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Headlines for Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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

Federal Judge Removes Kansas from Lawsuit Challenging Student Debt Relief Plan

UNDATED (KNS) – A federal judge has removed Kansas from a lawsuit challenging a Biden administration student debt relief plan. The Kansas News Service reports that the lawsuit, led by Republican Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, pitted Kansas and 10 other states against Biden’s plan. The program would lower monthly payments for low-income borrowers and cancel certain kinds of student debt. The states argue the federal plan would reduce tax revenue and hurt their ability to recruit public employees by offering state plans to help pay off student debt. But a U.S. District Judge in Wichita didn’t buy those arguments. He dismissed all but three of the states from the lawsuit for lack of standing. The state of Missouri is waiting for a decision on its own lawsuit against the same debt-relief plan.

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Democratic State Senator Unveils Tax Plan Prior to Special Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – With just days left before Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka for a special session on tax cuts, a Democratic senator has unveiled what he calls the “Kumbaya” tax plan. The Kansas News Service reports that state Senator Tom Holland picked that name for the bill because it proposes a number of tax cuts that he says most Kansas legislators support. That includes property tax relief and eliminating taxes on social security benefits. The plan also notably proposes no changes to state income taxes … which lawmakers and the governor have so far been unable to agree on. Republican leaders will largely determine what bills are actually considered during the special session, but Holland says he’s hopeful they will allow a discussion on his bill.

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Man Killed in Late Night Altercation in Lawrence; Another Man in Custody

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Lawrence police say one man is dead and another man is in custody following a late night altercation that ended in murder. Officers were called Tuesday night to the intersection of East 25th Terrace and Franklin Road after witnesses reported seeing two men in a fight. A Douglas County Sheriff's deputy was first on scene and saw two men lying on the ground, one of them unconscious. The unconscious man, later identified as 43-year-old Christopher Allen Lickteig was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities arrested the other man, 34-year-old George Luke Miller, on suspicion of first-degree murder. Both men were staying at the Lawrence Community Shelter.

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Drought Emergency Warnings Updated for Kansas

LIBERAL, Kan. (KNS) – The state of Kansas has updated drought emergency warnings just before summer starts to heat up. The Kansas News Service reports that Ness, Pawnee, Hodgeman and Rush counties in western Kansas were placed into emergency status this week. As temperatures heat up, the Kansas Water Office in a news release says counties under drought warnings should be mindful of water usage as less precipitation is expected. Western Kansas depends on irrigated grain crops, but as the state experiences major drop-offs in water resources, drought can cause the overpumping of that vital source. The Kansas Water Office will continue to monitor drought conditions and make recommendations to balance the water supply with farming needs. (Check out the U.S. Drought Monitor.)

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Bird Flu in Dairy Cattle Confirmed in Iowa and Minnesota

UNDATED (HPM) – Iowa and Minnesota are now the 10th and 11th states to confirm bird flu infections in dairy cattle. Harvest Public Media reports that two poultry farms recently experienced a bird flu outbreak in Iowa. Now the state’s Department of Agriculture says it will test dairy farms around those sites. The announcement came after two dairies in northwest Iowa tested positive for avian influenza. Teri Bos is the director of Community Health Partners in Sioux County, Iowa, and said “...at the national level, at the state level but also at the county level, this is something that is an emerging illness and we are taking it very seriously.” Bos says the risk for the general public remains low, and the Food and Drug Administration says the commercial milk supply is safe. Kansas is among the states where avian influenza has been detected in dairy cows.

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Electronic Records Access for Ascension Facilities Now Restored, More than a Month After Cyberattack

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Ascension Via Christi says all of its Kansas hospitals and clinics have restored access to electronic medical records, more than a month after a large-scale cyberattack took them offline. The health care nonprofit announced Tuesday that its hospital in Manhattan and its health center in Wamego have regained access. It said Monday that facilities in Wichita and Pittsburg also had restored access. Ascension says patients should see improved efficiency and shorter wait times. It says it’s still working to restore some other systems. The attack is suspected to be tied to a cybercriminal group called Black Basta. Ascension has not yet said whether patient data was stolen.

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Kansas Education Leaders Could Revisit FAFSA Requirement Decision

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas education leaders may reconsider their decision to require high school students to apply for college financial aid in order to graduate. The Kansas News Service reports that the state Board of Education voted last month to require the FAFSA. It was part of the first overhaul of high school diploma requirements in 20 years. But board member Dennis Hershberger says he’s concerned about student privacy. He says failing to fill out financial aid forms should not keep students from graduating. “This should be something totally voluntary, and if there’s information that can be given, that’s enough. There shouldn’t be any kind of requirement that would stop a graduation,” he explained. The Kansas Board of Regents urged school board members to add the FAFSA requirement. States that require it have seen more students go to college and get financial aid.

