Federal Contraception Mandate Cited in Debate over KS Religious Freedoms Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a Kansas bill described as an attempt to protect religious freedoms are now citing President Barack Obama's ill-fated mandate on insurance coverage of contraceptives as a reason for the measure. But gay rights advocates testified today that the real motives behind the bill before the House Judiciary Committee remain the same. They say it's an attempt to nullify local ordinances and university policies barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The committee took no action but is expected to vote on the measure by Monday. Supporters said President Obama's attempt to require that even religious organizations offer their employees coverage for birth control shows the bill is needed. But opponents said the measure will inspire lawsuits against policies protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Reapportionment Committee Chairman Draws Criticism for Proposed Senate Redistricting Map
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A plan for redrawing Kansas Senate districts is drawing strong protests because of how it was drafted by the Reapportionment Committee chairman. Chairman Tim Owens adjusted political boundaries so his challenger in the Republican primary is in a different district. The plan from Owens, an Overland Park Republican, also helps Senator Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick, a fellow moderate Republican. She is chairwoman of the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee. McGinn's conservative primary challenger would be moved to a district with two incumbent conservative GOP senators. Owens said Tuesday that his proposal is only a starting point for his committee's discussions. He says he didn't draw district lines with any particular incumbents or challenger in mind. But conservative Republicans are suspicious, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce condemned Owens's plan.
KS House GOP Tax Plan Would Take Money from Transportation Projects
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A plan from Kansas House Republicans would divert $320 million from transportation projects to replace revenue lost by a cut in state income taxes. A Department of Kansas Transportation spokesman says highway, rail and air projects could be delayed or shelved if the proposal is approved. St. Marys Republican Representative Richard Carlson, chairman of the House Tax Committee, says financing for the transportation department would stay the same in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, before climbing again in 2016. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the GOP plan is an alternative to one proposed by Governor Sam Brownback, who wants to extend a 0.6 percent increase in statewide sales tax. The House plan would let the sales tax fall back to 5.7 percent and replace the revenue with KDOT money.
KS Officials Regroup after NBAF Budget Surprise
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas officials are regrouping after President Barack Obama submitted a budget that eliminates funding for the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility near Manhattan.
The $650 million lab is to be built near Kansas State University and replace an aging facility at Plum Island, New York. Kansas officials said today they're uncertain when the administration changed its mind on the project, but they will be seeking answers. The Department of Homeland Security awarded Kansas the project in 2010 as part of an effort to improve biosecurity research of plant and animal diseases. Obama's budget calls for the agency to reassess the need for the facility and whether there are alternatives. Kansas officials say the only thing that has changed is the fiscal climate in Washington, not the need for the lab.
Drug Testing for KS Welfare Recipients Proposed
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group of Kansas lawmakers has proposed a bill that would require a third of Kansas welfare recipients to pay to be tested for drug use. Under the proposal, the state will refund the cost of the tests to anyone who tests negative for drugs. Someone who tested positive would have to undergo a drug evaluation and possibly be required to attend an education or treatment program. A second positive test would require the person to attend an education or treatment program and remove him or her from welfare for a year. A third positive test would cause permanent removal from welfare. The Kansas City Star reports a household that includes someone who is banned from the program would have to get aid from a state-approved third party.
KS House Panel Opens Hearings on Immigration Issues
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has opened a week of hearings on immigration issues and will study competing proposals that represent opposing philosophies. The Federal and State Affairs Committee started Monday with a bill backed by a coalition of business groups to help some illegal immigrants hold down hard-to-fill jobs in agriculture and other industries with labor shortages. The committee planned two days for hearings on the bill drafted by the coalition, which includes agriculture groups and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. But the committee also plans to start hearings Wednesday on multiple bills designed to crack-down on illegal immigration. Those measures are backed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the former law professor who helped draft tough immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona.
Kansas Prepares to Seek No Child Left Behind Waiver
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Education is receiving one more update about the state's proposal for seeking a waiver from some provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind education law. The update is planned for Wednesday during the second day of the board's two-day meeting in Topeka. Kansas officials plan to submit the request by February 28, the deadline for the second round of requests.
Ten states were granted waivers last week from the first round of requests. States excused from following the law no longer have to meet a 2014 deadline for ensuring that 100 percent of their students perform well on state tests. Instead, they had to show how they will prepare children for college and careers and set new targets for improving achievement among all students.
