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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Bill Would Alter KS School Districts Aid Formula

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill has been introduced in the Kansas Senate that would alter the way school districts receive additional funding related to capital improvements approved by local voters. The legislation proposed Monday would change the way districts receive state funds to compensate for low overall district wealth. Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff King says his proposal would divert state aid that would have been used by districts to repay bonds issued for construction. The intent is to lower local property taxes and provide additional funds to poor districts to provide for instruction and other classroom expenses. The change would apply to districts that approve bond issues after July 1, 2014.


KS Bill Attempts to Limit 'Spying' but Draws Concern

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are wrestling with whether they should attempt to limit electronic surveillance and data-mining by state and local government agencies. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on a bill described by sponsoring Republican Representative Brett Hildabrand of Shawnee as an effort to curb domestic spying. The panel took no action. The measure would limit state and local agencies' access to records held by a third party, such as cellphone or electronic banking data. The agency would have to obtain a warrant or get an individual's consent to access such data. But several law enforcement officials said the bill would hinder their ability to fight crime. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said the measure is so broad that it would prevent Internet searches on suspects.


Lawmakers Debate Proposed KS Response to Possible Invalidation of Constitutional Gay Marriage Ban

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a gay marriage proposal in Kansas say their measure is about protecting bakeries, photographers and others from being punished for refusing for religious reasons to supply goods and services for same-sex weddings. But gay rights advocates argued Tuesday that the measure is much broader than portrayed. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee had a hearing on a bill anticipating that the federal courts might invalidate the Kansas Constitution's ban on gay marriage. Federal judges in Oklahoma and Utah recently struck down those states' bans. The Kansas measure says no individual, business or religious group with sincerely held religious beliefs could be required by any government agency to provide services, facilities, goods, employment or employment benefits for a same-sex marriage or domestic partnership. The measure bars anti-discrimination lawsuits.


KS Death Penalty Appeals Bill Advances

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee is recommending passage of a bill shortening the process of appealing death sentences for capital murder. The action Monday sends the measure, along with several other judicial bills, to the full Senate for debate in the coming weeks. Death sentences in Kansas are automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court. Currently, inmates can wait a decade or more before their appeals are completed. Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff King says the bill would require the appeals to be completed within three years of a capital murder conviction. It also limits the scope of the appeals to issues raised on objection during the trial. King is an Independence Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.


KS Proposes Ban on Minors Using Tanning Beds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are weighing whether to prohibit tanning parlors from letting minors use their tanning beds. The House Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony Tuesday on the bill. The measure includes a maximum $250 fine for businesses that allow customers younger than 18 to use tanning beds. Proponents said exposure to harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds increases the chances of developing melanoma later in life. But industry representatives say the message should be one of moderation, not abstinence from UV exposure, whether from the sun or from tanning beds. While they support the proposed regulation, they argue that the conversation should be about proper skin care for all people to avoid cancer and the overuse of sunscreens.


KS Prosecutor Sees Uptick in Drug Cash Seizures

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas prosecutor's office has quadrupled the amount of cash seized in forfeiture cases since an attorney was appointed to focus on those cases three years ago. Last year Douglas County seized more than $263,000 from criminals. That's up from slightly more than $62,000 seized in 2010. District Attorney Charles Branson told The Lawrence Journal-World that it's up to alleged criminals to prove they had a legal right to the seized money. Branson says his office uses its share of the money to pay for staff training or to provide agencies such as Lawrence Memorial Hospital with equipment such as  that used to examine sexual assault victims. Branson says his appointment of a civil appellate attorney has helped process more civil forfeitures since 2011.

KS Children's Choir Trying to Replace Lost Funds

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — After a year of fundraising, a northeast Kansas children's choir might not be able to take a planned trip to Colorado this summer. The Geary County Children's Choir in Junction City was planning a trip to a program called Centennial State in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But the trip is in jeopardy after a former business manager allegedly embezzled about $10,000 from the choir. The suspect, Glen Irwin, was charged last week with felony theft. Choir Director Greg Gooden told the Junction City Daily Union that the money would pay for transportation, snacks and meals for the trip. The total cost would be about $35,000. The choir wasn't able to make the first January payment of more than $8,000 because of the theft. Gooden says the trip hasn't been cancelled yet.

Salina, Others Might Form Group to Buy More Water

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Salina and other water users are considering forming a new group to buy additional storage at Kanopolis Reservoir. Salina city commissioners decided Monday that the city should pursue creating a Lower Smoky Hill Water Supply Access District. The group would include other cities, industries and farmers that get water from the Smoky Hill River. The Salina Journal reports that the Kansas Legislature approved creation of the district in 2011. Detailed regulations were finished last August but the group has not been formed yet. By buying storage in the lake, members of the access district would be able to have water sent to them during drought, and those with older water rights wouldn't be able to use that water.

