Kansans Slow to Embrace Health Marketplace
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New figures show that Kansans remained slow to embrace a federally run online health insurance marketplace in November even though the pace of enrollments in health plans increased. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that fewer than 1,900 Kansans had chosen health plans through the marketplace at the end of last month — less than 10 percent of those eligible. However, the enrollment figure as of Nov. 2 was only 371. The October rollout of the online marketplace under the federal health overhaul was plagued by problems, and in November, the federal agency was working on fixing them. Kansas declined to operate its own exchange or partner with the federal government. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and many GOP legislators are critics of the health care overhaul.
Colorado Man Indicted for Lawrence Bank Robbery
LAWRENCE, Kan. — A Colorado man has been indicted for allegedly robbing a bank in Lawrence. Today (WED), a federal grand jury in Topeka returned an indictment charging 37-year-old Matthew W. Headley, of Canon City, Colorado, with robbing the US Bank on West Sixth in September. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
KS Senator, Foe Spar over Budget Deal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has announced he'll vote against a bipartisan budget deal, but the Kansas Republican's primary opponent says Roberts should have spoken up earlier. Roberts said Wednesday that he doesn't think the deal tackles major fiscal problems and represents only more taxing and spending. The deal was crafted by Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington. Roberts's comments came shortly after GOP primary opponent Milton Wolf called on the senator to vote against the package. Wolf began criticizing a possible deal last week, when it was still being negotiated. Wolf said Roberts hasn't been vocal enough. But Roberts' executive campaign manager Leroy Towns said Kansans expect their senator to study legislation before criticizing it.
KS Senator's Foe Gains Conservative Endorsement
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A national conservative group has endorsed challenger Milton Wolf in campaign against U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in the Kansas Republican primary. Wolf received the endorsement from the Senate Conservatives Fund. The political action committee was founded by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. Wolf is a Leawood radiologist and is running against Roberts as a tea party candidate. He's criticized Roberts on budget, tax and health care issues and sees the endorsement as helping him build momentum. Roberts' executive campaign manager Leroy Towns said Wednesday that the endorsement of Wolf isn't surprising, because DeMint's PAC has been endorsing challengers against incumbent GOP senators. Roberts has the backing of most of Kansas' elected Republican officials and key groups such as Kansans for Life and the Kansas State Rifle Association.
KS Supreme Court to Hear Carr Brothers Appeals
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments next week in the appeals of two brothers sentenced to death for murders committed in December 2000. Justices have scheduled two-hour hearings on Tuesday for Jonathan Carr and his brother, Reginald Carr. The Carr brothers were convicted for killing three men and a woman on Dec. 15, 2000, as the victims knelt side-by-side on a snow-covered soccer field. The four friends and another woman who was shot in the head but survived were at a Wichita home when two armed intruders forced them to engage in sex with each other, then made them withdraw money from automated teller machines. Attorneys for the Carrs argue that the convictions should be set aside over numerous issues raised at their trial.
Lawrence Commission OKs Concealed Carry Exemption
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city commissioners have approved a resolution seeking a four-year exemption from the Kansas concealed carry law, giving officials time to sort out where guns will be allowed in the future. The 6News in Lawrence reports the commission voted Tuesday to approve an exemption to prohibit concealed carry permit holders from bringing their guns in to any city building until 2018. A new state law requires municipalities to allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into buildings unless adequate security measures are in place. Numerous cities and counties statewide have approved resolutions giving them more time to determine which buildings would get security improvements. Groups argued to the Lawrence commission that concealed carry permit holders are responsible individuals and should be allowed to protect themselves.
Appeals Court Upholds Prison Term for State Worker
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the prison sentence for a former Kansas case manager who defrauded federal and state government programs. The U.S. District Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected the request by Tya Dejuan Tiller to overturn her sentence of a year and a day in prison and restitution of about $76,000. At sentencing, the judge found the Leavenworth woman had unfairly tarnished the image of other public servants. Tiller pleaded guilty to fraudulently collecting disability benefits while working at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and later at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Investigators also found she had used her state job to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by creating food stamp accounts in the names of others to buy items for herself.
