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Headlines for Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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Emily Fisher

Bird Flu Spreads Cow-to-Cow and To One Human in Texas

TEXAS (Kansas Reflector) — Texas cows are believed to have directly transmitted avian flu to other cows and now, to at least one person. That's according to agriculture and health officials in Texas. The Kansas Reflector reports that new evidence of mammal-to-mammal transmissions of the virus that is highly infectious and deadly for domestic birds is a troubling development. Research published last month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the occurrences need to be closely monitored to prevent a potential health crisis.

The “virus may be changing and adapting to infect mammals,” researchers concluded. “Continuous surveillance is essential to mitigate the risk for a global pandemic.” The Texas Department of State Health Services announced the human infection on Monday. The person worked closely with dairy cows that are thought to be infected, and he was likely infected directly by them. The person’s only symptom is conjunctivitis — commonly known as “pink eye” — and he has been told to avoid contact with other people while he recovers.

At this time, officials think the risk is low for public health in general and especially for people who are not working with sick cows. There is no evidence that the virus has changed in a way that makes it more transmissible to humans, federal officials have said.

The bird flu outbreak in dairy cattle in Texas, Kansas (and potentially New Mexico) was first reported last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Migrating birds are the apparent sources of the initial infections, which were noticed, in part, because sick cows were producing thick and discolored milk. On Friday, the USDA confirmed the disease in a Michigan dairy herd and said it was the result of sick cows from Texas being transported there before they showed symptoms.

The current bird flu outbreak started February 2022 in the United States and has since resulted in the culling of about 82 million birds in commercial and backyard flocks in 48 states, according to CDC data.

(–Additional reporting–)

Texas Dairy Worker Tests Positive for Bird Flu

UNDATED (KNS) – A dairy farm worker in Texas has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu. The Kansas News Service reports that this news comes a week after cases were found in cattle for the first time in states including Kansas and Texas. The virus is commonly found in wild birds and isn’t typically spread from mammal to mammal. It’s unclear whether the Texas worker caught the virus from an infected bird or the cattle. Janet Bailey, CEO of the Kansas Dairy Association, says dairy farmers already have high health and safety standards, but they’re taking extra precautions to protect their herd and workers, adding that “... we’re leaning toward what the poultry industry has done in worker protection and farm protection.” Bailey says dairy farmers have been advised to wear personal protective equipment around cattle with confirmed or suspected cases of bird flu. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says three dairy farms in Kansas now have a total of 6 confirmed cases of avian influenza.


Kansas GOP Lawmakers Revive Plan to Stop Giving Voters 3 Extra Days to Return Mail Ballots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas have revived a proposal to stop giving voters three extra days after polls close to return mail ballots after making key concessions in a bid to get enough votes from rural GOP lawmakers to overcome the Democratic governor's potential veto.

Republicans have argued that allowing election officials to count ballots received after Election Day undermines people’s confidence in the results, through there’s no evidence that the practice has led to fraud or serious mistakes. The Republican-controlled Legislature expects to take final votes this week on a version of the proposal drafted Monday by GOP negotiators for the House and Senate.

The push to end the “grace period” arose as election conspiracy promoters gained influence within the Kansas GOP. They have spread baseless claims that elections are rife with fraud and amplified ex-President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Some rural Republicans have resisted because the policy was enacted in 2017 in response to concerns that U.S. mail delivery was getting slower in their districts.

House Elections Committee Chair Pat Proctor, a Republican from northwest of the Kansas City area, said people are suspicious when the result flips in a close election as vote counting continues after Election Day. “I don’t think that our votes are less secure because we take ballots after Election Day — which I know some Republicans do believe to be the case — but it does create doubt," he said after Monday's negotiations.

More than 30 states require mail ballots to arrive by Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among the remaining states, deadlines vary from 5 p.m. the day after polls close in Texas to no set deadline in Washington state.