Allegiant to Drop Flight from Manhattan to Phoenix

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Allegiant Air plans to end its twice-weekly flights between Manhattan and Phoenix, starting February 23. The Las Vegas-based carrier began service between Manhattan's Regional Airport and the Phoenix last November. It said Monday any customers with reservations after February 23 will be contacted for a full refund. The city said in a news release that 3,000 passengers used the flights since the service began. Airport director Peter VanKuren says Allegiant decided those numbers did not meet its expectations. Manhattan Regional still offers daily flights to Dallas and Chicago through American Eagle.

Denver-Bound United Flight Diverted to Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A United Airlines commuter flight bound for Denver has been diverted to an airport in Wichita because of a mechanical problem with one of the wings on the aircraft. Airport officials say the Embraer 145 jet landed safely Monday night at Mid-Continent Airport after the pilot reported problems with a part that controls the plane's ability to turn. The flight, with 39 passengers aboard, took off from Shreveport, Louisiana. The pilot first reported problems about 50 miles from the airport. Police, fire and rescue personnel were on hand but the plane landed without problems and no injuries were reported.

Wichita School Warns of Students Inhaling Candy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita elementary school say some fifth graders were caught crushing Smarties candies into powder and inhaling the sugar. Officials at Enterprise Elementary School in south Wichita said last week that between 12 and 16 fifth-graders were crushing the candies, inhaling it into their mouths and exhaling through their noses. Wichita district spokeswoman Susan Arensman says it was an isolated case involving one fifth-grade class. Parents of the students were called to attend a mandatory meeting at the school. She says the students will face disciplinary action. The Wichita Eagle reports the school plans to invite counselors, police officers or others from outside agencies to talk to students about the dangers of inhalants.

Not Guilty Pleas Entered in Death of KS Pregnant Woman

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas man pleaded not guilty to two counts of premeditated first-degree murder in the deaths of a pregnant woman and her fetus. Twenty-one-year-old Bryant Seba of Pratt will go to trial September 29. He's charged with killing 22-year-old Alexandria Duran and her fetus, and with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the shooting of 28-year-old Brandon Wright, who was paralyzed in the shooting. The Wichita Eagle reports testimony at Seba's preliminary hearing indicated there were several racially charged confrontations between Duran's house and Seba's house. In July, Duran and her uncle intervened in a fight that involved Seba, who is white, and Wright, who is black. Authorities allege Seba went into his home, got a rifle and fired nine shots into a group of people.


Canadian Man on Trial in Identity Theft Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The federal trial of a Canadian man accused stealing the identity of his dead infant brother has opened in Kansas with lawyers calling the defendant by different names. Prosecutors said in opening statements Tuesday that former Winfield resident Leslie Camick assumed the identity of Wayne Camick, who died in 1958. The government contends Leslie Camick hatched a scheme to flee Canada, where he owed child support, taxes and other obligations, and built a life under the assumed name after coming to the U.S. in 2000. But a defense lawyer repeatedly referred to his client as Wayne Camick, saying everybody knows him by that name and that he has harmed no one by using it. Camick is charged with aggravated identity theft, obstruction of justice, mail fraud and wire fraud.


KCMO Letter Carrier Accused of Stealing Mail

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City letter carrier has been charged with stealing mail from customers on her route and taking nearly $1,700 worth of government food benefit cards. The U.S. Attorney's office says a grand jury indicted 45-year-old Shawn C. Henderson on Tuesday on charges of stealing government property, stealing mail and aggravated identity theft. Henderson was hired as a letter carrier in April 2013. Prosecutors allege that she stole mail from then until early August. The indictment also alleges she removed greeting cards and gift cards from mail she was supposed to deliver. Henderson does not have a listed phone number, and she did not have an attorney as of Tuesday.


MO Woman Killed After Items Blow Out of Her Truck

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a 51-year-old woman died when she was hit by a vehicle while trying to retrieve items that had blown out of her pickup truck. Police said Monday Robin C. Lindsey of Kansas City died Sunday night on Interstate 29 near the Kansas City International Airport. Sergeant Bill Mahoney says a strap in Lindsey's pickup truck apparently failed and gusty winds blew some large items out of the truck. She and several other drivers stopped to retrieve the items. The Kansas City Star reports that Lindsey was in a traffic lane when a pickup truck struck her. The driver stopped and called police. Lindsey died at the scene.



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