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Headlines for Thursday, August 23, 2018

Kansas Governor's Task Force Supports Medicaid Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A task force created by Governor Jeff Colyer is recommending that the Kansas Legislature expand Medicaid to include an estimated 150,000 uninsured Kansans. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Thursday's vote by the task force would expand Medicaid with a focus on helping people with substance abuse problems. State Senator  Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican, says an estimated one-third of people eligible for expanded Medicaid have addiction issues. The Legislature voted last year to broaden eligibility for Medicaid but then-Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed it. Colyer, who replaced Brownback, also opposed expanding Medicaid. Colyer lost the GOP primary for governor to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who said Thursday he also opposes expanding Medicaid. The Democratic nominee for governor, Laura Kelly, and independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman support increasing Medicaid eligibility in Kansas.

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Kansas Independent Candidate Orman Will Stay on the Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate Greg Orman's campaign manager says he expects Democrats to file a lawsuit to remove Orman from the ballot in the Kansas governor's race. Campaign manager Tim Phillips said Thursday he would be shocked if a lawsuit wasn't filed after a state board rejected most claims in an objection to Orman's candidacy filed by a Democratic legislative leader's chief of staff. The board's decision Thursday means Orman remains on the ballot. Attorney Pedro Irigonegary represented the legislative aide and said a lawsuit is possible but a decision has not been made. The objection questioned how Orman's campaign collected at least 4,000 signatures on petitions for his spot on the Nov. 6 ballot. He needed 5,000 from registered voters, and the secretary of state's office validated more than 7,700.
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3:55 p.m.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state board in Kansas is keeping independent candidate Greg Orman on the ballot in the governor's race. The State Objections Board on Thursday rejected a challenge filed by a Democratic legislative leader's aide. The Democrat had argued that questions about how Orman gathered the signatures of registered voters were grave enough to warrant removing him from the November 6 ballot. Orman needed the signatures of 5,000 registered voters, and counties validated about 7,700. The objection raised questions about how at least 4,000 were collected. The board was made up of representatives of the secretary of state, the attorney general and the lieutenant governor. All are Republicans and Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the GOP nominee for governor. Many Democrats fear Orman's bid will help Kobach.

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Kansas Plans to Keep Troubled KanCare Contractor and Pay Company More Money

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas plans to extend a contract with a business that processes Medicaid applications despite years of complaints about its performance.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the company, Maximus, will be paid more, even though the company will be doing less work, because the state will begin processing some Medicaid applications next year.  The Wichita Eagle reports department secretary Jeff Andersen told lawmakers Tuesday that the state doesn't plan to sue Maximus for not meeting its obligations under the current contract but Maximus has agreed to provide up to $10 million in concessions.  After several lawmakers questioned the decision to extend the contract, Anderson said the state isn't in a position to bring in new contractors in January, when Maximus' current contract expires. And he said the state isn't able to immediately begin processing Medicaid applications.

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Independent Upends Kansas Governor's Race Against Kobach

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats horrified by the thought that provocative conservative Kris Kobach could be Kansas' next governor are attacking a Kansas City-area businessman.  Greg Orman is running as an independent and his candidacy could thwart Democrats' ambitions and help elect the Republican.  Democrats' reaction to Orman contrasts sharply with their embrace of him during his U.S. Senate run in 2014. His campaign garnered national attention. Orman expects to tap discontent with the two major parties to become his red state's first independent governor.  Outside his camp, Orman is seen as a spoiler battling for the same votes that the Democratic nominee needs from GOP moderates and unaffiliated voters.

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Federal Judge Says US Government Owes Kansas $142M

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge says Kansas is owed $142 million and five other states millions more for costs paid to help finance former President Barack Obama's health care law. But Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement Wednesday that Kansas shouldn't count on getting the money soon because an appeal is likely. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the case involves a fee that the federal government levies on insurance companies to subsidize the cost of discount insurance provided through federal and state exchanges. States were exempted, but private insurers that administer Medicaid programs in states like Kansas weren't. Kansas and the other five states challenged a requirement that they reimburse the managed care contractors by building the cost of the fee into the rates paid to the companies.

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Lawrence Police Officer Charged in Man's Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence police officer is being charged after shooting a man during what started as a traffic stop. Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announced Thursday that he charged officer Brindley Blood with aggravated battery in the May 29 shooting of Akira Lewis. Lewis is also charged with four counts, including battery on a law enforcement officer. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Lewis was pulled over by officer Ian McCann during a seat-belt enforcement campaign. Branson said Lewis would not cooperate and Blood responded when McCann called for backup. Lewis allegedly began hitting McCann and during the confrontation, Blood discharged her weapon, hitting Lewis. Blood is on administrative leave. The Lawrence police department said Thursday it is conducting an internal review to determine if any department policies were violated.

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Topeka Man Guilty in 18-Year-Old's Shooting Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An 18-year-old Topeka man accepted a plea deal in the shooting death of another man during a drug deal.  Lamero Dunstan pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and related charges in the death of 18-year-old Justice Mitchell last summer.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports attorneys will recommend that Dunstan spend more than 27 months in prison.  Investigators say Shayden Byrd brought Dunstan along to a meeting that was supposed to be a marijuana deal but that Byrd intended to rob Mitchell of the drugs. Dunstan shot Mitchell twice during the transaction.  Byrd is serving five years in a juvenile center after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and other charges.

