Kansas Officials Boost Projected Tax Collections by $540 Million
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have issued a new fiscal forecast that boosts projected tax collections by a total of $540 million through June 2019. Republican Governor Jeff Colyer's budget director and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said Friday that the higher revenue projections mean that the state can afford a public school funding plan passed by lawmakers earlier this month. But Republican Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita immediately called for income tax cuts. The new forecast predicts that Kansas will collect $6.7 billion in taxes during the current budget year. That's almost $226 million more than predicted under a forecast issued in November. Forecasters predict the state will collect $6.9 billion in taxes during the budget year beginning in July. That's almost $315 million more than previously predicted.
Large Fire Burns 75 Square Miles in Kansas, Colorado
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A fire that started in Colorado and crossed into Kansas burned about 75 square miles of grassland in the two states. Emergency management officials say three counties in western Kansas were scorched by flames -- Morton, Stanton and Wallace counties. The wind-whipped fires that raged Tuesday and Wednesday destroyed five homes and several outbuildings in Kansas. The wildfires have largely been extinguished, but crews continue to monitor hot spots.
Better Weather Should Aid Oklahoma Wildfire Fight
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Firefighters are hoping higher humidity and milder winds will help them fight wildfires in Oklahoma, though conditions are critical in Arizona and New Mexico. U.S. Forest Service spokesman Todd Schroeder said Thursday that a fire near Leedey, about 110 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, that has burned about 440 square miles is about 15 percent contained. A 106-square-mile blaze near Woodward, about 40 miles north of Leedey, is about 45 percent contained. The Storm Prediction Center says the fire danger is extremely critical in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico because of low humidity and wind gusts of 45 to 55 mph.
Kansas Governor Signs Bill to Bar Guns from Domestic Abusers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Jeff Colyer has signed legislation making it illegal under Kansas law for people convicted of domestic violence to own guns. The new law takes effect next week after Colyer acted Friday. The new law also will make it illegal for fugitives, people under protection from stalking and abuse orders and people in the country illegally to own or possess firearms. Federal law already prohibits domestic abusers from possessing firearms for five years following a conviction. The new Kansas law will allow state prosecution of offenders. Supporters say that's important because federal prosecutors rarely take up the cases. The gun-control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America lobbied for the measure and law enforcement groups supported it. The legislation had broad support. Colyer is a gun-rights backer.
Kansas Governor Candidate Releases 3 Years of Tax Returns
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican running for Kansas governor has released his income tax returns for the past three years and is calling for other candidates to do so. Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said Friday that he's setting an example of transparency. Selzer earned $700,000 in 2017, $659,000 in 2016 and $801,000 in 2015. Most of his income was deferred compensation from the insurance-industry executive's job he held before becoming commissioner in January 2015. Selzer paid $204,000 in federal and state income taxes in 2017, almost $190,000 in 2016 and $243,000 in 2015. He reported $57,000 in charitable contributions in 2017, about $48,000 in 2016 and $39,000 in 2015. GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach and a spokesman for Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer said the state's existing financial disclosure forms are sufficient.
Kansas AG Seeks More Time to Answer Court on School Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking the state Supreme Court for an extra 10 days to file part of his legal defense for a new public school funding law because of a flaw in it. Schmidt filed a request Thursday to have until May 10 to report to the court on how legislators increased education funding. The court ruled in October that the state's current education funding of more than $4 billion a year is inadequate and gave Schmidt until April 30 to report on how lawmakers responded. Lawmakers approved legislation that was supposed to phase in a $534 million increase in spending over five years. But officials later found a flaw that lowered funding by $80 million. Lawmakers reconvene April 26 and could pass a follow-up bill.
Man Convicted in May 2017 Killing of Emporia Woman
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been convicted of fatally shooting a woman in her apartment near the Emporia State University campus. The Emporia Gazette reports that Sony Uk, of Emporia, was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder in the March 2017 death of 38-year-old Mahogany Brooks. The defense argued that the killing wasn't premeditated, which is required for a first-degree murder conviction. But the prosecution argued it was, saying Uk arrived at Brooks' apartment with a loaded shotgun and pulled the trigger multiple times. Sentencing is set for July 2. He faces the possibility of life in prison.