Kansas State University Names New Agriculture Dean
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A food scientist and professor from Penn State University has been named dean of Kansas State University's College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. The appointment of John Floros was announced today and takes effect August 1. He'll replace Gary Pierzynski, who has been interim dean since Fred Cholick became president of the Kansas State University Foundation in February 2010. Besides heading the food science department at Penn State, Floros has also taught at Purdue and worked for more than 25 years as an international industry consultant. Floros holds degrees in food science and technology from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, and a doctorate in food science and technology from the University of Georgia.
Frontier Airlines to Drop Some Flights from KCI
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Frontier Airlines says it will end eight of its 21 daily flights from Kansas City International Airport in April. The airline said yesterday (MON) that on April 16 service will end or be reduced to Milwaukee, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Frontier spokeswoman Lindsey Carpenter told The Kansas City Star that the flight changes are part of reorganization across the country. She says about 40 employees in Kansas City will be furloughed. Republic Airways Holdings bought Frontier in 2009, when Frontier was in bankruptcy proceedings.
Wichita Woman Pleads Guilty in Boyfriend's Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita woman scheduled to go on trial this week has pleaded guilty to killing her boyfriend, who was shot and pushed out of a car at a hospital. Thirty-five-year-old Wendy Shepherd pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree reckless murder and aggravated battery in the June 2010 death of 30-year-old Jose Vicente Galan-Delgado. Police say Galan-Delgado was shot at a home then driven to Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital. He was shot again and then pushed out of the car. KFDI reports Shepherd originally claimed the killing was in self-defense because her boyfriend had beaten her. Shepherd is scheduled to be sentenced April 4.
TransCanada Hopes for 2015 Startup Date for Keystone XL
TORONTO (AP) _ TransCanada has pushed back the possible start up
date of a controversial pipeline that would carry Canadian oil to
refineries in Texas. The Calgary, Alberta-based company said Tuesday in an earnings release that its executives continue to work with Nebraska to determine the best route that avoids Nebraska's environmentally
sensitive Sandhills region. Last month, President Barack Obama's administration denied a permit for the project, but left the door open for TransCanada to apply for a new pipeline route. The company said last month it expected the new application would be processed in an expedited manner so that it could be in service in late 2014.
SW Kansas Town Voting on Sunday Liquor Sales
BUCKLIN, Kan. (AP) — Voters in a southwestern Kansas town with roughly 800 residents -- but no liquor store -- will decide today (TUE) whether to allow sales of alcohol on Sunday afternoons. The Hutchinson News reports that the Ford County community of Bucklin is holding a special election on the question. Bucklin Mayor Mike Fisher said Sunday sales are allowed in the town of Ford, about seven miles away, and Coldwater, about 20 miles away. The mayor says Bucklin had a liquor store and two convenience stores when talk of allowing Sunday sales first arose. The liquor store and one convenience store have since closed. Fisher says those two establishments might reopen if Sunday sales are approved.
Wichita Might Drill for Oil at Proposed Library Site
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita might have struck oil when it acquired land for a new library. City officials have confirmed that they are considering drilling on the land after oil experts said significant deposits of oil might be found under the site. Mayor Carl Brewer says city officials feel compelled to check the possibility that oil might be found under the land, which is in downtown Wichita near the Arkansas River. The Wichita Eagle reports oil has been found in downtown Wichita before but regulations now make it difficult to drill inside city limits. The city council hasn't officially considered the drilling. Councilman Jeff Longwell says he wants to be sure current resources are protected but the city should explore whether its economy could be helped by owning an oil well.
SE Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Copper Theft that Knocked Radio Station Off the Air
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southeastern Kansas man has admitted pulling down a power pole in an attempt to steal copper wire, an act that knocked a radio station off the air for several hours. The U.S. Attorney's office says 39-year-old Jeffrey Blake, of rural Scammon, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of damaging an energy facility. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced April 30. Prosecutors said Blake damaged equipment in Cherokee County owned by Heartland Rural Electric Co. and KKOW-AM around 12:30am on Septembver 7, 2011. An indictment noted that KKOW is part of the national emergency alert system. Blake was arrested later after being held at gunpoint by a property owner who discovered him on his property and a copper coupling missing from his propane tank.
