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Headlines for Monday, May 7, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Governor Signs Bill to Fix Flaw in School Funding Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has signed legislation fixing a flaw in a new public school funding law as the state Supreme Court prepares to consider whether it increases spending enough. Colyer's office tweeted photos Monday from a signing ceremony at the Olathe public schools' headquarters. The bill ensures that the state phases in a $534 million increase in spending over five years as intended. Legislators learned before Colyer signed the new funding law in April that it inadvertently shorted schools $80 million. The Supreme Court ruled in October that the state's current funding of more than $4 billion a year isn't sufficient under the state constitution. Attorney General Derek Schmidt planned to file written defense of the law Monday ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on it May 22.

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Lawyers Seek As Much As $1.5B More for Kansas Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Attorneys for four public school districts suing Kansas are arguing that a new school funding law is as much as $1.5 billion short of providing adequate funding. The attorneys filed legal arguments Monday with the Kansas Supreme Court against a new state law that phases in a $548 million increase in spending on public schools over five years. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt argued Monday that the GOP-controlled Legislature approved a "massive" funding increase. The districts' attorneys say that after the first year, the increase would barely keep up with inflation. The state Supreme Court ruled in October that Kansas's current funding of more than $4 billion a year isn't adequate. It plans to hold a hearing May 22 on the new law.
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt argues in a new court filing that the state's new education funding law provides a ``massive'' increase in spending on public schools.  Schmidt filed a written defense of the law Monday with the Kansas Supreme Court and included almost 1,300 pages of supporting documents. The court has scheduled a May 22 hearing on whether the new law provides adequate funding. Schmidt's filing said the law phases in a $548 million increase over five years. The Supreme Court ruled in October that the current funding of more than $4 billion a year isn't sufficient under the state constitution. Schmidt filed his defense the same day Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill fixing a flaw in the law that otherwise would have shorted schools $80 million. 

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ACLU Seeks $51,646 as Damages in Contempt Ruling

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal judge to order Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to pay $51,646.16 in attorney fees and other damages as punishment for violating a court order. The ACLU detailed its costs in a court filing Monday. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach in contempt of court last month for violating her order in a lawsuit challenging a Kansas law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. Robinson didn't impose a fine at the time but ordered Kobach to pay for damages, including attorney fees. The ACLU sought the contempt ruling after Kobach refused to update the state's election guide or ensure that county officials sent postcards to residents who registered at driver licensing offices without providing citizenship documents.

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More Than 2K Injection Wells Improperly Permitted in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ An investigation of Kansas saltwater injection wells has found more than 2,000 wells that weren't properly permitted. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Corporation Commission in November ordered an internal investigation of more than 4,000 saltwater injection oil well permits. The commission changed the public comment period in 2008 to be cited from 15 to 30 days in published public notices for proposed injection wells. The investigation found in February that permits for the more than 2,000 wells were approved with public notices stating the public comment period was only 15 days. It also found that the inaccurate notices were provided to the commission's staff, but the errors were not detected as part of the review process. The wells have been tied to an increase in the number of earthquakes in Kansas and surrounding states. 

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Police Investigate Suspected Child Abuse Death of Wichita Toddler

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 2-year-old Wichita boy has died in a suspected abuse case.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the boy's 22-year-old mother and her 25-year-old boyfriend are jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder and child endangerment. They were arrested Friday when the boy was rushed to a hospital in critical condition.  Police officer Charley Davidson confirmed Sunday that the toddler had died. Davidson says a preliminary investigation revealed that he had sustained "substantial" injuries to his face and head.  Davidson says the investigation is ongoing.

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Kansas Man Charged in Child Rape Case; $3 Million Bond

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is being held on $3 million bond in a case involving sexual abuse of a child.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports 27-year-old Roy Tidwell III, of Sabetha, was charged Friday with rape, aggravated internet trading in child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.  Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill said the victim was 3 when the abuse allegedly occurred between July and December 2017 in Hiawatha.  Hill said the FBI, state and local authorities investigated the case.  If convicted, Tidwell could face a sentence of life in prison.  Tidwell remains jailed in Brown County and is awaiting a first appearance.

