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Headlines for Friday, August 3, 2018

Kansas Appeals Court Strikes Down 2013 Workers Comp Change

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals has struck down as unconstitutional a 2013 change in the state's workers' compensation law. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a three-judge panel ruled Friday that the change approved by the Legislature in 2013 too severely limits an injured worker's right to obtain a legal remedy for an injury. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office did not immediately say whether it plans to appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. The case involved Howard Johnson III, who injured his back while working at U.S. Food Service in 2015. His injury occurred after the change took effect on January 1, 2015. The revised law used a version of an American Medical Association guide which greatly reduced the amount of settlements workers could be awarded.

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Kansas 2nd District Hopeful Rips Ad Blaming Her for Supporting Tax She Opposed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Kansas legislator running for Congress is accusing a Republican primary rival of lying because of a television ad saying she supported a tax increase when she voted against it. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that state Senator Caryn Tyson of Parker is trying to get stations to pull the Kansans Can Do Anything political action committee's spot. The PAC is financed by the father of rival GOP candidate Steve Watkins but the son has said he isn't involved with it. Tyson said Friday that the stations had yet to pull the ad. The primary is Tuesday. The ad focuses on a sales tax increase approved by lawmakers in 2015. Tyson voted against it. Watkins's father noted that Tyson helped negotiate the details and signed a report allowing a vote.

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Report: Trump Commission Did Not Find Widespread Voter Fraud

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine's Secretary of State says that the now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud. Democrat Matthew Dunlap on Friday released over a thousand documents he received from the Trump administration. He wrote to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that the documents show there was a "pre-ordained outcome" to the commission. Republican President Trump's administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million ballots were illegally cast. Critics, including Dunlap, reject his claims of widespread voter fraud.

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Software in Sedgwick County's New Voting Machines Confusing Early Voters 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A software design issue with Sedgwick County's new voting machines is confusing some early voters.  The Wichita Eagle reports that not all the candidates' names appear on the first screen of the gubernatorial race.  To see all the names, a voter has to touch ``more'' at the bottom of the screen to open another page with the rest of the candidates. The main reason is there are so many candidates running for governor. State law also requires each ballot line to include the  names of the candidate and running mate and the cities where they live. The machine can only handle four candidates per page. Whose names a voter sees on the opening page depends on where they live because the order is changed at random from precinct to precinct. 

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Possible Theft Reported at Emporia Women's Shelter

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Emporia police are investigating the theft of more than $51,000 from a women's shelter. Police Captain David DeVries confirmed that the Plumb Place reported a possible theft and an investigation was underway but provided no further information. The Emporia Gazette reports a former staff member at the Plumb Place is the focus of the investigation. That staff member has resigned. A board member initially requested the possible discrepancy last year and the organization's board requested a four-year audit. The results of the audit are expected in the next few weeks. Earlier this year the United Way of the Flint Hills stopped funding Plumb Place because of the alleged theft. The shelter's funding was restored at a meeting on Wednesday but won't be released until more requirements have been met.

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Officials: No Incentive for False Seat Belt Tickets

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Kansas and Missouri officials say law enforcement officials have no reason to issue tickets for not wearing a seat belt instead of other tickets. The Kansas City Star reports that transportation officials in Kansas and Missouri say there's no incentive for officers to issue more seat belt tickets. Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez Jr. says some officers overlooked traffic violations like speeding and instead cited motorists for not wearing seat belts when they'd actually been buckled up. He says officers could've simply issued motorists warnings for the traffic violations instead of issuing false tickets for a lesser charge. The issue comes up after three Overland Park police officers resigned last month following an internal investigation into false seat belt citations. More than 200 traffic tickets have been dismissed and about $4,000 has been refunded to motorists.