The latest version of the Kansas proposal would wait until the start of 2025 to end the grace period and add two extra days to advance voting, so people could start voting in person at election offices and receive mail ballots 22 days before an election, instead of the current 20. Also, county offices would have to be open for advance, in-person voting for at least four hours the Saturday before an election.

Those provisions are designed to win over skeptical rural Republicans and garner the two-thirds majorities in both chambers needed to override a governor's veto. “We would love to be able to get rid of the three-day grace period and take care of all of this right now,” said Sen. Mike Thompson, a Kansas City-area Republican and his chamber’s lead negotiator on elections legislation. “We know that the governor may veto this, so we have to have those votes.”

Voting rights advocates argue that giving Kansas voters less time to return their ballots could disenfranchise thousands of poor, disabled and older voters and people of color. Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill to end the grace period last year, and Republican leaders didn't have the two-thirds majorities in both chambers needed to reverse her action. “The law was working with the three-day grace period,” said Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, of Wichita, who represented Democratic senators in the negotiations.

Last month, the Senate considered a bill that would have required mail ballots to arrive by the time polls close, 7 p.m. in most counties. Senators promoting baseless election conspiracies added provisions to ban electronic vote tabulating and ballot drop boxes, splitting Republicans and dooming the package.

More recently, Republicans who support ending the grace period have contended that when some ballots arrive at election offices without postmarks to confirm when they were mailed, local officials aren't legally allowed to count them, and that disenfranchises those voters.

It's not clear how often that happens because the state hasn't collected any data, though the Kansas secretary of state's office, which oversees elections, has asked county officials to compile it this year. Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican who nevertheless vouches for the state's elections, is neutral on ending the grace period.

Faust-Goudeau said that if it is a problem, “We can certainly add a measure that says we don’t need that postmark.”


Police Dog's Death Has Kansas Poised to Increase Penalties for Killing K-9 Officers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is poised to increase penalties for killing police dogs and horses after legislators gave their final approval Tuesday to a measure inspired by a suspect's strangling of a dog last year in the state's largest city.

The Republican-controlled state House approved a bill with a 115-6 vote that would allow a first-time offender to be sentenced to more than three years in prison for killing a police animal, an arson dog, a game warden's dog or a search-and-rescue dog and up to five years if the killing occurs when a suspect is trying to elude law enforcement. An offender also could be fined up to $10,000.

The current penalty for killing a police dog is up to a year behind bars and a fine of between $500 and $5,000, and the law doesn't specifically cover horses. “There is a lot of time and money put into those animals,” said House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican who was the bill’s leading advocate. “They have to continually train all the time and so to have one killed, there’s got to be a pretty harsh penalty.”

The GOP-controlled Senate approved the measure by a narrower 25-15 margin last week, and the bill goes next to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who has not said publicly whether she will sign it. Kelly typically signs measures with bipartisan support, but most of the 11 Democrats in the Senate opposed the bill.

Increased penalties have had bipartisan support across the U.S. In Colorado, the Democratically led General Assembly approved a measure last month. Proposals have advanced in GOP-controlled Legislatures in Missouri and West Virginia and introduced in at least four other states.

The Kansas measure was inspired by the November death of Bane, an 8-year-old Wichita police dog. Authorities say a suspect in a domestic violence case took refuge in a storm drain and strangled Bane when a deputy sent the dog in to flush out the suspect.

But critics of such measures have questions about how dogs are used in policing, particularly when suspects of color are involved. Their use also has a fraught history, such as their use during by Southern authorities during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. “Police dogs have jaws strong enough to puncture sheet metal. Victims of attacks by police dogs have sustained serious and even fatal injuries,” Keisha James, a staff attorney for the National Lawyers Guild's National Police Accountability Project, said in written testimony to a Senate committee last month. “It follows that an individual being attacked by a police dog would respond by trying to defend themselves.”


