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Headlines for Monday, February 19, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press


Kansas Senate Committee Endorses Medicaid Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas Senate committee has endorsed a bill that would expand the state's Medicaid program to provide health coverage for 150,000 additional poor adults.  The bill approved today (MON) by the Public Health and Welfare Committee would expand Medicaid as encouraged by the Affordable Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama. The Medicaid program covers more than 370,000 poor, disabled and elderly Kansas residents.  The committee's voice vote sent the measure to the full Senate, but Majority Leader Jim Denning indicated that a debate is not likely to occur soon.  Former Republican Governor Sam Brownback vetoed a similar bill last year. New Republican Governor Jeff Colyer also opposes Medicaid expansion.  Supporters say expanding Medicaid would help the uninsured. Critics see it as potentially costly for the state.

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General Motors Confirms New Vehicle for Fairfax Plant
 
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - General Motors says it will build a new vehicle at its plant in Kansas City, Kansas.  The company says it will build the Cadillac XT4 crossover sport utility vehicle at its Fairfax Assembly & Stamping Plant.  GM spokeswoman Mary Padilla says the announcement means the plant will keep about 500 jobs. The assembly plant currently employs 2,235, including workers who make the Chevy Malibu.  The company is spending $265 million to prepare to manufacture the vehicle.  The Kansas City Star reports Fairfax lost its third shift last fall after sales of the Malibu slumped. It had employed about 3,000 with the three shifts.

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Kansas GOP Leaders Support Abortion Amendment Effort

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas top political officials are supporting a fund-raising effort by a leading anti-abortion group to amend the Kansas Constitution to make it clear the constitution doesn't protect the right to abortion.  Governor Jeff Colyer and five of six members of the Kansas congressional delegation, all Republicans, helped Kansans for Life kick off the $2 million fund-raising effort during the weekend.  The Kansas Supreme Court is currently considering whether the state constitution offers the same guarantee of a right to abortion found in the U.S. Constitution. Anti-abortion advocates are concerned the court will rule in favor of abortion rights, which is prompting the campaign for a separate constitutional amendment.  The Wichita Eagle reports the only member of the delegation not supporting Saturday's event was Sen. Jerry Moran, who was ill with the flu.

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2 Girls Killed in Crash on Suburban Kansas City Beltway

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two children have died and three other people are critically injured in a crash on a suburban Kansas City beltway.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Sunday when a minivan came to a stop for an unknown reason on Interstate 435 in Leawood.  A tractor-trailer then struck the van, killing 7-year-old Ruth Vasquez and 1-year-old Teresa Vasquez. The girls were from Kansas City, Missouri.  WDAF-TV reports that the minivan's driver and two boys, ages 9 and 14, are hospitalized in critical condition. The rig's driver also was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

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Lawsuit: Kansas City School Let Violent Felon Take Girl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A lawsuit filed last week alleges a Kansas City school allowed a violent felon to pick up a 14-year-old student, who was taken to a motel and raped.  The plaintiff, who is now 21, is suing Kansas City Public Schools, a former principal at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and a school attendance secretary at the school.  The Kansas City Star reports the girl was in class in May 2010 when Roy Andrews told the school her parents wanted him to pick her up.  The lawsuit contends Andrews was not on a list of people allowed to pick up the girl.  The complaint says the school ignored its own policies and allowed the girl to leave with Andrews, who took her to an Independence motel and raped her.

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Kansas Regent, County-City Official Arrested Following Fight

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Board of Regents member and commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has been arrested on suspicion of domestic battery.  The Kansas City Star reports that 50-year-old Ann Brandau-Murguia was arrested Friday evening and booked into the Wyandotte County Detention Center. She was released on her own recognizance a short time later. Brandau-Murguia is the wife of Kansas U.S District Judge Carlos Murguia.  While the booking report indicates Brandau-Murguia committed bodily harm to a family member, Brandau-Murguia said in a statement posted on her professional Facebook page that the incident involved a longtime friend, not a family member.  Brandau-Murguia said in the statement that she and the friend "were involved in a misunderstanding that resulted in an argument and physical contact."  Contacted Saturday through a Facebook message, Brandau-Murguia referred The Associated Press to her written statement.

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Wichita Police Continue Search for Missing Child

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities searching for a missing 5-year-old Kansas boy are reporting few new leads in the disappearance.  Police said they received a call about 6:15 p.m. Saturday reporting that Lucas Hernandez was lost in southeast Wichita. When officers arrived, the boy's 26-year-old stepmother said he was last seen Saturday afternoon in his bedroom before she showered and fell asleep.
Police say the search continues but they have little new to report.  Officers and dogs have searched the boy's home, neighborhood and the 216-acre Chisholm Creek Park.  Police have found no evidence suggesting Lucas was abducted.  An FBI team is assisting police. Lucas has brown hair and eyes and weighs about 60 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray shirt with a bear on it.

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Kansas House Panel Rejects Bill Preventing Earthquakes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House Committee rejected a bill designed to prevent earthquakes triggered by oil and gas production wastewater disposal methods.  The bill was supported by several people who said their homes were damaged by the quakes, while the oil and gas industry strongly opposed it.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Geological Survey says most earthquakes experienced in recent years in Kansas were caused by injecting large volumes of wastewater from oil and gas production into disposal wells.  The number of earthquakes in Kansas has increased recently, particularly in the south-central region.  In 2015, regulators limited the amount of water that could be injected in two hard-hit counties to 8,000 barrels a day.  The bill rejected Thursday would have extended that limit to about 430 other injection wells statewide.

