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Headlines for Thursday, January 11, 2018

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Winter Storm Causing Dangerous Roads Across Most of Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A winter storm is moving across Kansas, causing icy roads and cancellations as state officials warn drivers to stay off most roads. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning until noon for parts of central Kansas, with a winter weather advisory for east central, north central and northeast Kansas. Between 2 and 5 inches of snow was expected to fall near Topeka, with the heaviest amounts west of Hiawatha to Council Grove. The snow will be accompanied by strong winds and freezing temperatures. Most schools were closed and other activities also were cancelled. Numerous accidents and slide-offs were reported as temperatures dropped quickly and rain turned to ice. In Topeka, temperatures dropped more than 25 degrees in about four hours — from 45 about 5 a.m. to 20 near 9 a.m.


Colyer Leads Kobach in Fundraising in Kansas Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer raised more money than any candidate in the 2018 elections for governor, including Kris Kobach, who is generally considered the front-runner in the GOP race. Campaign finance reports show Colyer, a Republican, raised $632,068 in 2017. In campaign finance reports filed Wednesday, Kobach reported raising $354,732. Two other GOP candidates, Wichita businessman Willis Hartman and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, reported having more money but both men made substantial personal contributions to their campaigns. Greg Orman, a Johnson County businessman who is running as an independent, reported raising $452,931, mostly from outside contributions. Former Representative Josh Svaty of Ellsworth led fundraising in the Democratic race, with $192,545. Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka, who entered the race less than three weeks ago, reported raising $155,691.


Kansas Legislator Proposes Measure Ending Anonymous Bills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would end the Legislature's practice of bills being proposed that do not publicly name the sponsor, but some lawmakers say it is unlikely to pass. Lawmakers can keep their names off bills by introducing them through committees. During last year's session, 94 percent of bills passed had no named sponsor, The Kansas City Star reported. A proposal from Representative Stephanie Clayton, a Republican from Overland Park, would require bills introduced by a committee to include the name of the person who asked for it. The name would follow the bill through the legislative process. The Star reported earlier that more than 90 percent of the laws passed in the last decade stemmed from bills whose authors were anonymous, which means the public doesn't know who sponsored a bill or that person's motivation. Most states require that every bill contain the name of the lawmaker sponsoring it. Anonymous bills have been part of the Kansas legislative process for years, but some lawmakers have said they are used way too often.  "I want to make it so if you look up a bill online, you'll know who the requester is, and who asked for it," Clayton said. House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat running for governor, said the House Democratic caucus is planning several bills designed to improve transparency in the Legislature. But some lawmakers have defended the use of anonymous bills, saying bills proposed by an entire committee carry more weight because it indicates wider approval. Many lawmakers also argue that because their bills sometimes get amended or even replaced through a process known as "gut-and-go," they may not want their names associated with the final product. Gut-and-go allows lawmakers to strip the language in a bill that's usually already passed one chamber and replace it with a totally unrelated measure, then advance it with little or no debate. House Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, told The Star's editorial board last week that there would be "unintended consequences" if members started putting their names on bills that end up going through the gut-and-go process. Senate President Susan Wagle has said anonymity gives the legislation a better chance of passing. "If I want a bill passed, I always want it to be a committee bill," said Wagle, a Wichita Republican. "I don't want a name attached to it because there are people here who see a name on the bill and they vote against it if they have a personal vendetta that they want to carry out."


Kansas Governor Says He is Counting on Revenue Growth to Cover Boost in School Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -  Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is counting on growth in state revenues to pay for his proposal to boost spending on public schools. The budget proposals the governor released Wednesday stoked an open revolt among lawmakers. They believe they'll be forced to consider raising taxes or making deep cuts elsewhere after Brownback leaves office. Senate budget committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn called the governor's proposals "irresponsible." Brownback is proposing to phase in a $601 million increase in funding to public schools over five years to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost education funding. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said growing revenues from a strong national economy will cover the costs. The governor's proposed $16.8 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning in July balances without a tax increase.


Missouri Governor Admits Affair, Denies Blackmail Allegations

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Democratic Missouri Senate leaders say allegations of extortion or threats of violence arising after Governor Eric Greitens acknowledged he cheated on his wife must be investigated.  Senator Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors and Senator Kiki Curls of Kansas City said in a statement Thursday that questions remain about Greitens's affair.  The governor has denied accusations made by the woman's ex-husband that Greitens photographed her nude and threatened to publicize the images if she spoke about their affair.  Walsh and Curls said violence against women is unacceptable and that allegations of extortion, coercion or threats must be investigated.  "People accused of these egregious acts do not get to waive off the scrutiny of law enforcement simply because they are in a position of power; and victims of these crimes deserve our full support."

