© 2024 Kansas Public Radio

91.5 FM | KANU | Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
96.1 FM | K241AR | Lawrence (KPR2)
89.7 FM | KANH | Emporia
99.5 FM | K258BT | Manhattan
97.9 FM | K250AY | Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM | KANV | Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM | K210CR | Atchison
90.3 FM | KANQ | Chanute

See the Coverage Map for more details

FCC On-line Public Inspection Files Sites:

Questions about KPR's Public Inspection Files?
Contact General Manager Feloniz Lovato-Winston at fwinston@ku.edu
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Headlines for Thursday, March 28, 2024

A graphic representation of eight radios of various vintages, underneath the words "Kansas Public Radio News Summary"
Emily Fisher

Kansas House Unanimously Approves Tax Reform Package

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — After a lengthy discussion Tuesday night, Kansas House members advanced major tax reform Wednesday with unanimous bipartisan support. The Kansas News Service reports that representatives from both parties clapped, shook hands and patted each other on the back after reaching a breakthrough on tax relief. The bill would combine the state’s three tax brackets into just two – rather than the single rate vetoed by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly in January. The first $7,000 of a person’s income would be exempt from state taxes. Democratic Representative Tom Sawyer said, “We have a good, strong position in the House that benefits all Kansans. I think we can be very proud of the work we did today.” The bill also includes state property tax relief and an increase to the standard deduction. Kelly previously said a dual rate system was not her “preference”. It remains unclear if she would sign the bill if it also passes the Senate.


Kansas House Approves Special Education Funding Increase; Critics Cry Foul

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) — The Kansas House narrowly approved a bill Wednesday that would increase funding for special education. But opponents say it uses accounting tricks. The Kansas News Service reports that the measure would require districts to shift about $130 million of local property tax money toward special education. Republican Rep. Dave Younger is a former superintendent from Ulysses. He thinks the measure would shortchange schools and does not amount to more funding. “Using local property tax to pay for special-ed funding is not a viable option. Any other calculation is voodoo math,” he said. The House bill would also require schools to create an accountability plan for at-risk students and report progress to the State Board of Education.


Kansas Ranks Second in the Nation for Teachers Leaving Profession

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A new study finds that Kansas is second in the nation for teachers leaving the profession. The study, from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), claims Kansas had the second highest percentage of teachers leaving the job. (Vermont is listed as the top state where teachers are leaving the field of education.) KSNT reports that nationwide, retirement was most common reason teachers gave for leaving. Low pay was another factor. Kansas ranks in the bottom third for teacher salaries nationwide. From 2021 to 2022, the average teacher salary in Kansas was $64,000.


Kansas Senate Approves Bill to Nullify Lawrence's Ban on Plastic Bags

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) — Republican lawmakers in Topeka are trying to cancel a ban on plastic, single-use bags in the city of Lawrence. State lawmakers have been working to prohibit cities like Lawrence from banning or regulating the use of bags, straws, cups, bottles and other single-use containers. The Kansas Reflector reports that a bill to do that passed the House last year and this week, the Kansas Senate voted to send the legislation to the governor’s desk.

Lawrence implemented a plastic bag ban March 1 due to environmental concerns. The city allows exemptions for other plastic products, such as produce bags and garment bags. Lawrence’s ban added urgency to Republican-driven efforts to prevent similar bans from taking effect. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is likely to veto the GOP-supported legislation, just like she did last year. Republican lawmakers likely won’t have enough votes to override the expected veto.


Kris Kobach Leads Group of State Attorneys General File Lawsuit Challenging Biden's Student Loan Repayment Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group of Republican state attorneys general is suing the Biden administration to block a new student loan repayment plan that provides a faster path to cancellation and lower monthly payments for millions of borrowers.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, 11 states, led by Kansas, argue that Biden overstepped his authority in creating the SAVE Plan, which was made available to borrowers last year and has already canceled loans for more than 150,000.

It argues that the new plan is no different from Biden's first attempt at student loan cancellation, which the Supreme Court rejected last year. “Last time Defendants tried this the Supreme Court said that this action was illegal. Nothing since then has changed,” according to the lawsuit.