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Affidavit: Man Molested Girl with Developmental Disability

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Court records say a 39-year-old man sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl with a developmental disability.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the affidavit released this week in the case against 39-year-old Steven Capps says another adult caught Capps in a room with the girl and called police. The affidavit says the girl used anatomical diagrams to explain what happened and "indicated she was not a willing participant." The affidavit says Capps admitted to police that he removed the girl's clothing and touched her inappropriately but denied raping her.  He is jailed on $250,000 bond on two counts of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy.

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2 Charged in Graduation Night Shooting Outside Kansas Church

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Two men have been charged in a shooting that erupted after a high school graduation at a church in suburban Kansas City, Kansas.  The May 17 shooting wounded two people, including a newly graduated student, outside the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. Hundreds of people attended the ceremony for graduates of Center High School in Kansas City, Missouri.  Police said the shooting erupted during a fight and that more than a dozen shell casings were found at the scene.  Leawood police say 21-year-old Damon Gwinn was charged Tuesday with one count of aggravated battery. Twenty-year-old Rasheed Henderson has been charged with fleeing and eluding police.  Gwinn's bond is set at $250,000 and Henderson's is set at $100,000.

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Topeka Man Bound over for Trial in Fatal Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has rejected a 21-year-old Topeka man's claim of self-defense in the fatal shooting of another man.  Zachary Buck-Schrag was seeking immunity from prosecution, claiming he shot 37-year-old Travis Larsen in self-defense in January.  Shawnee County District Judge Mark Braun rejected the motion Wednesday and bound Buck-Schrag over for trial on four counts, including first-degree murder.  Buck-Schrag contended Larsen and another man threatened him and a friend by flashing an ammunition clip and making unfriendly remarks. Buck-Schrag said he showed the people in the other car a gun as Larsen's car pursued his. Eventually, Larsen's car hit Buck-Schrag's vehicle and Buck-Schrag fired four times, hitting Larsen in the head.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Buck-Schrag pleaded not guilty. Wednesday's ruling doesn't prevent Buck-Schrag from claiming self-defense in his trial.

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Sheriff: 68 Pounds of Meth Found After Traffic Stop

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — A traffic stop in northeast Kansas led to the discovery of 68 pounds of methamphetamine.  Dickinson County Sheriff Gareth Hoffman said a county drug unit stopped a truck pulling a U-Haul near Abilene on Monday.  KSAL reports a drug dog alerted to the vehicle and a search of the U-Haul found the meth, with a street value of $1 million.  Hoffman says 35-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia, of Southgate, California, was arrested and faces numerous charges including the possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

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Salina Catholic Diocese Installs New Bishop

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salina officially has a new bishop. The Most Reverend Jerry Vincke was installed Wednesday as the 12th bishop of the Salina Diocese. Pope Francis appointed Vincke to the position in June, when Vincke was pastor of Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Vincke succeeds Bishop Edward Weisenburger, who became bishop in Tucson, Arizona last September. He will oversee 31 counties in north-central Kansas that include 86 parishes, 11 Catholic elementary schools and five Catholic high schools. The diocese's Catholic population is more than 44,300. In response to recent revelations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania, Vincke told The Salina Journal that it's important to acknowledge what happened, support the victims and work hard to ensure it doesn't happen again.

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KBI Investigating Allegations Against Employees of Phillips County Sheriff's Office

PHILLIPSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating an allegation against a former northwest Kansas sheriff's department employee.  The Phillips County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that Sheriff Charles Radabaugh and Undersheriff Gary Stephen become aware of allegations against a former employee a couple of weeks ago. The post says they asked a deputy to investigate but that the deputy also was implicated in the allegation within an hour. The office then asked the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for assistance. The post provided no details on the nature of the allegation.  The post says KBI agents have interviewed witnesses. It says that if the allegations are true, the appropriate personnel action will be taken and the case will be forwarded to the county prosecutor.

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2 Teens on Horseback Critically Hurt When Hit by Tow Truck

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two teenagers who were riding horses were critically injured when they were hit by a tow truck. The collision happened Wednesday evening near Augusta. KAKE-TV reports the patrol says the 70-year-old tow truck driver didn't see three people on horseback as he was crossing the Walnut River Bridge and struck two of them from behind. Eighteen-year-old Joshua Quezada and 14-year-old Piper Arnold are hospitalized in Wichita. Another 18-year-old on horseback and the truck driver were not injured.

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U.S. Energy Department: Wind Power Projects Continue to Grow

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the continued construction of wind-power generating stations is bringing down both the cost of building the installations and the price for wind-generated electricity.  The report released today (THUR) shows Texas leads the nation with 22 gigawatts of wind capacity, followed by Oklahoma, Iowa, California and Kansas with each at more than 5,000 megawatts.  A gigawatt is 1 billion watts of power, a megawatt is 1 million watts.  The report says wind energy provided 6.3 percent of the nation's electricity supply in 2017.  The average price for wind power has fallen from 7 cents per kilowatt hour in 2009 to about 2 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the average home in the U.S. uses 897 kilowatt hours per month.

