Kansas Senate Moves Against Sex-Selection Abortions
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to a bill prohibiting doctors from terminating a pregnancy solely because a woman doesn't want a baby of a certain sex. The bill advanced on a voice vote Tuesday. The Senate is expected to give the measure final approval Wednesday and send it to the House. The bill makes the procedure a misdemeanor the first time a doctor is convicted of performing a sex-selection abortion, and a felony each time afterward. A woman's husband could sue a doctor over such a procedure, as could a parent or guardian of a girl under 18 who had one. Meanwhile, a House committee plans to have a hearing Wednesday on a bill designed to prevent the state from subsidizing abortions indirectly through tax exemptions or credits.
Panel Endorses School Funding Amendment to Kansas Constitution
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has endorsed a proposal to amend the state's constitution. It would stipulate that only the Kansas Legislature has the authority to determine funding for public schools, rather than the courts. The voice vote Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee sends the measure to the GOP-controlled Senate for debate. Republicans outnumber Democrats 32-8. Supporters say changing the constitution would limit the power of the state's judicial branch to review lawsuits over school funding. A Shawnee County District Court ruled in January that the state's system for school finance was unconstitutional. The court ordered legislators to increase spending by more than $440 million for the next school year. Legislators want to put the constitutional amendment before voters in the August 2014 primary.
Woman Found Dead in Colorado ID'd as Fort Riley Soldier
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say a woman found dead in a Colorado motel was an Army corporal from Fort Riley, Kansas. Another soldier believed to be her boyfriend is being held in North Carolina on suspicion of murder. Police said Tuesday that Kimberly Walker had been strangled and had a blunt force injury. She was found Sunday in a Colorado Springs motel. Army Sergeant Montrell Lamar Anderson Mayo, who was stationed at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs, surrendered to police in Greenville, North Carolina on Sunday. An arrest warrant affidavit quotes other soldiers as saying Walker was Mayo's girlfriend and that she had come from Fort Riley to see Mayo. Mayo is being held without bail. Colorado prosecutors have begun the process of extraditing him.
Kansas Senate to Debate Internet Filtering Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill aimed at preventing children from seeing obscene or harmful images while using the Internet in schools and public libraries is coming up for debate in the Kansas Senate. Senators planned to discuss the measure Tuesday, only a day after their Education Committee endorsed it. The bill initially would have required schools and libraries to have technology installed on computers, such as filters or content blockers, to prevent children from viewing pornography or other obscene or harmful material. The committee amended the bill so that in addition to technology, schools and libraries can have a process for filtering Internet content. Committee members said the change gives local officials more flexibility in meeting the bill's goal without facing additional costs.
Kansas House Backs Change on Circulating Petitions
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is closer to ending a constitutionally questionable ban on out-of-state residents circulating petitions to put candidates on the ballot or gain recognition for political parties. The state House approved a bill Monday to repeal the prohibition. The 118-1 vote sends the measure to the Senate. The bill results from a federal lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Constitution Party. The state hasn't enforced its ban since, acknowledging that it likely violates rights to freedom of speech and association. The Constitution Party isn't recognized in Kansas. Voters can't list themselves as being affiliated with it when they register, and the party can't list candidates on the November general election ballot. Kansas allows people to circulate petitions to get a party recognized, but previously has banned non-Kansans from circulating them.
Gun Rights Backers Want State to Resist Feds' Control Push
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gun rights advocates in Kansas are pushing state lawmakers to enact measures aimed at countering potential moves by the federal government to restrict access to firearms. They packed the room Tuesday at the House Federal and State Affairs Committee and heard testimony in support of a bill declaring that the federal government has no power to regulate firearms, ammunition or gun accessories manufactured and sold only in Kansas. The same bill would make it a felony for an agent of the federal government to attempt to enforce a federal law, regulation or treaty restricting access to firearms, ammunition or accessories manufactured, sold and kept within Kansas. It's one of several measures promoting gun rights, and it comes amid discussions in Washington about how to curb gun violence.
Kansas Budget Director Apologizes for Numbers Error
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's budget director has apologized publicly for supplying him with an incorrect figure that led the Republican governor to make erroneous claims about his Democratic predecessor. Budget Director Steve Anderson said in a statement Monday the mistake occurred in entering data on an internal administration spreadsheet tracking total state spending. The error showed total state spending peaking at $16 billion during the state's 2010 fiscal year, under Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson. The actual spending for fiscal 2010 was about $14 billion. In recent presentations to groups, Brownback has contrasted the purported $16 billion figure with lower total spending since he took office in January 2011. Spending was $14.4 billion for the fiscal 2012, which ended in June. Anderson said the spreadsheet has been corrected.