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Kansas City Church Elder Charged in Wife's Death

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An elder of a Kansas City, Missouri, church is charged with killing his wife, who was an associate pastor.  Johnson County, Kansas, authorities on Wednesday charged 30-year-old Robert Lee Harris with first-degree murder in the death of his wife of 18 months, 38-year-old Tanisha Harris.  Police say officers on Monday responded to the couple's Overland Park apartment about a domestic disturbance and returned when Harris reported that his wife was missing. Her body was found later in Raymore, Missouri.  The Kansas City Star reports that she was an associate pastor at Repairers Kansas City, a nondenominational church. Pastor Carlton Funderburke described the newlyweds as "loving" and said there were "no signs at all" of trouble.  Harris is being held on a $1 million bond and scheduled to appear in court Thursday. It's not clear if he has an attorney.


Suspect in Fatal Hoax Call in Wichita Arrives in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of making a hoax emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man has been brought to Kansas. Sedgwick County jail records show 25-year-old Tyler Barriss was booked into the jail Thursday on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. His bond was set at $500,000. Barriss had been held in the Los Angeles County jail since he was arrested December 29 in Los Angeles. Prosecutors allege Barriss made a call December 28 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping that led Wichita police to a home where 28-year-old Andrew Finch was shot and killed after opening his door. Barris has a history of making such hoax calls, which are sometimes called "swatting."


Fatal Kansas Swatting Call Suspect Accused of Canadian Call

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — A Los Angeles man accused of making a hoax emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of a Wichita man is charged with making a similar call in Canada days earlier. Police in Calgary, Alberta said that warrants have been issued for Tyler Barriss, 25, who is charged with public mischief and fraud. He's accused of calling authorities on December 22 and claiming that he had shot his father and was holding his mother and younger brother hostage. Officers descended on an apartment building and were evacuating people when a woman called police and said she believed she was the victim of "swatting." The term refers to a prank call in which a person makes up a false report to get a SWAT team to descend on an address. The woman walked out of her apartment unharmed and police were able to confirm the call was false. A similar bogus call on December 28 about a shooting and kidnapping led police in Wichita to rush to a home where Andrew Finch, 28, was shot and killed after opening his door. Police said the unarmed Finch was given commands to keep his hands raised, but he reached toward his waistline multiple times. Barriss is awaiting extradition from California to Kansas, where he is charged with making a false alarm. Calgary Police officials say it's unlikely that Barriss will be extradited to Canada, but that he would be arrested if he entered the country.


Judge Temporarily Blocks New Topeka Tobacco Ordinance 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County judge has temporarily blocked a new Topeka ordinance that banned tobacco sales to people younger than 21, citing potential conflicts between the ordinance and state law. Kansas law allows tobacco sales to people 18 and older. In December, the Topeka City Council barred people under 21 from purchasing tobacco products. The ban was scheduled to take effect Thursday. Two Topeka businesses on Wednesday sued the city over the ordinance. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the city is instructing employees not to enforce the ordinance until the legal questions are resolved. The Kansas Vapers Association, which supported the lawsuit, said the temporary injunction ensures Topeka businesses that sell tobacco won't lose money while the case is in court.  A hearing on the temporary injunction is set for February 1.


Topeka Man Pleads Guilty to 5 Bank Robberies in 4 States 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has pleaded guilty five bank robberies in four states. Federal prosecutors say 21-year-old Dakota Shareef Walker pleaded guilty Wednesday to robbing U.S. Bank branches in Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Evanston, Wyoming; and Malad City, Idaho. He also pleaded guilty to robbing a Wells Fargo Bank in Preston, Idaho. The robberies occurred between November 28, 2016, and January 9, 2017. In each case, Walker gave tellers a note warning not them not to activate any alarms or to make any sudden moves. Sentencing will be April 16. Prosecutors say all parties have agreed to recommend a sentence from 4 years to 8 years in federal prison.


Kansas Man Convicted in Confrontation at Federal Courthouse

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man has been convicted of fighting with and threatening law enforcement officers at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. A federal jury found 31-year-old James Everett, of Kansas City, Kansas, guilty of three charges arising from a confrontation in March 2016. Prosecutors say when Everett was about 10 yards from the courthouse entrance when he began yelling and demanding to speak to a federal judge. When four federal officers responded, Everett threatened to shoot the officers. Four federal officers and two Kansas City police officers were needed to restrain Everett. Three federal officers received medical treatment after the encounter. Investigators later found a handgun in Everett's car. Because he was a convicted felon, Everett was not allowed to own a weapon.


