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Headlines for Saturday, February 22, 2020

Kansas Business Groups Mobilize to Stop Local Plastics Bans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas business groups have mobilized to snuff out a budding movement among a few cities to ban single-use plastic bags and straws. Their efforts are frustrating environmentalists who can't get the Republican-controlled Legislature to tackle climate issues. The House Commerce Committee on Friday approved a bill that would prevent cities and counties from enacting policies for the next five years to either ban single-use plastic products or impose fees on them. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce and groups representing grocers, restaurants and convenience stores argue that businesses could face a patchwork of local rules that raise costs and create headaches for chains.

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4th Congressional Candidate Announces Bid for Kansas 3rd District

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A former engineering firm executive is running for the Kansas congressional seat in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Star reports that Mike Beehler sees space exploration as an important issue and believes that the U.S. should build a base on the moon to assist with an eventual mission to Mars. The 60-year-old Beehler confirmed Friday that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 3rd District. The seat is held by freshman Democratic Representative Sharice Davids. Beehler is a former vice president of Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell and is the fourth Republican in the race.

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Shawnee Man Admits Threatening Girl's Family to Get Nude Photos

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old Kansas man has admitted that he threatened to kill a 13-year-old girl's family if she didn't send him nude photos of herself. Logan Clements, of Shawnee, pleaded guilty Friday to three crimes, including blackmail. Two other charges, including rape, were dismissed. Clements was charged in January 2019 after the Overland Park girl's parents found photos their daughter had sent. Court documents say the girl told Clements when they met online that she was 18 years old. But he admitted believing later that she was 14 or 16 years old.

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Cancer-linked Chemical Found Inside Wichita Aircraft Hangar

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Dangerous levels of a compound linked to cancer were found last year inside an aircraft hangar at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, and a memo warns more than 50 personnel may have been exposed to it. Documents obtained by McClatchy show contamination by hexavalent chrominium — the subject of the case featured in the movie “Erin Brockovich” — was documented in base memos. The chemical is an anti- corrosion agent and is found in paints and primers used on the KC-135 and KC-46. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns exposure can cause respiratory diseases, kidney, liver or abdominal damage and various cancers.

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Kansas Drops Crash Victims' Parents from Lawsuit

Kansas is dropping the parents of two sisters killed in a crash from a lawsuit seeking to recoup $116,832 for repairs to a highway barrier damaged in the wreck. The Kansas Department of Transportation said Thursday that “legal action to recover highway damages after accidents is routine” but that “in this case" it would remove the parents of 7-year-old Ruth Solome Vazquez-Hernandez and her 1-year-old sister, Teresa de Jesus Vazquez-Hernandez, from the case. It offered no explanation, but the announcement came one day after The Kansas City Star reported about the case. The agency had sued on the two-year anniversary of the crash.

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Kansas Senate Leader Sought Ambassadorship, Help from Trump Ally

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Republican lawmaker in Kansas who is running for the U.S. Senate sought an ambassadorship in 2018. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita said it was “an excellent time” to leave state politics and enlisted help from billionaire casino mogul Phil Ruffin. He is a close friend of President Donald Trump and Wagle listed him as a reference on a resume for the White House only 10 days after voting for a bill that would have benefitted Ruffin's business interests in Kansas. Wagle was interested in serving in posts that included ambassador to Ireland.

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Former Johnson County Official Tapped to Run 2020 Elections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab has appointed a former Johnson County election commissioner to return to her old job to oversee this year's elections in the states most populous county before a new deputy takes over the reins of the election office in 2021.  The announcement Friday notes Connie Schmidt previously served as the county's top election official between 1995 and 2004. She has owned an election consulting business providing services to local, state and federal entities. Fred Sherman was appointed deputy election security commissioner for 2020 and will become Johnson County election commissioner by January 4, 2021.

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Topeka Man Enters Plea in Triple Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who was forced to participate in the killing of his good friend to save his own life during a deadly violent rampage has pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder. WIBW reports that 22-year-old Shane Andrew Mays also pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated battery in the March 2017 attack in a Topeka drug home. Police said 19-year-old Matthew Leavitt, 38-year-old Nicole Fisher and 20-year-old Luke Davis were strangled or smothered to death over an unproven rape allegation against Leavitt. Four others previously entered pleas, including Joseph Krahn, who was sentenced to three life terms.

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