Kansas Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner Spar Over Disputed Medicaid Certificate Audit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An audit released Tuesday by Kansas' attorney general concluded that the state is losing more than $20 million a year because its Insurance Department is lax in overseeing one of its programs. The department said the audit is flawed and should be “discounted nearly in its entirety.”

The dispute involves two elected Republicans, Attorney General Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt, who are considered potential candidates in 2026 to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Their conflict flared a week after the GOP-controlled state Senate approved a bill that would give Kobach's office greater power to investigate social services fraud through its inspector general for the state's Medicaid program.

The audit released by the inspector general said the Insurance Department improperly allowed dozens of nursing homes to claim a big break on a per-bed tax that helps fund Medicaid. It said that from July 2020 through August 2023, the state lost more than $94 million in revenues, mostly because 68% of the certificates issued by the Insurance Department to allow homes to claim the tax break did not comply with state law.

But Schmidt's office said the inspector general relied on an “unduly harsh and unreasonable” interpretation of state law and “unreliable extrapolations” to reach its conclusions. Also, the department said, the conclusion that most applications for the tax break were mishandled is “astronomically unreflective of reality.”

The state taxes many skilled nursing facilities $4,908 per bed for Medicaid, which covers nursing home services for the elderly but also health care for the needy and disabled. But nursing homes can pay only $818 per bed if they have 45 or fewer skilled nursing beds, care for a high volume of Medicaid recipients or hold an Insurance Department certificate saying they are part of a larger retirement community complex. “There are proper procedures in place; however, they are not being followed,” the audit said.

The inspector general's audit said the Insurance Department granted dozens of certificates without having complete records, most often lacking an annual audit of a nursing home.

The department countered that the homes were being audited and that it showed “forbearance” to “the heavily regulated industry” because annual audits often cannot be completed as quickly as the inspector general demands.

Insurance Department spokesperson Kyle Stratham said that if the agency accepted the inspector general's conclusions, “Kansas businesses would be charged tens of millions of dollars in additional taxes, which would have a devastating impact on the availability of care for senior Kansans.”


Kansas Lawmakers Move Toward Approving Childhood Literacy Bill

UNDATED (KNS) – The Kansas Legislature is getting closer to approving a landmark education bill focused on helping children learn to read. The Kansas News Service reports that a committee finished work Monday on a proposed statewide Blueprint for Literacy. The plan would establish a state director of literacy education. It would also dedicate about $10 million next year toward teacher training on the science of reading. The blueprint has bipartisan support. If approved, it would force schools to phase out older methods of teaching reading that have been debunked by modern science.


Kansas Legislature Sends Governor Bill Outlawing Abortion Coercion

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) — The Kansas Legislature has created the felony crime of engaging in physical, financial or documentary coercion aimed at compelling a woman to end a pregnancy despite her expressed desire to give birth. The legislation has now been forwarded to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. The Kansas Reflector reports that the bill would set sentences broadly at a maximum of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine, but the Senate’s rewrite of House Bill 2436 would allow a maximum of one year of incarceration and a $10,000 fine if instigator of the pressure campaign was the father of the fetus, and at least 18 years of age, and if the pregnant female was less than 18.

Under special circumstances, the bill would enable the court to impose a 25-year sentence if the coercion was committed in conjunction with stalking, blackmail, criminal threat, domestic battery, kidnapping, assault, human trafficking, rape or more than 15 other criminal offenses.

The bill was adopted last week 27-11 by the Senate, which was the bare minimum two-thirds majority that would be necessary to override a potential veto by the governor. The House concurred on a vote of 82-37, which was two votes short of a supermajority capable of thwarting a veto.

