Kansas Supreme Court Says School Funding Still Inadequate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state's spending on public schools remains inadequate despite an increase approved earlier this year, but gave the state another year to come up with more funding. The high court on Monday rejected arguments from the state that a new law phasing in a $548 million increase in funding over five years is enough to provide a "suitable" education for every child as specified in the state constitution. But the court delayed its mandate until June 30, 2019, or until further order of the court. It was the third time in two years the court declared education funding inadequate. This year's increase came after the GOP-controlled Legislature boosted funding and raised income taxes last year. The court ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts. The districts argued that this year's increase still left the state up to $1.5 billion a year short of adequate spending.
9 Kansas Child Detainees Were Separated from Parents
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Nine of 44 immigrant children placed under the care of a Kansas nonprofit working under contract with the federal government were separated from their parents at the border. The Kansas Department for Children and Families cited the number of separated children on Monday. DCF says in a news release that a staff member on Friday visited the non-profit called The Villages Inc. at the request of Republican Governor Jeff Colyer. The inspection looked at group homes operated by the Villages outside of Topeka. The DCF says that of the 44 children in placement, nine were separated from their parents and the rest were unaccompanied minors. Colyer says in a statement that it is the state's "hope and expectation" that the children will be reunited with their families "in the near future."
A Democratic lawmaker says an eastern Kansas nonprofit that has a contract with the federal government to care for unaccompanied minors is caring for 44 immigrant youth, nine of them under the age of 12. House Minority Leader Jim Ward and former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom are working to reunite the children with their parents. Grissom has assembled a team of 10 lawyers to provide legal services to the children. Grissom says they have been led to believe some of the children were separated from parents in a crackdown on illegal crossings of the U.S-Mexico border, but that is not confirmed. Grissom, Ward, state officials and officials from The Villages, which operates five group homes home on a 400-acre site outside Topeka, are set to meet on the issue Wednesday.
Kansas Lawmaker: Legal Team to Assist Immigrant Children
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative leader says a former federal prosecutor has assembled a team of attorneys to provide legal services to immigrant children separated from their parents and detained in group homes in Topeka. Wichita Democrat and Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward has announced that Barry Grissom, former U.S. attorney for Kansas, assembled the team to serve immigrant children housed by The Villages on a 400-acre site with five group homes. The state Department for Children and Families has finished an inspection of the homes. DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel declined to discuss how many of the children were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown on illegal U.S-Mexico border crossings. Ward said now that the children are receiving services, the focus is helping them reunite with their families.
Kansas Congressman Returns from Visit to Shelters for Young Immigrants in Texas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republican Representative Roger Marshall has returned from a visit to the Texas border saying that several hundred immigrant children detained in a center there are getting good care. Marshall traveled to the El Paso area as part of a bipartisan congressional group to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and to tour a center holding 400 young immigrants. The detainees are mostly teenage boys and housed in tent-like structures. Marshall spent 90 minutes at the center and described it as a camp providing good food and medical care. He said 26 of the children were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown on illegal border crossings.
Hundreds Rally in Kansas City Against Child Immigrant Separation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Hundreds of people gathered for a rally in Kansas City, Missouri against separating immigrant parents from their children. The rally Sunday at the County Club Plaza was one of many around the country. Mayor Sly James joined the rally, calling on the crowd to seize the issue as Kansas City's cause, and to fight against immorality and inhumanity. Some in the crowd waved signs reading, ``Free the children.'' Forty-two-year-old Fabiola Cruz stepped forward when the call went out for testimonies. The Kansas City resident from Tijuana, Mexico, said she called on friends, texting for them to join her, but they feared retribution against themselves, or members of their families. She says the situation is ``hurting our families.''
Kobach Holds Campaign Fundraiser with Pro-Gun Rights Activist Ted Nugent
LENEXA, Kan. (AP) - About 175 people attended a fundraiser for conservative Republican Kris Kobach's campaign for Kansas governor with former rock musician and gun-rights provocateur Ted Nugent. Kobach raffled off an AR-15 rifle during the event at the Lenexa Community Center. Kobach said Nugent is the nation's best-known gun rights advocate. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, is trying to unseat Governor Jeff Colyer in the August 7 primary. Kobach rides in parades in a jeep with a replica machine gun on the back despite ongoing criticism. Dozens of people protested across the street from the community center. Earlier on Saturday, Kobach and Nugent held a similar rally in Salina.
