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Headlines for Saturday, July 18, 2020

Kansas Congressman Forced to Leave Committees after Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A freshman Kansas congressman facing felony criminal charges over previously listing a UPS Inc. postal box as his residence on a state voter registration form has been forced to temporarily give up his House committee assignments. Republican Representative Steve Watkins said Friday that he is “temporarily and voluntarily” leaving the three committees on which he serves. But the House Republican conference’s rules require members facing a potential felony conviction to leave their committee posts. He is accused of voting illegally in a Topeka City Council race in November 2019 and providing false information to a sheriff’s deputy who was investigating whether he broke state election laws.

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Kansas Faces Push to Reopen Schools Amid Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ Republican-controlled state school board is facing pressure from conservatives to scuttle Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s plan to delay the reopening of K-12 schools, even as a resurgence in coronavirus cases intensifies. The 10-member State Board of Education can block Kelly’s plan under a law enacted last month. Kelly plans to issue an order Monday to delay the reopening of schools from mid-August until after Labor Day. Senate President and conservative Wichita Republican Susan Wagle has called on people to urge the board to reject Kelly’s proposed delay. So has the small-government, free-market Kansas Policy Institute think tank. Seven board members are undecided.

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Kansas Reports Second 7-Day Spike in COVID-19 Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP)  Kansas is reporting more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in just two days.  the numbers reported yesterday (FRI) give the state its worst seven-day spike in new reported cases since the pandemic began.  the state has seen a resurgence in cases since mid-June that has grown increasingly intense this month.  The sate health department said Kansas has had almost 22,000 reported cases, up almost 5 percent since Wednesday.  The number of COVID-19-related deaths remained at 299.  Meanwhile, the Kansas City metro area reported more tha 400 new cases yesterday (FRI).  The Kansas City Star reports that it's the second highest increase in cases so far.

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Drug-Diluting KC Pharmacist to Remain Behind Bars

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City pharmacist who pleaded guilty in a scheme to dilute tens of thousands of prescriptions for seriously ill patients to boost profits won’t be released this week after all, according to U.S. lawmakers. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley said in a tweet that the U.S. Justice Department informed him Thursday that 67-year-old Robert Courtney would not be released. He said it was “the right call,” adding that “COVID-19 should not be an opportunity at jailbreak for violent offenders.” Courtney, whose own health is now failing, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in December 2002 and projected to be released in May 2027.  His potential release was part of a review by the Justice Department in response to the pandemic.

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Affadavit: Suspect Claimed to Empty "A Whole Clip' at Wichita Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man charged with shooting at police during protests last month told a co-worker that he “emptied a whole clip” on officers after his sister was hit with a rubber bullet while holding a baby. The Wichita Eagle reports that an arrest affidavit released Friday in the criminal case against 28-year-old Henry Parker says he admitted to the co-worker that he’d fired on officers early on June 2nd but told her “don’t tell on me." Parker has denied any involvement in the shooting. He is charged with 19 counts of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and three other counts.

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Body Found in Rural South-Central Kansas

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after the body of an elderly man was found in a rural area of south-central Kansas along with some bicyclist equipment. KAKE-TV reports that Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet said Friday afternoon that a man and a woman found the body while working on a fence southwest of Augusta. The body has not been identified. Herzet is asking anyone who knows of a missing bicyclist to contact law enforcement.

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