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Headlines for Monday, December 14, 2020

UPDATE: GOP Leaders Act as Electors, Cast Kansas's 6 Votes for Trump

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican party officials picked to serve as Kansas members of the Electoral College have cast the state’s six electoral votes for President Donald Trump. The electors convened Monday at the Statehouse in the House chamber with Secretary of State Scott Schwab presiding over their 15-minute meeting. They first cast their votes for president, then for Vice President Mike Pence. The electors were led by Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Kuckelman, and all were state party officials or activists. Trump carried Kansas with more than 56% of the vote in the November election, while Democrat Joe Biden received less than 42%.

(–Earlier Reporting–) 

Kansas Electoral College to Meet in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) —The members of the Electoral College in Kansas will meet in Topeka today (MON)  The members will gather at the Statehouse to cast the six Kansas electoral votes for Donald Trump. Trump beat Joe Biden 56% to 41% in Kansas in the November election. Kansas Republicans also held control of the Statehouse, a U.S. Senate seat and three of the state's four congressional districts. The meeting of the Electoral College is typically ceremonial and routine, but it could attract more attention this year because President Trump has challenged the outcome of the national election. 


GOP Attack on New Kansas Lieutenant Governor Previews 2022

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has given Kansas’s top economic development official a second job as the state’s next lieutenant governor. The state Republican Party on Monday immediately criticized the appointment and previewed possible attacks against their ticket in 2022. Kelly named state Commerce Secretary David Toland to replace Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers, who is stepping down Jan. 2 to fill a vacancy in the state treasurer’s office. Toland has been commerce secretary since Kelly took office in January 2019. Before that, Toland ran a nonprofit economic development group in Allen County in southeast Kansas for 11 years. He also served as the treasurer for Kelly’s successful 2018 campaign for governor.


Kansas AG: "Put Election Behind Us" Just Days after Legal Challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The Kansas Attorney General says it's time to put the 2020 "election behind us." The Kansas City Star reports that this comes just days after Derek Schmidt joined Texas, Missouri, and 15 other "red states" in a lawsuit challenging the election results in four battleground states.  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, saying that Kansas and the other states lacked legal standing to challenge the election results in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  


U.S. Supreme Court Won't Revive Kansas Voter Registration ID Law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Kansas that sought to revive a law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. A federal appeals court had declared the law unconstitutional. Kansas had been the only state to require people to show a physical document such as a birth certificate or passport when applying to register to vote. The issue is distinct from state laws that call for people to produce driver licenses or other photo IDs to cast a vote in person. The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who led President Donald Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission. 


COVID-19 Case Total in Kansas Exceeds 190,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has recorded over 190,000 COVID-19 cases.  Health officials reported Monday that Kansas had identified 190,018 coronavirus cases and 2,109 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.  That's an increase of 4,724 cases and 37 deaths since Friday.  Another update of Kansas COVID-19 cases is expected Wednesday.


Health Workers Receive Kansas's First Coronavirus Vaccines

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health care workers have begun receiving the first of the state’s coronavirus vaccines amid an ongoing fall surge in cases that has left hospitals stressed. A spokeswoman says that five employees of the Via Christi Ascension health care system received shots Monday at its St. Francis hospital in Wichita, including a critical care nurse, a housekeeper for a COVID-19 unit and a respiratory therapist. Doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer began arriving in Kansas after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized its emergency use Friday. Kansas officials expect the state to receive the first of two doses for 23,750 people this week.


Panel Recommends Changes to Combat Racial Injustice in Policing

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS)  - A panel of law enforcement officers, educators and government officials says Kansas needs to make changes across all levels of government to combat racial inequality. The Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice recommended expanding Medicaid, increasing funding for public defenders, replacing police officers in schools and changing probation rules.  The report also recommends that police receive more training on bias, and that departments hire more multilingual officers. The commission says the state should create a database of officers who have received complaints or been fired, and should stop suspending drivers licenses for failure to pay fines and fees. Other recommendations include addressing racial bias in jury selection and making changes to bail and bond practices.


Another Low-Intensity Earthquake Rattles Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Another low-intensity earthquake has rattled Wichita _ the ninth, geologists say, since Thanksgiving. The Wichita Eagle reports that the U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake just before 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The USGS recorded it as a 2.8 magnitude. Officials say the epicenter of the weak earthquake was near the Beech Aircraft facility in east Wichita. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake. 


Kansas Lawmakers Face Possible COVID-19 Exposure After Meeting

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - A group of Kansas lawmakers are being warned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 this week.  The Kansas Reflector reports that the legislators were meeting earlier this week at the Kansas Statehouse to select new leadership for the 2021 session. House Speaker Ron  Ryckman sent a letter to the group saying that a legislator attending those meetings later tested positive for the coronavirus.  The Kansas Reflector reports that not all lawmakers were wearing masks at the meeting.


