Kansas Medicaid Expansion in Doubt Despite Governor-Elect's Support
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic and moderate Republicans lawmakers worked together last year to try to make Kansas the latest state to expand Medicaid, only to see their bipartisan effort rewarded with a veto from former conservative GOP Governor Sam Brownback. The election this month of a governor who supports Medicaid expansion seemed to remove the biggest hurdle for those hoping to bring health coverage to thousands of the state's poor. But the same election that put Democrat Laura Kelly in the governor's office also brought Kansas a more conservative Legislature. Any bill seeking to expand Medicaid will have a tougher time getting to the governor's desk. In this month's election, conservatives gained at least half a dozen seats in the House and might replace the chamber's majority leader, a moderate, with someone who leans further to the right. With conservatives in control of the majority party, Kelly will likely have to make concessions on Medicaid expansion to get enough support to pass the Legislature. One could be a work requirement for recipients, something other Republican-leaning states have imposed.
Kansas Democrats to Pick Kelly, Rogers Replacements
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Two groups of local Democratic activists are meeting next week to fill the Kansas Senate seats previously held by Governor-elect Laura Kelly and Lieutenant Governor-elect Lynn Rogers. Precinct committee members of Kelly's former Topeka-area district are scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. November 29 at the Topeka Public Library. In the Wichita district Rogers represented, precinct committee members are scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. December 1 at the Service Employees International Union Local 503 headquarters. Kelly and Rogers both resigned from the Senate earlier this month after their ticket won the governor's race. Kelly has served 14 years in the Senate and Rogers, two years. The new senators will serve the remaining two years of the four-year terms until the 2020 elections.
Kansas Offers Paid Leave to More than 17 Thousand State Employees
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Jeff Colyer has signed an executive order giving paid parental leave to more than 17,000 state government employees. The order creates a policy that all state employees will be eligible for paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Primary caregivers will receive six weeks of paid leave, while secondary caregivers will receive three weeks. Employees will receive 100 percent of their regular salary during the parental leave. The order applies to state workers in cabinet level agencies. It does not cover those under elected officials like the attorney general or secretary of state, state universities, or the judicial or legislative branches. With the order, Kansas becomes one of 15 states, including Missouri, to provide paid parental leave to employees.
Kansas State Parks Are Free on Black Friday
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is offering a special Black Friday deal to outdoor enthusiasts. As part of the national #OptOutside movement, the state will waive admission fees at its state parks for the day, although visitors will still have to pay for fishing, overnight camping and other activities. Additionally, park visitors who take a selfie can enter to win a free night's stay at a state park cabin. Some Kansas parks also planned activities. Kanopolis State Park and Tuttle Creek State Park offered guided bike rides, while Prairie Dog State Park had a 2-mile "Turkey Trot." Outdoor gear retailer REI started the initiative in 2015, announcing it would close its stores on Black Friday to encourage people to experience nature instead of waiting in long lines at cash registers.
Firefighters Prepare to Rescue Santa from Lawrence Rooftop
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters are preparing for their annual rescue of Santa Claus from a downtown Lawrence rooftop. Santa is expected to "land" Friday night on the roof of Weaver's Department Store. Firefighters then will use a ladder truck to climb up and rescue him. Once on the ground, Santa will listen to the Christmas wishes of children and pose for pictures. Youth also can make crafts for their families. The event coincides with the Lawrence holiday lighting ceremony.
Tractor-Trailer Driver Blames Rollover Crash on Toothache
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a tractor-trailer driver who rolled his rig on the Kansas Turnpike told officers he was distracted by a toothache. The Kansas Turnpike Authority says the 49-year-old driver from Olathe wasn't hurt. But The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that traffic was blocked for nearly two hours early Friday after the wreck in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Shawnee County. The accident report says the driver became distracted by a toothache, rested his hand on his chin and drifted off the road onto the shoulder. The driver then overcorrected, crossed the highway, saw he was going to strike the wall between the turnpike's eastbound and westbound lanes and overcorrected again. That caused the rig to fall onto its side, blocking off all three of the highway's westbound lanes.
Topeka Teen Who Was Abducted at Gunpoint Found Safe
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a 16-year-old who was taken at gunpoint from a Topeka apartment has been found safe and two men have been arrested. An Amber Alert was issued for the 16-year-old after the abduction was reported early yesterday (THUR) morning. Topeka police say the assailants left after brandishing a handgun. Several hours later, police announced that the 16-year-old had been located in ``good health,'' along with one of the suspects. Police say that suspect and another suspect were booked into jail on suspicion of aggravated burglary. Both of the suspects are 19.
Manhattan Makes Deal to Get Half of its Power from Wind
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The Manhattan City Commission has approved a plan to convert half of its energy use to wind power. The commission backed a 20-year agreement with Westar Energy for the 300-megawatt Soldier Creek Wind Farm in northeast Kansas, a project that will be complete in the fourth quarter of 2020. The city has paid Westar about $2.6 million a year for the past five years. Officials say the agreement with Westar will save the city $50,000 a year for the next 20 years. Kansas State University has entered the same agreement with Westar.
Man Already Accused in Lawrence Homicide Facing New Charges
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man jailed for more than a year in a murder case now faces charges in another death. 21-year-old Steven Drake III of Lawrence was charged this week with vehicular homicide in connection with a November 2016 accident that killed 24-year-old Taylor Lister. Drake has been in jail since last year in the fatal September 2017 shooting of 26-year-old Bryce Holladay. The first-degree murder trial is scheduled to start January 14. Drake has claimed he acted in self-defense. The new charge is a misdemeanor that alleges Drake drove in a way that created "unreasonable risk of injury" when his pickup truck left the road, went into a ditch and struck a tree. Lister died at a hospital.
Kansas Family Sues After Teen Was Killed in Wreck Outside Stadium
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The family of a teen who was killed in a crash with an off-duty officer outside the stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs play has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court against Terrell Watkins. He was driving a police van to an off-duty security assignment at Arrowhead Stadium in heavy pregame traffic last month when he slammed into the back of a car. The crash killed the car's driver, 17-year-old Chandan Rajanna, of Overland Park, Kansas, and seriously hurt the teen's father and older sister. Watkins isn't identified in the lawsuit as a police officer, but police officials previously said that an officer was involved in the fatal wreck. Watkins doesn't have a listed phone number.
Man Gets 90 Months in US Prison for Downloading Child Porn
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man has been imprisoned for downloading child pornography from the internet. Federal prosecutors say 31-year-old Shane Ragsdale, of Hutchinson, was given 90 months at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Wichita. Ragsdale had pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography. He admitted to using a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to download the child pornography.
Police: Woman Injured Holding onto Door of Stolen Pickup
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 31-year-old woman was injured while holding onto a door of a stolen pickup truck in Wichita. Police say the pickup was reported stolen Wednesday morning. The woman and a 30-year-old male with her apparently learned later that the pickup was seen at a laundromat.Their pickup was still there when they arrived, and an argument soon broke out between them and a person sitting behind the wheel. Police say the man fired his gun several times as the person in the truck tried to drive away. The woman grabbed onto the driver's side door but let go when one of her legs struck a street sign. No arrests have been reported, and it's unclear whether the driver was struck by any of the bullets. Police haven't released the names of those involved.