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Regional Headlines for Sunday, May 20, 2012






Riley County Police Say Soldier Found Dead in Home

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police have been investigating the death of 24-year-old Fort Riley soldier. Police said Saturday that they received an emergency call from a Manhattan home Friday about a deceased male. Emergency crews said the soldier was dead when they arrived. Police said they don't suspect foul play but than an autopsy was being performed.The soldier's identity was being withheld Saturday evening.


Kansas Lawmakers Unable to Find Smaller Tax Cut Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is headed toward massive income tax cuts because of disagreements between conservative Republican Governor Sam Brownback and the state Senate's moderate GOP leaders. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene (SHUH'-reen) Jones-Sontag said Saturday evening that the governor's office was no longer involved in talks with legislators about taxes. She said Brownback plans a Monday afternoon ceremony in Wichita to sign legislation to cut individual income tax rates for 2013 and eliminate income taxes for 191,000 businesses. Many lawmakers fear the income tax cuts will cause big budget problems. Brownback pushed legislators to cut taxes to stimulate economic growth. He publicly embraced the aggressive package. But he hadn't ruled out another package emerging, because projections show the cuts he's preparing to sign would create a budget shortfall by July 2014.


Kansas Legislators Strike Deal on Higher Ed Tweaks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Negotiators have struck a deal to make tweaks to Kansas higher education laws to provide more tools for students who struggle to earn their degrees. The changes agreed to Saturday would require state universities to work with students admitted under exceptions to the state's qualified admissions standards. Those students would be required to develop an "individual plan for success" with an academic adviser and other university staff. The goal is to help students who may have not been prepared for the rigors of college to develop good study habits and strategies to make the grade and earn their degree. The proposal is part of a conference committee report that must be passed by the House and Senate before becoming law. The changes would take effect starting in 2014.


Kansas Governor May Seek to Intervene in Remap Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he may try to get involved in a federal lawsuit over the Kansas Legislature's failure to redraw the state's political boundaries. The conservative Republican governor told reporters Saturday that he is still deciding whether he'll file a request for permission to intervene in U.S. District Court. Interested parties have until Monday to file such requests. Nine other people have filed such requests, including House Minority Leader Paul Davis and Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Tim Owens, a moderate Overland Park Republican. Three federal judges plan to begin a hearing on the lawsuit May 29th. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee member from Olathe. The defendant is Secretary of State Kris Kobach.


Kansas House Approves Congress Redistricting Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a plan favored by conservative Republican leaders for redrawing the state's four congressional districts. The House's 64-51 vote Saturday sent the measure to the Senate. Senate President Steve Morris, a moderate Hugoton Republican, said he won't block a vote, but he's skeptical that the plan can pass his chamber. A key feature of the map is how it splits Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas, between two districts. The city is now divided between the 2nd District of eastern Kansas and the 3rd District, centered on the Kansas City metropolitan area. The proposal would keep part of Lawrence in the 2nd but put parts into 1st District with rural communities in central and western Kansas that are 400 miles or more away.


Kansas Lawmaker Wants into Redistricting Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator at the center of a contentious dispute over redistricting wants to participate in a federal lawsuit over lawmakers' failure so far to redraw the state's political boundaries. Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Tim Owens filed a request Saturday for permission to intervene in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Owens' committee handles redistricting issues. Owens, an Overland Park Republican, was joined in his request by fellow Overland Park residents John Henderson and Bernie Shaner and Ron Wimmer, for school superintendent in Olathe. Three federal judges are scheduled to begin hearing the lawsuit May 29th. Nine people have asked to intervene. The case was filed by Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee member from Olathe. The defendant is Secretary of State Kris Kobach.


Kansas Senate's Majority Leader Resting at Home

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler is resting at home after being hospitalized for high blood pressure. Emler's office confirmed Saturday that the Lindsborg Republican would not return to the Statehouse during the weekend after being absent since Wednesday afternoon. He was released Friday night from the Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka. Emler, a 62-year-old attorney, was first elected to the Senate in 2000 and is serving his third term. He's in his second year as majority leader. He previously served as chairman of the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee.


Google's KCK Launch Faces Another Delay

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Google appears to be delaying the launch of its promised ultra-fast Internet service in Kansas City, Kansas. The company announced more than a year ago that it was giving Kansas City, Kansas, Google Fiber, and that residents there could start signing up in late 2011. Kansas City, Kansas was chosen from among 1,100 communities vying for the company to test its network. The search giant plans to stretch fiberoptic cables directly to homes and offer Internet speeds 100 times faster than common broadband. But that timetable changed recently when Google said it would run fiberoptic lines to homes by the end of June. The Kansas City Star reports that the company says now that's pushed back to sometime this summer, and Google isn't elaborating or offering any explanations.


Former NE Kansas Postmaster Convicted of Embezzling

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The former postmaster of a northeast Kansas post office has been convicted of embezzling. Federal prosecutors said in a release Friday that a jury found 50-year-old Terry Morris of Holton guilty on two counts of making a false writing and one count of embezzling public funds. Morris was the former post master for the post office in Whiting, a town of about 200 residents. Prosecutors said postal investigators found a shortage of more than $7,000 during an audit of the Whiting post office.


Grain Company Races to Open Western Kansas Elevator

RIVERSIDE, Kan. (AP) — A new grain elevator is scheduled to open soon in west-central Kansas, just in time for the unusually early start of the wheat harvest. The Hays Daily News reports the elevator near the Ness County ghost-town site of Riverside will hold 400,000 bushels in its twin towers. Gary Gantz's company D.E. Bondurant Grain is building the elevator. He had hoped to stage a grand opening. But with the wheat harvest expected to begin within days in southern Kansas, his contractors are scrambling to get the elevator operational, perhaps by Friday. Gantz says the elevator will serve farmers in a major growing area. He says the closest elevators are located 11 miles north in Ness City and 15 miles south in Jetmore.


Defense Lawyer Wants Off Hutchinson Murder Case

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An attorney representing one of the men charged with killing a Hutchinson woman last year says he wants off the case. Donald Snapp was appointed to represent 49-year-old Bill Joe Craig Junior, who is charged in the 2011 shooting death of Jennifer Heckel. The Hutchinson News reports that Snapp has filed a motion asking Reno County District Judge Tim Chambers to allow him to withdraw from the case, citing "numerous" conflicts of interest that have arisen. Craig's trial is set for July 17th. Chambers has scheduled a hearing on Snapp's request for May 25th. Craig and Charles Christopher Logsdon are charged with first-degree murder and several other charges in Heckel's death. They're jailed on $500,000 bonds each in the case.


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