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Regional Headlines for Sunday, April 7, 2013


'At Fertilization' Declaration Gives Some Pause

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion rights advocates in Kansas are worried that the legislature's approval of a declaration that life begins "at fertilization" will inspire new attempts to prevent the procedure. The Kansas Legislature sent the sweeping anti-abortion bill to Governor Sam Brownback late Friday that also blocks potential tax breaks for abortion providers and outlaws sex-selective abortions. Supporters of the measure said the language is no more than a statement of principle. But people on both sides of the debate acknowledge that the wording could prove helpful to abortion opponents over time. Language similar to Kansas' "at fertilization" wording is found in other states' laws, and wording regarding abortion is not being changed in the Kansas Constitution. Experts say there have been no high-profile court challenges to similar language in other states.


Kansas Lawmakers Approve Adult Stem Cell Center

(Information in the following story is from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have approved a bill that would require the University of Kansas Medical Center to start a center to promote research and use of adult stem cells, cord blood and related stem cell therapies. The House and Senate sent the legislation to Governor Sam Brownback on Friday. The bill would prohibit the center from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue. It also would require the medical center to appoint a director of the center to oversee patient treatment and research. However, the bill does not include any state funding for the proposed center. The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center would require $1.1 million to renovate a lab and hire staff and $750,000 annually after that.


Lawmakers Approve Partial Merger of Turnpike, KDOT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers have approved a partial merger of the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation. The bill now heads to Governor Sam Brownback, who included the merger in his proposed budget. Supporters say the consolidation will save the state money. But critics feared the proposal was an attempt to move toll money from the turnpike to the highway department. The concern was the highway department has traditionally had money taken from it to fund other state operations. Lawmakers changed the legislation to essentially restrict toll money to turnpike roads and bridges. Critics also said the legislation was aimed at getting rid of the Democrat that oversees the Kansas Turnpike — something Brownback's office denied. Under the bill, the secretary of transportation will be in charge of the KTA.


Attorneys Seeking Settlement in Kansas School Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court ordered mediation weeks ago in a school funding lawsuit, but there's no sense that the lawyers involved are making progress toward a settlement. The talks began in recent weeks to resolve the dispute over whether the state is fulfilling its obligation to adequately fund public schools. A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court ruled in favor of parents and school districts who sued the state. An appeal is set to be heard in October by the state Supreme Court. Meanwhile, attorneys for the state and parents are under a gag order not to discuss the talks' progress. Legislators have been working on several school finance provisions, which the attorneys for parents and school districts say do little to improve the state's case.


Police: Man Breaks into Kansas Legislator's Office

(Information in the following story is from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 30-year-old man accused of breaking into the Statehouse office of Republican Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence. Sloan joked before the full House Friday morning that "none of my state secrets were stolen." He quipped that the suspect probably thought he was breaking into the office of a more influential legislator. A Capitol Police Department spokesman says the suspect was found around 1:29 a.m. Friday on top of Sloan's desk rambling nonsensically. The man was arrested without incident on suspicion of criminal damage to property and criminal trespassing. Nothing was stolen from the first-floor office. Police think the break-in was a random act and that there was no connection between the suspect and Sloan.


Charges Reduced Against Former Kansas Cadet Leader

(Information in the following story is from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal,

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Saline County judge has dropped several charges filed against a former cadet leader accused of sexually assaulting a younger cadet at an embattled Kansas military school. Judge Patrick Thompson made the decision Friday after a preliminary hearing for 18-year-old David Burke of McLean, Virginia. Burke had been charged with seven counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of attempted aggravated criminal sodomy. But The Salina Journal reports that Thompson found there was only enough evidence to try him on three of the aggravated sexual battery counts. The case against Burke stems from incidents alleged to have occurred last October at St. John's Military School in Salina. A lawyer for Burke has said his client denies anything happened in the way of a felony.


Kansas Horse Owner Faces Animal Cruelty Charges

(Information in the following story is from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News,

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas woman faces a new animal cruelty charge after three dead horses were found on her property and 10 others were rescued. Sixty-one-year-old Lindasue Adams already was awaiting trial on two animal cruelty charges alleging she failed to care for her horses in 2009 and 2011. The latest animal cruelty charge was filed after officers went to her property last month. Adams is supposed to have only four horses because she has four acres. And a civil lawsuit seeking to limit her to four horses already had been filed. Now, Reno County  Counselor Joe O'Sullivan is asking a judge to prohibit her from owning horses. He says Adams has the "best of intentions" but has no means of caring for the horses.



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