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Headlines for Monday, September 13, 2021

 

Kansas AG Likely to Join GOP Battle Against Biden's Vaccine Mandates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is signaling that he’s likely to join other Republican state officials in challenging President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Schmidt issued a statement Friday saying that no president has the authority to issue the mandate that Biden did Thursday. The Democratic president's mandate affects as many as 100 million Americans, including employees in companies with 100 or more workers. GOP officials in other states already have vowed to fight the mandate, and Kansas Republicans were critical. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce's CEO said the decision about requiring vaccines for private-sector workers should be left to their employers.

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Missouri Governor to Challenge Biden COVID Vaccine Mandate 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Governor Mike Parson is considering calling a special legislative session to challenge President Biden's plan to require COVID-19 vaccination or testing for many workers.  In an interview with the Kansas City Star Friday, Parson said that Missouri will oppose the White House initiative on "multiple fronts."  He didn't elaborate but left open the possibility of a special session. President Biden announced sweeping new orders Thursday that will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate immunizations or offer weekly testing. 

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Wyandotte County Extends Mask Mandate 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Most Wyandotte County residents will be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces into mid-November. The mask requirement applies in Kansas City, Kansas, and to residents aged 5 and older, in businesses and houses of worship. Wyandotte County imposed the mandate in August, and it is now set to remain in place through November 18th. The county commission voted this past week to extend the mandate by two months. Meanwhile, Kansas aviation companies are set to receive nearly $104 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. The Wichita Eagle reports that 31 companies will receive federal relief funds to keep a total of nearly 4,300 jobs. 

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AG: Spike in Natural Gas Prices Appears to Break Kansas Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt says that sharp spikes in natural gas prices last winter appear to violate Kansas law and he is seeking outside legal help to investigate them. Schmidt's office said Monday it is looking to retain a law firm with expertise in the natural gas marketplace to help investigate and with any potential civil litigation aimed at enforcing the state’s anti-profiteering law. Schmidt said in a news release that state law prohibits unjustified price increases for necessary goods and services during a declared state of disaster emergency.

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Lawmaker Accused of Kicking Boy Pleads Guilty to 3 Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator accused of kicking a high school student in the testicles has pleaded guilty to three lesser misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct. A magistrate judge on Monday placed Republican state Representative Mark Samsel on a year’s probation under a deal with the local prosecutor. Samsel also agreed not to use social media for personal purposes or have any contact with two high school students whose complaints led to the charges. Samsel had faced three higher misdemeanor criminal charges of battery over interactions with the two students, ages 15 or 16, during an April 28 high school art class in his eastern Kansas hometown of Wellsville.

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Local Agencies: KC Area Could Welcome 625 Afghan Refugees 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Resettlement agencies in the Kansas City area have told the federal government that they have the capacity to welcome 625 refugees from Afghanistan. The Kansas City Star reports that three organizations designated by the U.S. State Department as resettlement agencies submitted the figure in a proposal to the agency in late August. The agencies are Della Lamb Community Center, Jewish Vocational Services and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. But Della Lamb Executive Director Ryan Hudnall said the figure is subject to change depending on who chooses to come to Kansas and who has existing relationships in the area. 

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Kansas Pandemic Panel Approves Extra Nurses’ Pay 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas hospitals will receive $50 million to provide extra pay for nurses, but a plan approved by a state task force will require them to report monthly on how many nurses they’ve lost and why.  The money comes from federal COVID-19 relief funds, and Kansas law required a bipartisan pandemic response task force to spell out how it would be spent. The task force added the reporting requirement during a Friday meeting. The meeting came a day after President Joe Biden imposed new vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt signaled that he's likely to join other Republican officials in challenging Biden's mandates. 

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Kansas, Oklahoma Continue Uptick in Abortions Following Texas Law 

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Abortion clinics in Kansas and Oklahoma say they're still seeing a high volume of patients from Texas as a new state law there banning most abortions remains in effect. The Biden administration this week sued Texas over the law, arguing it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution." The Justice Department is asking a judge to quickly declare the law invalid, although it is unknown how quickly a court might rule. In the meantime, the Trust Women abortion clinics in Kansas and Oklahoma say at least half their patients at both locations last week were from Texas. And appointments are booked through the end of the month.     

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Kansas Agrees to $1.9 Million for Attorneys Who Fought Voting Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas appears likely to pay $1.9 million to attorneys who succeeded in getting the federal courts to strike down a state proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters. The amount arose from negotiations between attorneys for the state and lawyers for Kansas residents who filed two federal lawsuits against a state law requiring people to provide citizenship documents when registering to vote. They jointly asked Friday for U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson to sign off. The lawsuits successfully argued that the proof-of-citizenship requirement denied voting rights to thousands of citizens while doing little or nothing to stop fraud. The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

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Kansas Farmers Busy Planting Wheat, Harvesting Other Crops

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers have been busy planting next year’s winter wheat crop and harvesting the state’s other major crops. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that about 4% of the winter wheat in Kansas has now been planted. That’s about equal to the five-year average for this time of year. The agency also noted in its weekly crop update that about 11 percent of the state’s corn crop has been harvested. Just 1% of the sorghum has been cut so far in Kansas.

