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Headlines for Monday, June 18, 2018

Judge: Kansas Cannot Require Proof of Citizenship to Vote

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled Kansas cannot require proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, a setback for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in a case with national implications for voting rights. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson sided with voters Monday that Kansas cannot require people who register to vote to provide documents such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers. The decision in a couple of consolidated cases makes permanent earlier temporary rulings. The judge said the Kansas requirement violates the right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment. Kobach, a conservative Republican running for governor, had to prove at trial that Kansas had a problem with noncitizens voting. An appeal is likely, but an appeals court had previously backed Robinson's preliminary injunction.

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Funerals Thursday for Kansas Deputies Killed in Line of Duty

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas deputies killed in the line of duty will be laid to rest Thursday following a joint funeral service.  Wyandotte County deputies Theresa King and Patrick Rohrer were fatally shot Friday. Authorities say they were killed by an inmate as they were preparing to leave the courthouse to return to jail after a hearing. King was 44 and had three children. Rohrer was 35 and was the father of two.  The funeral service is at 9 am Thursday at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.  Authorities have not identified the suspect, who was shot several times and is hospitalized in stable condition.  Authorities say the inmate apparently overpowered the deputies in a gated area behind the courthouse and shot them — possibly with one of their own guns.

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Kansas Joins Legal Challenge to DACA Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas has joined a multistate lawsuit challenging the legality of an immigration program that grants temporary legal status to immigrants without proper documents who came to the U.S. as children. The program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was established by former President Barack Obama in 2012. About 7,000 people in Kansas have obtained work permits under DACA. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday he joined the lawsuit last week at the request of Governor Jeff Colyer. Colyer said in a statement the lawsuit seeks to roll back executive overreach of Obama's presidency. Schmidt said he delayed joining the lawsuit while hoping Congress would pass a law resolving the issue of possibly providing a path to citizenship for some of the immigrants.

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US Rep. Yoder Urges Sessions to Halt Separation of Families

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to halt the separation of families during a crackdown on illegal entries. The Wichita Eagle reports that Yoder says that as the son of a social worker, he knows the "trauma that comes with children being separated from their parents." He says it can take a "lasting, and sometimes even irreversible toll on the child's well-being." Yoder is chairman of a House Appropriations homeland security subcommittee. Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Sessions announced the new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants. Sessions says the solution is to build a wall.

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Court Upholds Kansas Law Banning 'Wrongful Birth' Lawsuits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An appeals court has ruled that a Kansas law prohibiting lawsuits based on "wrongful birth" claims is constitutional. KCUR reports that the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday on the law that protects physicians from malpractice suits if they withhold or fail to provide information about fetal abnormalities that might cause the mother to get an abortion. The measure was signed into law by then-Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013. The case was brought by Alysia R. Tillman and Storm Fleetwood, whose daughter was born with severe brain defects. They sued their doctor, claiming her failure to make a correct diagnosis denied them the right to make an informed decision on whether to terminate the pregnancy.

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Warren Buffett to Open Company in Lenexa, Creating 500 Jobs

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Business icon Warren Buffett plans to open a new Geico Insurance service center that will bring 500 jobs to Lenexa. The Kansas City Area Development Council said in a news release Monday that the center will begin hiring customer service and sales employees immediately. It will open in August and add 500 jobs over five years. Buffett is scheduled to be in Lenexa Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center. Geico is owned by Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway. The commerce department says Geico invested almost $10 million in a Lenexa office building for the center. Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the development council, told The Kansas City Star that the Geico center is the largest job creation announcement in the Kansas City are in at least a year.

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Missing Boater's Body Recovered in Northern Colorado Lake

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Authorities have recovered the body of a man who went missing in a northern Colorado lake.  Steamboat Today reports 64-year-old David Bass, of Hutchinson, was with another man on the shore of Steamboat Lake trying to fix a problem with their boat's trolling motor Friday afternoon. The boat drifted away, and Bass swam after it before disappearing under the surface.  Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg says, "We don't really know a lot about why he went down."  Bass' body was recovered just after midnight early Saturday morning, and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

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Kansas State University Partners with Airlines for Pilot Program

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Several airlines are combating a nationwide pilot shortage by partnering with Kansas State University to guarantee jobs to graduates.  The Kansas City Star reports regional airlines are urgently trying to fill a large number of pilot vacancies that began in 2013 after the Federal Aviation Administration required more time for pilots to get certified. The administration has also mandated that commercial pilots retire at age 65.  The university signed partnerships with Piedmont Airlines, PSA Airlines — the American Airlines subsidiary — Republic and Mesa Airlines for the Pilot Cadet Program. Under the partnership, the airlines pay students, train them and give them pilot jobs as soon as they graduate and have 1,000 flight hours.  According to data figures from the FAA, the number of active pilots in the U.S. declined by about 30,000 from 2008 to 2016.