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Death Sentence Sought in Overland Park Woman's Death

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Johnson County prosecutors say they will seek a death sentence for a 24-year-old man charged with raping and killing an Overland Park woman. Korrey Rinke is charged with capital murder in the August 2016 killing of 46-year-old Julianna Pappas. The Kansas City Star reports Rinke is accused of raping Pappas, beating her to death and leaving her body in a wooded area. Rinke was arraigned on rape and capital murder charges Thursday afternoon in Johnson County District Court. His attorneys entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

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3-Year-Old Kansas Boy Accidentally Shot by 3-Year-Old Brother

KINSLEY, Kan. (AP) — A 3-year-old boy is hospitalized in Wichita hospital after an accidental shooting at his home in Kinsley.  The Edwards County Sheriff says two 3-year-old brothers were involved in last (THUR) night's shooting.  KWCH reports Sheriff Bryant Kurth says one of the brothers accidentally shot the other.  The sheriff says the injured boy was airlifted to Wichita suffering from significant blood loss but his condition was not available.

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Police: Chinese Missionary Fatally Shot in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Christian missionary from China, who was visiting Kansas City with his wife and four children, was shot to death after he crossed paths with an 18-year-old who was shooting at people while high on drugs, according to police.  The victim, Xindong Hao, had just arrived in the city on Monday to join fellow missionaries at the International House of Prayer, an evangelical group whose headquarters is located near the scene of the shooting.  The Kansas City Star reports that Hao was walking Wednesday evening in a neighborhood in the area when he encountered 18-year-old Curtail Hudson, who was randomly shooting at people in the area.  Two other people were wounded before Hudson was arrested.  During his most recent visit to the U.S., Hao had enrolled all four of his children in a day camp at the International House of Prayer.  Hao's children are aged 2, 4, 6 and 8. His wife, Laura Hao, is from North Carolina. The family lived together in China.
 
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Report: Kobach Benefited from Advising Cities on Immigration; Cities Left with Legal Bills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - An investigation by the Kansas City Star and ProPublica has found that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's anti-immigration work for small cities across the nation cost them millions for lengthy legal battles while fueling Kobach's political rise.  The Kansas City Star's investigation is based on records obtained from towns that Kobach represented.  The newspaper also reported, for the first time, that Kobach earned more than $800,000 for his immigration work.  Yesterday (THUR), Kobach dismissed the story, calling the investigation's conclusions "ridiculous."  The article cites a number of cities and towns that hired Kobach and were left with large legal bills.  A Valley Park, Missouri, ordinance punishing employers for hiring illegal immigrants and landlords for renting to illegal immigrants was largely gutted after two years of litigation and nearly $300,000 in expenses.  One town for which Kobach provided assistance -- Farmers Branch, Texas, -- owed $7 million in legal bills.  Hazleton, Pennsylvania, took on debt to pay $1.4 million.  Fremont, Nebraska, raised property taxes to pay for Kobach's services.

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Governor Colyer: Kobach Should Personally Pay for Contempt Fine

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer says Secretary of State Kris Kobach should pay out of his own pocket the more than $26,000 in sanctions imposed by a federal judge for his "contemptuous behavior" in a voting rights case.  Kobach disagrees.  He said yesterday (THUR) that it is his office, not him personally, who is the defendant in a federal lawsuit that struck down the state's proof-of-citizenship registration law. The case is being appealed.  The contempt ruling against Kobach comes just days before Republicans will vote in the state's primary election for governor. Kobach is seeking to unseat Colyer for his party's nomination.  Colyer said in a statement that it is outrageous for a politician who spends so much time talking about cutting government spending to use taxpayer dollars to pay the fines a federal judge imposed on him.

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Deal Resolves Water Use Dispute Between Kansas, Colorado

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Colorado has agreed to pay Kansas $2 million in a settlement resolving claims regarding Colorado's past use of water under the Republican River Compact. Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer said in a news release Friday that the settlement is an investment in the basin to ensure a better future for Kansas water users. The Republican River Compact allocates the waters of the basins between the states of Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. Under the provisions of the settlement , Kansas agreed to pursue "a good faith effort" to spend the money Colorado paid for the benefit of the South Fork of the Republican River Basin within Kansas. Colorado also agreed to pursue an effort to spend an additional $2 million by 2027 in the basin within Colorado.