(– Additional reporting –)

Domestic Violence Advocates Say New Anti-Coercion Bill Is Too Narrow

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas lawmakers sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would ban coercing someone to get an abortion. The Kansas News Service reports that domestic violence advocates say the measure is too narrow. The bill would enable Kansas courts to sentence romantic partners, family members or doctors to up to 25 years in prison for coercing someone to get an abortion. Anti-abortion groups backing the bill say coercion is a top reason women get abortions. But domestic violence groups say the bill doesn’t address other forms of reproductive coercion, like tampering with birth control. Michelle McCormick with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence testified that “...it was much more frequent in my experience, that a victim or survivor was being pressured into either having children when they wouldn't want to or having their chosen form of birth control hidden from them.” Lawmakers stripped an amendment that would’ve outlawed that from the bill before sending it to the governor.


Free Supplemental Cancer Screening Bill Not Likely to Pass This Legislative Session

UNDATED (KNS) – Advocates and lawmakers in Kansas say legislation that would allow insured people to have free supplemental breast cancer screenings likely won't pass this year. The Kansas News Service reports that issue has been up for debate for years. Since 2020, advocacy groups and legislators have tried and failed to eliminate co-pays on supplemental and diagnostic breast cancer screenings for insured Kansans. Molly Guthrie of the Susan G. Komen Foundation says when people can’t afford additional screening, they sometimes put it off, which can lead to a late-term diagnosis. Guthrie says cancer becomes more expensive and more difficult to treat at a late stage, adding that “...we know that when you catch cancers earlier, individuals do better as far as their outcomes, but it’s less costly to the system. So it’s something that’s straightforward for us to be able to address.” Two bills failed to advance this session, but Guthrie says a budget amendment to cover supplemental testing for state employees is still pending. Nearby states, like Missouri and Colorado, have enacted similar legislation.


Kansas Tax Collections for March Come in $7 Million Higher than Expected

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Total tax collections in Kansas for the month of March came in higher than expected. March tax revenue was a little more than $760 million, or about $7 million more than estimates. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly announced the news Monday and called on the Legislature to make responsible tax cuts with the state's budget surplus.

"The Legislature must be mindful that any tax relief must be fiscally sustainable,” she said. "The bipartisan tax cuts plan I introduced in January, among other things, eliminates all state income tax on Social Security benefits and provides about $100 million in property tax relief for Kansas homeowners every year."

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CRE), comprised of the Department of Revenue, Division of Budget, Legislative Research Department, and economists from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and Wichita State University, will meet April 19 to review the fall estimate and make any revisions necessary.


Weekly Newspaper and Its Publisher File Suit over Police Raid that Sparked a Firestorm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A weekly central Kansas newspaper and its publisher filed a federal lawsuit Monday over police raids last summer of its offices and the publisher's home, accusing local officials of trying to silence the paper and causing the death of the publisher's 98-year-old mother. The lawsuit did not include a specific figure for potential damages. However, in a separate notice to local officials, the paper and its publisher said they believe they are due more than $10 million.

The lawsuit from the Marion County Record's parent company and Eric Meyer, its editor and publisher, accuses the city of Marion, the Marion County Commission and five current and former local officials of violating free press rights and the right to be free from unreasonable law enforcement searches guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit also notified the defendants that Meyer and the newspaper plan to add other claims, including that officials wrongly caused the death of Meyer's mother the day after the raids, which the lawsuit attributes to a stress-induced heart attack.

The raids put Marion, a town of about 1,900 people set among rolling prairie hills about 150 miles southwest of Kansas City, Missouri, at the center of a national debate over press freedoms. It also highlighted the intense divisions over a newspaper known for its aggressive coverage of local issues and its strong criticism of some officials.

The city's former police chief — who later resigned amid the ongoing furor — justified the Aug. 11 raids by saying he had probable cause to believe the newspaper and a reporter potentially committed identity theft and other computer crimes in obtaining and verifying information about a local business owner's driving record. The lawsuit claims the paper and its reporters did nothing illegal, the search warrants were improper and officials had longstanding grudges against the newspaper. “The last thing we want to do is bankrupt the city or county, but we have a duty to democracy and to countless news organizations and citizens nationwide to challenge such malicious and wanton violations,” Meyer said in a statement. The city of Marion's budget for 2023 was about $8.7 million, while the county's budget was about $35 million.

