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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, March 20, 2013

KPR-News-Summary

Kansas House Advances Cuts in Sales, Income Taxes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given first-round approval to bill cutting sales and income taxes after rejecting a diversion of highway funds to stabilize the budget. The bill advanced Wednesday on an 82-37 vote, suggesting it has enough support to pass on final action expected Thursday. The legislation follows up on personal income tax cuts enacted last year by promising income tax rate reductions each year that overall state revenues grow more than 2 percent. Also, the bill allows the state sales tax to decline as scheduled in July. Originally, the bill would have diverted $382 million over two years from highway projects to other budget uses. But the idea inspired strong protests, and House members eliminated the diversion. The Senate has approved its own tax bill.

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KS-Based Company Helps Bring '42' to Kansas City

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas-based financial company is playing a critical role in bringing advance screenings of a new movie exploring Jackie Robinson's transition as Major League Baseball's first black player to Kansas City. Overland Park firm Waddell and Reed used its relationship with production company Legendary Pictures to land the April 11 screenings of "42", proceeds of which will benefit Kansas City's Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Thomas Butch, executive vice president at Waddell and Reed, announced the screenings Wednesday at a news conference at the museum. He says Kansas City will be the only place other than Los Angeles where the movie will be shown a day ahead of its official opening. Robinson began his professional career with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945 before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

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KS House OKs Budget, Senate Debate Awaits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given final approval to the chamber's version of a $14 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including cuts to higher education. Wednesday's 68-55 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which was scheduled to debate its own version later Wednesday. The House budget plan spends about $6 billion in general state revenues in the fiscal year that begins July 1. It also makes a 4 percent cut to higher education, a reduction of close to $30 million for state universities and community colleges. Both chambers closely follow a budget presented by Republican Governor Sam Brownback for spending on K-12 education, social services and public safety. The House is debating a tax package that diverts money from the state transportation program to fund programs.

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Kansas House Approves Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given final approval to a bill blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and prohibiting public schools from using sex education instruction from abortion providers. The 92-31 vote Wednesday sends the measure to the Senate. The Republican-dominated House has an anti-abortion majority, so the measure had been expected to pass. Senate GOP leaders are promising their chamber will consider the bill quickly. The bill would prevent groups providing abortions from receiving tax exemptions or credits that go to other nonprofit groups or health care providers. It would also prevent women who claim income tax deductions for medical expenses from including the cost of abortion services. The legislation also prohibits abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from furnishing materials or instructors for sex education classes in schools.

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KS AG Says Company Banned from State

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general's office says an environmental services company has to repay about $2,400 after the company was accused of sending false billings to four cities in Kansas. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office says in a release Wednesday that the attorney general's office has entered into a consent judgment with Commercial Maintenance Chemical Corporation under the Kansas False Claims Act. The New York-based company was accused of sending false billings to four cities in Kansas after delivering free samples and unordered products. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the consent judgment demands repayment to Emporia, Cawker City, Wilson and Concordia and prohibits Commercial Maintenance Chemical Corporation from operating in Kansas again.

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KU Student Sues Fraternity

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A student at the University of Kansas has filed a lawsuit accusing a fraternity of allowing underage drinking, which he claims led to his severe head injury. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 20-year-old Andrew Johnson of Salina filed the lawsuit in Douglas County court against the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Johnson claims he and other underage fraternity members were provided unlimited access to alcohol and encouraged to drink during a 2011 party. According to Johnson, later that night another student rammed his head into a concrete wall, causing a "massive closed head injury." The lawsuit claims the injury caused brain damage that's eliminated Johnson's sense of smell and left him with cognitive deficiencies. The fraternity's national office in Richmond, Virginia, declined comment because the case is pending.

