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Headlines for Friday, January 8, 2020

 

Kansas Moves People 65+ up in Line for COVID-19 Vaccinations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas expects to finish giving COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents and health care workers by the end of this month and has moved people aged 65 and older into the next group to receive the shots. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday announced new details about the order in which her state’s residents will be eligible for inoculations, and making people aged 65 to 74 years an earlier priority was the biggest shift. The state’s previous plan had that age group getting their vaccines after people in “congregate” living, such as state hospitals, shelters for the homeless, and prisons.

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More Coronavirus Relief on the Way for Small Businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of business owners are about to get additional help weathering the coronavirus outbreak. The Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department are reviving the Paycheck Protection Program five months after its first two rounds of funding ended. Businesses that received loans last year will be able to borrow up to $2 million as long as they have no more than 300 employees and suffered at least a 25% drop in quarterly revenue. First-time borrowers with no more than 500 workers will be able to borrow up to $10 million. The loans, which can be forgiven, will have five-year terms and carry an interest rate of 1%.

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COVID-19 Caseload in Kansas Soars Past 240,000; Virus-Related Deaths Top 3,100

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health reported Friday that there have been 242,322 cases of COVID-19, including 3,148 deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 5,504 cases and 121 deaths since Wednesday. KDHE will release another update on Monday.  

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Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner Tests Positive for COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner tested positive for COVID-19 while participating in a joint session of Congress that certified President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College.  LaTurner's office tweeted early Thursday that the freshman Republican "is not experiencing any symptoms at this time."  LaTurner had voted to object to the counting of Arizona's electoral votes for Biden, but his tweet said he was following the advice of the House physician and federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines and not returning to the House floor for other votes.  LaTurner took office Sunday, representing the 2nd District of eastern Kansas.   

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Prisoners Among Those to Get Vaccine Next, Prompting Concern

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — COVID-19 ravaged prisons in Kansas are set to be prioritized next for vaccinations. That's frustrating some lawmakers but is encouraging to some inmates' families and activists. The state prison system houses about 8,600 inmates. It's reported 5,320 cases among offenders and an additional 1,076 among staff. Thirteen inmates and four staff members have died. Gov. Laura Kelly confirmed Thursday that people in prisons would be part of the next group to be vaccinated after health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Kelly said they're being prioritized based on guidance from doctors and public health experts.

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Kansas City Area Doctors Urge Black Residents to Get Vaccine

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of Kansas City area health care experts are urging Black residents to overcome their hesitations and get the COVID-19 vaccine. Kansas City's Black Health Care Coalition and and a team of Black medical professionals are working to persuade about 45,000 Blacks in the metro area that the vaccine is the best way to slow the pandemic. During an online briefing Monday, Dr. Nevada Lee, who practices in Leawood, Kansas, said many Blacks are skeptical of the vaccine. But she noted Blacks are more likely to contract COVID-19 and more likely to die from it, in part because of a lack of access to medical care.

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Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley Scolded by Mentor and Former GOP Senator

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP/KPR) — Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is being scolded and blamed for Wednesday’s riots at the U.S. Capitol. Hawley's political mentor, former Senator John Danforth, says supporting him was the “worst decision” he's ever made. The 41-year-old first-term senator has rapidly emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal backers in Congress.  Hawley also took part in an Electoral College challenge that became the focus of a protest and subsequent siege of the Capitol.  Some political observers have speculated that Hawley may be among the most tarnished by the events of January 6 for years to come. The editorial board for the Kansas City Star even declared Hawley has “blood on his hands.”

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Missouri Senator Josh Hawley Loses Book Deal

NEW YORK (AP/KPR) — A planned book by Senator Josh Hawley has been canceled by its publisher in the wake of this week’s siege of the Capitol in Washington by a mob of pro-Trump extremists.  The Missouri Republican is calling the decision “Orwellian” and vowed to fight it in court. Hawley is a leading backer of President Trump’s claims that the election was stolen and that he prevailed over Democrat Joseph Biden. Hawley has often been cited as possible future presidential candidate and his book, scheduled to come out in June, was an intended forum for a favorite theme - the undue and unprecedented power of Google, Facebook and other internet giants.

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Kansas Congressional Delegation Condemns Storming of Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Members of the Kansas congressional delegation have condemned the storming of the U.S. Capitol by apparent supporters of President Donald Trump. They include Republicans who objected to the certification of Trump’s election loss. Republican Senator Roger Marshall called the violence in Washington “unreasonable,” and GOP Senator Jerry Moran deemed it “unpatriotic.” Republican Congressman Tracey Mann also called it unacceptable, and GOP Congressman Ron Estes said any violence is unacceptable. Republican Congressman Jake LaTurner said the violence was an “utter betrayal” of the right to assemble peacefully. The lone Democrat in the Kansas delegation is Congresswoman Sharice Davids.  She suggested Trump had encouraged “despicable behavior” and that he should immediately be removed from office.