Federal Court Ruling Makes Voting Access Easier in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than 25,000 Kansans whose voter registration applications had been listed as incomplete for lack of proof-of-citizenship documents are being fully added to the voting rolls after a federal court decision last week finding that the requirement was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson's ruling that the state law violated the right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act will also make it easier for new wannabe voters to register for this year's August primary and November general election. The policy had been championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has pushed such laws nationwide and led President Donald Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission. Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, has said he plans to appeal. But courts had already previously temporarily blocked Kobach from fully enforcing the Kansas law, with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver calling it "a mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right."
Groups Prepare for Kansas "Good Samaritan" Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law goes into effect on July 1st that legally protects bystanders who break into vehicles to save overheating children, animals and vulnerable adults. Several groups are planning to get together this (MON) morning in southern Johnson County to talk about the law and the dangers of hot cars. The sponsors of the event also plan to demonstrate how to break a car's window safety and easily. The new law will provide immunity from civil liability when a vehicle is damaged by a person trying to aid a "vulnerable person or domestic animal" in situations where there is "imminent danger of harm" and law enforcement has been notified.
Audit Says Kansas is Falling Short in Funding for Wildfire Prevention Efforts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A state audit has found that Kansas is not allocating enough money to fight wildfires. Auditors say state and local officials have had issues coordinating their firefighting efforts. They say efforts to prevent and fight wildfires in the state are inadequate. The audit's findings also show local officials didn't always know when to call for state assistance and weren't aware of what resources the state could provide. The audit's findings come after damaging fires swept through the state the past two years. State fire officials say they have made efforts to improve communication and provide better training for local firefighters.
Jason Kander Confirms Plans to Run for Kansas City Mayor
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A former Missouri state official and rising star in the Democratic Party has announced plans to run for mayor of Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that Jason Kander confirmed his decision Sunday. The Afghanistan war veteran is planning a formal announcement of his candidacy later this (MON) morning. Kander said in an interview with The Star that he wants to ``make sure that no matter where you live in the city and however you grow up, you have a chance to build your life right here.'' Kander was Missouri's secretary of state from 2013-17 and has often been cited as a future presidential candidate. After narrowly failing to unseat incumbent Senator Roy Blunt in 2016, he founded the anti-gerrymandering organization Let America Vote.
Kansas National Guard to Haul Bottled Water to Norton
NORTON, Kan. (AP) — Governor Jeff Colyer has called upon the Kansas National Guard to haul bottled water to a northwestern Kansas town where toxic algae has compromised the water supply. Governor Colyer declared a state of disaster emergency for the City of Norton due to harmful algae blooms in Sebelius Lake. The toxic algae is affecting the surface water intakes for the city's public water supply. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a boil water advisory for the Norton public water supply and the agency is working to monitor and test water supplies. Norton is a city of about 3,000 located 100 miles northwest of Hays near the Nebraska state line.
Tractor-Trailer Falls from Kansas City Highway Overpass
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a tractor-trailer driver has survived after his rig went off the side of a Kansas City, Kansas, highway overpass and fell about 60 feet to the ground below. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the driver is in serious condition after failing to negotiate a curve around 4 p.m. Sunday on Interstate 670 near Interstate 70. The Kansas City Star reports that patrol spokeswoman Tiffany Bush says the truck was carrying produce. A witness, Bill Newcamp of Atchison, said he was waiting for a work crew near the overpass when he saw the truck fall. He says it's a "miracle" the driver is alive.
Summer Storms Bring Flooding to Some Areas Along Rivers
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Summer storms are causing rivers to rise, creating minor flooding along parts of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The National Weather Service projects the Missouri River to get above technical flood stage starting in the middle of this week in St. Joseph, Missouri, and Atchison, Kansas. Meanwhile, the Mississippi River is predicted to reach a foot or two above technical flood stage from the Missouri-Iowa border south to near St. Louis. No significant damage is expected from river flooding. But storms could bring heavy rain early this week, creating the risk of flash flooding.
Firefighters Injured in Blaze at Kansas Church
ANDALE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two firefighters were hurt while fighting a fire at a south-central Kansas church. The fire started early Sunday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Andale, which is about 20 miles west of Wichita. Sedgwick County spokeswoman Kate Flavin says the two injured firefighters were treated at a hospital and released later that night. Fire officials suspect that lighting sparked the blaze, which caused a section of the roof to collapse. Firefighters from several agencies responded. So much water was used that police asked Andale residents to limit their use of water. The pastor, Daryl Befort, told The Wichita Eagle that the church will begin making plans to repair and rebuild within the next couple of weeks.
