UPDATE: Kansas GOP Senator Pat Roberts says he will retire and not run for re-election in 2020. He made the announcement today (FRI) in Manhattan. KPR will have more on this story later. Check back for updates. Read more about this story.
Republican Senator Pat Roberts Won't Seek Re-Election in 2020
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Veteran Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas says he will not seek re-election in 2020, setting up an intense political scramble to replace him. The 82-year-old senator made the announcement Friday following a decades-long career in Congress. Roberts faced pressure to step aside in part because he would have been 84 when facing voters. He also faced grueling primary and general election contests in 2014. Roberts began his Capitol Hill career as an aide in 1967. He won a U.S. House seat representing western Kansas in 1980 and was elected to the Senate in 1996. But his longevity became a liability during his 2014 campaign. Roberts made the Friday announcement just weeks after helping negotiate the final terms of a massive farm bill. He's chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Kansas Rep. Marshall Considering Senate Race
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman says Kansas Representative Roger Marshall is seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2020 now that Sen. Pat Roberts does not plan to seek re-election. Marshall spokesman Brent Robertson said Friday that the Republican congressman will not make a formal decision until Congress approves border security funding. The federal government is partially shut down since over President Donald Trump's demand for funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Marshall represents the 1st Congressional District of western Kansas and won his second term in November. It is the same seat Roberts held for 16 years before being elected to the Senate in 1996. Other potential Republican candidates include departing Gov. Jeff Colyer and outgoing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost the governor's race last year.
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran: Medicaid Expansion Could Help Kansas Hospitals
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran says many rural hospitals in the state are "hanging on by a thread" and could benefit from the additional revenue that Medicaid expansion would generate. But Moran said Wednesday, after speaking to LMH Health president and CEO Russ Johnson in Lawrence, that he wants to leave the decision to the state Legislature, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. Kansas has rejected accepting additional federal funding through the Affordable Care Act to expand the program for the poor and disabled. The idea is being revisited now that incoming Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has expressed an interest. The federal government paid the full cost of the expansion until 2017 and will continue paying 90 percent starting in 2020. "The state needs to weigh that with how long those federal dollars will be in place," he said. "But I will say, it was suggested to me in this meeting (with Johnson) that the one thing that could be done that would better deal with people with mental health issues is Medicaid expansion." In Kansas, former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and outgoing Gov. Jeff Colyer were the biggest reasons for the program not being expanded. Both cited cost as the main factor. Colyer's budget office estimated the expansion would be a net cost of $22 million for the fiscal year beginning in July 2019. Moran said he plans to be back in session on Monday, but he will be ready to head back sooner if it will help end the shutdown. Moran said he believes the border wall funding issue could be resolved through legislative negotiation if the people involved would "come out of their corners." Moran is also concerned about the impact of immigration policy on higher education. He said he has heard that many institutions of higher education in Kansas, particularly community colleges, are losing lucrative foreign student enrollment. Another issue affecting Kansas is the trade war with China, which put U.S. soybean purchases on hold until the two countries agreed to a truce in December. "It doesn't seem to me the way to deal with that is putting tariffs in place and they retaliate," he said. "It doesn't need to be a tariff battle."
The Latest: Outgoing Child Welfare Chief Says Grants on Hold
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The departing leader of Kansas' child welfare agency says it has put new grants to foster care contractors on hold at the request of Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly. Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel announced the move Thursday after Kelly said she would replace Meier-Hummel at the Department for Children and Families. Kelly takes office January 14. Meier-Hummel said the grants awarded in November to five nonprofit organizations are in the best interest of children and families. The four-year grants are set to start July 1 and will increase state spending on foster care by $35 million a year. Kelly is a critic of the no-bid process for awarding the grants and accused DCF on Thursday of not being transparent. Meier-Hummel said the process has been open and the agency has been transparent.
Waste Service Employee Dies at Landfill Near Lawrence
OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — Jefferson County authorities say a waste services employee has died at a landfill north of Lawrence. Sheriff Jeff Herrig says the man, who died Friday morning, was an employee of Hamm Waste Services in Jefferson County. The Kansas Highway Patrol identified him as 59-year-old Mark Wilson of Lawrence. The patrol says Wilson was operating a "tipper" machine that empties out large amounts of waste when he was pinned between a semi-trailer and a dock, causing fatal injuries.