Hundreds of Wichita Students, Staff Infected with COVID-19

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of Wichita students and staff members have contracted the coronavirus as the pandemic surges. The Wichita Eagle reports that data released Friday shows that cases among staff in the Wichita school district increased to 799 from 389 from November 15th until last Thursday. Cases among students rose to 383 from 244 over that period. Meanwhile, a total of 1,044 employees are under quarantine, which is about 14% of the workforce. The staff quarantines, lack of substitutes and rising COVID-19 case numbers and indicators forced the district’s Board of Education to vote in late November to send about 13,000 elementary students home to learn remotely through at least January 11th.


Missouri Health Director: Vaccinations Could Start Thursday

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri expects to receive more than 220,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines by the last week of December and the first vaccinations could begin by Thursday. Governor Mike Parson's office says that Missouri should receive an initial shipment of 51,675 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. It will be administered first to health care workers. The following week, Missouri expects to receive an additional 63,675 doses from Pfizer and 105,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine.


Probe: Kansas Foster Care Provider Falsified Visit Documents

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says employees of one of the state's largest foster care management providers falsified documents to show visits with families that never took place. The Kansas Department for Children and Families said Friday in a news release that it has taken action to address the allegations about St. Francis Ministries and requested information related to fiscal mismanagement at the Salina-based organization. One St. Francis employee did not visit 28 children who were living with 11 different foster care providers. That worker falsely documented 165 contacts with those children between February and October that did not occur. Another employee had failed to meet with foster care providers.


Hotels Offered to Kansas Residents Isolating Due to Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas residents who need a place to isolate after being exposed to or testing positive for COVID-19 may be able to stay for free in a hotel rented by the state of Kansas with help from the federal government. The goal of the program is to provide people who have no other place to stay with a safe option, so they don't spread the virus. Officials at the Kansas Division of Emergency Management say that renting an entire hotel costs the state roughly $3,000 a day at each site. 


Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said officers responded around 5:30 a.m. Saturday and found a man in his late 20s dead inside a vehicle with apparent gunshot wounds. The name of the man wasn’t immediately released. The killing is Kansas City, Kansas's 53rd homicide of the year, according to data tracked by The Kansas City Star, which includes fatal law enforcement shootings.


Police: Man Shot to Death in Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say a man has been shot to death in a south Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood. Police say the shooting happened along Cambridge Avenue around 5 p.m. Sunday, when several people in the area reported hearing gunfire during a disturbance on the street. Arriving officers found a man inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds. Police say the man died at the scene. Police have not yet released the victim's name. Investigators say an initial investigation shows people in two vehicles exchanged gunfire, leading to the death. Police have not announced any arrests or suspects.. 


Police Arrest Topeka Woman in Connection with Man's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Police have arrested a woman in connection with the death of a man whose body was found south of downtown Topeka on Sunday. Topeka Police said the man's death was suspicious but they didn't release details about how he died. The man police identified as 73-year-old Charles Jackson was found dead around 5 a.m. Sunday. Police Lieutenant Shane Hilton said 50-year-old Jennifer Jackson was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, and she is being held in the Shawnee County jail.


Salina Police Officer Recovering After Being Stabbed

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A Salina police officer is recovering after being stabbed this weekend as he tried to make an arrest. Television station KAKE reports that the incident happened early Sunday morning, just after midnight, as the officer was making an arrest. Police say a fight ensued with the suspect, later identified as Miguel Alberto Tostado. Police say Tostado stabbed the officer in the torso with a knife and tried to flee, but was quickly captured. Police say Tostado was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and other counts. He's being held in the Salina County Jail. The officer, who has not been named, was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released. 


Kaw Nation Asks for Return of Sacred Prayer Rock

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Native American tribe is seeking the return of a prayer rock that was transformed into a monument honoring Kansas settlers. Before the Kaw people were forcibly moved from Kansas to what is now Oklahoma in 1873, they held ceremonies and gathering before the 23-ton boulder known as the “Big Red Rock.” As Lawrence prepared for its 75th anniversary in 1929, the rock was moved to a park in town. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a letter from the Kaw Nation says the intent is to bring the rock to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park in Council Grove. The long-range goal is to develop the site in Morris County into a place where people can learn about the state’s original inhabitants.


Chiefs Defeat Miami to Claim Division Title

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -  (AP / KPR) - The Kansas City Chiefs held on to beat the Miami Dolphins, 33-27, to win their fifth straight AFC West division title and extend their franchise-record winning streak. In the game, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw three interceptions and he also lost a fumble but threw for 393 yards and two scores to help the Chiefs (12-1) earn their eighth consecutive victory. Tyreek Hill ran through the Dolphins’ secondary scoring on a 32-yard run and a 44-yard reception when Mahomes hit him in stride at the goal line. Travis Kelce had eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, Mecole Hardman scored untouched on a 67-yard punt return, and Kansas City’s defense was stout against Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense. At 12-1, the Chiefs have never had a better record through 13 games of a season. They’ll play the Saints next Sunday in New Orleans. 


KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

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