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SWAT Team Discouraged Entering Olathe Home Before Deadly Shooting

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Body camera footage shows that law enforcement ignored the advice of SWAT team members when they entered a suburban Kansas City home and fatally shot a mentally distressed woman with a history of only minor, nonviolent offenses.  The Kansas City Star reports that it reviewed 23 hours of footage tied to the August 23 shooting of 26-year-old Ciara Howard after a three-hour standoff in Olathe. The Star had sued for the video and dropped its lawsuit last month after receiving it.  The footage shows officers had been briefed that Howard was acting irrationally and had access to her boyfriend's handgun when they arrived. They were there to arrest her on a warrant for walking away from the county's adult residential center where she'd been required to report after her latest conviction.  "It's not worth getting into a shootout and hurting an officer or hurting her over the type of warrants that we have," a commander on the scene was heard on camera, relaying the word from Olathe and Johnson County that neither of their SWAT teams wanted to come to the scene and go into the house.  Howard, whose legal problems began with intoxicated conflicts and escalated when she failed to meet court requirements, was bipolar, relatives said. Her autopsy showed she had amphetamine and methamphetamine in her system.

Olathe police described Howard's death as a "tragedy for everyone involved" in a written statement. The shooting was deemed justified, but the finding addressed only the threat the officers faced once they were in the house, Johnson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris McMullin said at the time. It did not address the tactics and decisions officers made to enter the house.

Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden said his deputies were at the scene to back up Olathe police. He said he agreed with the county SWAT team commander's decision not to send its SWAT team. He said he did not know why Olathe commanders ultimately decided to go into the house.  Before police forced open the door of a laundry room where Howard was sequestered, she could be heard repeatedly shouting, "You're not real police!" Footage shows her pointing at them with her right hand while she held the gun in her left. The three lawmen who had wedged in through the door opened fire after she refused their demands to put down the weapon.

"I still don't understand," said Mark Arnold, the husband of Howard's mother. "Why did they go in?"  None of the footage obtained by The Star captured any conversations that show why commanders on the scene decided to go into the house rather than wait her out, and Olathe police did not respond to questions from The Star.

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Kansas Lawmakers Hike School Spending, Approve Adoption Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators boosted funding this year for public schools and increased spending in other parts of the state budget they saw as neglected.  They also supported faith-based adoption agencies that cite religious reasons for not placing children in LGBT homes.  Lawmakers adjourned their annual session Friday.  The state is set to phase in a $534 million increase in spending on public schools over five years in response to a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost education funding.  Other parts of the budget also saw extra money and state employees will get a pay raise.  The adoption legislation would prevent faith-based agencies from being barred from providing adoption or foster care services for the state because the agencies won't place children in homes that violate their "sincerely held" religious beliefs.

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Many State Hospital, Prison Doctors Without Medical Licenses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several doctors at Kansas state hospitals and prisons are treating patients despite not passing required state or national medical exams.  The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services says 19 doctors at Larned and Osawatomie have so-called institutional licenses that allow them to work at the hospitals.  The Kansas City Star reports Corizon Health says one of nine medical doctors and four of nine psychiatric doctors have institutional licenses at Kansas prisons.
Kansas aging Secretary Tim Keck says the doctors provide a valuable service in Kansas, which has a severe shortage of psychiatrists.  But Rick Cagan, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Kansas, said the institutional licenses at state facilities means Kansans who need the most help often are served by doctors who, at least on paper, are less qualified.