The Education Department declined to comment on the lawsuit but noted that Congress in 1993 gave the department the authority to define the terms of income-driven repayment plans.

“The Biden-Harris Administration won’t stop fighting to provide support and relief to borrowers across the country — no matter how many times Republican elected officials try to stop us,” the department said in a statement.

Biden announced the SAVE repayment plan in 2022, alongside a separate plan to cancel up to $20,000 in debt for more than 40 million Americans. The Supreme Court blocked the cancellation plan after Republican states sued, but the court didn’t examine SAVE, which was still being hashed out.

The new lawsuit was filed a day after the White House hosted a “day of action” to promote the SAVE Plan. The Biden administration says more than 7.7 million borrowers have enrolled in the plan, including more than 5 million who have had their monthly payments reduced to $100 or less because they have lower yearly incomes.

The challenge was filed electronically in federal court in Kansas by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, who requested that any trial be in Wichita, the state's largest city. The lawsuit asks a judge to halt the plan immediately. Along with Kansas, the suit is backed by Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

“In a completely brazen fashion, the president pressed ahead anyway,” Kobach said during a news conference at the Kansas Statehouse. “The law simply does not allow President Biden to do what he wants to do.”

Biden’s new repayment plan is a modified version of other income-based repayment plans that the Education Department has offered since the ’90s. The earliest versions were created by Congress to help struggling borrowers, capping payments at a portion of their income and canceling any remaining debt after 20 or 25 years.

The new plan offers more generous terms than ever, offering to reduce monthly payments for more borrowers and canceling loans in as little as 10 years. Unlike other plans, it prevents interest from snowballing as long as borrowers make their monthly payments.

The plan’s provisions are being phased in this year, and the quicker path to cancellation was originally scheduled to take effect later this summer. But the Biden administration accelerated that benefit and started canceling loans for some borrowers in February.

Biden said it was meant “to give more borrowers breathing room so they can get out from under the burden of student loan debt.”

Instead of creating a new plan from scratch, the Education Department amended existing plans through federal regulation. Supporters saw it as a legal maneuver that put the plan on firmer grounding, anticipating a challenge from Republicans.

But in the new lawsuit, Kobach argues that Biden needed to go through Congress to make such significant changes.

The states argue that Biden's plan will harm them in many ways.

With such a generous repayment plan, fewer borrowers will have an incentive to go into public service and pursue the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the states argue. They predict more state employees will leave their jobs, and it will worsen public schools' struggles to recruit and retain teachers.

They argue the plan will inject hundreds of billions of dollars in loan relief into the U.S. economy, which would require states to increase fraud protection efforts. The plan “will create enormous opportunities for fraudsters to exploit student debt borrowers that would not otherwise exist,” according to the suit.

If successful, it would effectively kill the last remnant of Biden’s first attempt at widespread student loan relief. After the Supreme Court blocked his wider plan last year, Biden ordered the Education Department to craft a new plan using a different legal justification. The agency is now pursuing a more limited plan for mass cancellation.

The Associated Press’ education coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.


Kansas Legislature Sends Governor Bill Banning Puberty Blockers, Trans Health Care for Children

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) — The Kansas Legislature has sent a bill to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly that forbids puberty blockers, gender transition surgery and other transgender health care for children. The Kansas Reflector reports that the governor is likely to veto the measure. While the Kansas Senate has enough support to override a veto, the House appears to be short of the necessary votes for an override. In the past, Kelly has opposed legislative attempts to micromanage health care decisions of families, whether they involve abortion or gender transitioning.


As Kansas Nears Gender Care Ban, Students Push University to Advocate for Trans Youth

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — With Kansas poised to ban gender-affirming care for minors, college students are trying to counter Republican efforts to roll back transgender rights by pushing the state's largest university to declare itself a haven for trans youth.

The GOP-controlled Legislature approved its proposed ban on puberty blockers, hormone treatments and surgeries for minors Wednesday, apparently with the two-thirds majorities in both chambers needed to override an expected veto from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Kansas would join 24 other states in banning or restricting gender-affirming care for minors, the latest being Wyoming last week.

