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Headlines for Monday, May 3, 2021


UPDATE: Kansas Lawmakers Override Vetoes on Taxes, Guns, Elections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas have cut income taxes, lowered the age for carrying a concealed gun and tightened state election laws by overriding Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s vetoes of those measures.  A series of votes Monday in the GOP-controlled Legislature demonstrated that its Republican supermajorities can control policy if they hold together. The tax measure will provide $284 million in relief over three years. The gun legislation will allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to carry concealed firearms. The elections bill will make it harder for people to collect absentee ballots from voters and deliver them to election officials.

(–Earlier Reporting–)

Lawmakers Return for Veto Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - State lawmakers returned to Topeka today (MON) for the last part of the legislative session and they still have several big issues on the table including pay raises for state workers. Governor Laura Kelly’s original Kansas budget plan asked for a 2.5 % pay raise for state employees, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Lawmakers are divided over what to do, so they've left it until the last minute. Some legislators say that giving state workers a raise is a matter of respect and also increases rates of employee retention. But opponents say the state is struggling to recover from a year of the pandemic and this is not the time for a pay raise. Lawmakers will also have to pass a bill to fund the state’s schools. They also worked on a slate of possible overrides of Governor Laura Kelly’s vetoes, including her veto of a bill that would lower the age for a concealed carry gun permit and another banning transgender athletes from participating in girl's or women's sports.


Push Against Trans Athletes in Girls' Sports Fails in Kansas as Legislators Fail to Override Veto

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republican legislators in Kansas have failed to override Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls' and women’s school sports. The Senate’s vote Monday to override Kelly was 26-14 and left backers of the measure one short of the necessary two-thirds majority and blocking an attempt in the House. More than 20 states have considered such proposals this year, as Republican lawmakers have pressed the issue. Kelly called the Kansas measure “regressive,” said it would send a message that Kansas was not a welcoming place. Backers of the bill said they were trying to protect fair competition and opportunities for female athletes.


Vaccination Rates Vary Widely Across Kansas and Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Vaccination rates vary widely across Kansas and Missouri as officials work to persuade more people to get the coronavirus shots. Statistics on the vaccination campaign show some communities making good progress distributing the shots while other, often rural areas, lag behind. In Kansas, a 26-percentage point gap exists between the county with the highest vaccination rate and the lowest. In Missouri, that gap is 33 percentage points. Health officials say the places with higher vaccination rates will have fewer cases of the virus. Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, said the uneven vaccination rates could lead to pockets of higher infections and hospitalizations. 


Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Law Banning "Wrongful Birth" Lawsuits 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas's highest court has upheld a law barring so-called "wrongful birth" lawsuits against doctors, in a case in which a couple sued because they weren't told of serious fetal defects until after an abortion could have been obtained. The state Supreme Court ruled Friday against the parents of a girl born with a severe brain abnormality who said they would have opted for an abortion had they known of her medical problems months before her May 2014 birth. The doctor argued that their lawsuit was barred by the law against wrongful birth lawsuits. It was enacted in 2013 by the Republican-controlled Legislature and under GOP Governor Sam Brownback at the urging of abortion opponents. 


Kansas House Member Arrested After Incident at Area School

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House member was arrested for possible misdemeanor battery in what authorities say was an incident involving a student while he was substitute teaching at a public school in his hometown. Republican state Representative Mark Samsel was booked Thursday into the local county jail and released on $1,000 bond. His arrest came after a student reported an incident Wednesday at school in his hometown of Wellsville, a town of about 1,700 people some 55 miles southwest of Kansas City. The 36-year-old Samsel has yet to be formally charged with a crime but has a first appearance scheduled for May 19 in district court. Samsel did not answer a phone call Friday afternoon. 


Kansas COVID-19 Case Count Totals More than 309,000; Death Toll Nears 5,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports there have been 309,645 cases of COVID-19, including 4,985 deaths related to the coronavirus, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 515 cases and three deaths since Friday. Another update is expected Wednesday. 


Coronavirus Variants Surge, Vaccine Distribution Slows in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say vaccinations to protect the public from COVID-19 slowed in April, even as more contagious variants of the coronavirus surged and hospitalizations from the disease rose in the state. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Department of Health and Environment numbers show about 91,000 fewer people received first doses of the available vaccines in April than in March. Officials say there were 520 new hospitalizations and 157 new ICU admissions in April, compared with 438 new hospitalizations and 150 new ICU admissions in March. Meanwhile, confirmed variant cases nearly tripled over the last three weeks of April. Officials did see a decrease in deaths from COVID-19 in April, at 69, compared with 170 deaths in March.