Great Bend Judge Rejects Bid to Move Murder Trial
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has refused to move the trial of the man charged with killing a 14-year-old Great Bend girl. A spokesman for the state's judicial branch said Monday he received an email from the office of Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts indicating she denied a change of venue for 38-year-old Adam Longoria. Longoria faces trial March 26 on charges of capital murder and sexual offenses in the August 2010 death of Alicia DeBolt. Defense attorneys contend Longoria can't get a fair trial in Barton County. They cite a survey of 400 county residents that found all were familiar with the case and 94 percent thought Longoria was guilty. But the judge sided with prosecutors who say Longoria can get a fair trial in Great Bend.
KS Abortion Providers Seek Attorney Fees, Court Costs
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas abortion providers who won a federal injunction to keep temporary clinic regulations from taking effect are asking a judge to award them more than $221,000 in attorneys' fees and other costs. Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, filed a motion Monday seeking about $174,000 in attorneys' fees, expenses and costs. A second Kansas clinic, Central Family Medical, also filed its own motion Monday seeking $47,000 for its attorneys' fees and costs. Their federal lawsuit named the Kansas health secretary as a defendant. The parties have jointly moved to dismiss that lawsuit once the court decides on the attorneys' fees and other costs. Abortion providers have filed a separate lawsuit in state court in Shawnee County challenging the final version of the health and safety regulations for abortion clinics.
KS Retailers Have Plenty of Helium for Holiday
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas retailers say they'll have plenty of helium on hand to blow up those heart-shaped Valentine's Day balloons despite tight supplies across the country. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that retailers have been stockpiling helium for months to meet today's
expected demand. Marty Fish, head of the Wichita-based International Balloon Association, says that stores around the country have been coping with the helium squeeze. The nation's helium supply has been reduced in recent years because the gas is used in industries that take priority over retailing. Helium is used in hospitals to cool MRI machines and for other medical research, for instance. Fish says a tank of helium that cost $35 in the 1990s may go for more than $70 today, depending on location.
Hutchinson Man Dies When Bike Hit by Trash Truck
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man died when he was run over by a trash truck while riding his bicycle. Hutchinson police say 35-year-old Julian Olea Tomas died Monday at the scene of the accident.
The Hutchinson News reports that a trash truck was turning when Tomas' bicycle collided with the truck. Tomas fell off his bicycle and was run over by the truck. Assistant Police Chief Troy Hoover says the truck driver didn't see the bicycle.
Oklahoma State Coach Who Died in Plane Crash Honored in Salina
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina will name the basketball court at its Bicentennial Center after Kurt Budke, a native of the city who died in a plane crash while coaching Oklahoma State's women's basketball team.
Salina city commissioners voted unanimously Monday to name the court after Budke. He was one of four people killed in a plane crash during a recruiting trip in Arkansas November 17. The Salina Journal reports
that two friends who suggested honoring Budke hope to unveil the name on the court at the NJCAA Women's National Championship in March. The friends plan to pay all costs associated with the honor.
Scoring and rebounding records Budke set at Sacred Heart High School in Salina in the late 1970s still stand.
Group Mobilizes on Proposed Kansas Religious Freedom Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A gay rights group is mobilizing against a bill before a Kansas House committee that supporters say is an attempt to preserve religious freedom. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on the measure Tuesday afternoon. The bill would declare that state and local government policies shall not "substantially burden" people's right to exercise their religious beliefs without showing a compelling interest and imposing the burden in the least restrictive way possible. The measure also would allow people to sue state and local government agencies if they feel their religious freedoms have been abridged. The Equality Kansas Coalition argues that the bill would nullify local ordinances and state university policies barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Report: Heavy Farm Equipment Sales Mixed in January
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A farm equipment trade group says January sales of combines in the United States were down 50 percent from the same month a year ago. A report released Monday by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows 445 combines were sold in January, compared with 890 sold in January 2011. But tractor sales were up. The association says that slightly more than 9,300 tractors were sold nationwide last month, an increase of 3.5 percent from January of last year.