Besides the city, defendants in the lawsuit include former Marion Mayor David Mayfield, who retired from office in January; former Police Chief Gideon Cody, who stepped down in October; and current Acting Police Chief Zach Hudlin, who as an officer participated in the raids. Marion County Sheriff Jeff Soyez, the county commission and a former deputy who helped draft the search warrants used in the raids are the other defendants named.

The newspaper had investigated Cody's background before the city hired him last year. The lawsuit alleges Soyez regularly said that he did not approve of Meyer’s “negative attitude.”

The newspaper's attorney, Bernie Rhodes, noted that when police raided the home that Meyer and his mother shared, she told the former police chief, “Boy, are you going to be in trouble.” “My job is to make sure Joan's promise is kept,” Rhodes said in his own statement.

Jennifer Hill, an attorney representing the city and former and current city officials, declined to comment. Jeffrey Kuhlman, an attorney representing the county commission, the sheriff and his former deputy, said he couldn't comment because he hasn't had time to review the lawsuit.

The lawsuit from Meyer and the newspaper was the fourth filed in federal court in Kansas over the police raids, which also involved sheriff's deputies and even an officer from the state fire marshal's office. Deb Gruver, now a former reporter, filed the first lawsuit less than three weeks after the raids, and a trial is set for September 2025.

Current Record reporter Phyllis Zorn filed the second lawsuit in February, and the defendants want it dismissed. The third was filed last week by Cheri Bentz, the newspaper's office manager.

The latest lawsuit says it was filed to seek justice over “intolerable” violations of constitutional rights and "to deter the next crazed cop from threatening democracy.”

While federal civil rights laws allowed Meyer and the newspaper to sue immediately, Kansas law requires parties intending to sue local governments to give them 120 days' notice so that officials can pay the claim first. In a 10-page notice, Rhodes said Meyer is due reimbursement for his mother's funeral expenses; the newspaper, for harm to its accounting system; and both, for their legal expenses.

The notice also says that Meyer and his mother suffered “extreme and severe distress" and that their estate is entitled to $4 million in damages for that. It also argues that the newspaper deserves $2 million for its damages and punitive damages should exceed $4 million. “Many of those who perpetrated storm-trooper style bullying with a needlessly huge contingent of armed officers remain in office or have been promoted,” Meyer said in his statement. “Even newly elected officials have refused to disavow the tactics used.”


Kansas Lawmakers Race to Solve Big Fiscal Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers are approaching a deadline to pass pending legislation or let it die. The Republican-controlled Legislature is heading into its annual spring break and most bills that don't pass Friday will simply fade away when politicians return for a short wrap-up session. GOP leaders still hope to cut taxes, though some in the party are backing off a proposal to create a single personal income tax rate. The state currently has three. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly opposes the so-called flat tax proposal. Lawmakers also are contending with spending issues affecting immigration, services for the disabled and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. All of this is coming to a head as lawmakers approach their annual "Drop Dead Day," a deadline to either pass legislation or let it fade away. Lawmakers are supposed to finish a proposed $25 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.


Gardner Police Rule 2-Year-Old Girl’s Death a Homicide

GARDNER, Kan. (WDAF) — The death of a 2-year-old girl in Gardner is now being called a homicide. After months of investigating, police in Gardner now say Alice Bennett’s cause of death was homicide, but they still haven’t said how she died. WDAF TV reports that there are currently no suspects in custody. On November 2, 2023, police were sent to some apartments (near 188th and Locust Streets) on a medical call. Police say a caretaker had found the 2-year-old child unresponsive. The girl was hospitalized with an injury that led to a life-threatening condition, but police have not provided further details about Bennett’s injuries. The girl died a few days after the incident.