200 Athletes Told to Quarantine at Kansas City Area School

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City-area high school athletic director is pleading with families to take pandemic safety protocols seriously after instructing about 200 students to quarantine this week. The Kansas City Star reports that Shawnee Mission South High School Athletic Director John Johnson said in a message to parents and athletes that “there are more students with positive tests, and that is causing an extreme domino effect of COVID transmission concerns.” Health officials in Johnson County, which is the state’s most populous, have warned that while the number of new coronavirus cases is down, the drop in testing makes it more difficult to know how widespread transmission of the virus has become.


Evergy Moves up Timeline to Close Coal-Fired Plants

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Evergy officials say the utility plans to close two coal-fired plants in the next nine years as part of its effort to reduce its use of fossil fuels. The company said in a report to regulators filed Friday that it will close its coal-fired plant near Lawrence by the end of 2023. The plant is the utility's oldest, with some units dating back to the 1960s. Evergy also will close Unit 3 of the Jeffrey Energy Center near St. Marys, Kansas, in 2030, rather than 2039 as originally expected. Evergy's plan is to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2045.


American Rescue Plan Offers Help for Those Seeking ACA Health Coverage

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Most uninsured people qualify for subsidized health coverage and 40% of them can get a plan through the Affordable Care Act for free or nearly free. The American Rescue Plan that Congress passed in March offers more help for buying insurance over the next two years. If you couldn’t get a subsidy on the ACA exchange before, you might be able to now. Others who get partial subsidies can now get plans for free. People without health insurance can adjust their health plan at healthcare dot gov. The tax credits will be retroactive to the start of this year. The deadline to buy or update a plan is mid August.


Monthly Midwest Economic Survey Index Soars to All-Time High

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey shows the economy in nine Midwest and Plains states roaring back to life in the wake of a devastating global pandemic, with the survey's overall index soaring to its highest reading since it began almost three decades ago. The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions for April released Monday came in at 73.9 from March’s 68.9. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests recession. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says the region has regained more than half the 106,000 manufacturing jobs lost to the pandemic in April 2020. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Overland Park Releases Report on Officer's Shooting of Teen

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A newly released report says an Overland Park police officer fired at a minivan because he thought the teenager driver was going to hit him. Officer Clayton Jennison told investigators that 17-year-old John Albers did not listen to his commands in the moments before Jennison shot and killed him in January 2018 as Albers backed out of his family's driveway. Overland Park officials released a nearly 500-page report on the shooting Thursday. Jennison was not charged in the shooting and has left the police force. Albers's mother, who fought for years to get the report released, said she thought the investigation was aimed at clearing the officer and largely blamed her son for the shooting.


Kansas Man Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Attempted Murder

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas man was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for trying to stab to death another 18-year-old. The Kansas attorney general's office said in a news release Monday that Harper County District Judge Galen T. Wood also ordered 18-year-old Brian Sandoval of Anthony to pay the victim $9,390 in restitution. Sandoval pleaded guilty in March to attempted second-degree murder stemming from the December 2020 attack.


Man's Death in Coffeyville Ruled a Homicide

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the death of a man in Coffeyville is being investigated as a homicide. Coffeyville police were called to a home Wednesday evening and discovered the man's body inside. The KBI said it will take time to identify the victim because of the body's advanced state of decomposition. The agency did not say how he died. Authorities said 37-year-old Jennifer Garnett, of Coffeyville, was arrested Friday in connection to the case. She was booked into jail on possible charges of burglary, theft, forgery and criminal use of a credit card. The KBI did not explain her possible connection to the death.
Southwest Airline to Add, Resume Flights from KCI


Second Person Arrested, Third Sought in Wichita Shooting

A second person has been arrested in a deadly Wichita apartment complex shooting and police are looking for a third. The Wichita Eagle reports that 18-year-old Breckyn Isabella Elliott, of Wichita, was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on Thursday night on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Eric Stokes. Another teen also was injured in last week’s shooting at Morgan’s Landing Apartments. Police said that five people were inside the apartment when three masked suspects forced their way inside. The five people went into a bedroom, and the suspects began firing, police said. 


Southwest Airlines Resuming and Adding Flights from KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Southwest  Airlines is adding and resuming more flights out of Kansas City International Airport as demand ticks upward since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Kansas City Star reports that some of the flights had previously been cut due to the pandemic and were being resumed; others are to new destinations, like Miami and Sarasota, Florida.  The announcement comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced new guidelines for vaccinated people, saying that fully vaccinated people do not need to get COVID-19 tests before or after domestic travel, and do not need to self-quarantine after domestic travel.