Kansas Woman Gets Probation After $200,000 Embezzlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who embezzled more than $200,000 from her Sedgwick County employer was sentenced to five years of probation and must make restitution. The Sedgwick County district attorney said 36-year-old Misty Leiker, of Maize, was sentenced Wednesday for embezzling from ERI Solutions in Colwich. She pleaded guilty earlier to felony theft, computer crime and unlawful use of a financial card. Prosecutors say Leiker, who was an accountant at the firm, used a company credit card account to make $209,666 in unauthorized purchases such as antiques, tools and household items between June 2016 and April 2017. Leiker could serve nearly three years in prison if she violates her probation. She made an initial payment of $15,000 toward restitution Wednesday and was ordered to make a minimum monthly payment of $500.


Children's Mercy Receives $150 Million from 2 Donors

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A project to build a new pediatric research tower at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City has received $150 million in donations from two prominent donors. The hospital broke ground Thursday on the tower construction. The Kansas City Star reports a $75 million donation from the Sunderland Foundation will go toward the estimated $200 million in construction costs, which will be paid through bonds and future fundraising. Another $75 million from the Hall Family Foundation will be used where needed, such as for construction or endowments to pay researchers. The project will build a mine-story facility where scientists will research childhood diseases. The project is expected to be completed by 2020 and will increase the hospital's research space from about 66,000 square feet to about 375,000.


Cats and Dogs Die in Wichita Fire but 2 Residents Escape

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Several dogs and cats died in a Wichita house fire but two residents managed to escape with minor injuries. The Wichita Eagle reports firefighter responded Wednesday afternoon to the fire, which caused several small explosions in a garage. Medics treated two residents for minor injuries, but firefighters weren't able to save two dogs and several cats. Neighbors say firefighters put an oxygen mask on at least one cat that escaped the house. About 10 pets lived in the home. Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief Lane Pearman says the fire probably started in the garage, where there were small explosions as items stored in that area caught fire. The fire destroyed the house.


Ex-Olathe Teacher Pleads Guilty to Relationship with Student 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former Olathe South High School teacher and coach has admitted to having a sexual relationship with a student. Michael Jasiczek pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to two federal charges involving having sex with a student over the age of 16. The Kansas City Star reports that prosecutors determined the relationship was consensual. But under state law, it is a felony for teachers and other school authorities to have sexual relationships with students at the same school. Jasiczek, a social science teacher and assistant football coach, was placed on administrative leave in May and was later fired. He was a teacher at Olathe South High School for more than a decade. He coached football, ran a weightlifting club and was called "Coach Jazz" by students and staff.


No Charges in Death of Woman Shot by St. Joseph Officer

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A St. Joseph police officer who shot and killed a woman will not face charges.  Buchanan County Prosecutor Dwight Scroggins said Wednesday the officer acted properly during the October death of 25-year-old Samantha Hennard, of St. Joseph.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports police were called to a disturbance involving a stolen vehicle. While officers were en route, they were told two people who were armed fled on foot.  A Missouri State Highway Patrol investigation found Brant Hutchison saw Hennard and ordered her to stop. Investigators say Hennard continued running and eventually turned and fired twice at Hutchison, who returned fire. Hennard was struck once and died at the scene.  Scroggins said Hutchison reasonably believed he needed to fire to protect himself and others from serious injury or death.


Kansas Community Sued over Woman's Death During Police Chase 

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — The family of a pregnant woman who died when the vehicle she was in was hit by a driver fleeing police is suing a suburban Kansas City community. The Kansas City Star reports the lawsuit against Prairie Village, Kansas was filed by the husband and two children of Denisse Lopez, who died in January 2016. The crash occurred in Overland Park when 23-year-old Raphael Sherman, of Shawnee, was trying to escape Prairie Village police. He ran a red light and hit the vehicle Lopez was riding in. The lawsuit alleges the chase was unsafe because of traffic conditions. Lopez's baby boy was successfully delivered before she died. Sherman is serving a prison sentence of more than 12 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Prairie Village City Administrator Wes Jordan said the city will not comment on the lawsuit.


2 Wichita Police Officers Face Criminal Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two officers have been charged in unrelated incidents that occurred in October. Police said in a news release that Officer Jax Rutledge is charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and criminal deprivation of property. Court documents say she clashed with her stepson and his girlfriend when they came to pick up belongings while moving out. The release says Officer Josh Price has been charged with misdemeanors and a felony. Court documents say Price accessed an electronic clearinghouse of crime data last year and engaged "in a course of conduct targeted at" two people. Both officers are on unpaid leave. Rutledge has been with the department nine years and Price 18 years. Police didn't immediately respond to an email asking whether the officers had attorneys.

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