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Headlines for Monday, October 28, 2019

 

Kansas Could End Unusual Census Adjustment for Redistricting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas could soon end an unusual policy of using its own numbers in addition to federal census data to redraw the boundaries of state legislative districts.  The longstanding practice costs college communities political clout. The biggest winners from a change are likely to be Lawrence and Manhattan.  Voters statewide will decide November 5 whether to approve a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution to eliminate a requirement for the state to adjust federal census figures when the Legislature redistricts itself. The adjustment counts college students and military personnel not where they're living but in a "permanent" home elsewhere.  Kansas is among only a few states that adjust federal census figures for redistricting. Critics see the adjustment as archaic and expensive, and there's no organized opposition to the proposed amendment.

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Kansas High Court: Part of Kansas Criminal Threat Law Unconstitutional

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has struck down part of a state law against making a criminal threat after concluding it violates free speech rights.  The court on Friday declared unconstitutional a provision of the law making it illegal to communicate a threat of violence with "reckless disregard" of the risk that it might cause fear.  The justices said that part of the law is so broad that it could affect the speech of political protesters and violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The Supreme Court overturned criminal threat convictions in two cases.  One from Douglas County involved a man convicted of making a reckless criminal threat toward an acquaintance in a convenience store.  Another from Montgomery County involved man's threatening language toward his mother.

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Kobach Acknowledges He Failed to Properly Supervise Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kris Kobach has acknowledged in a diversion agreement that he failed to properly supervise to his staff while representing himself as the then Kansas secretary of state during federal court proceedings. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the confidential agreement resolves complaints made to the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator's Office about Kobach's conduct in a voter registration case. Details of the findings aren't disclosed under Kansas rules, but a public notice of the agreement says Kobach stipulates he didn't properly supervise lawyers and non-lawyers during the litigation. The lawsuit involved a challenge to a Kansas law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship to register to vote. The disciplinary administrator's office says there was no finding of dishonest conduct by Kobach. Kobach is seeking the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat

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Police Investigating Fatal Shooting at Kansas Office Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police say they are investigating a fatal shooting near an office center in Overland Park. Overland Park Police Department spokesman John Lacy says police responded to the shooting at Deer Creek Office Center at about 8:45 a.m. Monday. The Kansas City Star reports that the victim was in his 60s and worked in one of the businesses in the office park. He has not been identified publicly. Police were investigating the death as a homicide No suspect information has been released.

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2 KCK Men Sentenced for Kidnapping, Robbing Women

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City, Kansas, men have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for kidnapping and robbing three women.  The Kansas City Star reports that 37-year-old Anthony Williams and 34-year-old Jamerl Wortham were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Missouri. Williams was sentenced to four consecutive life terms without parole. Wortham was sentenced to 60 years without parole.  The crimes occurred in April 2016. The men and a third man stole a Jaguar in Kansas City, Kansas, and drove into Kansas City, Missouri. They kidnapped a woman waiting for an Uber, then later forced two women in a Toyota Camry into that car's backseat.  The men drove the two vehicles back across the state line, then later forced all three women to withdraw money from an ATM.

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Prosecutors: More Than 220 Pounds of Methamphetamine Seized

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say federal agents seized more than 220 pounds of methamphetamine in a drug trafficking bust in the Kansas City, Kansas, metro area. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release Monday that 14 defendants are charged in the case. "Opioids are often in the news," McAllister said. "But methamphetamine remains our biggest drug problem in the Midwest." Court records show the 33-count indictment was unsealed last week. Charges include conspiracy, distribution, possession with intent to distribute and interstate communications in furtherance of drug trafficking. The government says investigators found the methamphetamine when serving a search warrant at a house in Kansas City, Kansas, where one of the defendants lives.

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Report: Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Makes Progress

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows Kansas growers are on track with planting next year's winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 88% of the wheat is now in the ground in Kansas. That is ahead of the 75% planted at this time last year and near the 65% average. The weekly snapshot shows farmers have harvested 74% of their corn crops along with 56% of the soybeans and 51% of the sorghum crops in the state.

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Kansas Prosecutors to Drop Charges of False Rape Report

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors plan to drop all charges against a University of Kansas student accused of falsely reporting a rape. The Kansas City Star reports that the Douglas County district attorney's office filed a motion Monday to drop the three felony counts of making a false report against the woman. The woman's attorneys contend she is innocent, saying she was mistreated by police and prosecutors after reporting she was raped by a friend of her ex-boyfriend last year. Prosecutors had contended the woman fabricated the story out of regret and to get back at her ex-boyfriend. Police have said text messages show the sex was consensual. The woman contended the messages made light of the incident because she was not able to admit at the time that she had been raped.

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Father, Son from Oklahoma Killed in Head-on Crash in Western Kansas

HICKOK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a father and son from Oklahoma have been killed in a head-on crash in rural Kansas.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Saturday when a tractor-trailer failed to yield the right-of-way at an intersection in southwest Kansas' Grant County and drove directly into the path of a pickup truck. The patrol identified the victims as the pickup's driver, 57-year-old Kevin Coyle, and his passenger, 81-year-old Gerald Coyle.  The crash happened near the small town of Hickok, which is about 70 miles northwest of the victims' hometown of Turpin, Oklahoma.

