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Headlines for Monday, December 24, 2018

New Kansas Governor's Budget Proposals May Face GOP Opposition

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas' incoming Democratic governor uses words like "decimated" to describe what's happened to state government over the past decade. Governor-elect Laura Kelly will be looking to add staff, boost spending and rethink contracts outsourcing jobs to private companies. Yet the same electorate that chose Kelly out of displeasure with her Republican predecessors opted in more-localized races to push the Legislature further to the right. Upon taking office in January, Kelly will face GOP super-majorities and conservative leaders. That sets up political fights over proposals seen as expanding state government's footprint.  It's not just big initiatives like more spending on public schools or expanding state Medicaid health coverage for the needy. She says she's even concerned about whether the state can clear highways well in a snowstorm. 

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Departing Kansas House Leader to Head Rural Issues Committee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Republican leader in the Kansas House who was ousted from his position will serve as chairman of new Rural Revitalization Committee. Departing Majority Leader Don Hineman's new assignment for 2019 and 2020 will have him leading a committee that will examine challenges facing rural areas that include declining populations and limited access to broadband service. He was appointed by House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., a fellow Republican from Olathe who grew up in southwest Kansas. Hineman is a farmer and rancher from Dighton. He is a GOP moderate and was re-elected to the House this year but was voted out as majority leader earlier this month after the Republican majority became more conservative.  Ryckman said he created the committee to make sure rural communities ``get a fair shake.'' 

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Fewer Women Will Hold Seats in Kansas Legislature Next Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Fewer women won seats this election for the Kansas Legislature at a time more women captured legislative seats nationwide. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas had been above the national average in terms of the percentage of legislative seats held by women but will fall below the national average come January. The National Conference of State Legislatures says Kansas had 48 female lawmakers, and women held 28.5 percent of all seats this year. Once new lawmakers take office in January, that number will drop to 43 with women holding just 26 percent of seats. The losses come even as Kansas elected Democrat Laura Kelly as its third female governor. Sen. Vicki Schmidt also takes over as insurance commissioner after years without a woman holding a statewide executive office.

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Lack of Lobbyist Waiting Period

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas is one of the few states without a law prohibiting legislators from becoming lobbyists immediately after they leave office. The Wichita Eagle reports 38 states have some form of a "cooling off" period for lawmakers who wish to become lobbyists after serving in office. Kansas' lack of a waiting period came to attention recently when Rep. Lynn Jenkins began setting up a lobbying firm while still in Congress. Jenkins' new lobbying firm plans to work at the state and federal levels. Federal rules require Jenkins to wait a year before lobbying at the federal level, but no Kansas law is preventing her from immediately registering as a lobbyist after leaving office. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley says he wants to introduce legislation again to create a two-year waiting period.

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Driver Killed in Weekend KCK Expressway Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has died in an expressway crash in Kansas City, Kansas. The crash happened on Saturday on the 18th Street Expressway near Steele Road. Authorities say a white vehicle was traveling south on the expressway when the driver attempted to change lanes. The driver struck another vehicle, then lost control, went off the roadway and overturned in a ditch. The driver of the white vehicle was taken to a local hospital but died of his injuries. Authorities have not publicly identified the driver. Authorities say there were no other passengers in the white vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was also alone and was not injured. The crash remains under investigation.

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Kansas Trying to Unload $10 Million in Computer Equipment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer's administration is trying to find a way to unload as much as $10 million in unused computer equipment the state bought in a failed effort to develop a centralized storage system for computer information. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the state still owes $2 million on the hardware it bought in 2016. After the equipment was purchased, state technology officials decided the proposal to create a Kansas GovCloud storage system was too expensive. The unused computer equipment has been in storage for several years in the Docking State Office building. Senator Mike Petersen, a Republican from Wichita, said officials are looking for a university that might take the equipment at a steep discount, so the state could recoup some of the money it lost.

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Prosecutor to Review Fatal Crash 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors will review a crash that killed a 24-year-old Kansas man for possible criminal charges. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick County Sheriff's Sgt. Lanon Thompson says the collision that killed Logan Owens remains under investigation. He says the agency intends to present its findings to the Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett's Office. Owens was a passenger in a vehicle that ran a stop sign and collided with another vehicle around 3:30 a.m. Thursday. The crash report says the man driving the vehicle carrying Owens was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The other driver received possible minor injuries but refused treatment. The report says authorities are investigating possible drug or alcohol use at the time of the crash.