New Obama Adviser Won't Work on Keystone XL
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says a new senior adviser to President Barack Obama will recuse himself from deliberations on the Keystone XL oil pipeline. John Podesta, a former chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, has spoken out against the pipeline. Podesta founded the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that opposes the project. His hiring cheered environmental groups, who oppose the Canada-to-Texas pipeline as a major contributor to global warming. Some Keystone supporters, including North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, expressed alarm, calling Podesta's inclusion in Obama's inner circle a possible death-knell for the pipeline, which backers say would create jobs and boost North American energy independence. The White House says Podesta suggested that he not work on Keystone because his views are well-known.
KSHOF President Resigns
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Ted Hayes, president and CEO of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, is resigning after more than 20 years with the organization. Tim Daniel, chairman of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, said in a release Wednesday that Hayes submitted his resignation to the Board of Directors earlier this week. Hayes started as the executive director for the Hall of Fame in 1991. The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1961 as a part of the Kansas Centennial celebration. Bob Hanson, president and CEO of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, says the Sports Hall of Fame wouldn't have lasted without Hayes. Hayes will stay with the Hall of Fame through the end of the year. The Hall of Fame hasn't announced plans to replace Hayes.
High Court: KS Death Sentence Shouldn't be Thrown Out
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says a lower court should not have overturned the conviction and death sentence of a man who admitted killing a Kansas sheriff. Today (WED), the high court unanimously overturned the Kansas Supreme Court's decision to throw out Scott Cheever's death sentence for the 2005 fatal shooting of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. The Kansas court said Cheever's rights against self-incrimination were violated by prosecutors who used a court-ordered mental evaluation from a different trial against him. Cheever's own expert argued that methamphetamine use had damaged his brain. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that because Cheever's side raised the brain damage issue, prosecutors were entitled to use testimony from the mental health expert from the other trial. That expert said Cheever killed because of an anti-social personality, not because of brain damage.
Missouri Dad Destitute, Looking for Daughter's Killer in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri resident whose daughter was among three people found shot to death this month in a Topeka home says he's destitute after losing all of his belongings in a fire while he was looking for her killer. Paul Lee of Springfield, Missouri, says he can't afford to pay a funeral home and is asking for the public's help in handling his daughter's funeral arrangements. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the bodies of Tamesha Lee and two others were found in a home December 1, two hours after a different woman was found grievously wounded behind a strip mall. That woman died two days later. Lee is staying with family members in Topeka and going door-to-door looking for information about his daughter's death.
Riley County Police Officers Shoot Suspect at Manhattan Hotel
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police shot and wounded a man outside a Manhattan hotel. Spokesman Matthew Droge says police were called to the Quality Inn and Suites early Tuesday on reports that someone was firing shots outside the hotel. Droge says when the man ignored officers' orders to drop his weapon and kept firing, police shot him several times. The man was taken to a hospital but further details about his condition were not released. No officers or bystanders were injured. Authorities have not released any other information about the incident. The KBI is investigating the shooting.
Two in Custody after Lengthy Standoff in Osage County
OVERBROOK, Kan. (AP) — Two people are in custody after a seven hour standoff in Osage County. Authorities say the standoff began about 1pm Tuesday when officers tried to serve a warrant at an apartment in Overbrook. The man refused to come out. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn says another person inside the apartment tried to flee shortly after the standoff began but was arrested. The wanted man ignored several attempts to communicate with him. About 8pm, authorities forced their way into his apartment and arrested him without incident. No one was injured during the standoff. Authorities did not release the man's name or say what why a warrant had been issued for him.