KSU Study: Over Half of Kansas Farms Dealing with Labor Shortage

LIBERAL, Kan. (KNS) - As the number of Kansas farms continues to decline, the need for labor in the agriculture industry has strained farmers and rural towns. And a solution doesn’t seem likely. A Kansas State University study shows more than half of Kansas farms are experiencing a labor shortage. That’s occurring as farmers are aging in Kansas and the cost of machinery has gone up. The cost of labor also has increased. For that reason, harvesters from Kansas have tried to lobby to reduce the minimum wage for the migrant workers they rely on in rural areas. It’s currently $18 per hour and is set by the U.S. Department of Labor. Jennifer Ifft, agriculture economist for K-State, says these jobs are meant to be temporary, but a lot of need in rural areas is permanent. “They might hire somebody to harvest grain or haul grain, but dairies aren’t supposed to use it for their milkers and that's what they really need.” The study, by Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Agriculture, found that addressing farm labor shortages could boost the state's economy to the sum of $11.7 billion.


KC Residents Vote on New Stadium Tax That Could Determine the Future for Chiefs and Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The future of the Royals and Chiefs in Kansas City was being shaped Tuesday as residents of Jackson County, Missouri, voted on whether to extend a sales tax to help to pay for a new downtown ballpark and major renovations to Arrowhead Stadium.

In what is expected to be a close ballot measure, voters were being asked to essentially replace the existing three-eighths of a cent sales tax that has been paying for the upkeep at the Truman Sports Complex — the home of Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums for more than 50 years — with a new three-eighths of a cent tax that would be in place for the next 40 years.

The Royals, who have pledged at least $1 billion from ownership for their project, would use their share of the tax revenue to help fund a $2 billion-plus ballpark district, while the Super Bowl-champion Chiefs — who have committed $300 million of their own money — would use their share as part of an $800 million overhaul of Arrowhead Stadium.

“We're the second-smallest city with both an NFL franchise and a Major League Baseball club, and we want to sustain ourselves as a major league city," said John Sherman, the Kansas City businessman who purchased the Royals five years ago. "We want to make sure these franchises thrive here for another 50 years.”

As part of new lease terms, the franchises have pledged $260 million, or about $3.5 million annually, that a committee appointed by the county and teams would funnel toward social and economic causes in the community. “I think it's a great project for the city," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who voted early Tuesday. “I lived this in Philadelphia. I went through the same type of project there. And right when you don't think it's going to get done, it gets done.”

Neither franchise has said what it would do if the tax fails, only that they would explore all their options, which would include leaving Kansas City. The current lease at the Truman Sports Complex lasts through Jan. 31, 2031.

The tax extension — or, more accurately, the stadium plans — has been met with significant public pushback.

Last fall, the Royals unveiled two potential locations for their ballpark district, one on the eastern edge of downtown and the other across the Missouri River in Clay County, Missouri. But they kept pushing back a self-imposed deadline to finalize their location, and in February, they announced they had scrapped both concepts for a different downtown location.

The new area, known as the Crossroads, has a vibrant arts and restaurant scene, and it is just blocks away from the T-Mobile Center and the bustling Power & Light entertainment district. It also is close to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the 18th & Vine district, which is home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

“I think everyone has the same mixed feelings,” said Deidre Chasteen, a voter from Independence, Missouri, who remembers attending games downtown at old Municipal Stadium when the Royals played there from 1969-72. “It's not that we mind paying the three-eighths-cent sales tax. I think the problem is putting the stadium where it is,” she said. “We're not saying they don't need a new stadium. We're saying don't ruin businesses that have been established down there for years.”

There were plenty of questions weighing on voters' minds.

For one thing, the latest ballpark renderings were made obsolete just last week when the Royals acquiesced to Mayor Quinton Lucas' request that a major street that would have been part of the stadium footprint remain open. Lucas did not endorse the tax initiative until late last week, after the Royals agreed to the change.