2 Arrested After Discovery of Dead, Neglected Cattle, Other Animals
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County authorities say two people were arrested after nearly 190 animals were found starving or dead on property in rural Salina. Sheriff Roger Soldan says deputies went to the land on Saturday to investigate a report the cattle and horses appeared to be neglected. The Salina Journal reports the animals were seized and two people were arrested Wednesday. Soldan said the 189 animals included cattle, horses and 24 domestic animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits and goats. Deputies arrested 66-year-old Beverly Fullen and 40-year-old Matthew Fullen, of Salina, on charges that include 165 misdemeanors and four felony counts of cruelty to animals. Soldan says the animals were taken to pastures and shelters.
Homeless Man Convicted in 2015 Springfield Killing
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A homeless man has been convicted in the stabbing and beating death of a Springfield woman whose body was found stuffed underneath a mattress at her home. The Springfield News-Leader reports that jurors found 41-year-old Andrew Jensen guilty Thursday of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2015 death of Kathi Jones. Jensen and Jones were friends, and she sometimes let him sleep in her van. His DNA was found on a cigarette and bloody clothing. But the defense said some of Jensen's blood found at the home came from him crawling through a window and cutting his arm when Jones got locked out days before her death. A Pratt County, Kansas, lawman who shot out one of Jensen's eyes during a 1994 gunfight was among those to testify.
Kansas School Resource Officer Charged with Fondling Teens
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Kansas City, Kansas, school resource officer is charged with fondling at least three teenagers. Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said Thursday that 57-year-old Michael Eugene English Sr. was charged Thursday with three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Dupree says a parent contacted police in March and three victims have come forward. The three alleged victims were between 14 and 16. English was a security guard with the school system before joining its police department in 2015. Prosecutors say they don't yet know how long he worked as a security guard. He has been on administrative leave since March 22. Dupree said investigators are still trying to determine if the alleged crimes occurred on school property.
University of Missouri-Kansas City Announces Job Cuts
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City plans to eliminate 17 academic and administrate jobs. The Kansas City Star reports that this week's announcement is in response to the University of Missouri System announcing broad cuts last year across the four-campus system in Columbia, Rolla, St. Louis and Kansas City. The cuts left officials on the Kansas City campus looking for about a 3 percent reduction from each school, college and division. The system's flagship campus in Columbia said the cuts there would be much deeper. UMKC interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer says the employees who are losing their jobs have been notified. The university hasn't identified those employees or said what departments would experience the largest losses. The university says it's "an incredibly difficult time" in a statement.
Topeka Man Acquitted in Shooting Death of Best Friend
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been acquitted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his best friend. A Shawnee County jury on Thursday found 19-year-old Ernest Williams not guilty in Justice Mitchell's death. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Mitchell died June 26 after being shot during an attempted robbery. Investigators say Mitchell and Williams met 17-year-old Shayden Byrd and Lamero Dunstan at a Topeka fast-food restaurant for a drug deal. Testimony indicated Dunstan pulled a gun and shot Mitchell twice. Williams also drew a gun but didn't fire it. Prosecutors contended Williams was guilty of murder because the death happened during a dangerous felony. Byrd was sentenced to five years in a juvenile facility after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. Dunstan faces trial in August on first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery charges.
Kansas Heroin Dealer Linked to Mexican Cartel Sentenced
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 65-year-old man who was a major heroin dealer in the Kansas City area has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. The Kansas City Star reports Dennis McLallen, of Overland Park, also was ordered to pay an $850,000 judgment, which was the estimated amount of money he made from drug sales. He admitted that he distributed more than 10 kilograms of heroin. Investigators say McLallen and his wife were among 18 people charged after an investigation by federal agents and Kansas City and St. Louis police. The 18 suspects included sources in Mexico who supplied drugs to McLallen. He pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to carry firearms during the commission of drug crime.
