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Headlines for Friday, June 1, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Conservative Kansas House Member Drops Re-Election Bid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Kansas House Republican has dropped his re-election bid in a suburban Kansas City district where two openly gay Democratic challengers are also running. State Representative Randy Powell, of Olathe, withdrew his bid this week for the 30th House District, which includes parts of Olathe and Lenexa, The Kansas City Star reported. The filing deadline was Friday. "Like any legislator, my time in Topeka was a roller coaster of ups and downs, of great successes and frustrating setbacks," Powell said in a statement. "Most recently, the passage of the Adoption Protection Act was a testament to the incredible things that can be done when good people come together with no concern for who gets the credit!" Powell has served in the House since 2015 and won re-election in 2016 by about 5 percentage points. That legislation allows faith-based adoption agencies to reject gay and lesbian couples as parents. It became law last month after narrowly passing the House. Powell opposed Medicaid expansion and rolling back former Governor Sam Brownback's 2012 tax cuts and he pushed a resolution condemning pornography on public health grounds. Powell's decision means Colleen Webster, of Lenexa, and Wendy Bingesser, of Olathe, will vie for the GOP nomination. Brandon Woodard, of Lenexa, and Matthew Calcara, of Olathe, are the Democratic candidates in the district. They are seeking to become the first openly gay member of the Kansas House. "The voters of the 30th District, men and women alike, want a candidate who will stand up for the reproductive freedoms and civil rights of Kansas women," Calcara said in statement. "The radical, anti-women agenda of ultraconservatives like Powell and his handpicked successor are simply unacceptable to most mainstream voters." Woodard said he thought Powell "saw the writing on the wall."

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Kansas Child Welfare Agency Rescinds Rule Banning Opposition

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department for Children and Families plans to remove a new rule banning contractors from opposing the agency after questions about whether the change would stifle policy debate and contradict promises of transparency. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the removal comes after the agency announced new child welfare contracts Thursday that raised free-speech concerns. The contracts require prior approval for any public statements identifying the agency. Private contractors also must "conspicuously acknowledge support of DCF" in any announcement about the contract. Christie Appelhanz is the executive director of the Children's Alliance of Kansas, which represents child welfare agencies. She says the contracts emphasize greater collaboration but prohibit people working within the system from testifying before lawmakers. The department says the lobbying restriction was meant to foster good public-private partnerships.

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Kansas Tax Collections $108M More Than Anticipated in May

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected $108 million more than expected in May to give the state a full year's worth of monthly revenue surpluses. The state Department of Revenue on Friday attributed the surge's size to last-minute income tax payments in mid-April not being processed until early May. But Kansas hasn't seen a 12-month streak of better-than-expected tax collections since at least January 1989. The state collected $555 million in taxes last month when it projected $447 million. The surplus was 24.1 percent. The state collected almost $6.3 billion in taxes from the start of the current fiscal year in July 2017 through May. That is $174 million more than expected, for a surplus of 2.9 percent — even after state officials revised revenue projections upward in April.

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GOP Candidates with Same Name Seek Kansas Congressional Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Republicans with the same first and last names are running for a Kansas congressional seat. One candidate in the August primary is incumbent Ron Estes. He won a tougher-than-expected special election last year for the 4th District seat in the Wichita area formerly held by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The other Ron Estes from Wichita describes himself online as a father of two and a first-time candidate. Campaign finance records show he and his wife have made multiple contributions to Democrats though both are registered Republicans. The incumbent's campaign sees the challenger's filing as an attempt to deceive voters. The challenger did not immediately return messages Friday seeking comment. The state plans to list the incumbent as Rep. Ron Estes and the challenger as Ron M. Estes.

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Kansas Tuition Law for Immigrants Debate in Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach is attacking a Kansas law that helps young people living in the U.S. illegally to go to state colleges.  He's appealing to families frustrated by ever-rising tuition and his party's conservative base in a tough GOP primary race.  The policy allows some young immigrants to pay the lower tuition rates reserved for legal Kansas residents. The law has split Republicans since its enactment in 2004. The only other major gubernatorial candidate supporting its repeal is GOP Governor Jeff Colyer.  Democratic and independent candidates said the law helps young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.  Kobach is secretary of state and previously built a national profile as an advocate of tough national, state and local policies against illegal immigration. He also has advised President Donald Trump.