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Olathe OKs Google Fiber Deal

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Olathe officials have approved an agreement that paves the way for Google's super-fast Internet service to be installed in the southern Johnson County community. The Kansas City Star reports the Olathe City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the Google Fiber agreement. The Olathe deal is similar to other deals in the Kansas City area, where Google has been slowly connecting several neighborhoods with its high-speed service. The deal gives Olathe 5 percent of gross receipts generated by Google selling the service in the Johnson County suburb. The agreement also promises free 1-gigabit-per-second connections to up to four public facilities for up to 10 years. If Google deploys a Wi-Fi network in Olathe, that wireless Internet access will be free to the public for at least five years.

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Wounded KC Vet Ending Struggle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 33-year-old Kansas City veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq nearly a decade ago is now preparing to die by refusing nourishment. The Kansas City Star reports that Tomas Young was paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper's bullet and is now in hospice care and preparing to die. Sometime in the next few weeks, he intends to refuse nourishment, water and life-extending medication. He expects to die a few days later. Young is mostly confined to his bed. His colon was removed in November and he doesn't eat solid food. A pump he controls provides anti-pain drugs through a tube into his chest. His wife and mother support his decision and want his plight to draw attention to the price being paid for the Iraq war.

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KC Man Charged After Disrupting Mayor's Speech

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 31-year-old Kansas City man has been charged with two misdemeanors after commandeering the microphone from Mayor Sly James during a speech. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says in a release that Derron L. Black was charged Wednesday with third-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and obstructing government operations. Baker says a police officer guarding James grabbed Black after Black interrupted the mayor's speech Tuesday and began shouting into the microphone. She says Black resisted by "punching and swinging his arms" and that the officer was cut on his neck and had bruising to his arm. Baker says Black also acknowledged in a statement to police that he threw a city flag to the floor and yelled obscenities. Online court records don't list a lawyer for Black.

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KS House Okays Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill, Final Vote Today

 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House is preparing for a final vote on a bill that would block tax breaks for abortion providers and bar public schools from using sex education instruction from abortion providers.  Approval on final action today (WED) would send the measure to the Senate. The Republican-dominated House has an anti-abortion majority, so the measure is expected to pass the chamber on a final vote.  Senate GOP leaders are promising their chamber will consider the bill quickly.  The bill would prevent groups providing abortions from receiving tax exemptions or credits that go to other nonprofit groups or health care providers. It would also bar women who claim income tax deductions for medical expenses from including the cost of abortion services.  The legislation also prohibits abortion providers from furnishing materials or instructors for sex education classes in schools.

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KS House Approves Bill on Union Pay Deductions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have given final approval to a bill barring public employee unions from deducting money from members' paychecks to help finance political activities.  Yesterday's (TUE) 68-to-54 vote in the House sends the measure to Governor Sam Brownback, who's expected to sign it. The Senate approved the measure last week.  Proponents argued the bill would protect members of public employee unions from having part of their pay funneled to candidates or causes they oppose. Supporters also said state and local government agencies processing payrolls shouldn't be entangled in such transactions.  But critics see the measure as an attempt to hinder fundraising by public employee unions, which generally are strong supporters of Democrats.  Opponents also note that union members typically sign off on any deductions from their paychecks.

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NE KS Mom Walks to Topeka to Back Teachers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas mom has completed a three-day walk from her home in Merriam to Topeka to protest policies she says hurt public schools and teachers.  Heather Ousley began her 60-mile trek Saturday and finished with a news conference yesterday (TUE) in the Statehouse. Ousley says she was compelled to act because of bills before the Legislature that she and other critics claim are an attack on teacher rights and quality public schools.  Ousley was joined by several dozen teachers, parents and children from the Shawnee Mission school district who were lobbying legislators. The gathering was part of a new organization, Game on for Kansas Schools, which is advocating for strong public schools and increased funding.

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Sales Tax, Highway Funds at Center of KS Tax Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House members expect a debate on taxes to focus on proposals to lower the sales tax and divert highway funds to other parts of the budget.  A bill on today's (WED) agenda would follow up on income tax cuts enacted last year by promising future reductions in income tax rates each year if overall state revenues grow more than 2 percent.  Republican Governor Sam Brownback proposed more aggressive income tax cuts this year.  Brownback wants to cancel a decrease in the sales tax scheduled by law for July. The House bill would reduce the tax as planned.  The governor wants to keep the sales tax at its current rate to stabilize the budget. The House plan does it by diverting $382 million highway funds to other uses.  