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University of Kansas Expands 3-Year Bachelor Degree Program

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has expanded a program to help students earn a bachelor's degree in three years.  The "Degree in 3" streamlines course credits from 10 regional high schools and community colleges with the university's Edwards campus bachelor's degrees.  The Kansas City Star reports a signing event at the Edwards Campus on Tuesday formalized the program. Supporters say it reduces the cost of earning a degree and helps students enter the workforce more quickly.  Students who use the "Degree in 3" program begin earning college credits in high school, complete an associate's degree one year after graduating and earn a Bachelor's degree by the third year.  Bachelor's degrees attainable under the program include public administration, exercise science, business administration and information technology.

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Report: Winter Wheat Harvest Ahead of Usual in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows Kansas farmers are making fast progress in bringing in this year's winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 23 percent of the Kansas wheat crop has been harvested. That is well ahead of the 11 percent average for this time of year. Hot, dry weather across most of Kansas this past week has helped harvest move rapidly. The agency said about 64 percent of the state's wheat crop has now matured. It also estimated that 46 percent of the Kansas wheat crop is in poor to very poor condition. It rated 36 percent of the crop as fair, along with 16 percent rated as good and 2 percent as excellent.

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Kansas Farmers Harvesting Smaller Winter Wheat Crop

MAYFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are harvesting a smaller winter wheat crop amid an ongoing drought, but the size of the crop is offset some by higher-quality wheat and rising prices.  Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries says the state's harvest is probably close to the halfway mark. The hot, dry weather this past week has created ideal harvest conditions.  Yields are down but test weights are mostly good. Growers are also seeing higher protein levels in many loads, which leads to higher prices.  Kansas is the nation's leading wheat producer with a forecast of 270 million bushels, down 19 percent compared to a year ago. Kansas is expected to harvest 7.3 million acres of wheat.

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Study: Kansas Develops New Accent as Demographics Shift

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A study has found that residents in southwest Kansas are beginning to talk with a new accent as the Latino population in the area grows.  Kansas State University says the research is part of its Kansas Speaks Project, which is documenting language change because of rapidly changing demographics.  Lead researcher Mary Kohn calls it a "Latino-English" sound, and says it is more prominent in youths.  The Wichita Eagle reports university researchers found that as demographics change so too does the way people speak English. They are calling this new way of speaking a "Liberal accent" or "Liberal sound."  The patterns are also happening in other parts of the country, including rural communities in Texas, California, New York and Florida where Latino populations are growing rapidly.

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Lawrence to Again Consider Community Police Review Board

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence City Commission this week will again consider an ordinance creating a community police review board.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the commission will meet Tuesday after multiple revisions aimed at ensuring the board would have sufficient access to police files and recordings.  The proposal calls for the board to review racial and other bias complaints made against police when the person filing the complaint disagrees with the findings by the police department.  Approval was delayed over concerns that the ordinance allows for the board to be denied access to the police investigation files and recordings. The city attorney's office updated the proposed ordinance to include examples of when the file or recording can be redacted.

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Relatives Lose Lawsuit over Douglas County Jail Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Relatives of a woman who died in a Douglas County jail cell have lost their federal wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the sheriff. Joseph Harvey, the father of 32-year-old Rachel Hammers, sued on behalf of Hammers' three children after she died in the county jail in May 2012. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a jury returned its verdict Friday after a two-week trial. The lawsuit alleged Hammers died because of the defendants' disregard for her medical conditions and faulty medical practices. The county argued jail staff followed protocol and said Hammers had a medical condition that was not readily apparent. Hammers suffered from chronic alcoholism and a history of seizures, high blood pressure and alcohol withdrawal. She was in jail for failing to appear on a parole violation charge.

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Wichita Residents Debate Location of Neighborhood Pool

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita City Council has voted to delay a decision on where to put a new swimming pool in the northeast part of the city.  The Wichita Eagle reports the delay came after a recent three-hour debate. Dozens of residents spoke in support of putting the pool in McAdams Park over Edgemoor Park.  Resident Armando Minjarez said he believes the McAdams neighborhood has been neglected due to decades of racism.  But Mayor Jeff Longwell said he recommends postponing the decision indefinitely because he's not "ready to support it yet." Council member Brandon Johnson, who recommends choosing McAdams Park, said the delay won't change the outcome.  Wichita closed the McAdams pool early last year and plans to close five other public pools by 2023. The Edgemoor pool closed several years ago due to of structural problems.