The club also has not reached sales agreements with many landowners in the Crossroads, and other businesses have expressed concerns about traffic, congestion and parking in an already thriving neighborhood. “A lot of that will be discussed after April 2 with the city and the neighborhood,” Sherman said, adding that he believes many of “their businesses will boom” when the stadium drives thousands of fans downtown at least 81 times a year.

Sarah Tourville, the Royals’ executive vice president, said the goal is to move into the stadium for opening day in 2028.

The Royals moved from Municipal Stadium to Kauffman Stadium in 1973 and extensively renovated the ballpark from 2009-12. Arrowhead Stadium was built alongside Kauffman Stadium and also was renovated around the same time.

While the Royals insist on playing in a new ballpark, the Chiefs want to stay put with a renovation that would touch every aspect of their 52-year-old building, from the seating bowl to luxury amenities and improvements to the tailgating scene. “We would not be willing to sign a lease for another 25 years without the financing to properly renovate and reimagine the stadium,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, whose father Lamar Hunt helped get the existing stadiums built. “So the financing puzzle is very important to us to make sure we have enough funds to do everything we’ve outlined.”

The Chiefs hope their recent success, including three Super Bowl titles in the last five years, will help to sway voters. “What my dad loved best about the stadium was the connection the team had with our fanbase,” Hunt said. “He loved this building for what it means to the fans, and we still believe it is one of the best stadiums in the National Football League and a bucket-list destination for fans across the NFL."


Kansas City Chiefs' Rashee Rice Leased Lamborghini Involved in Dallas Crash, Company's Attorney Says

DALLAS (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice was leasing a Lamborghini sport utility vehicle that authorities say was one of two speeding sports cars that caused a chain-reaction crash on a Dallas highway, an attorney for the company that owns the vehicle said Tuesday.

Dallas police have not confirmed whether Rice was involved in Saturday's crash, which caused minor injuries. The occupants of the Lamborghini and the other speeding vehicle — a Corvette — left without determining if anyone needed medical attention or providing their information, police said. A total of six vehicles were involved in the crash.

An attorney for Rice said this week that the NFL player was cooperating with authorities but has not elaborated.

Rice was leasing the Lamborghini from The Classic Lifestyle, said Kyle Coker, an attorney for the Dallas-based exotic car rental company. He said that contractually, Rice would have been the only person allowed to drive the vehicle, which rents for about $1,750 a day and is worth about $250,000.

Police have said that the drivers of a Corvette and a Lamborghini were speeding in the far-left lane of North Central Expressway when they lost control. The Lamborghini went onto the shoulder and hit the center median wall, causing a chain-reaction collision. Four people in the other vehicles were treated for minor injuries.

Police said Tuesday that they were still working to identify suspects. Police have not released any information about the people they are seeking, including whether Rice was among them.

Rice's attorney, state Sen. Royce West, said that Rice “will take all necessary steps to address this situation responsibly.” West did not respond to questions Tuesday and has not said whether Rice was driving one of the vehicles.

Rice, a member of the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs team, is from the Dallas area. He played for Southern Methodist University and grew up in the Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills.


Travis Kelce Brings Music Festival Back to Kansas City

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Travis Kelce is keeping himself busy: On the heels of winning his third Super Bowl, earning a Webby nomination for his podcasting endeavors and garnering headlines for his newfound relationship with Taylor Swift, the superstar tight end will continue living his best life with his annual music festival next month. Kelce announced Tuesday the headliners for his second annual Kelce Jam festival. The event will be held May 18 and livestreamed from the Azura Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, Kansas — a metropolitan area of Kansas City.

The event will feature performances by Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and Diplo.

“I like to keep it fresh, new and keep people coming back for more,” said Kelce, whose festival brought out 20,000 attendees last year. He said his event will continue to celebrate the success of the Chiefs, who won their third championship in four trips after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 58 in February.