Kansas Teacher Quits Job, Leaves State After Receiving Threats for Being Gay
SENECA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teacher says he abandoned his job and left his home state following months of harassment for being gay. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that former Nemaha Central High School teacher Michael Hill was the target of cyberbullying and received threats by mail after revealing his sexual orientation in October. In the letters, Hill was told that his lifestyle wouldn't be tolerated by the Seneca community. His car was also vandalized. Hill says the school district allowed him to take a leave of absence, but after seven weeks asked him to return to class or resign. Hill announced his resignation in a Facebook post with images of the letters he received. Nemaha Central Unified School District 115 Superintendent Darrel Kohlman declined to comment to the newspaper on the matter. Hill now lives in Palm Springs, California.
Day Care Under Investigation over Unsafe Sleeping Claims
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - Kansas officials say they are investigating reports that babies were placed at risk while they slept at a day care. The Kansas Department for Children and Families said Thursday in a written statement that a report was made last month about a Leavenworth facility. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says it's investigating and that the day care continues operating. The agencies commented after KSHB-TV talked to parents who were shown pictures of their babies lying face down with the sleeves of their sleepers tied behind them with ponytail holders. The babies appeared to be unable to move their arms. Deirdre Engle says she pulled her daughter from the facility, which she identified as Miss Anne's, after she was notified. The day care didn't immediately return a phone message.
Kansas GOP Chairman Drops Out of Race for Secretary of State
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's chairman has dropped out of the race for secretary of state. Kelly Arnold announced Thursday that he has ended his campaign for the GOP nomination so that he can "fully focus" on electing fellow Republicans to office this year. Arnold has been the party's state chairman since 2013 and has also served as Sedgwick County's elected clerk since 2009. Incumbent Secretary of State Kris Kobach is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. The other Republicans running to replace Kobach are Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab of Olathe, House Elections Committee Chairman Keith Esau of Olathe and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Craig McCullah of Topeka. Democratic candidates include state Senator Marci Francisco and former Google and Uber executive Brian McClendon. Both are from Lawrence.
Ex-Michigan State Player Accused of Rape Arrested in Kansas
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A former Michigan State football player facing a May trial for an alleged sexual assault has been arrested in Kansas. Auston Robertson was arrested Tuesday by Garden City, Kansas, police who are investigating marijuana crimes and other offenses. The disclosure was made Thursday by a prosecutor in Lansing, Michigan. In response, a judge revoked Robertson's bond in the assault case. He's charged with raping a woman at an apartment near Michigan State a year ago. Robertson, a defensive end, was kicked off the Michigan State team but played last fall at Garden City Community College in Kansas. He had 73 tackles. His Michigan lawyer, Brent Leder, declined to comment on the new arrest. Robertson remains in custody in Finney County, Kansas.
Wichita Bookie Sentenced in Illegal Gambling Probe
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An admitted bookie in an illegal gambling ring in Wichita will serve two years of probation for his crimes. The Wichita Eagle reports 65-year-old Daniel Dreese was sentenced Thursday for two counts of making false statements on income tax returns. He admitted making hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal bookmaking between 2010 and 2012. Dreese was also ordered to pay $214,540 in restitution and banned from gambling. Dreese is the first person to be sentenced who was investigated as part of a federal gambling probe. At least seven other people were charged for running or taking part in illegal poker games in Wichita, bookmaking and tax-related crimes. Some are law enforcement officers and one is a tennis coach who worked at Wichita schools.
Jayhawks' Azubuike Enters NBA Draft, Could Return to Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas center Udoka Azubuike is declaring for the NBA draft but is not hiring an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning to the Jayhawks for his junior season. The 7-foot, 280-pound Azubuike missed most of his freshman season with a wrist injury, but was often dominant in helping the Jayhawks to the Final Four this past year. He averaged 13 points and seven rebounds while shooting 77 percent from the field, the second-best mark in NCAA history. Azubuike, who was born in Nigeria, plans to attend the NBA draft combine in May in Chicago, then speak with teams to gauge his draft potential. He must decide by May 30 whether to stay in the draft or return to KU. Jayhawks coach Bill Self said Friday he encouraged Azubuike to "test the waters."