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Headlines for Saturday, January 18, 2020

Advocates' Hopes High For Kansas Medical Marijuana Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers expect this year to have their most serious debate so far on medical marijuana. They're fueling high hopes for advocates who've been stymied by state's prohibitionist roots and a Republican-controlled Legislature. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has said she would sign a bill. A House committee has committed itself to reviewing the issue, and its members had a brief, informal debate in the year's first meeting earlier this week. Legislators in both parties concede that they're being forced to consider the issue more seriously because conservative neighbors Missouri and Oklahoma legalized the medical use of marijuana through ballot initiatives.

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Three Named Finalists for Kansas Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A  Kansas Court of Appeals judge, a Lawrence attorney and a veteran prosecutor now working for the attorney general's office are finalists for a state Supreme Court seat. A lawyer-led state nominating commission on Friday sent the candidates' names to Governor Laura Kelly. She has until March 17th to pick one. The finalists are Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Malone, Lawrence attorney Keynen Wall and Steven Obermeier, who worked three decades as a Johnson County prosecutor before becoming assistant state solicitor general in 2017. A seat on the seven-member court is open because former Chief Justice Lawton Nuss retired.

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Wichita Property Managers Ordered to Pay $160,000 for Sex Harassment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Department of Justice says a Wichita property manager accused of inappropriately touching female tenants and repeatedly asking them for sex will pay $160,000 in damages and penalties under a settlement. The federal lawsuit alleged Thong Cao sexually harassed tenants since at least 2009 at rental properties he owned or operated in Wichita. His wife was also named in the lawsuit because she owned or co-owned some of the properties. The consent order filed Friday requires them to pay $155,000 to 11 former tenants and a $5,000 civil penalty. It also bars them from managing residential properties in the future.

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Moody's: Wichita Layoffs Threaten Government Tax Revenues

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Moody's Investors Service says that layoffs at Spirit AeroSystems are “credit negative” for the city of Wichita, Sedgwick County and local communities because the workforce reduction threatens retail sales. That lowers sales tax revenues that support government budgets. The credit rating service said Friday that most local governments in the Wichita area would be able to weather a short-term economic slowdown stemming from the layoffs. However, it anticipated that workers will move out of the area if the lower staffing at Spirit and other suppliers continues for an extended time.

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Wichita Infant Dies After Alleged Abuse by Father

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 2-month old boy who was injured along with his twin sister has died. Wichita police spokesman Charley Davidson says Marrell Williams died Thursday. His twin sister was also hospitalized with a healing broken femur. The children's father, Marlin Williams, was charged earlier this week with three counts of aggravated battery. KAKE-TV reports authorities say the case will be presented to the district attorney's office for upgraded charges. The children were found injured at their Wichita home last Friday.  In a second, unrelated case, a 9-month-old Wichita girl who was also injured last Friday died on Wednesday.

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Leavenworth Murder Trial Postponed after New Evidence Surfaces

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old Leavenworth man's murder trial in the Christmas 2017 death of a Kansas City man has been postponed. Ramaun Johnson was scheduled to go to trial January 27th on a felony murder charge but a request for a continuance was granted Wednesday. Johnson is charged in the death of Shavar Walker, of Kansas City, who was shot outside a Leavenworth apartment complex. Prosecutors are not necessarily alleging that Johnson shot Walker, but that he was involved in a drug deal that led to Walker's death. Johnson's attorney said Wednesday a possible co-defendant has been identified but the person has not been charged.

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KC Hit-and-Run Driver Critically Injures Pedestrian

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a hit-and-run driver has critically injured a pedestrian in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say a pickup-truck driver left the scene before officers responded Friday morning. The injured pedestrian is receiving treatment at a hospital. The crash is under investigation.

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