But the week before — when a ban already appeared likely — the Student Senate on the University of Kansas' main campus overwhelmingly approved a proposal to add transgender rights policies to the school's code of student rights. The proposal asks administrators to affirm the students' right “to determine their own identities,” direct staff to use their preferred names and pronouns and commit to updating student records to reflect their gender identities. Administrators have not formally responded.

The university's hometown of Lawrence, between Kansas City and the state capital of Topeka, already has a reputation for being more liberal than the rest of the Republican-leaning state. But students involved with the transgender rights proposal said it's urgent now to show that the university will advocate for LGBTQ youth despite a Legislature they see as hostile.

“The people in charge have made the decision to support some things that are really cruel and unnecessary and unjustifiable,” Jenna Bellemere, a 21-year-old transgender senior, said of lawmakers. “It’s students and the younger generation who have to kind of step up and say, no, we don’t think that that’s OK and fight back against it.”

Republicans in Kansas have been part of a multi-year and nationwide push by GOP lawmakers to roll back transgender rights. Last year, they overrode Kelly vetoes of measures ending the state’s legal recognition of transgender residents’ gender identities and banning transgender women and girls from female K-12 and college sports.

Six months ago, lawsuits by conservative GOP Attorney General Kris Kobach forced Kelly's administration to stop changing the listing for “sex” on transgender people's birth certificates and driver's licenses.

Chris Raithel, a non-binary University of Kansas junior, was among those who worked on drafting the Student Senate proposal since last fall. Their goal wasn't to create a confrontation between the university and the Legislature that could fuel a budget-cutting backlash, they said, "but we do think it would be a great service to the trans students at the university if these protections were in university policy and students would see that they are understood and that they’re protected.”

Republicans have pushed for a ban even though trans youth, families and medical providers in Kansas opposed it. The move also goes against the recommendation of major American medical groups, though the National Health Service of England recently said it no longer would routinely cover puberty blockers and hormone treatment for minors.

Senate President Ty Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, described his chamber’s approval as a firm stand against “radical transgender ideology.”

Several doctors are among the legislators backing the Kansas measure, arguing that they’re protecting children from potentially irreversible medical treatments with long-term health effects.

“The bias, as some people call it, is predicated on fear — fear of the unknown — and there is still a lot that we don't know about what we're embarking on, particularly with minors,” said state Republican state Rep. John Eplee, a doctor from the state's northeastern corner. “This is not meant to be hateful or hurtful.”

Republican Sen. Mark Steffen, a central Kansas anesthesiologist and pain-management doctor, suggested the proposed ban would protect “troubled children” from "wayward parents and a wayward health care system.”

GOP legislators approved a proposed ban last year but couldn't override Kelly's veto. This year, supporters saw a net gain of 12 votes in the House to reach the necessary two-thirds majority there.

In the state Senate, supporters were one vote shy last year but picked it up Wednesday from Republican Sen. Brenda Dietrich, of Topeka, a former local school superintendent. She switched because this year backers added a provision that would give doctors until the end of the year to move patients off puberty blockers or hormone treatments.

Dietrich's voice shook as she explained her decision to colleagues Wednesday evening, saying it was a difficult vote. She said she'd worried about the potential harm of cutting off treatments suddenly but has always agreed with people in her GOP-leaning district, who “overwhelmingly” oppose gender-affirming surgeries for minors.

“Their anger regarding physicians and parents allowing surgeries on children is palpable," she said.

Even supporters of the ban have acknowledged that Kansas doctors do few gender-affirming surgeries for minors. Young transgender adults have said in interviews that they've gone through months — sometimes several years — of therapy, puberty blockers and hormone treatments first.

And critics of a ban said the provision allowing a gradual withdrawal of treatments that reduce the risk of suicide, while potentially better medically than an abrupt end, doesn't prevent harm to the physical and mental health of transgender youth.

“Minors and their families are already facing significant emotional turmoil from facing these hateful bills year after year,” Amanda Mogoi, an advanced practice registered nurse from Wichita who’s provided such treatments for eight years, said in an email. “They will not want to stop their life-saving medications.”