KS Governor, Ag Secretary Launch Statewide Food Drive
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas leaders have kicked off a month-long food drive with the goal of bringing in 50,000 meals for needy families in the state. Governor Sam Brownback and Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman on Monday launched the "Neighbor to Neighbor" statewide food drive that will end March 19, which is Kansas Agriculture Day. Donations to the drive can be left at Dillon's Food Stores and other locations across the state. The grocery store chain made an initial donation of 8,000 pounds of nonperishable food items Monday at the kick-off event in Topeka. Brownback says the food drive won't end hunger in the state, but it's a start. Harvesters, the Kansas Food Bank and Second Harvest Community Food Bank also are participating in the effort.
Bill Asks Kansas Teachers to Question Climate Change
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill introduced in the Kansas House would require the state's schools to provide evidence in classrooms questioning the existence of climate change. The bill, introduced last week, says instruction about scientific controversies should include evidence for and against the theory. The only controversy identified in the bill is "climate science." The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that no hearings have been scheduled for the bill before the House Education Committee. The bill comes at the same time the Kansas State Board of Education is preparing to vote on new science standards, which are still being developed. Another bill currently in the Education Committee would require the State Board of Education to replace and English standards that it adopted in 2010.
Report: US Lost 11,630 Farms in 2012
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows that the United States now has 2.2 million farms after losing 11,630 farms last year. The National Agricultural Statistics Service's annual snapshot of farms released Tuesday also pegs the total land in U.S. farms at 914 million acres. That is 3 million acres fewer acres when compared to the previous year. The average farm size is 421 acres. But the numbers for the nation's biggest farms with $500,000 or more in sales jumped by 8.6 percent to 145,190 farms. The agency said that higher commodity prices contributed to the increase in that category. Small farms with fewer than $10,000 in sales fell by 2.5 percent to 1.17 million. The numbers for farms falling in the remaining categories also increased about one or two percent.
Beechcraft Emerges from Bankruptcy Protection
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas aircraft manufacturer Beechcraft Corporation...formerly known as Hawker Beechcraft...has emerged from bankruptcy protection as a slimmed-down company. The renamed company's formal announcement Tuesday comes just two weeks after its reorganization plan was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York. The plan became effective Friday. It allows the company to exit bankruptcy with a reduced debt load better positioned to compete in special mission, trainer and light attack airplane markets while retaining its turboprop King Air line of planes. The company shed its unprofitable business jets. CEO Bill Boisture says in a news release that today marks the rebirth of an 80-year-old American aircraft manufacturing business with a globally recognized brand. He says the company emerged from the process a stronger company.
Missouri Man Pleads Not Guilty in Killings of 2 Women
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has pleaded not guilty in the killings of two prostitutes whose bodies were found posed on the sides of rural Missouri roads nearly a year apart. The Kansas City Star reports that 27-year-old Derek Richardson entered the plea Tuesday in Clay County (Missouri) Circuit Court. He in being held on $2 million bond, facing two counts each of first-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. Prosecutors said Richardson killed 40-year-old Tamara Sparks and 24-year-old Nicoleone Reed during sex acts. He is accused of dumping one body along a secluded Kansas City road in October 2011 and the second body in August in Kearney. Court documents say he told investigators "in great detail" how he killed the two women, and that he wanted to slay others.
Ex-Lawyer Sentenced for Stealing from Trust Funds
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Topeka lawyer has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for stealing more than $500,000 from his clients' trust funds. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release Tuesday that 52-year-old Robert M. Telthorst was sentenced for wire fraud and money laundering. He was ordered to repay $537,680. Telthorst admitted that he defrauded clients from November 2005 to August 2011 by taking money for his benefit and to cover money taken from other clients. Grissom says one of the clients Telthorst defrauded was a charitable trust of $80,000 for the University of Kansas School of Business. The account balance dropped to less than $1,750 after Telthorst took funds for his own use.