Pittsburg State Football Team to Be Honored at Statehouse
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Football players and coaches from Pittsburg State University head to Topeka tomorrow (WED) to be honored for their NCAA Division II national championship. The Gorillas beat Wayne State 35-21 on December 17 for their first national title in 20 years. Pittsburg State says 15 Kansas natives will be among the 30 players who will spend Wednesday at the Statehouse, meeting with Governor Sam Brownback and being honored in both the House and the Senate. Resolutions praising the team will be presented in both chambers. The Gorillas will have lunch with the governor's staff, legislative leaders and lawmakers from southeastern Kansas. The Kansas Board of Regents will also take a moment to recognize the team in the afternoon.
Manager Ned Yost to Stay with Kansas City Royals for Another Season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have exercised their option on manager Ned Yost to keep him with the club through the 2013 season. The team announced the move Tuesday, six days before pitchers and catchers are due to report to the Royals' spring training home in Surprise, Arizona. Yost was hired in May 2010 to replace Trey Hillman. He signed a two-year extension that July that included a club option for next season. Yost is just 126-163 since taking over the Royals, but he's been credited with helping bring along one of the youngest rosters in baseball. A youthful team led by Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas is expected to begin contending in the AL Central for the first time in years.
Crennel hires remainder of Chiefs coaching staff
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel has announced the rest of his staff, which includes quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who was passed over for the offensive coordinator position. Crennel announced the full staff on Tuesday. Brian Daboll was hired recently to coordinate the offense, which led many to question whether Zorn would be back. He was retained along with assistant head coach Maurice Carthon, tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee, strength coach Mike Clark, wide receivers coach Nick Sirianni and virtually the entire defensive staff. Jack Bicknell Jr. was hired to coach the offensive line and Jim Bob Cooter was brought in as the offensive quality control coach. Tom McMahon and Derius Swinton will handle special teams.
KU 2012 Football Schedule Features TCU, West Virginia
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Charlie Weis will have his work cut out for him in his first season at the University of Kansas. The Jayhawks open with South Dakota State and Rice before hosting new Big 12 member TCU on September 15. KU will take on the other Big 12 newcomer, the West Virginia Mountaineers, in its regular-season finale on December 1. The school announced its full schedule Tuesday...the same day the Mountaineers announced a deal had been reached to allow them out of the Big East beginning next season. KU travels to North Illinois for its other non-conference game. The Jayhawks visit Kansas State on October 6; host Oklahoma State; play at Oklahoma, and then host Texas on October 27. The KU team will travel to Baylor and Texas Tech in November before facing Iowa State, with a bye week before their game against the Mountaineers. Weis will be trying to improve on a 2-10 record last season under Turner Gill.
K-State 2012 Football Schedule Released
Kansas State University's football team will visit new Big 12 members West Virginia and TCU while hosting Miami during the 2012 football season. The school announced its full schedule Tuesday, the same day that the Mountaineers announced a deal had been reached to allow them out of the Big East beginning next season. Kansas State will be coming off a 10-win season and a trip to the Cotton Bowl. The Wildcats open September 1 against Missouri State, and then face the Hurricanes, whom they beat on the road last season. They wrap up their non-conference slate against North Texas on September 15. Kansas State opens the Big 12 schedule at Oklahoma before a bye week. The Wildcats host Kansas, visit Iowa State and West Virginia, return home for Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, and then hit the road to TCU and Baylor. After another bye week, they finish up with Texas on December 1.
White House Cuts Kansas Biosecurity Lab / NBAF Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials were stunned and upset Monday to learn that President Barack Obama recommended no additional funding for construction of a new biosecurity lab, jeopardizing a high-visibility project that the state had seen as a powerful engine of economic growth. The spending plan from Obama also said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will reassess the viability of the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility planned for Manhattan, near Kansas State University. The project would cost an estimated $650 million and would replace an aging facility at Plum Island, New York. Workers have already cleared the Kansas site, and the state has committed itself to authorizing up to $105 million in bonds to help with the project. State officials envisioned the lab, which would research foot-and-mouth and other dangerous animal diseases, as a key part of an emerging biosciences industry. Governor Sam Brownback and the state's congressional delegation — all Republicans — issued a statement saying further review of merits of the facility is needless and "a waste of taxpayer dollars." The officials promised to work to overcome the recommendation from Obama, a Democrat, and said doing so will protect the security of the nation's food supply. Congress appropriated only $50 million of the $150 million the Obama administration requested for the lab in the current budget year, which the White House said was insufficient to begin construction.