While the measure would ban treatments only for people under 18 years old, the college students behind the University of Kansas proposal still see it as a threat to them, in part because they don't expect GOP lawmakers to stop there. During the House debate Wednesday, health committee Chair Brenda Landwehr suggested that Kansas should consider extending the ban to people in their early 20s.

“If I could ban this until a child's brain fully developed, I would do that in a heartbeat,” said Landwehr, a Wichita Republican.

Bellemere said that even without a broader ban, doctors might stop treating young transgender adults, fearing lawsuits or other legal problems.

Another transgender University of Kansas student, Raine Flores-Peña, a junior and LGBTQ+ rights activist working at the school's Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity, said some friends transferred to other universities after Kansas legislators ended the state's legal recognition of their gender identities. But he began his transition after moving to Lawrence in 2018, and describes himself as very stubborn.

“I don’t want to get kicked out of my own home," he said.


Critics Say Bill Moving Through Statehouse Could Open Door to "Fetal Personhood" Measures

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) — Several bills backed by anti-abortion groups are moving through the Kansas Legislature. The Kansas News Service reports that critics worry one could make it easier to enact anti-abortion laws in the future. The bill would let pregnant women collect child support payments from the father beginning at the date of conception. Supporters say it’ll help moms pay for pregnancy-related medical expenses. But critics say it’s an effort to codify a legal concept known as fetal personhood, which is a long-term goal of the anti-abortion movement. That concept was the basis of an Alabama court ruling last month that temporarily blocked some fertility services in the state … before lawmakers protected them. Kansas House lawmakers passed the bill this week, sending it to the Senate.


House Approves Moves to Restrict Foreign Ownership of Kansas Land

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) — The Kansas House has approved a bill restricting foreign entities from acquiring property in the state. The measure creates the Kansas Land and Military Installation Protection Act, which prohibits citizens or agents from “countries of concerns” from purchasing non-residential property within 150 miles of any military installation. WIBW TV reports that Attorney General Kris Kobach has been leading the effort to restrict foreign ownership of Kansas land. He says he appreciate the House bill but hopes changes can be made to the legislation. As written, Kobach think the bill would be hard to defend in court and he's hoping changes can be made in a a conference committee of the House and Senate. Kobach wants a blanket ban on foreign acquisitions of more than three acres and a bill that limits foreign leases to two years or less.

(–Additional reporting–)

Kansas Considers Limits on Economic Activity with China and Other 'Countries of Concern'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas advanced proposals Wednesday aimed at preventing individuals and companies from China and other U.S. adversaries from owning farmland or business property, limiting state investments in foreign companies and restricting the use of foreign-made drones. Some GOP conservatives, including state Attorney General Kris Kobach, want the state to enact even tougher restrictions, even as Democratic critics suggest the measures are fueled by xenophobia.

Kansas already limits corporate ownership of agricultural land, and more than 20 other states restrict foreign land ownership, according to the National Agricultural Law Center. Supporters of such measures argue that they protect military installations and U.S. citizens from spying and other national security risks.

The Republican-controlled Kansas House approved three bills addressing activities by individuals and companies from “countries of concern" — China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela — and groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.

Under one bill, if their citizens own more than 10% of a firm, the firm couldn't own farmland or business property within 150 miles of a U.S. military or National Guard base or property owned by any other U.S. or state agency critical to security — enough installations that all of Kansas is covered.

Another bill would require the state to divest from companies with ties to the listed nations. A third would prohibit state and local agencies from acquiring drones with “critical components” made in those nations — and require agencies, including law enforcement, to replace drones with those components within five years. “It is inappropriate for our state to allocate resources to countries that present substantial obstacles to human rights, international stability and our national security,” said Republican state Rep. Nick Hoheisel, of Wichita, the chair of committees on pensions, banking and state investments.