Man Convicted of Kidnapping Daughter Sentenced to 40 Years
HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for forcibly taking his adult daughter from Missouri to his property in Michigan because he was upset she was dating an older man. Martin Jonassen of Elwood, Kansas was convicted of kidnapping and obstruction of justice in U.S. District Court in Hammond in July. The Times of Munster reports that Jonassen described himself as a "sovereign citizen," who doesn't recognize government authority. He represented himself at trial. Jonassen was arrested in September 2011 after his naked daughter escaped from a hotel in Portage, 10 miles east of Gary, Indiana. She ran to a nearby liquor store to beg for help. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster says the obstruction charge stemmed from Jonassen's attempts to persuade his daughter to not testify.
Longtime Escapee from KCK Courtroom Recaptured
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man who escaped from a Wyandotte County courtroom nearly a year ago has been recaptured. The Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that 24-year-old Robert E. Ingram was found at a Kansas City, Kansas home Tuesday. No other details about his arrest were immediately released. Ingram ran from the courtroom last March 2 after a judge revoked his probation in a drug case and ordered him into custody. He was holding a 6-month-old child in his arms when he jumped into a vehicle that sped away. The baby was found safe later that day. Prosecutors later charged Ingram with a felony count of aggravated escape. The Kansas City Star reports that Ingram's sister was placed on diversion after being charged with aiding the escape.
More Details Emerge About Lottery Celebration Blast
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two children were present when a drug-fueled celebration of a $75,000 winning lottery ticket resulted in an explosion at a south-central Kansas duplex. Wichita police Lieutenant Doug Nolte said Tuesday that the 10- and 6-year-old girls weren't injured. The Wichita Eagle reports that the explosion happened Friday after a man refueled butane torches that he and his brother planned to use to smoke drugs. Eventually, butane vapor reached the pilot light in the furnace. One of the brothers was treated at a hospital after sustaining second-degree burns on 10 percent of his body. He hasn't been arrested, but his 25-year-old brother has been taken into custody on suspicion of drug possession. Nolte says the children's mother is the girlfriend of the brother who was burned.
Changes Made in Lawrence 8th Grade Slavery Lesson
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence school district officials have told an 8th grade teacher to change a lesson on slavery that included having some of the students wear mock shackles. Mike Wormsley at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School has taught the lesson for years. The two-week role-playing exercise is designed to show students the roles of slaves and slave owners. Part of the lesson required some students, including black students, to wear mock shackles in school. District officials this year told Wormsley they understood the value of the exercise but wanted him to end the use of shackles because it isn't appropriate for school-age children. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that officials were concerned about the emotional impact of the shackles, but also thought the assignment could lead to abusive or inappropriate behavior.
Florida Funeral Protest Ban Clears State Senate Committee
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Picketing, protesting and other disturbances would be banned at all funerals and burials in Florida under legislation that's on a fast track. It would expand an existing ban that's limited to funerals and burials involving military honor details. Violators can face up to a year in jail. The Senate version received final committee approval Tuesday. A similar bill earlier cleared all committees. Both now are ready for floor votes after the legislative session begins March 5. Florida's existing law, a federal statute and similar legislation in other states are largely a response to military funeral protests by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. The church contends God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality. Protesters often carry signs with messages such as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
Kansas Lawmakers Cut $10M Proposed for KU Med Project
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has ratified a conservative Republican lawmaker's proposal to deny $10 million to the University of Kansas Medical Center for an expansion. The Ways and Means Committee backed Senator Tom Arpke of Salina on a voice vote Monday before endorsing spending recommendations for the state's higher education system. Those recommendations overall are largely in line with Republican Governor Sam Brownback's proposals for about $2.5 billion in annual spending. But Brownback wanted the $10 million for the expansion of the Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The total project is expected to cost $75 million, with the rest of the funds coming from private donations. Arpke argues the University of Kansas isn't operating as efficiently as it could and can tap reserve funds for the project.
Kansas Education Budgets Advance in Committee
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Budgets for Kansas public schools for the next two academic years are moving forward with slight increases in per-student spending in fiscal year 2015. The House Appropriations Committee accepted a subcommittee's report on K-12 spending on Monday. Both budgets would have Kansas spend more than $3 billion on public schools annually. The budget per pupil would remain at $3,838 in fiscal year 2014 but increase to $3,852 in fiscal 2015, starting July 1, 2014. The Senate Ways and Means Committee will review funding proposals for the University of Kansas and its medical center, as well as Kansas State, Wichita State, Pittsburg, Emporia and Fort Hays State universities. All of the spending recommendations will be folded into a state government budget bill to be debated in the coming weeks.