Along with Kelce's on-field triumphs, he's thrived away from the football field, too. He along with his brother, Jason Kelce, a recent NFL retiree, earned a Webby nomination Tuesday for their flourishing podcast “New Heights.” He's also appeared in countless headlines for his relationship with Swift, a 14-time Grammy winner who recently set the award's record with the most album of the year wins.

Swift is not expected to attend Kelce Jam since she's scheduled to perform on tour on the same date in Stockholm, Sweden. But even though she might not be in attendance, Kelce — who has displayed a strong stage presence — said he might ask Swift for some tips.

“The only thing I can learn from her that translates into how I can perform is just how relatable she is on stage," said Kelce, who hosted “Saturday Night Live” last year. "She’s very comfortable. She brings everybody into the room with her. She makes it an intimate setting even though there’s 70,000 people at every show. It’s pretty impressive.”

Kelce said safety has been a top priority entering Kelce Jam after the Chiefs' Super Bowl rally shooting that resulted in the death of a woman and nearly two dozen injuries. “Our hearts and hands are still out to the families and everybody involved and everything that happened at the parade," said Kelce, who reportedly donated $100,000 to families of the two kids who were shot during the parade. Swift donated the same amount to the family of the woman who was killed in the shooting.

The event's producers, Medium Rare, said safety measures will be expanded by bringing in a “specialized live event security and risk team” who have worked on high-profile festivals such as the U.S. Open, Coachella and Lollapalooza. “It’s still a touchy subject knowing how serious it was," Kelce said. "We’re definitely taking security extremely serious at Kelce Jam. You’ll definitely feel safe being there.”

In all, Kelce said he wants to bring joy to a city that has celebrated him and his team. He hopes his teammate and three-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes can join the festivities this time. "I think it’s going to keep going up," he said. "Hopefully we keep winning Super Bowls so we got something to celebrate.”


AP Sources: Carson Wentz, Clyde Edwards-Helaire Agree to 1-Year Deals with the Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to one-year deals with quarterback Carson Wentz and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday, giving them a backup for Patrick Mahomes and some depth in their backfield.

The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither deal had been announced.

Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, will join his fifth team in five years after starting his career in Philadelphia and spending last season with the Rams. He was 47-45-1 as a starter in eight seasons with the Eagles, where he finished third in NFL MVP voting in 2017 but tore two knee ligaments and watched backup Nick Foles lead them to a Super Bowl victory.

Wentz started 17 games for the Colts in 2021, leading them to a 9-8 record while throwing for 3,563 yards with 27 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He started seven games the following year for the Commanders, then won his only start for Los Angeles, when he played well in a largely meaningless regular-season finale against San Francisco.

Wentz, who has thrown for 22,292 yards with 153 TDs and 67 interceptions in a career plagued by injuries and inconsistency, fits the mold of experienced quarterbacks whom the Chiefs have brought in to be Mahomes' backups.

When they won the Super Bowl in the 2019 season, it was Chad Henne who held down the job, and made a couple of crucial plays during their playoff march. Henne retired after their Super Bowl triumph two years ago, and last year, it was Blaine Gabbert who signed a one-year deal to be the backup QB and earned a Super Bowl ring.

Edwards-Helaire is a known commodity in Kansas City, which picked him 32nd overall in the 2020 draft.

He struggled to live up to expectations as a first-round pick, though. Edwards-Helaire dealt with a series of injuries over the past four seasons, and that was part of the reason that Isiah Pacheco was able to wrestle away the starting job two years ago.

The Chiefs decided not to use their fifth-year option on Edwards-Helaire, making him a free agent. But his knowledge of Andy Reid's complex offense, coupled with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, made an agreement make sense to remain in Kansas City, where Edwards-Helaire could earn a more lucrative contract with a good season.

Edwards-Helaire has appeared in 48 games, running for 1,845 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has caught 89 passes for 765 yards and seven touchdowns over the past four seasons in Kansas City.


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