The votes were 85-38 on the state investment measure, 84-39 on the foreign land ownership proposal and 83-40 on the bill dealing with drones, and all three measures go next to the GOP-controlled state Senate. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has not said what she will do, but the House votes suggested that backers could have the two-thirds majority there to override a veto. Eighty of the House's 85 Republicans voted “yes” on all three bills, while 36 of the 40 Democrats voted “no.”

Some Democrats argued during debates Tuesday that Republicans were stoking anti-China sentiment, and Rep. Rui Xu, a Kansas City-area Democrat, compared the land ownership bill to decades-past U.S. policies discriminating against Asian Americans or Asian immigrants.

A Kansas State University report for lawmakers last fall said foreign individuals or companies had an interest in only 2.4% of the state's 49 million acres of privately owned agricultural land, and more than 94% of it could be attributed to land leased for solar or wind farms. Chinese ownership accounted for only a single acre, the report said. “This has turned into Asian Prejudice Day in the Kansas Legislature, and it's not a proud moment," Democratic Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita, said during Tuesday's debates.

But the bills' supporters rejected allegations that the measures were xenophobic or racist. Hoeheisel said they are justified by the nations' human rights abuses. For example, in explaining his “yes” vote on the investments measure, he described Iran as a place “where women are subjected to stoning merely for being seen in public with a male who's not a relative.” And Rep. Patrick Penn, another Wichita Republican, said the land-ownership bill would protect families by “seeking the truth" about “those who would seek to harm us.” “Let's investigate. Let's know the truth. Let's be free,” Penn said.

Kobach has proposed barring any foreign national from owning more than 3 acres of property in Kansas and setting up a new State Land Council with the power to review individual cases and make exceptions. The proposal remains stuck in a Senate committee, having inspired opposition from business and agriculture groups. When Kobach unveiled his proposal during a Statehouse news conference in February, he said it was more likely than other proposals to lead to investigations of who's buying Kansas land. “That flat prohibition then requires individuals to come to the state and ask for an exception,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic critics argued that the land ownership bill wouldn't prevent spying and other threats to national security but would instead boomerang on immigrant small business owners waiting to become U.S. citizens. “To the extent that there is a problem, much of it could be addressed by our existing prohibition on corporate ownership of farmland,” said Democratic Rep. Boog Highberger, from Lawrence.


Investigation Underway into Death of Inmate at Lansing Prison

LANSING, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Corrections says an inmate has died at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Officials say 58-year-old Charles Homer Roberson died Monday. He was found unresponsive in his cell. The cause of death is pending the results of an independent autopsy. When an inmate dies in state prison, the death is investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Roberson was serving a life sentence for convictions of first-degree murder, robbery, battery and forgery in Wyandotte County.


JCCC Art Museum Hosts Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton Exhibit, Lecture

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCUR) — The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park will host a lecture about the work of Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton Thursday night. KCUR reports that Layton began drawing in 1977 at the age of 68 and continued almost until her death in 1993. She rose to art world fame for the unflinching self portraits that showed her aging female body. Guest Curator Mary Frances Ivey assembled 30 works for the first solo show of Layton’s art in nearly three decades, explaining that “...she is aware of the fact that people perceive her as this grandmother, but she is also subversive, extremely politically engaged, and deeply curious about the world.” The “Drawing as Discourse” exhibit is on view through July 28. Ivey and journalist Don Lambert will host a dialogue at the Nerman Museum's Hudson Auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday night. For more information on the exhibition and the Thursday evening event, visit the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art website.


Willow Domestic Violence Center Featured in the KPR Community Spotlight for March

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — This month's KPR Community Spotlight is on the Willow Domestic Violence Center. Willow serves survivors of domestic violence in Douglas, Franklin and Jefferson counties and all of its services are provided free of charge. Christy Imel, director of external affairs for Willow, says survivors of domestic violence often find ways to hide their abuse from friends, family and colleagues. "I've had a number of people come up to me and say: 'Is domestic violence really an issue in our community?' And the answer is: Yes, absolutely it's an issue," she said. Willow operates more than one shelter for survivors and provides a 24-hour hotline for people who need help: (785) 843-3333. Learn more about Willow and the many services it provides.