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Wichita Leaders Eye Changes Following Economic Analysis

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Community leaders are on a mission to improve Wichita after new figures indicate that the city's economy is struggling. Analyst and Wichita native James Chung presented an analysis of the city's economy to community leaders last week. The Wichita Community Foundation hired Chung three years ago to look at the city's strengths, problems and potential, the Wichita Eagle reported. Wichita lags behind most of the country in key economic indicators, according to the analysis. Gross domestic product for cities nationwide grew an average of 16 percent this decade, while Wichita's dropped a percent point. The U.S. labor force also grew significantly over this decade while Wichita's shrank. The result is a constrained labor market for Wichita, making it harder for the city to grow ventures and attract businesses to come, Chung said. "The market is saying very clearly that the Wichita way is not working," he said. Wichita government and civic leaders agreed that changes are necessary. "I don't want to say, 'Don't panic, folks,'" said Mayor Jeff Longwell. "I think there deserves to be a wake-up call." The foundation followed Chung's presentation with plans to invest $1 million to create the Talent Ecosystem Fund. The fund will be invested in workforce issues, talent development and lifelong learning. Fidelity Bank President Aaron Bastian is co-chairing Project Wichita, a community engagement project to gather public input on what local residents want the region to look like in 10 years. Public officials said they want to use the project's results to help shape development priorities. There's evidence Wichita has taken large strides to revitalize itself, Bastian said. "We just need to do it faster and more of it, and we need to do it now," he said.

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Federal Jury Convicts Kansas Sex Offender of Sexual Assaults

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man already imprisoned in Kansas for child sexual abuse has been convicted of sexually assaulting two victims in Missouri, including a 5-year-old who was assaulted at Fort Leonard Wood. A federal jury found 39-year-old Craig Ralston, of Emporia, Kansas, guilty on Friday of aggravated sexual abuse of a child younger than 12 and of crossing state lines with intent to commit rape. Ralston is currently jailed in Kansas after pleading no contest to two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child in a 2009 case. Ralston was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood when he sexually abused a 5-year-old child. Prosecutors say he also raped an 18-year-old several times in Kansas City in 2008 and also raped her in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ralston has been discharged from the military.

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Maine Man Convicted in Rural Kansas Man's Death

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — A man from Maine will be sentenced in August after being found guilty of killing a Kansas man while on a cross-country trip. The Salina Journal reports 35-year-old Robert Colson, of Bucksport, Maine, was convicted Friday of killing Matthew Schoshke of Tescott in August 2017 during a burglary at Schoshke's home. Prosecutors said Colson shot Schoshke five times before stealing his pickup, several other items and his dog. Colson drove to California, where he was arrested while trying to escape from an Amtrak train after a train passenger was stabbed. Prosecutors said Colson was on a bus trip from Maine to California when he missed his bus in Salina. He began walking and eventually arrived at Schoshke's home and shot Schoshke when he returned from work. The dog was returned to Schoshke's family.

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Wichita Leaders Eye Changes Following Economic Analysis

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Community leaders are on a mission to improve Wichita after new figures indicate that the city's economy is struggling. The Wichita Eagle reports that analyst and Wichita native James Chung presented an analysis of the city's economy to community leaders last week. The Wichita Community Foundation hired Chung three years ago to look at the city's strengths, problems and potential. The analysis shows that Wichita lags behind most of the country in key economic indicators, such as labor force, population growth and gross domestic product. Wichita government and civic leaders agree that changes are necessary. The foundation followed Chung's presentation with plans to invest $1 million to create the Talent Ecosystem Fund. The fund will be invested in workforce issues, talent development and lifelong learning.

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Kansas Woman Says City Wants $132,000 for Toppled Sculpture

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas mother says an insurance company wants her family to pay $132,000 after her 5-year-old son accidentally knocked over a sculpture at a city community center.  Sarah Goodman tells the Kansas City Star the incident happened last month at Overland Park's Tomahawk Ridge Community Center while her family was attending a wedding reception. Goodman says she didn't see the artwork hit the ground but her son suffered minor injuries when it fell. She says the sculpture was unprotected at the crowded center.  City spokesman Sean Reilly says the work was on loan to the city and that it was obligated to file a claim with its insurance company for the damage.  Goodman says her children were well-supervised and she wasn't negligent. She hopes her insurance company can resolve the issue.

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