Man Sentenced for Fatal Shooting of Guard Outside Kansas Bar
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old man who fatally shot one man and tried to kill two others outside a bar has been sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison. Danny Queen, of Eudora, was sentenced Friday for the June 2017 death of 32-year-old Bo Hopson outside D-Dubs Bar and Grill in Eudora. He also was sentenced for attempted second-degree murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter for trying to kill two other bar patrons. Prosecutors say his gun jammed when he tried to shoot the two other men. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Queen was kicked out of the bar after making offensive comments to women. When Hopson offered to find Queen a ride home, Hopson instead pulled a gun and shot Hopson, who was the bar's security guard. Queen claimed he shot Hopson in self-defense.
Former Kansas Jailer Charged with Having Sex with Inmates
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas jailer has been charged with having sex with inmates. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says in a news release that 42-year-old Frank Alexander, of Russell, was arrested and made his first court appearance Thursday. He has been charged with two counts of unlawful sexual relations. His attorney, Colton Eikenberry, didn't immediately return a phone message. The release says the Russell County sheriff asked the KBI in October to investigate allegations that Alexander was having sex with inmates while working as a jail detention officer. Alexander was fired two weeks later. After Alexander's arrest, he was booked into the Russell County Jail, which is about 25 miles east of Hays. He then was transferred to a nearby jail. No other details about the case were immediately released.
Ex-Massage Therapist Sentenced for Secretly Recording Woman
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old former massage therapist who is on the Kansas Sex Offender registry has been sentenced to 16 months in jail for secretly recording a woman while she undressed. Daniel Justin Gorski was sentenced Friday in Johnson County for the incident at a chiropractic clinic in Gardner. He pleaded guilty in November to breach of privacy. Gorski was at one time charged with recording several women. All but one charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement. The Kansas City Star reports police began investigating Gorski in 2016 after his girlfriend reported finding a flash drive containing images of women undressing or nude. Gorski had previously pleaded guilty in Jefferson County, Kansas, to possession of child pornography.
Kansas City Walmart Stabbing Suspect: "I Tried to Kill Her"
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with stabbing his ex-girlfriend in the neck while she was working at a Walmart store. Twenty-two-year-old Brian Lenoble Jr. is charged with first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court records say an off-duty officer arrested him December 31 in the parking lot. The Kansas City Star reports that Lenoble told the officer, "I tried to kill her and slit her throat and I would do it again." The officer went into the store, where he found the blade still embedded in the woman's neck. She was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. A family member told police that Lenoble had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sedgwick County Identifies 2 Killed in Fiery Crash at McConnell AFB
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County officials say two people who died in a fiery crash outside McConnell Air Force Base have been identified. County spokeswoman Kate Flavin said the victims in the crash were 17-year-old Isaiah Chandler and 29-year-old Matthew Pyles. Police say their bodies were found inside a burning car Sunday night near a little-used back entrance of the base. No other information about the victims has been released. KAKE-TV reports the Air Force said an investigation indicates the car hit a barrier at the entrance at a high rate of speed. The release did not say who was driving. The base and local law enforcement continue investigating the crash. The entrance was barricaded after the 9/11 attacks. It's only used occasionally to admit buses during special events.
Second Person Arrested in Junction City in Christmas Day Killing of Mother
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a second person has been arrested in the Christmas Day killing of a mother of two in Kansas. Junction City police say 33-year-old Mashaun Jay Baker was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of capital murder in the death of 31-year-old Jenna Schafer. Police Capt. Trish Giordano says Schafer was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound around 9:30 am. on December 25 in an apartment. Her obituary said she had two daughters. Police previously arrested 33-year-old Dion Green, of Junction City, on suspicion of first-degree murder. Neither man has been charged. Baker was scheduled to make a first appearance Thursday afternoon, and doesn't yet have an attorney. Green's attorney didn't immediately return a phone message. Giordano says the children are safe. She says she can't comment further.