Willow is holding its Bijoux fundraiser on Thursday, April 4 at the Cider Gallery in Lawrence.


Honey Production Increases in U.S. for First Time in Three Years

UNDATED (HPM) — Honeybees across the United States produced more honey last year than in previous years. According to the USDA, it's the first time production has risen in three years. That's good news for an industry facing headwinds. Rainy, cool weather in some areas after years of drought likely drove 2023’s increase in production. Those conditions help plants grow, giving bees the nectar they need to make honey. But Matt Lance, who manages about 350 honeybee colonies across Nebraska, points out that the latest boost is against a decades-long downward trend in honey production. He calls the latest numbers “small potatoes” in the grand scheme of things. "I would say, don’t look at the increase in honey yield as an industry thriving, it’s just a slight less headache than what it was before," he said. Lance says factors like parasites and viruses, cheap, foreign honey and loss of flower-rich lands are challenging beekeepers across the country.

While Kansas has many beekeepers, it is not one of the nation's top honey producers. North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas are among the top honey-producing states.

Patty Sundberg, a beekeeper who also leads the American Beekeeping Federation, wasn’t surprised by the increased honey production in 2023, which was a mild and wetter year, especially in top honey-producing states. Those are crucial weather conditions to help her bees turn out honey. "So, you can't have blooming flowers without moisture. If a plant is stressed - whether it's drought stressed, heat stressed, whatever - it won't produce nectar, which if there's no nectar, then they don't produce honey," she said. Despite the increase, Sundberg says honey production has been down over the last few decades. Honey bees and beekeepers are facing challenges like fewer flowering plants and higher expenses.


Man Cuffed but Not Charged After Chiefs' Super Bowl Rally Shooting Sues Congressman

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A man who was briefly handcuffed in the chaos that followed a deadly shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl rally is suing a Tennessee congressman who falsely accused him in social media posts of being one of the shooters and an immigrant in the country illegally. Denton Loudermill Jr., of Olathe filed the federal lawsuit this week against U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, alleging that the remarks were “highly offensive, derogatory in the extreme, and defamatory.” Burchett, a Republican, is serving his third term representing a district in east Tennessee. His spokeswoman, Rachel Partlow, said the office doesn’t comment on pending or active litigation.

The February 14 shooting outside the historic Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, killed a well-known DJ and injured more than 20 others, many of them children. Loudermill, who is not among those charged, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. The suit says that when gunfire erupted, Loudermill froze, standing in the middle of the chaos so long that police had put up crime scene tape when he finally walked away.

As he tried to go under the tape to leave, officers stopped him and told him he was moving “too slow.” They handcuffed him and put him on a curb, where people began taking pictures and posting them on social media, the suit says. Loudermill ultimately was led away from the area and told he was free to go.

The suit says that Loudermill, who was born and raised in the U.S., was never detained, cited or arrested in the shooting. The suit stresses that he had no involvement and didn't know any of the teens or young adults who argued before gunfire erupted.

But the next day, a picture of Loudermill was posted on Burchett's account on X, formerly known as Twitter. Above the picture were the words: “One of the Kansas City Chiefs victory parade shooters has been identified as an illegal Alien.” A follow-up post on February 18 blamed incorrect news reports for the “illegal alien” identification. But the post, which was included in the lawsuit, still described the cuffed man seated on the curb as “one of the shooters.”

The suit alleges the “false assertions” were reposted and widely circulated to more than 1 million people worldwide. The suit describes Loudermill as a car wash employee — not a public figure — and a “contributing member of his African-American family, a family with deep and long roots in his Kansas community.” The suit says he received death threats and experienced periods of “anxiety, agitation, and sleep disruption.”


Royals Lose Home Opener as Twins Begin Defense of AL Central Title with 4-1 Win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pablo Lopez allowed one run over seven innings, Royce Lewis homered before leaving with an injury, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Thursday to begin defense of their AL Central crown.

Carlos Correa added three hits and two RBIs to back a near-peerless performance by Lopez, who picked up where he left off last postseason. The right-hander allowed four hits and struck out seven without a walk in his first opening-day start.

