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Headlines for Saturday, December 15, 2018

Kansas Telemedicine Abortion Law in Doubt

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas law meant to ban telemedicine abortions has become entangled in larger court battles over abortion and the legality of the practice remains in doubt. A state court judge heard arguments Friday on an abortion rights group's request to block the new law from taking effect in January. Since October, a Wichita clinic has given women abortion pills and had them consult with an offsite doctor by teleconferencing. The clinic also hopes to offer telemedicine abortions to women in rural areas. District Judge Franklin Theis suggested during a hearing Friday that the new law is an "air ball" that doesn't authorize criminal prosecutions. But Theis didn't rule after state attorneys suggested other state abortion laws might come into play. Those provisions are tied up in another pending lawsuit.

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Report: Kansas Election Officials Reject Kobach's Voter Fraud Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An American Civil Liberties Union survey has found that county-level election officials in Kansas reject the notion that voter fraud is either a major or minor concern. The report released Friday contradicts claims of widespread voter fraud by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Election officials in 85 of the state's 105 counties partially or completed responded. Sixty-six of them said voter fraud was "not a problem at all." None deemed it a "significant problem." The ACLU says the report examined whether county election policies are reducing voter turnout and hurting democracy in Kansas. It found voter turnout was higher in counties offering better early voting. The report also detected a relationship between the number of voters assigned to a polling site and the voter turnout rate.

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Midwest Farmers Buoyed but Cautious as China Resumes Buying Soybeans

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The resumption of soybean sales to China is encouraging to American farmers who've seen the value of their crop plummet amid a trade war with the world's second-largest economy. But producers see it only as a small step toward normalcy as they continue monitoring the unsettled trade relations between the countries and call for more federal aid. Private exporters have reported sales of 1.43 million metric tons of soybeans to China less than two weeks after the Trump administration reached a three-month truce in the trade war. The American Soybean Association says it's positive news but didn't significantly boost prices and farmers need more help. Both the association and the National Farmers Union are pushing for more federal aid through a $12 billion federal program created to compensate producers for trade-related losses.

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Outgoing Kansas Lawmaker Switching from GOP to Democratic Party

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Another Kansas lawmaker is switching from the Republican to the Democratic party. Outgoing Representative Joy Koesten, of Leawood, announced Thursday that she's changing her party affiliation. Koesten wrote that she "just can't stomach trying to 'fit in' any more to a party that grieves me so each and every day." Her announcement follows state Sen. Barbara Bollier's decision to switch after she endorsed Democratic Governor-elect Laura Kelly and was stripped of a committee leadership post. Koesten was elected in 2016 in a moderate wave, but lost her District 28 seat in the primary to conservative challenger Kellie Warren. Warren will assume office next month after beating Democrat Brian Clausen in the general election. Koesten wrote in her final newsletter as a state representative that she wasn't "welcome" in the GOP.

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Teen Dead After KCK SUV-Dump Truck Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a collision with a parked dump truck has left one teen dead and another injured in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that police say the teens were riding in a speeding sport utility vehicle that skidded into the city work truck Thursday. It appears that the SUV then struck a guardrail and rolled over. A team of workers who were around the corner didn't see the crash but came running after they heard the impact. The teen who died was ejected. A girl in the SUV was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Two other teens in the SUV weren't hurt. Police say the teens weren't wearing seat belts.

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Missouri Family Arrested in Deer Poaching Case

OZARKS, Mo. (AP) — Members of a southwest Missouri family have been caught in a multi-year investigation into the illegal killing of hundreds of deer. The Springfield News-Leader reports David Berry Sr. of Springfield, and his sons, David Berry Jr. of Brookline, and Kyle Berry, of Everton, were involved in an investigation by state, federal and Canadian law enforcement agencies and conservation officers. The Missouri Department of Conservation said in a news release Thursday that the investigation eventually tied 14 Missourians to more than 230 charges in 11 Missouri counties. Some suspects also were tied to state and federal wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter says most of the deer were killed at night only for their heads, with their carcasses left behind.

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Federal Lawsuit Claims OP-Based Freight Company Overcharged Government

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The federal government has filed a lawsuit alleging it was overcharged for shipping in a case first brought by a whistleblower. The complaint in federal court in Buffalo accuses YRC Freight, Roadway Express and Yellow Transportation of knowingly overcharging the Defense Department by submitting bills based on higher estimated, rather than actual, shipment weights. Prosecutors say the case arose from a whistleblower lawsuit. The whistleblower statute lets private citizens bring legal action on the government's behalf and share in any recovery. YRC Freight, based in Overland Park, Kansas, issued a statement Friday saying the claims are without merit. Attorney Jim Fry says the company has been addressing the government's questions for nine years and is confident it acted within contract guidelines. Yellow Transportation and Roadway have been YRC Freight since 2008.

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