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Headlines for Saturday, May 23, 2020

GOP Tirade against Democratic Leader Caps Kansas Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A marathon legislative session in Kansas ended early Friday with two Republican senators denouncing the Democratic leader who accused them of racism over their treatment of the state’s Hispanic labor secretary. The dispute stems from an email Anthony Hensley of Topeka sent Wednesday to Senators Gene Suellentrop and Rob Olson after they berated Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia during a May 14th meeting about the unemployment system. Suellentrop called it a “vile, vulgar accusation.” Olson says the Senate should discipline Hensley. Hensley sat silently through the criticism and left shortly after the session ended.


Unemployment Numbers Up as Kansas Takes Major Reopening Step

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas took a major step toward reopening Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic as unemployment numbers soared and a nursing home outbreak grew. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 11.2% in April, an increase from a historical low of 2.8% in March, according to preliminary estimates from the Kansas Department of Labor. The U.S. unemployment rate is at 14.7%. Seasonally adjusted job estimates indicate total Kansas nonfarm jobs decreased by 130,400 from March. Private sector jobs, a subset of total nonfarm jobs, decreased by 121,600 from the previous month, while government decreased by 8,800 jobs.


Kansas Lawmakers Okay Barring COVID Suits, Curbing Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans have pushed a big package through the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature that would shield businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits. The bill they approved Friday also would shift control of the state’s pandemic response from Democratic Governor Laura Kelly to legislative leaders. The sweeping bill was approved by votes of 27-11 in the Senate and 76-34 in the House. The measure reflects Republicans' view that Kelly is reopening the state's economy too slowly and has been too aggressive with restrictions. Kelly accused GOP lawmakers of trying to “cram” proposal through the Legislature and Democrats were skeptical of the provisions protecting businesses.


Ruling: Kansas Sheriff Not Immunity from Lawsuit

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a Kansas sheriff is not entitled to immunity from a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed black man who was shot in the back following a police chase. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay is county official, and that unlike state officials he is not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity when sued in his official capacity. The decision comes in lawsuit filed by the family of Matthew Holmes, a 24-year-old black man, who died after McPherson County sheriff's deputy shot him during a 2017 arrest.


Man Being Held in Emporia Jail Dies in Cell

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas state police are investigating the death of a man being held on charges in the Lyon County Jail in Emporia. Station KVOE reports that 72-year-old Harold Gillen was found slumped over in the bottom bunk of his cell early Friday by guards performing a routine check. Gillen had been held at the jail since March 27th awaiting a pretrial hearing on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Officials say jail staff performed CPR on Gillen until medics arrived at the jail and took over, but Gillen was pronounced dead around 2:30 a.m. Friday. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating Gillen's death.


Chancellor: KU Faces $120 Million Shortfall

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod says the university faces a shortfall amounting to more than a quarter of its general operating budget after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close its campuses. The Lawrence Journal-World reported Thursday the $120 million shortfall stems from losses in research dollars, event fees and student housing and dining revenue. Girod said “all options must be on the table.” Those include sweeping vacant position budgets, using reserve funds and keeping in place a hiring freeze. He also hinted furloughs and layoffs are likely after the new fiscal year begins July 1st.


Car Crashes Into House in Kansas City Suburb

WESTWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two of three people in a car that crashed into a Kansas City area home were taken to a hospital with injuries. The crash happened before dawn Friday morning in Westwood,  sparking a fire that damaged the home. Firefighters and medics were sent to the home to put out the fire and attend to those injured. Police say the incident began when an officer tried to pull over the car, and the car's driver lost control and hit the house. Police say all three people who were in the vehicle were arrested. No one inside the home at the time of the crash was injured.


Two Arrested in Wichita Shooting that Left 1 Dead, 1 Injured

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two people have been arrested after a shooting that left one man dead and one in critical condition. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says the shooting Thursday at an apartment complex happened when the two victims and the two suspects met for a drug deal. 20-year-old Missy Barber and 18-year-old Preston Reynolds are being held Friday on possible charges of first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Davidson says a 21-year-old man died and a 19-year-old was critically injured. Reynolds was taken into custody after he went to a hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Barber was not injured during the shooting.


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