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Candidate's Wife is Running Mate in Kansas Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican running for Kansas governor has named his wife as his running mate.  Former state Senator Jim Barnett announced Thursday that Rosemary Hansen is his choice for lieutenant governor. She and the previously divorced Topeka physician married in September.  Washburn University of Topeka political scientist Bob Beatty says he knows of no other instance of spouses on the same ticket in Kansas.  Barnett is one of four major GOP candidates for governor in a crowded field with a sizable part of the Republican electorate undecided.  Hansen has served 26 years as a foreign service agent for the U.S. State Department, including in Washington and embassies in Germany, Bosnia, and Afghanistan.  Barnett says Hansen has traveled 70,000 miles with him in Kansas over the past 22 months, starting before his campaign launched.  She holds a master's degree in public administration. Barnett says her knowledge will help them make state government more efficient.

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Judge: Kansas Law Bars Out-of-State Candidates for Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state court judge has ruled that Kansas law bars out-of-state residents from running for governor even if there's not a specific prohibition.  Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson ruled Thursday in lawsuit filed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Schmidt sued Secretary of State Kris Kobach to obtain a declaration that Kobach's office cannot allow non-Kansans to file for governor.  Kansas law doesn't explicitly ban out-of-state residents from running for governor if they pay the full filing fee of $2,207 instead of gathering signatures from registered voters. Watson said that's likely an oversight and other statutes presume candidates will live in the state.  New Yorker Andy Maskin filed for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this month, saying he would move if elected.  The state's candidate filing deadline is Friday.

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Sears to Close Topeka Store as Part of National Plans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Sears Holdings Corporation plans to close its store in Topeka as part of a nationwide reorganization.The store is expected to close in September.That will leave the Wichita store as the only remaining traditional Sears store in Kansas.The Chicago-based company announced Thursday that it plans to close 57 Sears department and specialty stores, and 15 Kmarts. Those closings will leave Sears with about 800 stores, down from a peak of 4,000 stores in 2012.

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No Death Penalty in Fatal Shooting of Kansas Police Captain

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man charged with fatally shooting a Kansas City, Kansas, police captain will not face the death penalty. Wyandotte County prosecutors announced Friday they will not pursue the death penalty for 22-year-old Jamaal Lewis. He is charged with capital murder in the death of 46-year-old Robert David Melton. The Kansas City Star reports that Lewis on Friday waived his preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty. In return for dropping the death penalty, attorneys agreed not to pursue a defense of mental disease or defect for Lewis. The trial is scheduled for November 5. Melton was shot in July 2016 while assisting other officers searching for suspects in a drive-by shooting. Melton was hit when the suspect fired several shots through window of his patrol vehicle.

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Kansas Store Owner Pleads No Contest to Selling Fake Goods

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a suburban Kansas City store pleaded no contest to selling fake designer merchandise at her store. The Kansas City Star reports 65-year-old So Wun Pak pleaded no contest Thursday to a felony charge of counterfeiting merchandise worth between $1,000 and $25,000. The fake merchandise included Coach purses and Rolex watches. A judge then found her guilty and scheduled sentencing for July 26. Pak was charged last November after authorities searched her Mission business, Sue's Accessories, and confiscated a large amount of merchandise. In exchange for the plea, Johnson County prosecutors dismissed a charge of deceptive commercial practices.

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Kansas Water Park Where Boy Died to Open 7 Rides; 4 Closed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The local district attorney says seven more rides are opening at a Kansas water park where a 10-year-old boy died in 2016 but another four remain closed. The Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, started its season on May 25 with only six attractions open following a state audit. The local district attorney's office said Friday that another seven rides substantially comply with state regulations. A state notice listed 11 alleged violations covering dozens of audit findings, mostly record-keeping and safety-sign issues. Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said the park has yet to ask the state to re-examine the remaining four rides. They include two waterslides, a surfing ride and a chair-lift ride. In August 2016, Caleb Schwab died while riding a 17-story waterslide that has been closed since his death.

