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Regional Headlines for Sunday, January 19, 2014


Feds Deny KS Bid to Tighten Voter Registration

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found that heightened proof-of-citizenship requirements would likely hinder eligible citizens from voting in federal elections.

The finding came in a ruling late Friday that denied requests from Kansas, Arizona and Georgia to modify the federal registration form for their residents.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the states now will press their constitutional claims before the U.S. District Court in Kansas in a pending lawsuit. He contends the decision is unconstitutional because it prevents the states from securing their voter rolls.

A lawyer for Project Vote calls the ruling a significant decision that underscores the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act to remove barriers. It contends that requiring documentary proof of citizenship prevents eligible citizens from registering to vote and voting.


KanCare Shift Expected Feb. 1

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration says it expects the state to get federal permission soon to add long-term services for Kansans with developmental disabilities to KanCare on February 1st.

Those services were taken out of the Medicaid managed care plan that began January 1st after intense lobbying by disability advocacy groups.

The administration still hasn't gotten authorization from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But administration officials said Friday they're making "substantial progress" in discussions with the federal agency and expects the services to be added by the beginning of next month.

KanCare is Brownback's plan to transfer administration of most of the state's services to three private companies.


KS Legislators Mull Death Penalty Appeal Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of the Kansas death penalty law are pushing a measure that would shorten the time inmates have to file their appeals through the Kansas Supreme Court, a move borne out of frustration by some who want the state to get on with carrying out the sentences in a timely manner.

Kansas has nine men under sentence of death since the law took effect in 1994, but no one has completed the appeals process at the state level, putting the date of the state's first execution years in the future.

Legislators question why the process is still taking so long, pointing to the more than two dozen extensions granted by the Kansas Supreme Court for attorneys representing Wichita murder defendants Jonathan and Reginald Carr.


Kansans in Congress Split on NBAF Funding Bill

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Members of the Kansas congressional delegation have split their votes on a federal spending bill that includes $404 million for building the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan.

The $404 million was part of the $1.1 trillion appropriations bill to fund federal government operations through the federal fiscal year that ends September 30th. The bill passed the House and Senate this week.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports in the Senate, Senator Jerry Moran voted yes, and Senator Pat Roberts voted against the measure.

In the House, Representatives Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder voted for the bill. Representatives Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo of the Wichita area voted against the bill

The facility's main purpose would be to test and monitor infectious animal-borne diseases and biological threats.


KC City Council Approves Plan to Seek Voter Approval on Sreetcar Line

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Most Kansas City voters are expected to be asked this year to approve a new taxing district and to increase taxes to help pay for an expanded streetcar system.

The Kansas City Star reports members of the City Council's joint finance and transportation committee approved plans Thursday to seek funding for possibly 10 miles of streetcar lines beyond the two-mile starter route already in the works.

Voters who live south of the Missouri River likely will be asked to approve the bigger taxing district in August, and to OK a tax increase in November.

Attorney Doug Stone told the committee the streetcar extensions could reach $400 million, so the city needs to take steps now that will allow it to seek federal funding and other financing sources.


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