personal documents and nonperishable food. Major General Lee Tafanelli, the state's emergency management director, says the kits should be checked frequently to keep supplies fresh.
KS Delegation Touts Conservative Primary Successes as Model
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo says conservative victories in the state are a model for the rest of the nation. Pompeo and other members of the state's all-Republican congressional delegation appeared Friday at a joint meeting of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. Campaign money from the two business groups helped conservative Republicans defeat moderate members of the GOP in last month's Kansas primaries. Pompeo says the nation faces a clear choice in the November elections, much as Kansas faced in the Republican primary. Several other members of the delegation agreed with Pompeo that Kansas is a showcase for Republican conservatism.
Lawrence Man Reports $10K Missing from Mail
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man's complaint about money getting lost in the mail didn't quite get the result he hoped for. Federal prosecutors say the Lawrence man told postal authorities that he mailed about $10,000 to California, but the cash somehow went astray. According to court documents, investigators learned the man was allegedly buying marijuana from California by mail, then distributing it in Kansas. State and federal agents raided his home in April and reported finding about $7,100, plus more than a pound of marijuana and drug sales paraphernalia. Federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit Thursday seeking forfeiture of the money agents found in the home. The Associated Press is not naming the man because he has not been criminally charged.
Central Kansas Man Sentenced for Killing Wife
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old central Kansas man has been sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison for killing his wife and attempting to kill his sister-in-law. The Salina Journal reported that Judge Rene Young heard emotional statements from the victims' families and friends Friday before imposing the maximum sentence against Michael Andrew Paulson. Paulson was convicted in July of second-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Valerie Paulson. He also was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder for injuring his sister-in-law, Jessie Putman. Prosecutors said Paulson was facing the prospect of divorce and hid with a knife in the couple's Assaria home as his wife was returning to pick up her belongings.
Bishop's Conviction Intensifies Calls to Step Down
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Parishioners in Missouri and observers across the U.S. say Bishop Robert Finn should resign after being convicted of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to the state. Supporters say Finn made a mistake, but not one that should result in him being booted from his role as leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Finn was found guilty Thursday of one misdemeanor charge and sentenced to two years of probation. If he abides by all the conditions, the conviction will be removed from his record in 2014. Congregation member Patricia Rotert says Finn has lost his credibility and should step down. Fellow church member Bruce Burkhart says booting Finn would not make children safer. He says adequate safeguards are in place to protect children from abusive priests.
Kansas State Fair Opens with Higher Ticket Prices
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The treats, rides and entertainment are back, as the Kansas State Fair opens its 100th annual fair. The fair begins on Friday in Hutchinson. For the first time in four years, admission prices have gone up, with a regular adult ticket going from $8 to $10. Fair general manager Denny Stoecklein says the fair doesn't get outside support and needed to raise prices because expenses have increased. He noted the state is nearly $1.5 million behind in payments it is supposed to make to maintain the fairgrounds and its building. KWCH reports the Fair Board has tried to bring more free entertainment to this year's event to give patrons more reasons to attend.
PETA: Video Screening Inside Tent at Kansas Fair
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An animal rights group is citing a federal judge's order as it makes plans to show a controversial video inside a tent at the Kansas State Fair. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Thursday it will also give away free copies of its video "Glass Walls" at the fair opening Friday. The video contains footage taken undercover of animals being slaughtered and abused at factory farms. PETA went to court after fair officials said the group would have to shield people passing its booth from being exposed to photos and video of animal abuse. The judge ruled officials acted reasonably in imposing restrictions that would still allow fairgoers to see the video if they desire.
KC Law Firm Owner Faces Murder, Forgery Counts
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a Kansas City law firm has been indicted on charges of first-degree murder and forgery. The Jackson County sheriff's office says 44-year-old Susan Elizabeth Van Note, of suburban Lee's Summit, was arrested Friday. She was expected to be extradited to Camden County in central Missouri. Van Note's father, William Van Note, and his friend Sharon Dickson were shot and killed in October 2010 at the father's Camden County home on the Lake of the Ozarks. Those killings have remained under investigation. Calls to the Camden County prosecutor and sheriff were not immediately returned. A recording at Susan Van Note's law office said she was volunteering Friday in juvenile court. Authorities said two other suspects were arrested in Johnson County, Kansas on suspicion of second-degree murder and forgery.
Hawker Beechcraft, City of Wichita Strike Land Deal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft has asked the bankruptcy court for permission to sell a strip of highway frontage to the city of Wichita for $2.9 million. The court set a September 27 hearing date to consider the request. Court documents filed Thursday state that the city plans to use the land for a highway expansion project. Hawker says the sale will not affect the value of remaining property. The Wichita-based plane maker fears the city may initiate eminent domain proceedings that might bring in less money than a private sale.
Kansas Highways Reopen after Fatal Collision
NORTONVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol has released details of a fatal collision that closed two highways in the northeastern part of the state for several hours. The patrol says the crash happened around 9 am Thursday when a pickup truck pulled from a stop sign into the path of a tractor-trailer. The collision killed the driver of the pickup, 72-year-old Marcia Rygaard of Effingham. The crash occurred at the intersection of U.S. 59 and Kansas 116, north of the Atchison County town of Nortonville. Highways leading into the town were closed for about five hours while officers investigated the crash.
