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Headlines for Saturday, February 13, 2021

Bill Would Require Kansas Schools to Fully Reopen Next Month

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas schools would be required to offer full, in-person instruction starting March 26th under a bill that was introduced yesterday (FRI). Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson said in news release announcing the bill that students must not continue to “languish in virtual learning” but be allowed the option to attend in person. The state Department of Education recommended this week that school districts allow middle and high school students resume full-time in-person instruction if precautions are taken. Several of the state’s largest districts have been offering in-person classes only part-time for middle and high-schoolers or teaching students only online.


Topeka Man, Brother Arrested Capitol Riots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man and his brother are facing federal charges stemming from the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. The FBI said William Pope, of Topeka, and Michael Pope, of Sandpoint, Idaho, were arrested yesterday (FRI). They both face numerous charges including disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. William Pope was arrested without incident and is being held in the Shawnee County jail. He ran unsuccessfully for the Topeka City Council in 2019 and was an adjunct instructor at Fort Hays State from January 2016 until May 2020. Michael Pope surrendered to FBI agents in Idaho and was taken into custody without incident.  


Kansas Proposal against Transgender Athletes Gaining Traction

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proposal aimed at keeping transgender students out of girls’ and women’s sports is attracting interest in the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature. LGBTQ-rights advocates worry that the state will be a player in a nationwide push for such policies. A conservative Republican lawmaker introduced the measure this week in the state Senate. A hearing proposal hasn’t been scheduled before its Education Committee, but the committee chair said the bill is designed to guarantee that “the playing field is fair” in girls’ and women’s sports. And Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop said “a large segment” of GOP senators has “great interest” in the measure.


Kansas Senate Votes to Expand Private School Tax Credit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a bill to expand the state’s private school tax credit program to apply to all students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The Senate voted  23-14 on Thursday to expand program, which now applies only to students who also attend one of the state’s lowest performing public elementary schools. Republican supporters say the new criteria would help more students and give parents of low- and middle-income families more options, WIBW reported. Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes, who opposed the bill, said she is concerned that private schools face little accountability. The bill now goes to the House.


KU Hospital Announces Minimum Wage of $15 Per Hour

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, hospital has raised its minimum hourly wage to fifteen dollars. The University of Kansas Health System says in a news release that the change took effect Sunday and will be reflected in paychecks beginning March 5th. The announcement comes nearly a year into a global pandemic that has hit hospital staffs around the country particularly hard. It also comes as President Joe Biden's administration is pushing for an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The hospital says it has not laid off or furloughed staff during the pandemic and that the minimum wage increase is another step to support frontline workers.


Kansas Lawmakers Consider Bills to Cut Drug Crime Penalties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering legislation to reduce penalties for minor drug crimes. Kansas News Service reports that supporters of the lighter sentences say the bills would create more reasonable drug laws and reduce the state’s prison population. Opponents told a Kansas House committee this week that the legislation would go too far. They said even seemingly minor drug crimes feed an often-violent illegal drug trade. The bills are among the recommendations made by the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission, a group of legislators, judges, attorneys, community members and others who met regularly in 2019 and 2020 to discuss changes to the state’s criminal justice system.


5 Men Linked to KC Proud Boys Arrested

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Five people prosecutors have linked to a Kansas City metro chapter of the Proud Boys have been arrested on federal charges for their alleged roles in the January 6th breach at the U.S. Capitol. A probable cause affidavit alleges they conspired to impede certification of the Electoral College vote. William Norman Chrestman and Christopher Charles Kuehn, both of Olathe, Kansas, and Louis Enrique Colon, of Blue Springs, Missouri, were charged with conspiracy, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding, among other charges. Chrestman also separately faces an additional charge of threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer. Also arrested in Arizona were Felicia and Cory Konold who prosecutors linked to the Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys.


Patrol: 2 Killed, Child Seriously injured in Kansas Crash

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two people were killed and an 8-year-old girl seriously injured in a head-on crash in north-central Kansas. Investigators say the crash happened Wednesday evening on U.S. 81 north of Salina. Officials say it was caused when a sport utility vehicle driven by 96-year-old Thomas Huiett of Salina was traveling the wrong way in the northbound lanes of the highway. His SUV hit another SUV, driven by 30-year-old Tasha Meitler, of Delphos. Both Huiett and Meitler were pronounced dead at the scene. An 8-year-old girl in Meitler's vehicle was taken to a Wichita hospital with serious injuries.


NFL, KC Sportswriter Dies Unexpectedly

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Terez Paylor, the popular NFL writer and Pro Football Hall of Fame voter whose career took him from the Kansas City Star to Yahoo Sports, died unexpectedly early Tuesday. He was 37 years old. Yahoo Sports announced his death in a statement. No cause was given. Paylor, who was known for his booming laugh and infectious smile, was one of 48 voting members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also was a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and National Association of Black Journalists.


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