The lone run Lopez (1-0) allowed was a homer to Maikel Garcia, the first batter he faced.

Brock Stewart worked the eighth for Minnesota. Griffin Jax earned the save by handling the ninth.

Cole Ragans (0-1) set a Royals record for opening day with nine strikeouts in just six innings. But the 26-year-old left-hander, who arrived in a midseason trade with Texas last year, also allowed two runs on five hits and two walks.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid began the festivities on a sun-splashed afternoon by hauling the club's latest Lombardi Trophy to the mound, where team owner Clark Hunt and president Mark Donovan held two other Super Bowl trophies. Then Reid, who worked as a vendor at Dodger Stadium as a teen, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett.

Lewis delivered the first hit of the day for Minnesota, a no-doubt shot to left field with two outs in the first. Garcia delivered the second for Kansas City, a tying homer of his own into the left-field bullpen leading off the bottom half.

Minnesota pulled ahead in the third when Correa's double brought home Manuel Margot. The hit proved costly, though, when Lewis pulled up near third base with a right quad injury; Edouard Julien replaced him.

The Twins added two runs off Chris Stratton in the ninth to give their bullpen a cushion.

Twins: RHPs Jhoan Duran (right oblique strain), Josh Staumont (left calf strain), Justin Topa (left patellar tendinitis) and Zack Weiss (right shoulder strain) and LHP Caleb Thielbar (left hamstring strain) were placed on the injured list.

Royals: RHP Carlos Hernandez (right shoulder impingement), LHPs Jake Brentz (left hamstring strain) and Josh Taylor (left biceps) and INF Michael Massey (lower back strain) were placed on the IL. All of them remained in Arizona.

After taking Friday off, the Twins send RHP Joe Ryan to the mound against Royals RHP Seth Lugo on Saturday. The Royals signed Lugo to a three-year, $45 million contract during their offseason overhaul of the starting rotation.


Welsh Rugby Star Louis Rees-Zammit Agrees to a Contract with the Chiefs, AP Source Says

UNDATED (AP) – Welsh rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit has agreed to a contract with the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, a person with knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the deal.

The 23-year-old Rees-Zammit, one of the best wingers in rugby, announced in January that he was leaving the Welsh national team to pursue a dream of playing in the NFL. He’s projected as a returner/running back/wide receiver.

Rees-Zammit is one of 15 athletes from eight countries participating in the NFL International Player Pathway program. The prospects have spent 10 weeks training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, getting a crash course in practicing the fundamentals of football and learning the intricacies of a game most have never played.

Rees-Zammit ran an official time of 4.43 in the 40-yard dash last week when the international players participated in the University of South Florida’s pro day. He drew a lot of attention from a crowd that included 51 scouts from 31 teams.

“A bit disappointed in my 40,” Rees-Zammit told the AP afterward. “Last week, I was getting some really good times. I was getting low 4.3s, high 4.2s. So it is what it is. It’s just what happens on the day. But I know I can run that fast. I’m not trying to make excuses or anything, but I know what I can do and I’m happy with the day and how the day went."

Rees-Zammit, whose favorite NFL player growing up was three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, hopes to play like 49ers stars Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.

“I watched a lot of footage of Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, players like that who’ve got that versatility because I want to be a player that can play multiple positions and I fully believe I can, so being able to play out of the backfield, being able to line up as a receiver, in the slot, wideout," Rees-Zammit said last week. “I’ve learned a lot in the past eight weeks and I’m pretty excited to see what will happen.”

He'll get an opportunity to catch passes from three-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and learn from coach Andy Reid. The NFL's new kickoff rule that makes returners more relevant gives Rees-Zammit a chance to make the team as a specialist.

For the first time this season, each team will have a 17th roster spot on the practice squad specifically available for an international player. Teams also are permitted to promote an international practice squad player to the active roster a maximum of three times throughout the season — increasing opportunities for players to develop and get a chance to play.

Teams will also receive one training camp roster exemption for a qualifying international player.


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers. Our headlines are generally published by 10 am weekdays and are updated through 7 pm. This ad-free news summary is made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.