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2 Deaths in Wichita Might be Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say the deaths of two people appear to be related to carbon monoxide poisoning.  Emergency crews found two people dead early yesterday (THUR) in south Wichita.  Neighbors reported smelling a strong gas odor at the time the bodies were found.  The people's identities were not released.

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Missouri Man Accused of Beating, Starving 3 Children

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri man accused of beating, starving and locking three children in a bathroom has been charged with child abuse.  The Kansas City Star reported Thursday that 48-year-old James L. Hays Jr. faces three felony counts after an investigation that began when police were called to a Sedalia hospital.  A relative who met officers at the hospital told them she noticed large bruises on the children, all under age 12.  Court records show the children told police they were forced to stay inside the bathroom where they slept either in the closet or bath tub each night.  One child told investigators that their mother tried to sneak them food... but Hays wouldn't let her.

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Kansas Sheriff's Deputies Overcome After Drug Arrest

PAOLO, Kan. (AP) - Miami County authorities say two sheriff's deputies became ill after arresting a man for drug violations.  The sheriff's department said the deputies stopped to check on a car Wednesday afternoon near Spring Hill.  The deputies were overcome by some type of substance after they arrested a man inside the car. The suspect also was hospitalized after an apparent overdose.  The deputies were released from the hospital Wednesday night. The suspect remained hospitalized yesterday (THUR). Investigators aren't sure what substance caused the deputies to become ill but it may be linked to the narcotics or another substance in the car or on the suspect.  The sheriff's office did not say what type of drug the man was arrested for possessing.

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Bond Reduced for Kansas Mother Charged in Child's Death

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has reduced the bond for a 26-year-old Kansas woman charged in the death of her young daughter.  Shelby Johnson, of Oxford, is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, child abuse and aggravated child endangerment in the death of 7-month-old Jesslinn Hulett.  During a court appearance Thursday, Johnson's bond was lowered from $250,000 to $100,000.  KAKE-TV reports that Johnson's attorney asked for the bond reduction, saying Johnson has no prior criminal history and is not a flight risk. Johnson is also 26 weeks pregnant.  A criminal complaint filed last week accuses Johnson of beating and shaking Jesslinn, causing injuries consistent with blunt force trauma.  The girl's father took her to a hospital in Sumner County April 1. She died at a Wichita hospital four days later.  

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Wichita Eagle Names New Executive Editor 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Wichita Eagle has named a long-time employee to oversee the newsroom as its new executive editor.  The newspaper announced Michael Roehrman's new role Friday. The seventh-generation Kansan has worked at the Eagle since 1996.  Roehrman, 52, has been serving as acting editor since April. He is the 11th editor to hold the top newsroom job in the organization's 147-year history. He succeeds Steve Coffman, who left to become editor of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas. Roehrman started working at the Eagle while a college student at Wichita State University, helping launch the website that became Kansas.com. He has worked as copy desk chief, publishing editor, senior editor and digital strategist.  He says he views his role as editor of a digital news organization that also publishes a newspaper. 

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Salina Woman Critically Hurt After Crashing Car into House

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina woman was critically injured after crashing her car into a house. The Salina Journal reports 25-year-old Kaitlin Vargas was driving at a high rate of speed when she went off the road, striking the brick and concrete pillars before hitting the house itself. The car then rolled onto its side. Bricks and other debris from the crash flew into the yards of several nearby homes. Salina police Sgt. Brent Rupert says the trapped driver was extricated by medics and fire personnel. He says Vargas was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Rupert says several people who were inside the home at the time of the crash were not injured. A city inspector determined that the house that was struck was not habitable.

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Clarification Issued by Associated Press for Audit-Kansas Firm Story from July 31

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — In a story July 31, The Associated Press reported that a federal audit found that Overland Park-based Black & Veatch received $1.31 million in "ineligible" reimbursements from the U.S. government while it was working on an electrical power project in Afghanistan and that the U.S. Agency for International Development found the "vast majority" of the charges to be appropriate. The story should have explained that Black & Veatch ultimately was required to reimburse the government for only $2,700, which it did.

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