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Survey Report Suggests Midwest Economy Still Steaming Ahead

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The surging business conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states will be tested by trade conflicts and other factors that could slow growth, an economist said in a survey report issued Friday. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index recorded its highest mark in 14 years last month, hitting 67.3 in May, compared with 64.5 in April, according to the report. The March figure was 62.1. This is the 18th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0, pointing to strong growth for the region over the next three to six months. "The Goldilocks economy — not too hot, not too cold — will be tested in the months ahead as trade skirmishes and potential wars slow growth and contribute to higher prices for inputs such as steel and aluminum," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. "These higher prices will slow growth and push the Federal Reserve to be more aggressive in raising interest rates in the weeks and months ahead." The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The wholesale inflation index hit 88.9 in May, the highest figure since April 2011, and up from 85.7 in April. "Both our regional wholesale inflation index and the U.S. inflation gauge are elevated. I expect this elevated inflation to begin to show up at the consumer level," said Goss, who added that he consequently expects the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point later this month. Economic optimism, as reflected by May's business confidence index, decreased to 66.3 from April's 70.2. Healthy profit growth, still low interest rates, and lower tax rates, kept business confidence into a range indicating robust confidence, Goss said. However, he said, the May survey was conducted before the announcement of higher U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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Texas Man Dies in Motorcycle-Deer Collision in Kansas

MERIDEN, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway patrol says a Texas man died when his motorcycle hit a deer in northeast Kansas. The patrol says 41-year-old Robert Allen Nelson, of Dallas, died early Friday on Kansas 4 just north of Meriden. He was alone riding a 1981 Honda motorcycle northbound when the deer entered the roadway and collided with the motorcycle. The patrol says Nelson struck the deer and was thrown from his motorcycle. The patrol says Nelson was not wearing a helmet or protective gear.

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Kansas Woman Sentenced in Stabbing of Grandfather, Mother

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has been sentenced to 10 ½ years in prison for a knife attack that severely injured her 90-year-old grandfather and an attack on her 52-year-old mother.  The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday that 26-year-old Kerri Telford pleaded guilty to aggravated battery in the February 2017 attack on her mother. She pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder in the August 2017 stabbing of her grandfather.  Authorities say Telford was living with her grandfather when she assaulted him with a kitchen carving knife with a six-inch blade. A police affidavit says she blamed "the voices" for the attack.  Telford was released from a mental health treatment center a few days prior to the attack.

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Wichita Babysitter Sentenced for Producing Child Pornography
 
WICHITA, KAN. – A Wichita woman was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison for producing child pornography while she was babysitting a 7-year-old girl in her home.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister says 47-year-old Stefanie Larsen, of Wichita, pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography.  In her plea, she admitted she allowed a man to produce a series of videos in which he masturbated in the presence of the sleeping child. When the child awoke and cried out, Larsen told her she had just had a bad dream. The man paid Larsen to let him make the videos.  

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Lawsuit Alleges Shawnee County Holding Immigrant Too Long

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka attorney has filed a lawsuit alleging Shawnee County is violating the rights of an inmate being kept in custody on an immigration detainer.  David Alegria contends the county has held Elidio Perez-Ramirez longer than allowed by law. He is seeking Perez-Ramirez's immediate release and unspecified compensation.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the lawsuit names the county corrections department, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Shawnee County counselor Jim Crowl said Wednesday the federal government gave the corrections department valid documentation directing it to hold Perez-Ramirez.  The lawsuit says Perez-Ramirez was convicted in May of two misdemeanors involving sexual battery and sentenced to probation. Although he was ordered released May 14, jail officials said they will detain him indefinitely until federal officials pick him up or release him.

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Wichita Daycare Owner, 5 Others Admit Welfare Fraud Scheme

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita daycare owner and five other women have admitted participating in a scheme to commit welfare fraud.  Sedgwick County prosecutors say 29-year-old Erika Tomlin was sentenced Wednesday to probation and ordered to repay the state $36,000. She owned two Kiddy Kollege daycare operations in Wichita.  Tomlin could be kept on probation for up to five years to ensure the money is repaid, or probation could end after a year if full restitution is made.  She could serve five months in prison if she violates her probation.  Tomlin and five other women were accused of receiving childcare benefits after falsely claiming their children were attending Tomlin's daycare. Three women pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and two were granted probation. All were ordered to pay restitution.  The total restitution ordered was $52,000.

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5 Kansas Siblings Whose Case Drew National Attention Adopted

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Five Kansas siblings whose request to be adopted together drew thousands of inquiries from around the world are officially a family.  A judge formally approved the adoption Wednesday by a couple who live in Douglas County, Kansas, just west of Kansas City. The three boys and two girls range in age from 3 to 12.  A story about the children published by the Kansas City Star last year drew nearly 7 million online readers and thousands of adoption offers from as far away as Ireland and New Zealand. The number of inquiries crashed the state-contracted Adopt Kansas Kids website.  But the couple had seen a state-produced video about the children before the newspaper story ran. They say they feel blessed to have applied to adopt the children before the flood of inquiries. The couple has been fostering all five children for several months.