Smithsonian Institution Exhibit Comes to Kansas
LYONS, Kan. (AP) — A Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit honoring American workers is ready for viewing at a museum in Lyons. The exhibit, "The Way We Worked," traces changes throughout history that affected the workforce. Six sites across Kansas will eventually exhibit the show. The Hutchinson News reports the national exhibit is accompanied at each site by an exhibit about local workers. The display at the Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons was set up Thursday and is ready for viewing. A grand opening for the display is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The exhibits are on display across the state until June 23, 2013.
Final Bid for Historic Kansas Ranch: $8.5 Million
ULYSSES, Kan. (AP) — Bidding for a western Kansas ranch that contains historically significant chalk formations has ended with a high bid of $8.5 million. But that doesn't mean the sale of the 12,900-acre Pyramid Ranch in Gove County is final. Auctioneer Mark Faulkner, whose Ulysses firm handled the sale, says the owners of the ranch will now decide whether to accept the bid or negotiate with the prospective buyer. The Hays Daily News reports the $8.5 million bid -- almost $658 an acre -- was submitted about noon Wednesday. The ranch contains Monument Rocks, a National Natural Landmark, as well as other historic and cultural artifacts. The buyer's name is expected to be made public once a contract is signed or a deed filed in Gove County.
Farmers Hopeful for Soybean Crops Despite Drought
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The worst drought in the United States in decades may already have done its damage to the nation's corn crop now being harvested. But growers say their soybeans may turn out far better. Near Coulterville in southwestern Illinois, Dean Campbell concedes that Tropical Storm Isaac's remnants "blessed us with some water." But that won't save his 900-acre corn crop that's averaging just about one-tenth of his normal yield with harvesting less than halfway done. But he says he expects "a reasonable crop" from his still-maturing 1,100 acres of soybeans. Near Corning, Iowa, Ray Gaesser got no precipitation from Isaac for his 3,000 acres of corn, which hepredicts will produce about 60 to 70 percent of normal. But he believes his soybeans could yield some 90 percent of what he's typically get.
Great Bend Resets July 4 Fireworks Show
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Fourth of July fireworks show in Great Bend will go on after all — in late September. The Great Bend Tribune reports the show will be staged the night of September 22nd, following a day of World War Two reenactments and a military tribute at the Great Bend Airport Airfest. Great Bend was among many towns in drought-stricken Kansas that decided not to risk fireworks on July 4th. The area remains dry, but Fire Chief Mike Napolitano gave the green light for the September 22nd show. The airport sits next to farm fields, but Napolitano says the farmer wants the show to go on. He's clearing parts of his land to create firebreaks, and the city will wet down the grounds and have two fire trucks on hand.
Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty in Tax Fraud Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An Overland Park woman pleaded guilty to participating in a national tax fraud scheme that brought conspirators more than $3.5 million. Seventy-one-year-old Shirley J. Oyer, owner of ABC Seamless Siding in Kansas City, pleaded guilty Thursday to writing false claims for tax refunds. The government says the scheme started in Kansas City and spread across the country. Fourteen conspirators are accused of seeking more than $96 million in fraudulent returns, and received more than $3.5 million. Prosecutors say Oyer promoted the scheme and recruited at least a dozen people to participate. Her plea agreement calls for six months in prison and six months of home detention followed by three years of supervised release. The Kansas City Star reports six co-defendants have also pleaded guilty.
KC District Sets Up Hotline for Google Questions
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Public Schools has set up a hotline to answer questions about a Google Fiber project. The hotline will operate from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm Friday in advance of Sunday's deadline to sign up for the service. Neighborhood must meet pre-registration thresholds to qualify for service and get free Internet in their schools. The percentages vary based on neighborhoods' density and the difficulty of wiring them. But concerns have been raised because poorer areas are having a tougher time hitting Google's goals. The Kansas City district says in a news release that it isn't endorsing the project. But it adds that hotline volunteers will connect callers with people who can explain how the project could "support schools." The hotline number is 816-418-NEWS (6397).
NFL Starting to Ditch Old Paper Playbooks
DENVER (AP) — The days of lugging around 500-page playbooks and stacks of DVDs are over for half of the players in the NFL. Their teams have gone digital, replacing the old-fashioned thick paper playbooks with iPads that put everything from X's and O's to notifications, scouting reports and video cut-ups at their fingertips. The number of teams using iPads for playbooks and game film has increased this season from two to 14. In the NFC, the Bears, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Redskins and Seahawks are using the tablets as are the Bengals, Broncos, Chargers, Colts, Dolphins and Ravens in the AFC. Other teams, such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Titans and Saints, are using iPads for some things but haven't completely abandoned their old three-ring binders.
Governor: Feds Don't Cite Fixes at KS Women's Prison
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says federal officials who've criticized the state's prison for women aren't considering aggressive steps taken to combat sexual misconduct against inmates. Brownback said Friday that he has full confidence in his corrections secretary and the management at the Topeka Correctional Facility. A letter Thursday from the U.S. Justice Department said sexual misconduct against female inmates is rampant at the prison. But Brownback said the Justice Department hasn't been in contact with state officials since May 2011. He said his administration has boosted staffing and installed dozens of new security cameras. He said he wants to meet personally with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Also, his office released a February 2012 letter from the Justice Department's own Federal Bureau of Prisons, citing no deficiencies at the state prison.
**this story has been updated. Please see above.