Wichita Will Allow Concealed Guns in Most City Buildings
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita will allow concealed guns in nearly all of its city-owned buildings including libraries, recreational centers and the Wichita Art Museum. The city council voted yesterday (TUE) to allow people carrying concealed guns in all but 16 of 107 city-owned buildings. Guns will be banned at City Hall, Mid-Continent Airport buildings, police buildings and city housing department facilities. Operators that lease city buildings, such as the Wichita Boathouse, will determine if guns will be allowed. A new state law permits local governments to exempt public buildings if they have proper postings and adequate security measures. City staff proposed banning guns in 34 buildings. But Deputy City Attorney Sharon Dickgrafe said the only way to prevent lawsuits was to allow concealed-carry in most buildings.
Two Mexicans Arrested in Big Drug Seizure in Wathena
WATHENA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Kansas have arrested two Mexican nationals accused of hauling more than 200 pounds of marijuana. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Wathena Police Chief Jason Pendleton stopped the men for speeding as they were driving through Wathena on U.S. 36 last week. Pendleton says officers found 151 packages of suspected marijuana, totaling about 223 pounds. He estimates the street value to be between $500,000 and $700,000. The two men have been booked into the Doniphan County jail on several charges, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, no drug tax stamp and conspiracy to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia.
KS Board Dumps Multistate Group for KU on Tests
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State School Board has decided to have the University of Kansas develop new standardized tests for public school students in math, English and other subjects. The board's decision yesterday (TUE) ends active participation by Kansas in a multistate group, the Washington state-based Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which has been developing tests. The vote was 8-2 to have the tests developed by the University of Kansas after the board split 5-5 on having the consortium develop them. Kansas Department of Education officials recommended going with the consortium. It could have its tests in place in spring 2015, a year before the Kansas center. But the cost of going with the consortium was estimated at $19 million over three years, compared to $16 million for the University of Kansas.
KS Court Denies Kline Rehearing Request
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has denied former Attorney General Phill Kline's request for a rehearing to consider modifying a ruling that indefinitely suspended his law license. The denial was signed yesterday (TUE) by Justice Dan Biles on behalf of the court. Kline's attorney Tom Condit filed the motion with the court last week. Condit, who didn't immediately return messages seeking comment, argued that investigators in Kline's case were biased and facts about the former attorney general's investigations into abortions were misrepresented. The Supreme Court in October agreed with a state disciplinary panel that said Kline repeatedly misled or allowed subordinates to mislead others, including a Kansas City-area grand jury, during his investigations. The unanimous decision came after disputes between Kline, a Republican, and critics of his tactics.
KCP&L Seeks 2.3% Rate Increase
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Power & Light is seeking to raise electric rates for its Kansas customers. KCP&L has asked the Kansas Corporation Commission to approve the rate hike, which the utility says would help pay its share of a $1.2 billion environmental upgrade for the coal-fired La Cygne power plant in Kansas. If approved by the KCC, the increase would raise Kansas customers' rates 2.3 percent or $12.1 million a year. The Kansas City Star reports a typical residential customer would be charged an additional $2.35 month. The KCC has eight months to consider the request. KCP&L's Missouri customers also will see their rates go up to pay for the plant's environmental work, but under Missouri rules a rate hike can't be requested until the upgrade is completed.
Organization to Honor Fallen at Fort Riley
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A national organization is coming to Fort Riley to lay a wreath at the post cemetery to honor fallen soldiers. The event Saturday is part of the Wreaths Across America program that attempts to honor soldiers and families of those in uniform, as well as educate children about the role of the military to protect freedom. Wreaths Across America placed 406,000 wreaths at graves at 815 locations across the United State and national veterans' cemeteries in foreign countries. The first ceremony took place in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Big Blue Kansas Statehouse Crane Coming Down
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A giant blue crane that has been a big part of the renovation of the Kansas Statehouse for more than three years is coming down. Project Manager Jim Rinner says that general contractor JE Dunn Construction expects the crane to be dismantled by the end of the week. Workers are using an equally large red crane to take down the blue crane. The towering blue crane was used to carry building materials to the Capitol roof and dome, including massive steel beams used to support scaffolding. The steel beams have been removed, and the scaffolding is coming down. The $330 million renovation project began in 2001. State officials are planning a ceremony marking its completion to coincide with the January 29 anniversary of Kansas statehood.