Kansas House Approves Extra Higher Ed Dollars, Pay Raises
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are close to approving pay raises for state workers and extra funds to partially reverse past spending cuts on state university campuses. The House approved a bill Thursday that would add millions of dollars in new spending to budgets approved by lawmakers last year for the state's current fiscal year and the next fiscal year beginning in July. The vote was 98-23. The Senate's approval Thursday night or Friday would send the measure to Republican Governor Jeff Colyer. The bill provides an additional $15 million to state universities to undo most cuts made in their operating budgets in 2016. State workers would get at least a 2.5 percent pay raise. Uniformed corrections officers and employees who did not get a raise last year would receive 5 percent.
Spring Storm Topples Trees, Power Lines in Kansas, Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A spring storm churned up strong winds and at least one tornado Wednesday evening that toppled trees and power lines in eastern Kansas and the Kansas City area. National Weather Service Meteorologist Ryan Cutter says the confirmed tornado was small and touched down briefly in Belton, Missouri. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were reported in several locations in and Missouri. Wind gusts topped 80 mph in La Cygne, Kansas about 65 miles south of Kansas City. The National Weather Service in Topeka says another round of severe thunderstorms is possible this (THUR) afternoon across east central and northeast Kansas. The storms are most likely to move across the region between mid-afternoon and early evening. Some of those storms may produce large hail, damaging winds, heavy rainfall and possibly a few tornadoes.
2 Low-Intensity Tornadoes Confirmed in Southwest Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a spring storm dropped two low-intensity tornadoes in southwest Missouri but no major damage was reported. National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griffin says the two tornadoes touched down early Thursday. An EF1 tornado about 100 yards wide stayed on the ground north of Ozark for about a mile, causing mostly cosmetic damage to homes. Griffin told The Springfield News-Leader the same storm produced an EF0 tornado a few minutes later southwest of Rogersville. That tornado damaged several trees, outbuildings and a barn. At least one tornado was reported Wednesday night near Belton, in suburban Kansas City, causing no major damage. The weather service also confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down Wednesday night in Johnson County, Kansas, causing minor damage to trees and power lines. No injuries were reported from any of the tornadoes.
TV Footage Shows Missouri Police Apparently Beating Suspect
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City, Missouri police are investigating after two officers were recorded on video by a local television news helicopter apparently beating a carjacking suspect following a 30-minute car chase. Video shot from a KCTV news helicopter appears to show the officers hitting and kneeing the man Wednesday while he's on the ground with his hands behind his back. After speeding through neighborhoods, sometimes driving the wrong way and on sidewalks, the man drove into a park in northeast Kansas City and fled on foot. He fell down and stayed on the ground. The video shows both officers appearing to knee the suspect, and one of them punches the man. The man was arrested and taken to a hospital. A police statement said they are reviewing "whether the actions of the apprehending officers adhere to department policy."
Officer Shoots, Kills Man During Drug-Arrest Confrontation
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Kansas, police officer shot and killed an armed man during a drug-arrest confrontation. Police say the shooting occurred Wednesday evening during a narcotics investigation. The Kansas City Star reports police haven't identified the man. But an attorney says the victim was Manuel Palacio. Attorney Tom Porto says he represented Palacio in an excessive force lawsuit against Kansas City, Missouri, police in 2014. Palacio won a $300,000 settlement in that case. Porto says he has been in contact with Palocio's family since the shooting. The officer who shot Palacio is a 21-year veteran of the department. He is on administrative leave, which is typical after fatal shootings. Police Chief Terry Zeigler says no officers involved in the confrontation were injured.
Kansas Lawmakers Revive Bill on Faith-Based Adoption Groups
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas are trying to break a political stalemate over a bill granting legal protections to faith-based adoption agencies that won't place children in LGBT homes. House and Senate negotiators Thursday drafted a new version of a bill that would prevent the state from barring agencies from providing adoption services if they refuse to place children in homes violating their religious beliefs. The Senate passed an earlier version in March but it has stalled in the House. Supporters hoped both chambers could vote on the new version Thursday, with the House going first. The debate in Kansas occurred as Oklahoma legislators considered a similar proposal. LGBT-rights advocates hope to stop both states' measures and view them as sanctioning discrimination. Supporters argue that they're religious freedom measures.