Topeka Teen Creates COVID Rose Memorial at Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - When Kansas lawmakers return to the Capitol this week for their veto session, they'll be met with a display of 5,000 red felt roses.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the roses are a memorial to the almost 5,000 Kansans who have died of COVID-19.  The project was organized by high school student Anna Newcome of Topeka for a Girl Scout Gold Award and is part of a national Rose River Memorial.  The rose memorial will remain on display at the Kansas Statehouse through May 14th, then will be displayed in Kansas City later this summer as part of a regional memorial.  In 2022, the roses will be part of the national Rose River Memorial in St. Louis.


KC Man Fatally Shot by Police, Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Teen Brothers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - Kansas City police fatally shot an armed man suspected of killing two teenage boys this weekend.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified the man as 25-year-old Hanad Abdiaziz.  Abdiaziz was the prime suspect in Friday's double homicide of 16-year-old Abdulwahid Abdulazi and 14-year-old Abdirahman Abdulaziz.  The teens were gunned down as they were returning home from an evening Ramadan service.  Family report that Abdiaziz was the older brother of the victims.


Police ID Man Killed Inside Prairie Village Apartment; Arrest Made

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) _ Police have identified a man who was found shot to death Saturday in a Prairie Village apartment unit and announced an arrest in the case. Prairie Village police say 70-year-old John Hoffman died in the apartment after being shot several times. Officers were called to the apartment complex around 6 p.m. Saturday and found Hoffman's bullet-riddled body. Police say a suspect was quickly identified and taken into custody. Police have not released the name of the person arrested or given a motive for the shooting. 


Missouri Police: Man Found Dead in Crashed Car Had Been Shot

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) _ Police in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview, Missouri, say a man who was found dead in a crashed car had been shot. Police say officers were called to the scene around 1:40 p.m. Sunday and found a vehicle that had crashed into a tree. Officers found the body of a man who had been driving inside the vehicle and say he had been shot several times. Police have not released the victim's name, but say he was in his early 20s. Police say a person of interest in the death was arrested a short distance from the crash scene. Police are investigating to determine what led up to the shooting. 


Judge Refuses to Lower Bond for Man Charged with Killing 3

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A judge refused to reduce the $1 million bond for a man charged in the 2016 killings of a man, woman and an unborn child at a Topeka apartment complex. Shawnee County District Judge Bill Ossmann rejected Yanez Sanford's request for his bond to be reduced to $500,000 on Friday. Ossmann said $1 million bonds are typical in murder cases. Ossmann also rejected a motion to have Sanford moved to a different jail for his safety because there was no evidence that he was in danger in the Shawnee County facility. The 38-year-old Sanford has been charged with the shooting deaths of 23-year-old Dominique Ray, 20-year-old Camrah Trotter and her unborn child. 


Busch Celebrates Birthday with Win at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kyle Busch celebrated his 36th birthday by winning a two-lap sprint to the finish at Kansas Speedway. He became the 10th different winner through the first 11 races of the NASCAR Cup Series season. Busch had stalked Kyle Larson all day before beating him on a late restart to take the lead. Then, after another caution in the closing laps, Busch followed up his Truck Series win Saturday night with another trip to victory lane. Kevin Harvick overcame a tire mishap on a late pit stop and took advantage of some chaos on the final restart to finish second. Brad Keselowski was third.


Leipold Goes from D-3 to Power 5 in Taking on University of Kansas Rebuild

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lance Leipold has gone from quite possibly the lowest rung of college football to the highest, or at least some version of it. After winning six national titles at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater and turning around Division I Buffalo, Leipold is taking on the monumental task of turning around the University of Kansas football program. The Jayhawks have been to four bowl games in the past 26 years, haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and have won seven conference games total over the past dozen seasons.


Royals Love to Run -- and They've Raced to MLB's Top Mark

UNDATED (AP) – The Kansas City Royals have the best record in baseball — and an identity that should be pretty familiar by now. The Royals are still trying to beat teams on the basepaths. Whit Merrifield already has eight stolen bases, tied for the major league lead. As a team, Kansas City has 22 steals. Only San Diego has more. That’s despite the fact that Adalberto Mondesi, last year’s major league leader in steals, hasn’t played for the Royals in 2021 because of an oblique injury.


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