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KS House, Senate to Act on Kansas Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House and Senate are set to act on their respective versions of a $14 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The House plans a final vote on its budget bill today (WED) after debating it for more than four hours Tuesday. The measure would spend about $6 billion in general state revenue in the fiscal year that starts July 1.  Senators are also scheduled to debate their version of the budget, spending roughly the same amounts as the House on public schools, social services and public safety.  A final version of the budget will be reconciled by negotiators from the two chambers before lawmakers begin a month-long break at the end of March.

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KC Teen Accused in Fatal Stabbing of 70-Year-Old Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City teenager is accused in the weekend stabbing death of a 70-year-old woman during a break-in at her home.  The Jackson County prosecutor's office has filed charges of second-degree murder, burglary and armed criminal action against 17-year-old Kevin Brewer. He was being held on $250,000 bond.  Investigators believe Brewer and a juvenile left a downtown homeless shelter early Sunday and went to the home of Marise Barrett and her husband. Police say the juvenile lived with Barrett until she ordered him to leave in January.  According to court documents, Brewer told police the juvenile was angry with Barrett. Police say the two teens broke into her home, where her husband found her dead with more than 30 stab wounds.  

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Protester Interrupts KC Mayor's Speech

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's police chief says a man who interrupted a speech by Mayor Sly James and ranted for several seconds before being tackled was not directing his anger at the mayor.
The Kansas City Star reports that the man jumped onstage at the Gem Theater as James delivered his State of the City speech Tuesday morning and commandeered the microphone.
Police Chief Darryl Forte says the man was unarmed. He was quickly tackled by one of the mayor's bodyguards, then handcuffed and taken to jail.  James — a 61-year-old former Marine MP — appeared unfazed and resumed his speech.  People in the audience said the man was yelling about a City Council member.  James said afterward he never felt in danger. His office did not respond to calls seeking comment.

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KS Woman Sentenced to Probation for Embezzlement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former employee of a northeast Kansas credit union has been sentenced in federal court to two years of probation for embezzling $85,000 from the company.  The U.S. Attorney's office says Deborah Bomia, of Enterprise, must also pay $85,000 in restitution to Enterprise Credit Union under the sentence she received yesterday (TUE).  Bomia pleaded guilty last July to the crime, which occurred between April 2005 and August 2011. She admitted kiting checks between accounts in her name at the credit union to create fictitious balances.  Prosecutors said Bomia would record a large deposit in the credit union's general ledger near the end of the month but not make the deposit for several weeks, when another large check would be drafted out of her credit union checking account.

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Olathe OKs Google Fiber Deal

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Olathe officials have approved an agreement that paves the way for Google's super-fast Internet service to be installed in the southern Johnson County community.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Olathe City Council voted unanimously yesterday (TUE) to approve the Google Fiber agreement.  The Olathe deal is similar to other deals in the Kansas City area, where Google has been slowly connecting several neighborhoods with its high-speed service. The deal gives Olathe 5 percent of gross receipts generated by Google selling the service in the Johnson County suburb. The agreement also promises free 1-gigabit-per-second connections to up to four public facilities for up to 10 years.  If Google deploys a Wi-Fi network in Olathe, that wireless Internet access will be free to the public for at least five years.

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Bald Eagle Recovering from Shooting

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) — A bald eagle that appears to have been shot is recovering from its wounds at a south-central Kansas raptor center. The female bird was taken in late Sunday at the Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Cheney. The program director says the eagle was found by quail hunters near Latham, about 40 miles southeast of Wichita. It was missing several feathers from its left wing. An X-ray revealed metal fragments in its thigh. Staff are hopeful the eagle will recover.

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