Kansas Lawmakers Advance New Spending Proposals
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers have advanced proposals to restore some past spending cuts for state universities and give pay raises to state employees. House and Senate negotiators wrapped up their work Wednesday evening on spending legislation. The bill would make dozens of changes in $16 billion-plus budgets approved last year for the state's current fiscal year and the next fiscal year beginning in July. The measure would provide an additional $15 million for higher education to reverse a majority but not all cuts made in university operating budgets in 2016. The bill would give state employees at least a 2.5 percent pay raise. Employees who didn't receive a raise last year would get 5 percent. Both chambers are expected to consider the measure today (THUR).
Kansas Lawmakers Looking to Cut Income Taxes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are looking to cut income taxes between $70 million and $85 million a year because some individuals and corporations would otherwise pay more to the state following changes in federal tax laws. House and Senate negotiators agreed Wednesday evening on the details of tax-cutting legislation. Their measure could be considered in both chambers today (THUR). The negotiators agreed that Kansas filers should be allowed to claim itemized deductions on their state tax forms even if they don't itemize on their federal forms. They can't do that now. The federal changes last year limited some deductions and raised the federal standard deduction. That would cause fewer Kansans to itemize on their state forms. The negotiators also agreed on changes in business taxes aimed at avoiding a "windfall" in state revenues.
Kansas Governor Helps Former Criminals Seeking State Jobs
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has issued an executive order to prevent former criminals from automatically being disqualified for many state jobs. The order signed Wednesday by Colyer will prevent state agencies from requiring people seeking jobs to disclose on their applications whether they've been convicted of a crime. Colyer said the order is designed to help people who've been convicted of crimes find work after they've been released from prison or jail so that they are less likely to commit new crimes. The National Employment Law Project says 31 states have "ban the box" policies in government hiring. Colyer's order still will allow agencies to ask about an applicant's criminal history during an interview, and it would not apply to positions that cannot legally be held by convicted criminals.
FBI Investigating Potential Hate Crime in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The FBI says it is investigating a potential hate crime at a community college after a female Muslim student reported falling down stairs after being hit in the face. The incident at Metropolitan Community College's Penn Valley Campus in Kansas City happened April 3. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said in a statement Wednesday the agency is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man involved. The student reported to police that she was walking in a stairwell of the humanities building when she heard a male make a derogatory statement. She turned and was hit in the face, which caused her to fall. The incident occurred on "Punish a Muslim day," when anonymous letters in London offered points for violence or intimidation against Muslims.
LGBT-Rights Group's Ad on Kansas Adoption Bill Scrutinized
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group representing some of the tech industry's biggest names, including Apple and Google, isn't happy that an LGBT-rights group listed member companies in a newspaper ad attacking Kansas legislation on faith-based adoption agencies. The bill would prevent agencies from losing state contracts or grants if they refuse to place children in LGBT homes or other homes that violate their religious beliefs. Supporters distributed the internal TechNet email Wednesday in the House. The email said the Human Rights Campaign didn't have TechNet's approval to list its 80-plus members in a newspaper ad. The ad highlighted a TechNet letter calling the bill discriminatory. The email said publishing members' names was a "major" breach of trust. TechNet's president reiterated its strong opposition to the bill in a follow-up email.
Emergency Medical Technician Charged with Drug Tampering
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials say an emergency medical technician from Jackson County, Kansas, is charged with stealing morphine from ambulances or offices. The U.S. Attorney's office said in a news release that 32-year-old Colby Vanwagoner, of Mayetta, is charged with two counts of tampering with consumer products and one count of making a false statement to federal investigators. A grand jury indictment returned April 26 and unsealed Wednesday alleges the crimes occurred when Vanwagoner was working for the Jackson County Emergency Medical Service in Holton. Prosecutors say Vanwagoner would replace morphine with saline solution and return the vials to narcotic boxes. The concentration of morphine in some vials was 1 percent or less. Online court records do not name an attorney for Vanwagoner.
23-Year-Old American Black Bear at Topeka Zoo Dies
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka Zoo officials say a 23-year-old American black bear died after an eye condition rapidly deteriorated. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the bear, called Sneak, possibly poked herself in the eye while playing with a stick on Monday. Topeka spokesman Molly Hadfield says injury quickly grew worse and the bear was taken to a veterinary hospital Wednesday. Sneak quit breathing as she was being intubated and her heart stopped. Hadfield says the bear didn't respond to emergency drugs or resuscitation efforts. Sneak arrived at the Topeka Zoo in 1996 from Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria, Illinois, with her sister Peek, who died in 2015. In 2014, the zoo rescued two orphaned black bears and Hadfield says Sneak became the cubs' adopted mother.
