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Headlines for Tuesday, December 4, 2018

New Kansas Governor Wants to Roll Back Cash Assistance Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor-elect Laura Kelly wants Kansas lawmakers to roll back a work requirement and other rules for cash assistance recipients. But new House Majority Leader and Wichita Republican Dan Hawkins said Tuesday that the idea is going to be difficult to sell to the GOP-controlled Legislature. Kelly has long been a critic of the tougher rules imposed during former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's administration. GOP lawmakers put Brownback's policies into state law in 2015 to make them harder to undo and tightened them in 2016. The rules include not only a work requirement for able-bodied adults but a lifetime limit on benefits of no more than 36 months. Kelly argues that the rules hurt poor families. Hawkins argues that the state is encouraging cash assistance recipients to become self-sufficient.

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Gunman Shoots Man, Then Chases Him to Hospital and Kills Him

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A gunman is suspected of wounding a man and a woman and chasing them 2 ½ miles to a Kansas hospital, where he fatally shot the man as he ran to the entrance. The gunman then took his own life, authorities say. Police said in a news release that the gunman apparently shot 28-year-old Dominic Garcia and an unidentified woman around 11:30 p.m. Monday in Kansas City, Kansas. Garcia then drove himself and the woman about 2 ½ miles to the University of Kansas Hospital with the gunman in pursuit. Upon arriving, Garcia ran to the secured main entrance, where he was shot again before the gunman shot himself. The victims were rushed inside for treatment but both men died. The hospital said in a news release that the woman's injuries aren't life-threatening. The name of the gunman wasn't immediately released. Police said it appeared that the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute, although no detail were provided. The hospital said no employees were hurt and the gunman never made it inside. The release said the hospital locks its entrance after 8 p.m., requiring anyone who enters after that time to pass through security. The hospital sent out an active shooter alert amid the melee but never ceased operating.

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President Trump Coming to Kansas City Friday for Conference on Crime

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — President Donald Trump is set to visit Missouri for a conference on crime.  According to the White House, Trump will speak Friday at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference in Kansas City.  Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is among U.S. Department of Justice leaders slated to speak at the conference. The White House says the event is expected to draw hundreds of law enforcement officials, prosecutors and others focused on cutting back on crime.  The George W. Bush-era Project Safe Neighborhoods faded during former President Barack Obama's administration. Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revived it last year.  Through the initiative, federal prosecutors have worked with local law enforcement agencies to target offenders in cases involving guns, drugs and gangs.

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Kansas Tax Collections $2.5 Million More than Expected in November

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting it collected $2.5 million more in taxes than expected in November and extended its streak of better-than-anticipated figures to 18 consecutive months.  It is the longest streak of better-than-expected tax collections in more than 50 years. An AP spreadsheet compiled from monthly reports shows the state hasn't seen such a streak since at least May 1966.  The Kansas Department of Revenue reported Monday that tax collections were $500 million last month. The state's official forecast predicted $497.5 million.  The monthly surplus was 0.5 percent.  The state revised its fiscal forecast in November. Tax collections since the current fiscal year began in July have totaled $2.7 billion.  Tax collections for the current fiscal year are $220 million ahead of the previous fiscal year's collections, up 8.9 percent.

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Kansas State Government Offices to Close Wednesday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas state government offices will close Wednesday to honor President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday.  Governor Jeff Colyer on Monday made December 6 a legal holiday and ordered state offices to close. Wednesday is also a national day of mourning.  Colyer served as a White House fellow under President Bush and President Ronald Reagan.  State offices also closed after the deaths of Presidents John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Reagan and Gerald Ford.  Many — but not all — state courts also will close Wednesday. The Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday gave judicial districts discretion to conduct court proceedings if they were needed. Anyone who has a court day scheduled Wednesday should check with the court to determine if it will be held.

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Republicans Replace Kansas House Majority Leader

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans in the Kansas House have elected a new, more conservative majority leader.   Representative Dan Hawkins of Wichita won a vote of GOP members and members-elect over moderate Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton. The vote was 48-35, with one member not voting and another absent.  Hawkins' election is likely to complicate Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly's efforts to pass her legislative agenda. She wants to expand the state's Medicaid health coverage for the needy, and Hineman backed the idea. Hawkins opposes Medicaid expansion.  Hineman has served as majority leader for the past two years. His election in 2016 signaled a resurgence of GOP moderates' strength.  But conservatives regained at least six seats at moderates' expense in this year's elections even though the partisan split in the House remained at 85-40.

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Kansas Sees LGBT Milestones, Yet Big Changes May Come Slowly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will swear in its first two openly LGBT state lawmakers next month and its new Democratic governor has expressed strong support for LGBT-rights measures.  In addition to these breakthroughs, LGBT-rights activists want to expand the state's anti-discrimination law covering landlords and private employers.  But Republicans still will have large majorities in the Legislature, and it will be a little more conservative after this year's elections.  Kelly's election prevents new laws that LGBT-rights advocates oppose, but they are likely to struggle to undo policies enacted in recent years when Republicans held the governor's office.