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Man Pleads Guilty in Crash That Killed Officer and His Son

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — A 39-year-old Valley Center man will be sentenced in November for causing a crash that killed an off-duty Wichita police officer and the officer's 10-year-old son. James Dalrymple pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence in the death of 37-year-old Stacey Woodson and his son, Braeden, in April 2018. Prosecutors said Dalrymple pulled his pickup truck in front of Woodson's motorcycle at a Wichita intersection. Court records say Dalrymple had alcohol and drugs in his system at the time of the crash. Woodson was a 16-year veteran of the Wichita police force.

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Canadian National Railroad Facing More Investor Pressure

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A day after being spurned by Kansas City Southern, Canadian National Railway is facing additional pressure from a major investor who wants CN to abandon its effort to buy the U.S. railroad. The London-based investment firm TCI Fund said Monday it's calling for a special CN shareholder meeting where it plans to nominate four new directors. TCI has said it thinks CN should get a new CEO and focus its efforts on improving its own operations. Canadian National officials didn't immediately respond Monday, but the railroad said Sunday that it would evaluate all of its strategic options after Kansas City Southern picked Canadian Pacific’s $31 billion offer over CN’s higher bid.

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Fire at Huge Nebraska Beef Plant Disrupts Production Briefly

A fire at a one of the nation’s largest beef processing plants appears to have spared the main production area. So the impact from the Nebraska fire on the overall market is likely to be limited. While the blaze was burning at the JBS plant that normally slaughters about 6,000 cattle a day, industry observers feared there could be a similar impact to when a fire disrupted operations at large Tyson beef plant in Kansas for months in 2019. JBS spokeswoman Nikki Richardson said the company expects to resume operations at the plant Tuesday because the fire did not impact the main production areas.

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Cost of Living on the Rise in Rural Kansas 

WICHITA,  Kan. (KNS) — The latest Cost of Living Index shows some parts of rural Kansas are relatively expensive. Place like Dodge City are becoming more costly. Jeremy Hill leads the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. He says the cost of living has been consistently higher in western Kansas than it is in some of the other parts of the state, partly because of supply issues. “Because of the remoteness of each of those communities, the cost of getting goods there is higher" Hill said.  But prices are not rising as quickly so high in all rural areas of the state. Pittsburg, near Joplin, Missouri and just a few hours from Kansas City, benefits from more competition.  A dentist visit costs $130 in Dodge City but only $90 in Pittsburg. A loaf of bread  goes for $3.59 in Dodge City and $3.19 in Pittsburg.

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Homicide Suspect Dies After Being Shot by Topeka Police 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a homicide suspect who was shot by officers has died. Police said in a news release that 33-year-old Jesse Lees died hours after several officers shot at him. Interim Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles said multiple officers were involved in the shooting Friday morning. No officers were injured. Police said Lees had been wanted for questioning in the death of Jennifer Morris. Her body was found inside a Topeka home last Wednesday evening. No other information was immediately released. Wheeles said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will take over the investigation into the shooting. 

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Missouri Judge Orders Blue Springs Restaurant to Close for Mask Violations 

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) -  A Missouri judge has ordered a Kansas City-area restaurant to close because it continues to defy a mask mandate.  Jackson County had sought a temporary restraining order against Rae's Cafe in Blue Springs, after the owner ignored a health department order to close because of repeated violations of the county's order requiring masks inside businesses to fight the coronavirus outbreak.  The business reopened as a private club in an effort to avoid the mandate.  Rae's Cafe could face sanctions for violating the order. The temporary restraining order will last for 21 days or until the court enters another order. 

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GOP Group Held 'War Games' for State AGs Before Trump Loss 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An offshoot of the Republican Attorneys General Association held a special meeting weeks before the 2020 election to discuss its strategies if then-President Donald Trump lost. The Rule of Law Defense Fund later gained notoriety for sending a robocall urging people to support Trump at the January 6th rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. The association's two-day conference in September 2020 was among 20-plus meetings the group held in the four months before the November presidential election for senior aides to Republican state attorneys general. It was a special event with “off the record” conversations and expenses covered. It was in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines months away. 

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Missouri Police Investigating Homicide in Harrisonville

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) _ Police are investigating an early-morning homicide in the town of Harrisonville in western Missouri. Television station KSHB reports that Harrisonville police were called around 2 a.m. Monday to a convenience store on Route 291.  Officers arrived to find a person with an apparent stab wound. The person was rushed to a hospital, but died from their injuries. Police have not released the victim's name, but say detectives are investigating a related crime scene at a commuter lot near the convenience store. Police in Kansas City have been asked to help with the investigation. Harrisonville is a town of about 10,000 in Cass County, 40 miles south of Kansas City

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Kansas City Police Investigate Westport Shooting Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police in Kansas City are investigating the city's latest homicide after security guards found a man fatally shot in the city's Old Westport neighborhood. Police say in a news release that security guards heard gunshots around 3 a.m. Sunday in the area of Westport Road and Broadway Boulevard. When they went to investigate, they found a man in the street with gunshot wounds. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police said they do not have any suspects in the shooting. Authorities did not immediately release the victim's name.
 