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Man Sentenced for 5 Bank Robberies in 4 States

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison for robbing five banks in four states.  The U.S. Attorney's office said 21-year-old Dakota Shareef Walker was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to bank robberies in Kansas, Missouri, Wyoming and two in Idaho.  The robberies happened between November 2016 and January of 2017.  The banks robbed were in Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Evanston, Wyoming; and Malad City and Preston, Idaho.  In each robbery, Walker handed the tellers notes warning them not to activate any alarms or make any sudden moves before escaping with money.

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Man Accused of Up-the-Skirt Photography also Filmed Unsuspecting Victims at Church, Mall

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Court records say a Wichita State University student who's accused of taking more than a dozen up-the-skirt videos of women on campus also filmed unsuspecting people at a church and in a shopping mall parking lot.  The Wichita Eagle reports that a Sedgwick County judge released the affidavit Tuesday in the case against 29-year-old James Dayvault.  He's charged with six criminal counts, including sexual exploitation of a child. His defense attorney couldn't immediately be reached for comment.  The affidavit says Dayvault came under police scrutiny last summer after he was spotted placing his cellphone "inches away" from the buttocks of a bikini-clad girl who was playing with her cousin in a north Wichita neighborhood. The children were 5 and 7.  A search of Dayvault's cellphone and computer led to charges.

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White Security Guard Accused of Ordering "Trayvon Martini" Suspended

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A white, off-duty security guard in a bar and entertainment district in Kansas City has been suspended after he was accused of ordering a "Trayvon Martini" from a black bartender.  The security firm Chesley Brown International said in a statement that it opened an internal investigation and removed the guard upon learning of the allegations.  The issue gained attention after a bartender at the Buzzard Beach bar wrote on social media Monday that the guard described the martini ingredients as watermelon juice and one shot of vodka, explaining that "it only takes one shot to put him down!" It's an apparent reference to Trayvon Martin, the black teen fatally shot in 2012 in Florida.  The Westport Regional Business League, which subcontracts with Chesley Brown, said, "If true, it is reprehensible."

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Former Company Operator Sentenced for 'Rent-A-Vet' Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man who operated a construction company was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison without parole for participating in a "rent-a-vet" scheme to obtain millions of dollars in federal contracts. Fifty-three-year-old Jeffrey Wilson, of Belton, was sentenced Thursday and ordered to forfeit about $2.1 million to the government. Prosecutors say Wilson managed the operations of Patriot Company, a construction company. Wilson, who is not a veteran, and a co-defendant, 57-year-old Paul Salavitch, of Kansas City, falsely claimed that Salavitch, a disabled veteran, was involved in the daily operations of the company. That certification made the Patriot Company eligible for federal contracts. The company obtained 20 government contracts worth more than $13.7 million. Salavitch has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of making a false writing and awaits sentencing.

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Police in Wyoming Seek Church Sex-Abuse Victims Linked to Former Kansas City Priest

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Police in Wyoming say they're investigating claims of child sexual abuse following an internal investigation by local Roman Catholic Church officials. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne announced in July that a 2002 investigation by authorities was "flawed" and the diocese found that Bishop Joseph Hart sexually abused two boys in Wyoming. Cheyenne police spokesman Kevin Malatesta said Thursday investigators would like any church abuse victims to talk to investigators within the next month. Malatesta says police want to keep their investigation moving but will investigate any cases as they're reported. Wyoming law prohibits investigators from identifying suspects in sex abuse cases and police haven't implicated Hart. Hart denies the Wyoming allegations and previous claims involving several men in the Kansas City, Missouri, area that led to legal settlements.

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Kansas City Man Charged with Arson in Fire That Injured 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with starting a house fire that injured his father and estranged wife. Thirty-seven-year-old Brandon West was charged Wednesday in Clay County with first-degree arson in the Tuesday night fire. Bond is set at $100,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court records say West's father told police that he walked out to the garage after hearing a bang and found West pouring gasoline onto the floor. The father said West started ranting about his estranged wife and current girlfriend before he used a match on the gasoline. Carpeting also was set on fire. West's wife was trapped in an upstairs bedroom as the fire spread. Neighbors helped her escape through a window. Two dogs died in the fire.

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Washington State to Fight Trump's Coal Plant Plan

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state plans to sue the Trump administration over its proposal to dismantle Obama-era pollution rules that would have increased federal regulation of emissions of coal-fired power plants.  Inslee, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency plan threatens lives and is also illegal.  Assistant Attorney General Bill Sherman says the state will sue but must first wait for the rule to be formally proposed and finalized, which could take months. He expects other states will take part.  The EPA says its Affordable Clean Energy rule "empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation."  The state's only coal-fired power plant in Centralia is already scheduled to shut down by 2025.  Inslee said the state will move forward with its own actions regardless of what happens with that rule.

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