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Hearing Could Have Big Implications in Missouri Governor's Case

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge on Monday will consider whether the pivotal witness in Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' criminal trial — a woman involved in an affair with him — should be prohibited from testifying.  Circuit Judge Rex Burlison will preside over the hearing, just a week before Greitens stands trial for felony invasion of privacy.  The married Republican governor is accused of taking an unauthorized photo of the woman during a sexual encounter in 2015, before he was elected. Later this month, lawmakers convene in special session to consider impeachment.  Defense attorneys contend the woman's testimony has been tainted by the misdeeds of William Tisaby, a private investigator who interviewed her. They've accused Tisaby of lies and withholding evidence.  Her testimony is crucial since prosecutors haven't obtained the photo Greitens allegedly took.

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Missouri Man Dies After Being Stabbed in Roadside Dispute

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a suspect in fatal roadside stabbing that may have resulted from an argument between two drivers.  Lee's Summit Police say that 23-year-old Cody Harter of St. Joseph, Missouri, died after being stabbed Saturday evening near the junction of Missouri 291 and Interstate 470.  Witnesses told police that Harter had been arguing with another person before his death and a second vehicle had been stopped in front of Harter's truck.  Police believe Harter was stabbed during the confrontation before the other driver fled.  Harter was a member of the Missouri Air National Guard, and family members said he had served in Iraq in the past and helped with hurricane relief last year.

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Remains of Sailor Who Died at Pearl Harbor Returned to Kansas

ASHLAND, Kan. (AP) — The residents of Ashland in southwest Kansas are preparing to welcome home a native son who died in the Pearl Harbor attack during World War II.  Navy Seaman 1st Class Willard Aldridge died aboard the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941. He was among 429 sailors who went down with the ship that day.  The Wichita Eagle reports DNA evidence identified Aldridge's remains in 2015 and the town is planning a burial on May 26 with full military honors at Highland Cemetery in Ashland.  Local high school honors students plan to meet the plane carrying his remains to Dodge City. They, the Patriot Guards and members of the VFW will provide an escort to Ashland. All of Aldridge's immediate family has died, and his closest living relatives are nephews.

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AP: 6 Kid-on-Kid Sexual Assault Cases at Army Base in Missouri

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (AP) — Army officials are now acknowledging they've investigated reports of child-on-child sexual assaults at Fort Leonard Wood.  The disclosure comes amid an Associated Press investigation that found many sexual assault reports among children at U.S. military bases where service member families live have languished in a dead zone of justice, in which victims and offenders go without help.  New documents released to AP show Army criminal investigators opened at least six cases at Leonard Wood over a recent 10-year period. They concluded all were true.  Initially, Army's Criminal Investigation Command released a list of 223 sexual assaults among juveniles that showed none at the central Missouri base.  After reporters challenged the list's accuracy, the agency added 86 cases. It declines to share the number of reports that are still being investigated.  Military seeks to limit Congress on fixing child sex assault

     - Related -

Military Seeks to Limit Congress on Fixing Child Sex Assault

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. military officials want to limit congressional efforts to address child-on-child sexual assaults on bases, even as new data show the problem is larger than previously acknowledged.  Members of Congress demanded answers after an Associated Press investigation revealed that many reports of sexual violence among military kids on installations languish, leaving both victim and offender without help.  With lawmakers drafting legislative fixes, military officials have offered a clear message during congressional briefings: We can handle this.  The pushback against legislative efforts comes as the Army acknowledged that it had investigated 86 more sex assault reports than initially disclosed to AP, most of them confirmed as crimes.  After adding those new cases, AP's count of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault reports on bases reached nearly 700 over a recent 10-year period.

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Kansas Elections to See More Third-Party Donors

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Races for the Kansas Legislature and other state offices this year will be flooded with campaign spending from third-party organizations that can spend unlimited amounts without having to disclose donors.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that four former governors, including two Democrats and two Republicans, are supporting the Save Kansas Coalition, a network of 11 separate groups dedicated to electing more Democrats and moderate Republicans to the Legislature.  Some of the groups include the MainStream Coalition, Stand Up Blue Valley, Game On for Kansas Schools, Women for Kansas, and Reroute the Roadmap.  John Carlin is a former Democratic governor who served from 1978 to 1987. He says one of the coalition's main goals is to counter the large amounts of third-party money that is already being spent by conservative groups.