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Woman Who Stopped for Funeral Procession Killed in Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 59-year-old woman has been killed in a crash west Wichita.  Police Sgt. Troy Nedbalek tells the Wichita Eagle that the woman was driving a sport utility vehicle and had pulled over to the curb Saturday morning to observe a funeral procession when a van slammed into the back of her SUV. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.  The woman's mother, who was a passenger in her vehicle, and the driver of the van were taken to a hospital in fair condition.  Investigators say they don't know why the driver of the van didn't see vehicles stopped next to the curb as he traveled north.

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Proposal Would Use Lawrence Sales Tax on Food to Help Poor

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — City leaders are looking at the possibility of indirectly returning some of the money impoverished Lawrence residents are charged in sales tax on groceries.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Mayor Stuart Boley proposed the program to city commissioners February 13.  A 2016 report from the Tax Foundation says Kansas is one of only 13 states in the country charging any sales tax on groceries. Lawrence residents pay more than 9 percent sales tax on purchases that include groceries.  Boley says he would like at least a portion of the amount charged to low-income families to be spent on a program to fight hunger.  Douglas County data show about 17 percent of people living in the county are "food insecure," meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

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Numbers Show Jump in STD Cases at the University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — New numbers show that cases of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise at the University of Kansas.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that recent numbers from KU's Watkins Health Services show the number of gonorrhea cases diagnosed at KU jumped 39 percent from 2016 to 2017. University health officials say that marked the most dramatic jump on the campus of major sexually transmitted infections.  The service's health education resource manager, Jenny McKee, says KU's climbing rates are part of a national surge in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis that hit a record high in 2017.  The spike is party attributed to increases in STD testing.  Watkins Health Services has "bundled" testing for four major STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV — which McKee says has decreased the cost of testing.

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Injured Partygoer's Lawsuit Against KU Fraternity Dismissed

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man's lawsuit claiming that he was injured and his black friends were insulted at a University of Kansas fraternity has been dismissed.  An order of dismissal was entered earlier this month in a lawsuit filed in 2016 by Philip Hawley against Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and its national headquarters.  Hawley had sought $130,000 for medical bills and other losses that he said stemmed from a fight outside the fraternity house in October 2015. He says some fraternity members used racial slurs against two of his friends, who are black, and a fight erupted. He said his jaw was broken when a fraternity member hit him.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports Hawley's attorney, Roger Fincher, declined to say why the lawsuit was dismissed.

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Kosher Kitchen Opens on University of Kansas Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has opened its first entirely kosher kitchen on campus.  The Lawrence Journal-World the university says the kitchen at Oliver Hall prepares food according to Jewish dietary laws. It served its first dinner last week.  The kitchen was created after a new dining facility opened last August, connecting Oliver and another residence hall. With the original Oliver Dining Hall kitchen out of commission, KU Dining Services and the university's center for Jewish life worked throughout the fall semester to repurpose the old space.  Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel of KU Chabad supervises the kitchen. He says the Jewish community at KU is "vibrant and is growing." Kosher dinners are served from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays while classes are in session.

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Missouri, Kansas Work to Secure National Bicycle Route

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Missouri and Kansas officials are working to designate sections of Route 66 as a national bicycle route.  The Joplin Globe reports that the U.S. Bicycle Route System is the national cycling route network serviced by state and local governments. The goal of the system is to connect bicycle routes across the country for safer, long-distance cycling.  The designation for portions of the Mother Road could allow each state's Department of Transportation to map and post signs for cyclists along their sections of the route.  Patrick Tuttle is the director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau. He works closely with the Missouri Transportation Department.  Tuttle says that Missouri is closest to reaching its designation and that state agencies must make the April submission deadline to be approved this year.

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College Students in Delaware Join Race for Kansas Governor

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Two 18-year-old University of Delaware students have joined several other teenagers who are running for Kansas governor.  The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, reported Friday that the students filed the necessary paperwork after learning the state has no age or residency requirements to run.  One of the students is Nicholas Schrieber of Newark, Delaware. He asked himself, why not me? He said the race would give him a chance to express his opinions.  His University of Delaware classmate, Conner Shelton of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is also running. He said the experience has warmed him up to the idea of sincerely running for office in the future.  If he does campaign for Kansas governor, Shelton said his platform will include increasing staffing in Kansas prisons and expanding the regulation of agricultural fertilizers.

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Cabela's Nebraska Headquarters Employees Receive Buyout Offers

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) — The remaining employees at Cabela's former headquarters in western Nebraska have received buyout offers.  The Omaha World-Herald reports Bass Pro Shops delivered the offers to Cabela's employees in Sidney, Nebraska, last week, but it's not clear how many positions will be eliminated.  Bass Pro bought Cabela's in a $5 billion deal last year. Officials pledged to maintain significant operations in Sidney but kept the headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.  A letter outlining the buyout offer that the World-Herald obtained says Cabela's employees who are over 50 years old and worked for the company at least 10 years can receive bonuses up to $40,000 on top of two weeks of severance pay for every year of service.  Longtime employees are also being offered lifetime discount cards for Bass Pro and Cabela's stores.  One Cabela's store is located at the Legends Shopping Center in Kansas City, Kansas.  

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