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Headlines for Monday, October 30, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Brownback Confirmation Vote Delayed 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate Democrats will delay the confirmation of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as ambassador for religious liberty because of his record on gay rights. The Kansas City Star reports that Democrats plan to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take extra procedural steps on Brownback's nomination. A spokesman for McConnell said it's not clear when the nomination might come up for floor votes. Any delay of Brownback's departure from Kansas past the end of this year could cause complications at the Kansas Statehouse. The Legislature is scheduled to convene in January, and the governor must submit a budget proposal. 


Top Kansas Lawmakers to Form School Funding Panel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers are expected to form a committee to begin work on a response to a state Supreme Court order directing them to boost spending on public schools. The Legislature's top seven leaders are planning to meet this (MON) afternoon to discuss setting up such a committee. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that legislators did not increase spending on the state's public schools enough this year. The court hinted that spending is hundreds of millions of dollars short a year of providing a suitable education for every child but did not set a spending target. A law enacted in June phased in a $293 million increase in funding over two years to make it $4.3 billion annually. The court said a new law must be enacted before July 2018. 

Kansas Proposes Work Requirement in New Version of Medicaid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are proposing a new version of the state's privatized Medicaid program that would require about 12,000 adults to work. The proposal was unveiled as the state considers changes to a program that serves more than 400,000 residents. Kansas currently has no work requirement for Medicaid recipients and it would be the first state in the country to do so. Governor Sam Brownback's administration says requiring some people to work will improve their lives. Officials note that of the 12,000 people that would be affected, most already are required to work because they receive welfare assistance. Advocates for Medicaid recipients say work requirements are illegal and were not allowed before President Trump's administration. The proposal must be approved by the federal government.


Group Opposed to Poultry Plant Gathers in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - About 75 people attended the first meeting of a group opposing bringing a Tyson processing plant to Sedgwick County. The Wichita Eagle reports Sedgwick County is one of three finalists for the plant, which the company says would bring 1,600 jobs to its new location. Cloud County and Montgomery County are the other finalists. Don Stull, who has studied the meat and poultry industry for 30 years, warned the crowd Saturday that the plant would mean deplorable working conditions, injuries and police issues. He said Tyson plants bring jobs but damage the quality of life. Tyson said in a statement it will work to answer residents' concerns and asked people to keep an open mind about the plant, which it said would mean an annual economic benefit of $150 million.


Kansas Woman's Death Investigated as Apparent Homicide

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are investigating a woman's death in rural northern Kansas as an apparent homicide. The Riley County Police Department said in a news release Sunday that victim was 48-year-old Carrie Alicia Jones, of Junction City. The department received a call Saturday after her body was found in the southern part of the county. The release didn't say how she died. The investigation is ongoing. Tipsters could receive up to $1,000 for information.


Colombian President to Speak at University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is being honored this week at the U.S. university where he earned degrees in business and economics. Santos will be at the University of Kansas on Tuesday to receive an honorary degree and speak at a public event. Santos won last year's Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end his country's civil war after five decades of bloodshed. The conflict left more than 200,000 dead. University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod described Santos as an "inspirational leader." Santos was born in Bogota, Colombia, and arrived at the University of Kansas in 1969. After graduating, he studied at the London School of Economics and Harvard University. He last visited the University of Kansas in 2012, when he received a distinguished alumni award.


Underground Railroad Site Now Part of Historic Kansas Trail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A house that was part of the Underground Railroad has been dedicated as an official site along a new Kansas trail linking historical places related to African-American history. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Shawnee County Historical Society held an event Sunday in Topeka to dedicate the Ritchie House. The event allowed visitors to explore the historic home where John and Mary Jane Ritchie helped escaped slaves flee to Nebraska. The Kansas African American History Trail officially opened last month as a partnership of 18 historic sites across Kansas related to African-American history. The trail also includes Topeka's Brown v. Board of Education historic site. Sunday's dedication of the Ritchie House featured speeches from the local historical society's president and the project manager of the Kansas African American Museum.


Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Nears End 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers have been busy with fall calving as well as planting next year's winter wheat and harvesting fall row crops. The latest update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service on Monday says about 84 percent of the state's wheat crop has been planted. Fall harvest is also well under way with 78 percent of the corn now cut, along with 73 percent of the soybeans. About 44 percent of the sorghum also has been harvested. The report also shows that 12 percent of the Kansas cotton crop has been cut as well as 42 percent of sunflowers. Fourth cutting of alfalfa is 95 percent complete.