Pizza Hut Sued After Kansas Woman Dies in Delivery Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has filed a lawsuit against Pizza Hut alleging the food company's delivery practices are at least partly responsible for a crash that killed his mother and injured his grandmother. The Wichita Eagle reports that Michael Capps filed the wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against Pizza Hut earlier this month. The lawsuit alleges the popular pizza chain's promise to get customers "hot pizza quickly" is responsible for Courtney Clodfelter's speedy driving when he rear-ended Karen and Jaunita Capps in February. The women were stopped along a roadside in Wichita waiting for a funeral procession to pass when they were hit. Karen Capps died at the site, and her mother survived but had six broken ribs. Pizza Hut of Southeast Kansas didn't return phone messages seeking comment.
Textron Aviation to Stop Production of Cessna Citation X
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas company Textron Aviation is ending production of its iconic business jet, the Cessna Citation X, after two decades. The Wichita-based plane manufacturer confirmed the decision in a statement to the Wichita Eagle on Monday, saying that with the upcoming entry into service of the Citation Longitude jet, it is discontinuing production of the Citation X. No job cuts will be made. Citation X employees will move to other production lines. The first Citation X was delivered to golf legend Arnold Palmer in 1996. Data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association shows that through early this year, Textron Aviation has delivered 338 of the Citation X jets.
Fleeing Vehicle Pursuit Crash in Wichita Sends 1 to Hospital
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Wichita police officer who was pursuing a fleeing driver has crashed into another vehicle, sending one person to a hospital. The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash happened late Saturday. The Kansas Highway Patrol says a man yielded for one police cruiser and then moved into the left lane where he was waiting to turn when he was struck by a second officer's cruiser. A passenger in the vehicle that was hit was taken to the hospital for possible injuries. No one else was hurt. Wichita Police Officer Paul Cruz says the chase began when an officer saw a stolen car whose driver refused to stop. The chase ended when the car hit a curb. The fleeing teenager driver was taken to a juvenile detention facility.
Injured Girl's Family: Video Should've Been Released Sooner
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Relatives of a 9-year-old girl who was injured when a former Wichita police officer fired at her family's dog are criticizing the city for waiting six months before releasing the officer's body-camera video. The Wichita Eagle reports that the video shows Officer Dexter Betts firing two shots in December at close range at the girl's 35- to 40-pound dog. She screams after a bullet fragment ricochets off the floor and hit her. The family's attorney, Charley O'Hara, says the fragment left a scar above her eye. He says the family is considering suing. The department fired Betts afterward, and he's awaiting trial on an aggravated battery charge. Police Captain Doug Nolte says it wasn't appropriate to release the video sooner because it was an investigative record in a felony case.
Youth Sports Waits Get More Interesting in Kansas City Area
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Taking children to sports practice is getting more fun for some parents in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Star reports that the Olathe-based sports development and management company Elite Sports wants parents to stay and have a beer, get their nails done or catch up on work at a workstation while their children practice. It's opened two complexes in the Johnson County, Kansas, towns of Olathe and Overland Park and plans for two more in the county, and another in Kansas City, Missouri. Elite Sports CEO Jason Bryson says practice is becoming a "unique experience that parents can enjoy as well." The different facilities house sports that include volleyball, soccer and softball. Elite also plans to host local, regional and national tournaments.
New Music Venue to Be Built in Eastern Nebraska
LA VISTA, Neb. (AP) — A new music venue with an indoor space and an outdoor amphitheater will be built in eastern Nebraska. The La Vista City Council unanimously approved a preliminary statement of intent to build the venue, the Omaha World-Herald reported The venue will be built by local promoter 1% Productions, Kansas-based Mammoth Live and Omaha developer City Ventures. Mammoth Live and 1% Productions will operate the venue. "There are more shows out there," said Marc Leibowitz of 1% Productions. "There's more business to be had, and we need a place to do it that works." Brenda Gunn, city administrator for La Vista, said the cost hasn't been determined for the project but that about $3.2 million could be needed. Leibowitz said the goal isn't to take down other venues. "It's about the venue we want to build. It's about bringing something new," Leibowitz said. "We really just want it to be a top-notch experience." The venue is expected to hold 1,800 people indoors and 4,000 people outdoors. Both areas will have the capacity to scale up, depending on the configuration of seating and other elements. Mammoth Live and 1% Productions said artists have skipped the market because they don't have the right place to play. "We're missing tours. When we don't miss them, we're putting them in oddball situations where the production doesn't work, or it's an odd fit, or the artist can't make money, or we can't break even," said Josh Hunt of Mammoth. Construction is expected to begin this year, with a goal of opening by 2020. "It's gonna be really exciting for the market," Leibowitz said.