Scam Costs Some Wichita State Employees Their Paychecks
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University officials say some employees didn't receive their paychecks recently after being victims of an e-mail phishing scheme. Computer hackers asked the employees through a scam that asked them to type in their university ID number and password, giving scammers access bank account numbers, student records and other personal information. Wichita State official Lois Tatro said in an e-mail to employees Wednesday that direct deposits for "a handful" of employees were diverted to another bank account. Those employees lost their paychecks. The Wichita Eagle reports it was unclear Thursday whether student records were compromised. University officials did not say if employees affected by the scheme were compensated for lost pay.
Man Accused in Attack on Black Boy in Wichita Arrested Again
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of kicking a 1-year-old black boy and yelling racial slurs in a Kansas grocery store is back in jail in a drug possession case. Sedgwick County jail records show 31-year-old Trace Riff was booked into jail early Thursday on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. He is being held on a $2,500 bond. Further details about the arrest were not immediately available. Riff is facing municipal charges of battery and resisting arrest after the alleged attack December 23 at a Wichita Dillon's store. Riff was released from jail after being charged in the incident. The NAACP is asking that the case be considered a hate crime. The Wichita Eagle reports the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office, which could bring more serious charges, is reviewing the case.
3 People Arrested After Deputy's Car Rammed During Chase
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Three people from Great Bend are jailed after a chase in central Kansas during which the driver rammed a deputy's cruiser. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir says a deputy tried to stop a truck early Thursday southeast of Great Bend. Officers later determined the truck was stolen. Bellindir says the driver, 19-year-old Tanner Guyton, fled in the truck, beginning a 23-mile chase through rural Barton County that reached speeds in excess of 100 mph. The sheriff says when the chase continued into Great Bend, Guyton intentionally rammed into a deputy's patrol car. The deputy was not injured. Eventually, another deputy intentionally rammed the truck, causing it to go into a yard and hit a tree. Guyton and two passengers face several charges, including aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.
Lawrence Police: Online Date Turns Out to be Armed Robber
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man was robbed after inviting a date whom he met online to his Lawrence apartment. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the robbery happened around 7:10 pm Friday. Police Sgt. Amy Rhoads says the victim told police he met the robber on a dating website. When the man arrived, he brandished a gun and demanded the victim's bank card. The suspect fled and used the bank card a short time later. No one was immediately arrested.
Kansas House Leader Picks Health Official for Chief of Staff
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch has named a state health department official as his chief of staff. Finch announced Thursday that he appointed Emily Graves. She is a program consultant in the Department of Health and Environment for the Women, Infants and Children program that provides nutrition education and food for needy families. Finch is an Ottawa Republican who served as his hometown's mayor before being elected to the House in 2012. Graves served on the Ottawa City Commission for nearly three years, starting in October 2015. Finch is set to become speaker pro tem January 14. Departing Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab is an Olathe Republican who was elected Kansas secretary of state.
2 Oklahoma Murder Suspects Captured in Kansas
MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people wanted for a murder in Oklahoma have been arrested in Kansas. The U.S. Marshals Service says 33-year-old La'shae Terrell and 42-year-old Kenneth Williams were arrested Thursday in the Wichita suburb of Maize. They are charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 29 death of Louis Poole in Tulsa. Tulsa officers say Poole was shot to death at a home on the city's west side. The Marshals Service said in a news release that marshals determined the suspects were staying with an associate in Maize. That person was also arrested on unrelated charges. KAKE-TV reports Sedgwick County jail records show Terrell and Williams remained in custody Friday afternoon on fugitive from justice and failure to comply charges.
Investors, Farmers Left Guessing as Shutdown Delays Crop Reports
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it must delay the release of key crop reports due to the partial government shutdown. The announcement Friday left investors and farmers without vital information during an already tumultuous time for agricultural markets. The USDA planned to release the reports Jan. 11 but said that even if the shutdown ended immediately, the agency wouldn't have time to release the reports as scheduled. Grain market analyst Todd Hultman says the situation will worsen if the shutdown continues. The lack of information comes amid the uncertainty of trade with China, where tariffs led to an abrupt drop in U.S. exports to the country. There were indications that China was beginning to resume purchases of U.S. crops, but because of the government shutdown it's unclear what's happening.