Brother of Kansas Escapee Arrested
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested the brother of a man who briefly escaped from jail while facing sentencing for killing his girlfriend's young son. Saline County authorities arrested 30-year-old Joshua Danny Brown of Wichita Monday on a charge of obstructing apprehension or prosecution. Brown's brother, 29-year-old Antonio Brown, escaped February 11 from the Saline County jail. He was scheduled to be sentenced the next day on murder and child abuse charges for the October 2011 death of his girlfriend's 14-month-old son. Brown turned himself in to Wichita police February 13. The Salina Journal reports that a second man, 28-year-old Eric Terry of Salina, also has been arrested in Antonio Brown's escape. The two men's alleged roles in the escape have not been publicized. Detective Jim Hughes says more arrests are "very possible."
Topeka Man Pleads Guilty in Son's Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The day his second trial was to begin, a Topeka man pleaded guilty to charges in the death of his 7-month-old son. Thirty-one-year-old James Maloun entered the plea Tuesday to aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit involuntary manslaughter. His son, Gage Malhoun, was injured in September 2007 and died several days later. The child's death was not originally considered a homicide and Maloun wasn't charged until September 2011. Prosecutors say the child was shaken before he died. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Maloun will be sentenced March 29. Last October, jurors in Maloun's first trial could not reach a verdict on a charge of reckless second-degree murder.
Kansas House Approves Telecom Deregulation Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill that lessens the state's regulation of telecommunications companies and begins phasing out a special charge consumers pay each month to ensure universal land line service. The House's 118-1 vote Monday sends the measure to the Senate. The bill resulted from a compromise between AT&T, the state's largest telephone service provider, and other telecommunications companies. It follows up on a 2011 law that allowed companies to avoid state by state price caps on local land line service. This year's bill would allow those same companies to avoid the state's consumer protection and minimum service quality regulations. In exchange, the companies would get smaller subsidies from the state to ensure universal service. Consumers now pay a charge to finance the subsidies.
Cheerleader Still in Hospital After Team Van Crash
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas high school cheerleader is expected to undergo at least two more surgeries after her team's van rolled off an icy road and into a ditch. WIBW-TV reports that Christa Merriman already has had surgery to reconstruct her nose after the accident Friday night as she and fellow Holton cheerleaders were coming home from a game. The van carrying Christa, three teammates and their supervisor hit black ice on a bridge just north of Topeka and went into the ditch. Christa says everyone had their seatbelts on but she somehow ended up in a storage part of the van. She was still in the hospital Monday evening and says she will have at least two surgeries to fix fractured vertebrae and a ruptured disk.
Kansas Man Caught in Child Porn Sweep Pleads Guilty
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas, City, Kansas man arrested as part of an international child pornography crackdown admitted that he traveled from Kansas to Missouri to have sex with a minor. The Kansas City Star reports that Robert Poe III entered his plea Tuesday in federal court. Poe was charged in August with three counts of traveling to entice a minor to engage in sex. He was accused of using a gun to force two boys to perform oral sex on him. Poe on Tuesday denied using a gun but said prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him. Poe was arrested during a Homeland Security investigation that led to dozens of arrests. He is a friend of 38-year-old Michael D. Arnett of Roeland Park, who pleaded guilty last week to making child pornography.
KC Continues to Seek New Ways of Using Abandoned Schools
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The hunt is on for new uses for two closed Kansas City schools that have been repeatedly vandalized. The district says it's been hearing from community members who are concerned about the safety of the former McCoy and Thacher schools. Vandalism to the buildings has included fire damage. The district says some community members have asked about the possibility of demolishing the former schools and developing the cleared land. The district's list of unused schools grew to 30 after a massive consolidation effort in 2010. Since then, the district has been looking for new uses for the vacant buildings, and has sold or leased about one-third of the properties. A meeting is planned for Monday night on Thacher and Thursday night on McCoy.
Jayhawks and Cowboys Ready for Hoops Showdown
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — It was a question that seemed to catch University of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self off guard: How important is it for teams to have fun? Self had just watched his ninth-ranked Jayhawks have a blast in a blowout win over Texas, and he said it was "huge" for his team to have fun. Huge enough that the Jayhawks have won two straight in dominant fashion since they started to lighten up. In fact, things have gotten so silly around Lawrence that the team recently filmed its own version of the Harlem Shake dance craze in the locker room. The Jayhawks play number 14-ranked Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, with the winner moving into a tie with Kansas State for first place in the Big 12 Conference.