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Lawsuit Says Kansas District Violated Students' Free Speech

SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A lawsuit accuses a Kansas school district of violating students' free speech rights during a nationwide protest of gun violence.  The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas filed the suit Thursday against the Shawnee Mission School District.  Some students participated in a nationwide walkout protesting gun violence in April. High school students said they were given a script for their 17-minute walkout and that an associate principal took cameras away from student journalists. At the middle school, students complained their event was cut short because officials had not approved language about gun control or gun violence.  The lawsuit asks the court to prohibit violation of students' rights.  A spokeswoman says the district continues working to ensure that students remain safe and secure, and that their free speech rights are respected.

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Missouri Gets New Leader as Scandal-Plagued Governor Greitens Calls it Quits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri is getting a new leader as its scandal-plagued governor steps down, elevating the lieutenant governor to the top job.  Republican Governor Eric Greitens has said he will resign at 5 pm today (FRI).  Republican Lt. Governor Mike Parson is to be sworn in shortly thereafter during a low-key ceremony in the governor's office.  Greitens' resignation is part of a deal with the St. Louis prosecutor to drop a felony charge alleging misuse of a charity donor list to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign.  Greitens also had faced the prospect of legislative impeachment. And he still faces the potential for a special prosecutor to refile a charge alleging sexual misconduct in an extramarital affair.  Parson will serve the remainder of Greitens' term, which runs until 2021.

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Missouri's Incoming Governor is a Farmer, Soldier, Lawman

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, a farmer and former soldier, lawman and lawmaker, is set to succeed Eric Greitens as Missouri's 57th governor.  Greitens, a Republican, says he's resigning at 5 p.m. Friday. He faced possible impeachment and a myriad of legal trouble over allegations stemming from a 2015 extramarital affair and his alleged used of a charity donor list for political purposes.  The new governor is a third-generation farmer. He served two tours in the Military Police, spent 12 years as Polk County sheriff, then another dozen years in the Legislature. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2016.  Former legislative colleagues expect a far better relationship with Parson than they had with the contentious Greitens.  

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City Manager from Kansas Town Takes Job in Springfield, Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The longtime city manager in Salina, Kansas, will take over the top administrative job in the city of Springfield, Missouri. The Springfield News-Leader reports that the selection of Jason Gage as city manager was announced Friday. Gage will be paid $220,000 annually to lead Springfield, a city of 167,000 residents. Gage has been city manager in Salina for 13 years. Before that he was city manager in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and De Soto, Missouri. Gage is a graduate of Missouri Southern State College in Joplin. He has a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Springfield City Manager Greg Burris announced in November that he was stepping down after 10 years of working for the city. His last day will be June 30.

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Lawsuit: Caregivers Ignored Slain Missouri Man's Injuries

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An attorney for the mother of a slain developmentally disabled Missouri man says the man's life could have been saved if nurses and employees who were supposed to care for him had responded to his deteriorating health.  Rudy Viet represents Carolyn Summers, the mother of Carl DeBrodie, whose body was found encased in concrete last year in a Fulton storage unit, months after he went missing from a private care home.  Viet says DeBrodie's caregivers should have removed him from the Second Chances home after he suffered broken ribs and other medical issues.  Instead, according to a lawsuit filed by his mother, DeBrodie and another man were taken to the house of two Second Chances employees and required to do manual labor and fight each other for their captors' amusement.  Viet says injuries from the fight and Brodie's failing health contributed to his death. He says DeBrodie would not have died if he had been removed from the Second Chances home and received treatment.

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Former KC Mayor Honored with Ballroom Named After Her

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Plenty of former mayors of Kansas City, Missouri, have things named for them, and now the city's first female mayor will have ballroom bearing her name.  The Kansas City Star reports that after a four-year search, the Grand Ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center will be dedicated as the Kay Barnes Ballroom.  Barnes served from 1999 to 2007 and is widely credited with reviving downtown.  Some felt a street should have been named to honor Barnes, but she says she's fine with a ballroom. A bronze sculpture by Kansas City artist Tom Corbin will sit outside the ballroom. The piece, called "Woman Walking Tall," depicts a woman walking resolutely forward.

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