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Planted Wheat Acres in Kansas May Be Lowest in Century

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Low prices and a surplus of wheat have moved farmers away from the Kansas staple for the past two years. Now the wet weather that has kept growers out of their fields planting time this fall could further push the state's winter wheat acres toward the lowest point in a century. The Hutchinson News reported acres planted to wheat in 2017 and 2018 neared 100-year lows. Last year's 7.7 million wheat acres hit the lowest point in 60 years. Winter wheat is planted in the fall in Kansas. The wet weather that delayed wheat planting also slowed down fall harvest of other crops. Some farmers who planned to plant wheat following grain sorghum or soybeans didn't have time to plant once harvest was over. Many were harvesting late into November.

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Gathering in Kansas Highlights Growing 'Storm Tourism' Trend

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Storm chasers and meteorologists from across the country will be gathering next year in Wichita for a convention some see as an opportunity to gain recognition for the city as a destination for the growing "storm tourism" trend. The Wichita Eagle reported the National Storm Chaser Convention will be held Feb. 8-10. This will be its first time in Wichita. Former AccuWeather executive and keynote speaker Mike Smith helped convince organizers that Wichita would be an ideal place for it. Smith says people from all over the world come to the central United States to go on storm tours as an adventure. Among the new sessions is a panel discussion that will bring storm chasers together with law enforcement to discuss ways to make storm chasing beneficial for everyone.

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Woman Dies in Shooting near KU Medical Center

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating the fatal shooting of a woman near the University of Kansas Medical Center. The shooting was reported about 5 p.m. Saturday and initially didn't appear to be serious. After being shot, the 27-year-old victim sought help at a Taco Bell restaurant, where a customer and employees called 911. Police say the woman was taken to a hospital with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries but she later died. The woman wasn't immediately identified so relatives could be notified. Police say they have a suspect and are trying to find the individual. 

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Topeka 3-Year-Old Left Alone on School Bus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka school district's new school bus service is facing criticism after one of its drivers left a 3-year-old boy along on a bus for more than two hours when temperatures were in the 30s and 40s. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that that the incident came near end of a year in which Topeka Unified School District 501 hired Kansas Central School Bus to replace the accident-plagued Durham School Bus Services. School district spokeswoman Misty Kruger called the situation unacceptable, adding that the district has taken action to ensure none of its students would ever again ride with the driver involved. The driver's identity hasn't been made public. Kruger says the district was reviewing safety protocols with Kansas Central and reviewing the incident to determine what additional steps were needed

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3 Teens Killed, 1 Injured in Blue Springs Crash
  
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) - A two-vehicle crash in Blue Springs has killed three teenagers and injured another person. The crash happened about 8 p.m. Saturday in a residential area. Blue Springs police say one 15-year-old boy and two 16-year-old boys were killed in one vehicle that left a road and ended up in a thicket of trees. One person was injured in the other vehicle. Police haven't released names of the victims. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is helping to investigate the crash.

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Police Say a Man is Dead after Two Shooting Victims Drove Themselves to Kansas City Fire Station

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities say a man is dead after two shooting victims drove themselves to a Kansas City fire station. The Kansas City Star reports that the man and woman arrived Sunday night. They were rushed to a hospital where the man was pronounced dead and the woman was being treated for life-threatening wounds. It wasn't immediately clear where the shooting happened. The investigation is ongoing. 

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Kansas City Chiefs Lose to Seahawks, 38-to-31, in Seattle

SEATTLE -- The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Seattle Seahawks 38-31 on last (SUN) night. The 11-4 Chiefs have now lost two consecutive games for the first time this season. The Chiefs now have one more chance to clinch the AFC West championship and have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by beating the Oakland Raiders next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for three touchdowns, giving him 48 this season. That's tied with Dan Marino for the fourth most in a season. But Mahomes completed just 23 of 40 passes for 273 yards. The Chiefs' Damien Williams rushed for 103 yards, and he caught 7 passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 3 touchdowns. 

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Duke Returns to No. 1 in AP Poll; KU Drops to 5th

Duke moved to No. 1 after blowing out Kentucky in its season opener, only to lose the top spot two weeks later with a loss to Gonzaga in Maui. Now, the Blue Devils are back at No. 1. Buoyed by a win over No. 12 Texas Tech and Kansas' loss at No. 18 Arizona State, Duke moved atop The Associated Press Top 25 released on Monday, receiving 35 of 64 first-place votes. No. 2 Michigan received nine first-place votes, No. 3 Tennessee got 12, and No. 4 Virginia and No. 5 Kansas received four each. No. 6 Nevada, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Florida State and Virginia Tech rounded out the top 10.

 

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