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Lone Kansas Democrat in Congress Calls for President Trump's Removal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The lone Democrat in the Kansas congressional delegation is calling for President Donald Trump's removal from office. Rep. Sharice Davids made her comments in tweets after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday and interrupted the certification of Trump's election loss. Davids called late Wednesday on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump from office under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and make Pence acting president. Davids tweeted that Trump should be impeached over what she called the "failed insurrection" in Washington but said there wasn't enough time before he leaves office January 20.  Davids said earlier that Trump had encouraged the mob violence.

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About 200 Trump Supporters Stage Rally at Kansas Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — About 200 supporters of President Donald Trump rallied at the Kansas Statehouse to show their support for overturning President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Trump’s supporters listened Wednesday to speeches promoting Trump’s claims about election fraud and suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has been exaggerated. They chanted “stop the steal” and “four more years."  Dozens of them later entered the building peacefully through its security checkpoint and some stayed for another hour. Capitol police reported no arrests. The permitted protest was expected and came the same day the certification of the Democratic president-elect's Electoral College victory was interrupted when protesters stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol building in Washington.

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Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Workers' Compensation Law

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld a state law which governs how much money workers who are injured on the job can collect. The court ruled Friday that an amendment to the Kansas Workers Compensation Act was constitutional because it did not alter the requirement that a worker’s impairment be “established by competent medical evidence.” The court said the reference to American Medical Association guidelines does not make the statute unconstitutional because they are merely a guide and only serve as a starting point for any medical opinion. It reversed a 2018 ruling by the Court of Appeals that had found the updated law unconstitutional.

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Red Tape Delays Law Making Voting Easier in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas law designed to allow voters to cast ballots at any polling place in their county may not be implemented until 2023 because of bureaucratic delays. The law was passed in 2019. People currently just vote at their assigned polling place. The law directed Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab to write the rules and regulations to implement the change. But it included no deadlines. The Wichita Eagle reports that officials in Sedgwick County had hoped to have the new rules in place for the 2020 election cycle. But they’re only now coming up for approval by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Rules and Regulations.

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Proposed Electric Rates for Solar Find Few Supporters

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Regulators are getting a flood of complaints as the state’s largest electric utility tries to come up with a new plan for recovering the cost of providing solar energy. Evergy was sent back to the drawing board after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled last spring that utilities cannot charge customers who produce some of their own energy more than other customers. From Oct. 15 to Dec. 21, the Kansas Corporation Commission received more than 1,000 calls, emails and letters. The Wichita Eagle reports that all but about 20 of them opposed the alternative plans that are being considered.

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Kansas Man Charged in Death of Teen in Crash Last Year

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged with second-degree murder in the traffic crash death last year of a 17-year-old girl. Television station KSHB reports that on Thursday, prosecutors charged 42-year-old Eric Hoedl, of Olathe, in the August 2 death of 17-year-old Jade Burkhart. Police say Hoedl was driving a pickup truck that collided with the teen's car at the intersection of South Hedge Lane and West Larkspur Street in Olathe. Officials say Burkhart was about to enter her senior year of high school at the time of the crash. No other details of the crash have been released.

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Flood Risk Appears Lower on Missouri River at Start of 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The risk for flooding along the Missouri River appears lower than normal headed into the year because the ground remains dry across most of the region and snowpack levels are generally below average. Officials with the Corps of Engineers and National Weather Service cautioned Thursday that it is still early in the year and conditions can change. But currently it appears that 2021 will be somewhat drier and only about 90% of the normal amount of water is expected to flow down the Missouri River. That is welcome news for areas along the river where levees damaged during 2019′s flooding are still waiting to be repaired.

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Missouri Woman Believed to be Last Civil War Widow Dies

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman who was believed to be the last remaining widow of a Civil War soldier has died. Helen Viola Jackson married James Bolin in 1936, when she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl. He was 93 and in declining health. Bolin was also a Civil War veteran who fought for the Union in the border state of Missouri. Jackson died December 16 at a nursing home in Marshfield, Missouri. She was 101. Several Civil War heritage organizations have recognized Jackson’s quiet role in history. A longtime friend says she hid it for all but the final three years of her life.

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Funding Agreement Will Allow Extension of Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A long-awaited extension of the Kansas City streetcar officially has a green light. Kansas City and federal officials on Friday announced they had signed an agreement officially committing $174 million in federal funding to extend the streetcar. When the project is completed, the streetcar will be extended from Union Station past the Country Club Plaza to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Construction could begin late this year or early next year, with a projected opening in 2025. The 3.5 mile extension is expected to cost $351.7 million.  Most of the rest of the funding will come from special tax district approved by voters in 2018.

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Sporting KC Re-Signs Veteran Midfielder Roger Espinoza

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City re-signed midfielder Roger Espinoza for a 12th season with the MLS club. The 34-year-old Espinoza has led Sporting KC to seven playoff appearances and three U.S. Open championships during one of the longest tenures in club history. He ranks third with 301 appearances over two separate stints with the club, and he is fifth in both starts with 271 and minutes with more than 24,000. He also has scored 12 goals with 41 assists.

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