Police: Body in Car Might Be Kansas Woman Missing More Than 2 Years
MERIDEN, Kan. (AP) — Jefferson County authorities say a body found in a submerged car might be that of a woman who disappeared two and a half years ago. Sheriff Jeff Herrig says the body was found Wednesday inside a vehicle belonging to 70-year-old Joan Reber, a Meriden woman who was reported missing in September 2015. The car was pulled from a pond less than 1.5 miles from the VFW post where Reber was last seen. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported a landowner noticed the corner of a vehicle sticking out of the pond and a dive team was called. The license plate number matched one belonging to Herrig. Herrig says a positive identification hasn't been made. But he added the discovery was going to be a relief for everyone involved in trying to find Reber.
Man Stunned After Attempting Sex with Car in Kansas
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an extremely intoxicated man who was attempting to have sex with the tailpipe of a car in central Kansas was subdued with a stun gun after he refused to stop. Newton Lt. Scott Powell says the 24-year-old was taken to an emergency room Tuesday because of his life threateningly high .35 blood alcohol level and possible drug use. Powell says the man had a possible head injury and "was completely oblivious to everyone standing around and telling him to stop." Powell says the man is expected to be released from the hospital Thursday. Police submitted a report to city prosecutors recommending a misdemeanor charge of lewd and lascivious behavior. Nothing had been filed as of Thursday.
IHOP Fires Server over Racial Slur on Customer's Receipt
GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — A pancake restaurant chain has fired a black server at a suburban Kansas City restaurant after she printed a racial slur on a black customer's receipt. The Kansas City Star reports that IHOP President Darren Rebelez said in an email that the server's action last month at a restaurant in Grandview, Missouri, was "inexcusable." The 19-year-old customer's mother posted a photo of the receipt to social media. IHOP is run by International House of Pancakes LLC. The company is among several U.S. food chains to come under scrutiny because of the way black people were treated. In March, the company apologized after a waitress in Auburn, Maine, asked black teenagers to pay upfront for a meal. IHOP has more than 1,750 locations worldwide.
2 Arrested After Man's Body Found in Wichita Home
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two men have been arrested after a man's body was found in a Wichita home. Jail records show that the 29-year-old and 64-year-old suspects were booked Wednesday on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter. One of the suspects also is jailed on suspicion of possessing drugs and stolen property. Wichita police Officer Charley Davidson said only that the victim had "some injuries." No other details were immediately released, including the man's name.
2 Suspects Arrested in Shooting of Wichita Menards Employee
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Both suspects in the shooting of a loss prevention officer at a Wichita Menards store are in custody. Police spokesman Charley Davidson said an 18-year-old male was arrested Wednesday in Hays. Details of the arrest were not immediately released. A 17-year-old girl was arrested Tuesday after crashing a stolen Mercedes in Derby. Police began searching for them after the employee was shot Monday in northwest Wichita. Investigators say the employee confronted the two after seeing them leave the store without paying for a home security system. At some point, the male allegedly drew a gun and shot him. The employee was treated and released at a Wichita hospital. The female suspect was hospitalized Tuesday and later booked into a juvenile detention center on possible charges of aggravated battery, auto theft and fleeing.
Kansas Wheat Harvest Expected to Fall Far Short of Year Ago
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Participants in this year's Kansas winter wheat tour are forecasting a far smaller harvest this season in the state. The group estimated on Thursday the size of the Kansas wheat crop at 243.3 million bushels based on conditions they observed during the three-day tour. If realized, that would be far smaller than the 333.6 million bushels cut last year in Kansas. Scouts also forecast an average yield statewide of 37 bushels per acre. That is well under the 48 bushels per acre average for wheat harvested in 2017. Aaron Harries is the marketing director for the industry group Kansas Wheat. He says the take-away is that the wheat is short in stature and it is going to be short in bushels.
Former Suburban Kansas City Teacher Charged with Sex Crimes
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A former suburban Kansas City teacher and swim coach has been charged with sex crime with seven youths. The U.S. attorney's office says the nine-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday after 53-year-old James Russell Green, of Blue Springs, Missouri, made his first appearance. He remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing. Green was formerly a teacher at Oak Park High School and several middle schools in the North Kansas City School District and at Blue Springs South High School. Green was also a head swimming coach in those school districts and at Hallbrook Country Club in Leawood, Kansas. Court documents allege that Green produced images and videos of child pornography and engaged or attempted to engage in sexual encounters with several minor victims on numerous occasions over a 20-year period.