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Regional Headlines for Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kansas House, Senate Set to Debate Budget Proposals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Republican legislative leaders are expressing confidence in the ability of the House and Senate to pass a balanced budget that reflects additional cuts to Kansas tax rates. Both chambers are preparing to debate their budget bills. The bills outline how they propose to spend some $14 billion, including $6 billion from the state general fund. Legislators built the budgets on tax plans that would make further reductions in income tax rates, though the House version doesn't contemplate keeping in place a 2010 increase in the state sales tax rate scheduled to expire on July 1. The Senate keeps the sales tax rate at 6.3 percent, instead of allowing it to slip to 5.7 percent. 


Member of School Advocacy Group Marches to Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A member of a group that advocates for Kansas schools is walking 60 miles to Topeka to talk to lawmakers about improved funding. Thirty-five-year-old Heather Ousley of Merriam began walking Saturday morning and plans to arrive in Topeka Monday night. Teacher's union members have invited her to attand several legislative sessions Tuesday. The mother of three is a member of Game on For Kansas Schools. She's angered by several legislative proposals, including one to amend the Kansas Constitution to give the Legislature sole authority to determine funding for public schools, thereby cutting out the courts. The proposal comes after a Shawnee County District Court ruled in January that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional and ordered legislators to boost spending. Proposal backers say the court overstepped its boundaries. 


Kansas State Part of Group Seeking Drone Test Site

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas State University is part of a team of three universities and multiple businesses vying to be picked by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of six test sites for drones. Kurt Barnhart of Kansas State University says the team includes members outside Kansas and that they envision the test site including multiple locations. In Kansas, the drones would be tested primarily in airspace near Salina. Barnhart declined to provide other details, including the names of its university and business partners, saying providing too much information could put the team at a competitive disadvantage. The FAA made a request for proposals last month. The agency is required to develop sites where civilian and military drones can be tested in preparation for integration into U.S. airspace that's currently limited to manned aircraft. 


Basketball:  KU wins 9th Big 12 Championship; ESU in Division II Regional Championship Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Nothing was going to keep Eric and Faith DeVault from watching the Big 12 title game. Not even their own wedding. The couple was married Saturday morning at their family's house in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park and received two tickets to see Kansas play Kansas State from their groomsmen. So naturally, they hurried right over to the Sprint Center - still wearing their tuxedo and wedding gown - to watch the game. Jeff Withey had 17 points and nine rebounds, Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe added 12 points each, and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks pounded the Number 11 Wildcats 70-54 last night to win their ninth Big 12 tournament championship. Their win yesterday gives them an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday begins this evening where KU and K-State will find out their seedings for March Madness - which begins on Tuesday. 

In other basketball news, Emporia State advances to the NCAA Division II central regional championship game on Monday after defeating Minnesota State yesterday 69-67. They face Augustana on Monday at 7 p.m. for the championship title. 

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