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Man Steals Heavy Equipment Loader in Topeka, then Drives Through Yards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 46-year-old man is facing several charges after stealing a piece of heavy equipment and driving it through several Topeka yards.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the man stole the construction equipment early Sunday morning and drove it through several yards in northeast Topeka.  Topeka police evacuated several homes as a precaution before using bean bag pellets to stop the man driving the loader.  Police Captain Colleen Stuart says the man refused to stop and turned the loader toward police before officers fired the nonlethal rounds at him.  The man has been charged with felony theft, criminal property damage and aggravated assault on a police officer.

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Conviction, Sentence of Retired Kansas Trooper Thrown Out

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has thrown out a retired Kansas Highway Patrol trooper's conviction and probation sentence related to a charge that he lied to the FBI during an investigation into illegal gambling in Wichita.  The Wichita Eagle reports U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Tuesday granted 54-year-old Michael Frederiksen's request to vacate his conviction. Frederiksen had argued his attorney was ineffective.  The judge agreed, writing that Frederiksen's trial attorney was inexperienced, unfamiliar with court rules regarding evidence and, while he was licensed to practice in New Mexico, he was not licensed in Kansas.  Frederiksen, of Derby, was convicted in May of lying to FBI investigators about participating in an illegal cash poker game while he was still a trooper. Prosecutors at his trial said video showed he had participated.

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T-Mobile Says Close of Sprint Deal Delayed Until Next Year

T-Mobile says it expects its combination with Sprint to close next year as it awaits a December antitrust trial with a group of state attorneys general. The company previously planned to complete the deal this year. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission have approved the deal, but a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia are trying to block it, saying it will drive up prices for consumers. The states' group has lost Colorado and Mississippi, which reached agreements with the companies. T-Mobile and Sprint announced their deal in April 2018.

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Girlfriend of Kansas Man Who Wounded 2 Lawmen Enters Plea

LYONS, Kan. (AP) — The girlfriend of a Kansas man who fatally shot his father and wounded two Kansas law enforcement officers before killing himself has pleaded no contest to aggravated child endangerment.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 27-year-old Erin Baker also pleaded no contest Friday to obstruction of law enforcement. A charge of interference with law enforcement was dropped. She's expected to receive probation when she's sentenced December 18.  Investigators say Baker put her 7-year-old in danger by continuing a relationship with David Madden, despite knowing he was a convicted felon with a gun.  Police say the child was present in April when Madden wounded a Rice County undersheriff. Baker previously told KWCH-TV that she and her son got away after dropping Madden off at his father's home, where the other shootings happened.

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Kansas City Voters to Decide if MLK Boulevard Will Stay

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, voters will decide if a street named in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. should keep that name or revert to its old one.  Until January, the street through the city's predominantly black east side was known as The Paseo. The City Council voted to rename it after King, but many in the community want the old name back. The Kansas City Star reports that a petition drive put the issue on the November 5 ballot.  A group called Save The Paseo say they want to honor King, but that the street is the wrong choice because of its historic importance to the city. Ministers who pushed for the change worry about the message that will be sent if King's name is removed.

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Frustrated Democratic Governors Find Ways to Sidestep GOP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic governors frustrated with Republican legislatures unwilling to give them meaningful wins are getting creative in finding ways around them.  In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers tried for months for the Legislature to take up gun control bills to no avail. So he recently called a special session to force them to convene on the issue.  That call is one of 54 executive orders he's issued that are outside of legislative control.  Democratic governors in Kansas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are also using executive orders to try and advance their agenda.  But the tools are limited. Even though Evers called the special session, Republicans say they plan to convene and adjourn immediately without debating or voting on the bills he wants them to pass.

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Man Struck and Killed by Car While Walking on Highway Near Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man is dead after being struck by a car while walking down the middle of a Kansas highway.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the victim was struck shortly after 4 am Friday on U.S. 40 just east of Topeka. His name has not been released.  Shawnee County Sgt. Scott Wanamaker says authorities were first called with a report that a man was walking in the middle of the road. Minutes later, another call notified authorities that a car had struck the pedestrian.  Police say the man was dead by the time officers arrived.  Wanamaker says the incident does not appear suspicious and there was no indication the driver was impaired.

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Prolonged Missouri River Flooding Could Last All Winter

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Flooding along the Missouri River has stretched on for seven months in some places and could endure through the winter. That could leave some Upper Midwest farmland and possibly some homes encased in ice. The icy flooding is possible due to a still-high river, saturated ground, broken levees and a forecast for a wetter-than normal winter. It's possible some flooding could continue into spring. In places along the lower Missouri River where levees broke in the spring, large areas of mostly farmland remains underwater. Fixing the broken levees will take several years. Tom Bullock says there's no end in sight to flooding in northwestern Missouri, where he is Holt County's emergency management director. Roughly 30,000 acres remain underwater in Holt County, and some of that floodwater is likely to freeze in place.

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