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Ruling on Who Will Hear Strickland Motion Expected Friday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge says he will rule on Friday whether all Jackson County (Missouri) judges should be disqualified from hearings to determine if a Kansas City man could go free after serving more than 40 years in prison. At a hearing on Monday, Circuit Court Judge Kevin Harrell heard arguments in the case of Kevin Strickland, who Jackson County prosecutors have said did not commit a triple murder in Kansas City in 1978. Attorney General Eric Schmitt is seeking to have the Jackson County judges removed from further hearings in Strickland's case because of perceived bias in Strickland's favor.

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Buffalo Carved from Butter Featured at Kansas State Fair

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s state animal — the buffalo — is being celebrated at the State Fair this year with a 700-pound butter sculpture. The Hutchinson News reports that a sculptor from Iowa, Sarah Pratt, had to do some research on buffaloes before she designed this year’s butter statue. Pratt said that if she winds up with any extra butter she may add a buffalo calf or some sunflowers. Pratt, who teaches school by day, lives in West Des Moines with her husband and three children, all of whom help her out with sculpting - from the Kansas State Fair to fairs in Iowa or Illinois.

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Thieves Steal Crops from KC Churches 

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) -  Thieves in the Kansas City area have taken two churches' fruit harvests in the past month.  WDAF-TV reports that Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Liberty had planned to harvest its grapes after a Sunday worship service earlier this month.  But members discovered that all 1,500 pounds of grapes had been stolen.  The church had the grapes bottled for communion wine.  Meanwhile, St. Peter and All Saints Episcopal Church in Kansas City recently had four of its apple and pear trees picked clean.  The anticipated harvest was three or four years in the making and the fruit was destined for a food pantry and a homeless shelter. 

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Invasive Insect Spotted in 4-H Entry at Kansas State Fair

HUTCHINSTON, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State Fair officials judging the 4-H entomology entries last week discovered an invasive insect that prompted quarantines elsewhere. Fair Board member Gregg Hadley says the student who caught the bug didn't know it had prompted quarantines in at least 45 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to try to stop its spread. Hadley, who is Director for Extension with Kansas State's Research and Extension, said it's not clear how the invasive bug made it to Kansas, but it may have hitched a ride on a camper. Federal officials are expected to try and learn how the insect reached Kansas. 
 
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Kansas City Chiefs Beat Cleveland Browns in First Regular Season Game 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) —The Cleveland Browns held a 12-point lead at halftime but the Kansas City Chiefs came back in the second half to win Sunday, 33-29, at Arrowhead Stadium. The big play that sparked the turnaround was when quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed a pass to Tyreek Hill in the fourth quarter that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown. Mahomes threw three touchdown passes and also scored on a 5-yard running play. The Chiefs next game is at Baltimore next Sunday night.

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Browns' Tretter Calls for Discipline Against KC Assistant Coach

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter believes Kansas City assistant coach Greg Lewis should be disciplined by the NFL for his role in a sideline skirmish with Cleveland safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. on Sunday. Harrison was ejected from Cleveland’s 33-29 loss in the first quarter after he forcefully pushed Lewis, who shoved the Browns safety after coming over to help Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Tretter, the NFLPA’s president, didn’t condone Harrison’s behavior, but said Lewis needs to be held accountable by the league for his actions. An NFL spokesman said the incident is under review and that Harrison will not be suspended.

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K-State Feeling Deja Vu After QB Thompson's Knee Injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas State University's football team is feeling a bit of deja vu after watching quarterback Skylar Thompson go down with a knee injury in Saturday's win over Southern Illinois. The sixth-year senior missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, too. Now, the Wildcats will have to rely on Will Howard to lead the way. Howard was pressed into action as a freshman last season and got plenty of experience, even though he went through a series of wild ups and downs. His first game back in the starting role will be against Nevada on Saturday.

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 Big 12 Welcomes BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston 

UNDATED (AP) – The Big 12 approved membership applications from BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. The league has moved quickly after learning it will lose Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference no later than 2025. BYU says all of its sports will begin Big 12 schedules in the 2023-24 athletic season. The other three schools compete in the American Athletic Conference. That league requires 27 months' notice for schools that want to leave. That means they will join the Big 12 no later than July 1, 2024. 

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Big 12 Coaches Says Swift Expansion Solidified League Future

UNDATED (AP) – Big 12 coaches feel the league is solidified for the long haul after the conference's swift action to expand. Kansas State coach Chris Klieman says the Big 12 got four really good programs with the additions of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. That quartet got invited to the league six weeks after Oklahoma and Texas accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference by 2025. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says the league hit a home run, keeping the Big 12 status and getting back to 12 teams from 10.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today

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