Police: Death of Woman Found in Truck in Wichita Considered Suspicious

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three Newman University baseball players are temporarily suspended from sports activities while Wichita police investigate the death of a woman whose body was found in a truck. The woman's body was found early Sunday near the off-campus home of one of the students. The university said in a news release Monday that the three students are still attending classes. The woman was not a Newman student. Wichita officer Charley Davidson says a man who doesn't know the woman found her inside a pickup truck that belongs to her family. He says there was no sign of obvious trauma at the scene.


1 of 3 Co-Defendants in Topeka Shooting Enters Plea

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - One of the three co-defendants in a Topeka shooting death has pleaded guilty to reduced charges. 36-year-old Use David Laeli Jr. admitted Friday to reckless involuntary manslaughter and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in an unrelated case. He faces more than 11 years in prison when he's sentenced in February. Laeli was accused of ordering the disposal of the pistol used to shoot 28-year-old Xavier Patrick McCollough. Prosecutors say the shooting happened after McCollough was lured in July 2016 to a parking lot, where Laeli and two others waited. Prosecutors say McCollough then drove out of the lot before crashing into an apartment building. Another suspect was upset because he was dating a woman that McCollough was going to see that night.


Employee Arrested After Racist Graffiti, Arson at Church 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a church maintenance worker set a fire and spray-painted racist graffiti on a predominantly black Kansas City church in order to cover up a theft. Nathaniel Nelson was charged Monday with arson. He was a member and employee of the Concord Fortress of Hope church and its cultural center, where the arson and graffiti were discovered early Sunday. Sprinklers extinguished a fire intentionally set in an office. Graffiti on the church included a racial slur, "KKK" and a symbol similar to a swastika. According to an affidavit, Nelson told investigators he was at the church to smoke crack cocaine and he tried to steal money. He reportedly told investigators he spray-painted the graffiti to throw off investigators. Online court records do not indicate if Nelson has an attorney.


Kansas Man Pleads Guilty in Tax Fraud Case 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former Overland Park man has admitted filing false income tax returns, causing a loss of between $550,000 and $1.5 million. Federal prosecutors say 58-year-old Alfred Reece pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false income tax returns. Reece owned a tax preparation business in Kansas City. Prosecutors say that between 2013 and 2015, he prepared returns for individuals that included false claims such as job-related expenses or medical and dental deductions. He also concealed that he prepared the returns, instead claiming they were self-prepared. Sentencing is scheduled for January 17.


Lawrence Will Allow Concealed Weapons in Public Buildings

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The city of Lawrence will allow anyone with a proper permit to carry concealed firearms to bring weapons into public buildings starting in January. The Lawrence Journal World reports City Attorney Toni Wheeler says Lawrence has decided to allow concealed weapons now because the law requires additional security measures if they are banned.  Wheeler says the city won't be in position to reinstate its ban on concealed weapons unless it adds more security guards and metal detectors to certain buildings.  Mayor Leslie Soden says she's open to adding more security at certain buildings, but cost is a major concern and she doesn't want to burden the budget. 


Fifth Teen Enters Crowded Race for Kansas Governor

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A fifth teenage boy has launched a campaign for governor and entered a field of 19 candidates. The Hutchinson News reports that 16-year-old Joseph Tutera Jr. of Mission Hills is running as a Republican. He appointed his father as his campaign treasurer this week to take a step required for him to legally collect contributions. Kansas has no minimum age for gubernatorial candidates. So far, twelve Republicans, six Democrats and one independent have launched campaigns. Tutera is sophomore class president at the private, Catholic, all-boys Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. 17-year-old Rockhurst senior Dominic Scavuzzo is seeking the GOP nomination, too. The Republican candidates also include 17-year-olds Ethan Randleas of Wichita and Tyler Ruzich of Prairie Village. 16-year-old Jack Bergeson of Wichita is running as a Democrat.


Wichita Airport Planning Snow Removal Exercise
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita airport officials aren't waiting for the snow to hit to do a so-called snow rodeo. The airport says in a news release that it's planning Tuesday to practice snow removal operations without any snow. The event starts at 10 a.m. and lasts for a couple of hours. Assistant Airport Director Brad Christopher says the purpose is give staff time to train without the added stress of actual weather. Intermittent closures on the two parallel runways are not expected to cause an airport closure or traveling delays for the public. 

Residents Get 2nd Chance to Dissolve Small Kansas Town

FREDERICK, Kan. (AP) - A tiny town in central Kansas is getting a second chance to vote itself out of existence after people in another community mistakenly cast ballots on the issue last year. Residents in Frederick will get another chance Nov. 7 to decide the town's future. Acting Mayor Robert Root says that the eight people left in town have committed to voting for disincorporation. During the November 2016 election, election workers at the Eureka township voting precinct accidentally gave ineligible residents ballots with Frederick's incorporation question. Frederick once had 150 residents. It hasn't set a budget in more than two years, which is required by state law.

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