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Baker University Starts Public Phase of $20 Million Campaign

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Baker University is beginning the public phase of a $20 million capital campaign.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the school in Baldwin City raised $12 million in the initial phase, which sought private donations from selected alumni and university supporters.  Baker chief of staff Danielle Jones Rease says the school is targeting the funds for six priorities. Those include $5 million for capital projects, including more renovations of Rice Auditorium, improving older buildings and classrooms and providing athletic facilities.  Other priorities include improving technology, enhancing student abroad and travel experiences, endowing professorships and scholarships, and increasing planned gifts and a fund that provides student scholarships.  Jones Rease says the university has already received $1 million for an endowed professorship in business and has a donation pending for a liberal arts professorship.

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Touch Tank to Open this Month at Kansas City Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Visitors to the Kansas City Zoo will get a chance to pet sharks and stingrays starting later this month.  The Kansas City Star reports that the new $3.5 million Stingray Bay officially opens May 18.  It features 20 cownose rays, eight southern stingrays and 12 white-spotted bamboo sharks. Eventually, the public will be able to feed them chunks of fish, probably for a small fee.  Zoo officials said at a preview event Tuesday that they wouldn't take chances with public safety. The rays' stingers near the base of the tail have been snipped off. The removal is harmless to the animals, which face no predators in the zoo exhibit. The bamboo sharks measure about a yard long and are bottom dwellers.

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Report: Half of Kansas Wheat Crop in Poor Condition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows half of the Kansas winter wheat crop is in poor to very poor condition. The agency reported Monday that just 36 percent of the state's wheat crop is in fair shape with 14 percent rated as good. Its report also shows plant development is running well behind normal for this late in the season. Just 19 percent of the wheat has headed. That is significantly behind the 57 percent at this time last year and behind the 41 percent for the five-year average. Farmers have also been making progress in planting spring row crops. Corn planting is at 47 percent followed by soybeans at 8 percent, sorghum at 1 percent and cotton at 2 percent.

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Program May Offer Aircraft Production Training in Wichita High Schools

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita students may soon be able to study aircraft production and maintenance in high school under a program that allows them to work toward professional certificates and possible jobs after graduation. The proposed new curriculum in Wichita schools is called Aviation Pathway. The Wichita Eagle reports it would be the first such aviation technical education in the local schools. It was announced Monday on the production floor at Textron in Wichita. The program would launch at North, Northwest, Southeast and West high schools this fall if it is approved by the Kansas Board of Education this summer. The Kansas Department of Labor says the average entry-level annual wage for an avionics technician is $45,961, and the average entry-level wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians is $40,496.

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1 Killed in Kansas City, Kansas Shooting, Police Say

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a person of interest is in custody in a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. Police identified the victim Monday as 25-year-old Gabriel Jackson-Lewis, of Kansas City, Kansas. The release said officers responding Sunday afternoon to a report of a shooting found that he had been wounded. Jackson-Lewis died later at a hospital. No motive was released for the shooting, and police say no formal charges have been filed yet. The investigation is ongoing.

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Kansas Woman Receives Proposal During Half-Marathon

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman is engaged after receiving a proposal while running a half-marathon. The Wichita Eagle reports that Justin Scott proposed to Sarah Hoover 7 miles into the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in Wichita on Sunday. Hoover was running with Scott's father when she saw her now-fiance holding a sign that said: "Sarah will you marry me?" Scott says he opted for proposing in the middle of the race instead of at the end because he knew Hoover isn't one for large crowds. Hoover had to complete the race after the proposal, but she says she just wanted to celebrate. The couple has been dating for a year and a half and has been talking about marriage. Hoover says she knew it was coming but didn't know when.

 

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