KU Coach Self Signs Lifetime Contract
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has agreed to a new contract that is expected to keep him with the Jayhawks until he retires. The five-year contract automatically adds one additional year after the conclusion of each season. That effectively makes it a lifetime contract. The deal guarantees him $5.41 million per year with a base salary of $225,000, professional services contract of $2.75 million, and an annual $2.435 million retention bonus. The deal was struck even as KU awaits the decision from an independent panel investigating five serious infractions charges alleged by the NCAA.
Large Wildfire Forces Evacuations Near Topeka
MAPLE HILL, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say about 120 people have been evacuated from an area west of Topeka because of a large wildfire. The Topeka Fire Department said in a tweet Friday that western Shawnee County should be avoided. The tweet said residents of Maple Hill and Willard were being urged to go to the nearby town of Rossville. Shawnee County Emergency Management interim director Errin Mahan said multiple fire departments were on the scene and that the Red Cross also is helping. The National Weather Service had issued a red flag fire danger warning for the area because of gusty winds.
Kansas Counties Ditching Mask Rules
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas counties already had started dropping or weakening mask rules before lawmakers toppled Governor Laura Kelly’s newly reissued order requiring them. More counties are expected to follow suit. Kelly's order was similar to one passed in November. It was always porous, allowing the state’s 105 counties to set their own possibly less restrictive rules or opt out of the order entirely. The Democratic governor was required to reissue it Thursday under a new Kansas law. That law also gives eight top legislators the power to reject her efforts to set rules to address the pandemic. The lawmakers overturned Kelly's order hours later on a party-line vote. That left counties that hadn’t set their own rules without mask requirements.
Governor's Aide: Civics Bill Violates Kansas Constitution
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesperson for Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says a Republican proposal to require graduating Kansas high school students to have passed a civics test violates the state constitution. Kelly spokesperson Reeves Oyster stopped short of saying Kelly would veto a bill approved by the state Senate this week to require the test. But she said in email that the test would be "an unconstitutional intrusion on the authority of the State Board of Education.” Republican backers of the bill disagree and say a test would give students basic knowledge to become engaged citizens. Students would be able to take the test multiple times until they pass.
Kansas Sports Betting Bill Stalls
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An effort to legalize sports betting in Kansas has stalled. It’s not clear that legislators can agree on how many places should offer wagering while also navigating other gambling issues. Some sports betting supporters believe they still have time before the Legislature wraps up its business for the year in May to get a bill passed, but others are skeptical. A Senate-passed proposal would limit sports betting to four state-owned casinos. A House proposal would include as many as 1,200 retail stores. But the broadness of the House plan and other issues, such as reviving the tracks, caused the chamber to vote this week against giving it first-round approval.
KCK Police Identity Man Killed by Stray Bullet
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a man killed inside his home by a stray bullet from a gun battle that took place outside on the street. Police say 50-year-old Mark Winner was hit during the Wednesday afternoon shooting that stemmed from an argument involving a group of people on the normally quiet residential street. Police say Winner was found dead inside his home with a gunshot wound. Police have not given other details of the shooting, but witnesses along the stretch of Farrow Avenue told news outlets they heard at least a dozen gunshots. Police said Friday that no arrests have been made.
Kansas Expects Federal Policy to Cost $360 Million
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas expects to lose a total of $360 million in tax revenues over three years because of a change in federal policies on COVID-19 relief for businesses. That development complicates legislative debates over state spending and cutting income taxes and is a cloud in what for months has otherwise been a sunny state fiscal picture with tax collections exceeding expectations. The expected loss was outlined in a short memo to six legislative leaders this week from the state Department of Revenue’s top administrator and Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's budget director. The memo said relief legislation approved in December by Congress created a new federal income tax deduction for some businesses.
Man Freed after Grain Elevator Entrapment Near Salina
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have rescued a man who fell into a grain storage facility near Salina and became trapped. Salina Fire Department Fire Marshal Troy Long said the man was apparently trying to remove a clog when he fell into a grain mover system at the Scoular grain elevator. The Salina Journal reports that the machinery was quickly shut down. Long said crews were able were able to remove part of that grain mover system and safely get the man out. He then was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries. Long said the department trains for situations like this often.