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Wichita's Trust Women Clinic Remains Closed Following Leadership Shakeup

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Wichita’s largest abortion clinic remains closed more than three weeks after it stopped seeing patients. The Kansas News Service reports that Trust Women was a major abortion access point for women across the South and Midwest, providing several hundred abortions each month. Upwards of 80% of them were administered to patients traveling from states with abortion bans. That was before the clinic temporarily closed last month and canceled appointments amid reports of leadership turmoil. Sources who asked to remain anonymous say Trust Women’s board recently fired its executive directors and medical director. A majority of the clinic’s doctors then resigned, as did other key staff and two board members. Board president Sapphire Garcia declined to comment on the reports or say when the clinic will reopen. She says more information is coming next week, adding that “...I don’t want to speak prematurely, but we will have some very good news very soon.”

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KCK Mayor Supports Effort to Bring Pro Sports Teams to Wyandotte County

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) – The mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, says he’s all in on luring both the Chiefs and the Royals to Wyandotte County. KCUR reports that Tyrone Garner is hyping a downtown KCK baseball stadium. Garner suggests the Chiefs could build a new stadium in western KCK, near The Legends. But, he says, the east side of KCK could be revitalized with a new Royals stadium overlooking the Kansas River with the Kansas City skyline as a backdrop. “Land is cheap. It’s ripe for development. It sits centrally located in the Kansas City metropolitan area,” he explained. All of this is contingent on state lawmakers taking up a STAR bond proposal in next week’s special legislative session. Democratic state Senator Jeff Pittman, who represents western Wyandotte County, says there is bipartisan support for the plan.

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Wichita School Leaders Consider $450 Million Bond Issue to Rebuild, Consolidate Schools

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Wichita school leaders are considering a $450 million dollar bond issue to rebuild and consolidate schools. The Kansas News Service reports that consultants hired by the district say Wichita needs to reduce its number of older, smaller schools and build new ones designed for the way kids learn today. They say a bond issue would not require a tax increase. Superintendent Kelly Bielefeld says the plan calls for rebuilding several elementary schools and two middle schools and closing nearly a dozen buildings. "If we want to continue to invest in our kids and we want to continue to invest in the future, it's important that we continue to invest in facilities," he explained. A learning center in northeast Wichita would be turned into an early childhood center, and a building south of East High would become a career center for construction trades.

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2024 an Active Year for Tornadoes and Severe Storms

UNDATED (HPM) – It’s been an extremely active year for tornadoes and other severe storms in the middle of the U.S. Harvest Public Media reports that there were more than 6,000 severe storms across the country in May, many occurring in the Midwest and Great Plains. That makes last month the second-most active May for tornadoes and other big storms in the past 20 years. Weather conditions were ripe, according to Patrick Marsh, the chief of science and support for the national Storm Prediction Center. “We’ve had ingredients in place for supercell thunderstorms over the Plains for pretty much the entire month of May. And when you have that many of these kinds of thunderstorms, inevitably you will have an increase in tornadoes as well,” he added. Marsh and others studying storms anticipate tornado activity to wind down early this month. Beyond that, Marsh says it’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

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Possible 2026 World Cup Training Camp Sites Include Lawrence, Among Other Non-Tournament Cities

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Possible team training camps for the 2026 World Cup include sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Cincinnati; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Louis; Salt Lake City; San Antonio and Lawrence, Kansas.

FIFA announced more details of the tournament Wednesday, one day after the two-year mark before the kickoff on June 11, 2026, at Mexico City, The first World Cup to be played in three nations and the first with a field expanded to 48 nations will have 78 of 104 games in the United States and 13 each in Mexico and Canada.

The final will be July 19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, FIFA announced on Feb. 4. All games from the quarterfinals on will be in the U.S.

Proposed training sites in the areas of U.S. game venues are in Atlanta; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Kansas City and Riverside, Missouri, and Lawrence, Kansas; Philadelphia; and St. Louis. There also are possible training camps in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey, but none were listed in Canada.

FIFA said additional possible training camps will be added.

In addition, FIFA listed specific site matchups for games in the new round of 32, round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals, revealing the pathway through the knockout rounds for the host nations.

If the U.S. wins Group D, it would play its first knockout match at Santa Clara, California, on July 1. The winner of that game plays at Seattle on July 6, could be in a quarterfinal at Inglewood, California, on July 10 and a semifinal at Arlington, Texas, on July 14.

If the U.S. finishes second in its group, it would next play at Arlington on July 3. The winner of that game plays at Atlanta on July 7, could be in a quarterfinal at Kansas City on July 11 and a semifinal at Atlanta on July 15.

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KU to Sell Part of Allen Fieldhouse Court Floor

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCUR) – KU fans can now own their own part of Jayhawk basketball history. The University of Kansas is cutting up and selling part of the court inside Allen Fieldhouse as the historic venue installs a new floor. Chris Rose is the managing partner of the company artsmansport.com, which is selling parts of the maple court on its web site starting Thursday. “So many Big 12 championships, uh, so many players have gone through there. It’s just an amazing piece of history for Kansas fans to get a piece of it,” Rose explained. The floor was installed in 2005. Rose said only a fraction of the court will be sold. This includes the foul line, center court logo and where Coach Bill Self stands, among other significant areas.

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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 X (formerly Twitter,).