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2 Separate Animal Cruelty Cases Investigated in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating two cases of animal cruelty.  Officer Charley Davidson said Monday that a caller reported someone had slammed a small white dog onto the ground Sunday morning, and officers later found the dog dead.  Davidson says 19-year-old Cole Carter was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and carrying a concealed weapon.  In another case, 30-year-old Carlett McPherson was arrested during the weekend on suspicion of animal cruelty.  Davidson said on November 16, officers were told people were beating a dog with a tire iron. Three other dogs also allegedly were attacking the dog.  When police arrived, they separated three "aggressive dogs" with the help of animal control officers. The victim dog later died.  Wichita police are trying to contact another person involved in the second case.

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Lawsuit: Kansas "Ag-Gag" Law Violates Free Speech Fights

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Animal rights groups are challenging a Kansas law banning secret filming at slaughterhouses and other livestock facilities. At issue in the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday is the state's "Ag-Gag" law enacted in 1990. The law makes it a crime for anyone to take a picture or video at animal facilities without the owner's consent or to enter them under false pretenses. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Food Safety and others contend in their lawsuit that undercover operations expose unsafe and inhumane conditions. They argue such investigations are a crucial form of free speech. The Kansas attorney general's office said it will defend the statute against this lawsuit. Similar laws in Utah, Idaho and some other states have been struck down as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

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University of Kansas Campus to Be Wind-Powered by 2020

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has signed an agreement with Westar Energy to have its Lawrence campus powered nearly 100 percent by wind energy by 2020. The Kansas City Star reports the 20-year agreement is expected to lower the university's utility bills about 22 percent, from 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour to 1.8 cents. Kansas State and Washburn universities have signed similar agreements with Westar. The energy will come from the Soldier Creek Wind Farm northeast of Manhattan in Nemaha County. The wind farm is expected to be operating by 2020. The university says the Lawrence campus uses 130 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

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Mother Accused of Driving Car into River Pleads Not Guilty

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Missouri woman accused of driving her car into the Kansas River has pleaded not guilty in her daughter's drowning.  Scharron Dingledine, of Columbia, Missouri, pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Dingledine is accused of driving into the river near downtown Lawrence on August 3 in an effort to kill her children and herself.  Rescuers pulled Dingledine and her 1-year-old son, Elijah Lake, from the water soon but were not able to save her 5-year-old daughter, Amiyah Bradley. The child's body was recovered from the river the next day.  Dingledine was found competent in August to stand trial.  She remains in custody on $1 million bond.

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Lawsuit: Drill Bit Left During Repair Caused Cessna Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit filed against Textron Aviation alleges that a drill bit left during repair of a single-engine Cessna aircraft is responsible for the 2015 crash in Arkansas that caused minor injuries to the pilot and destroyed the new aircraft.  The complaint filed Friday by Mid-Continent Aircraft Corp. of Missouri and its insurer involves the purchase of a 2014 Cessna T206H Stationair TC aircraft for $712,290. During a test flight, a problem was found in a magneto, which fires the engine spark plugs. Cessna replaced it.  A month after Mid-Continent took possession of the aircraft, the plane lost power and crashed during takeoff from Piggott Municipal Airport in Arkansas.  The lawsuit alleges Textron refuses to pay for loss of the aircraft.  Textron did not immediately respond to message seeking comment.

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$1.3 Billion Award Upheld Against Racecar Driver over Payday Loans

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. appeals court has upheld a nearly $1.3 billion award against a pro racecar driver convicted of deceiving consumers with his payday loan business.  A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that information Scott Tucker's companies provided consumers did not accurately disclose the loans' terms.  The appeals panel also said a lower court did not abuse its authority when it ordered Tucker and other defendants to pay back nearly $1.3 billion in a case brought forward by the Federal Trade Commission.  An attorney for Tucker, Paul C. Ray, said he was reviewing the decision.  Tucker is from Leawood, Kansas and was sentenced in January in a related criminal case to more than 16 years in prison on fraud and other charges.

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Minnesota Man with 471 Pounds of Marijuana Sentenced

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Minnesota man was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for driving a load of 471 pounds of marijuana to Kansas.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said 40-year-old Mark Anthony Berg, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, was sentenced Monday for one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He will serve three years of probation after serving his sentence.  A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper stopped Berg's van in December 2017 on Interstate 70 in Ellsworth, Kansas.  Berg told the trooper he had been in Las Vegas and drove through Denver on his way back to Minnesota.  After a drug dog hit on the van, investigators and found the marijuana.

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Sentencing Date Set for Militia Members in Kansas Bomb Plot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new sentencing date has been set for next month in the case of the three Kansas militia members convicted of plotting to bomb a mosque and an apartment complex housing Somali immigrants.  A court filing Monday shows the hearing for Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen will be January 25 before U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita.  A federal jury in April convicted the three men of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was also found guilty of lying to the FBI.  The attack in the meatpacking town of Garden City was planned for the day after the 2016 general election. It was thwarted by another member of the group who tipped off authorities about escalating threats of violence.

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Teacher and Former Officer Pleads Guilty to Sex with Student

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — A 45-year-old former Maize teacher and law enforcement officer pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. Prosecutors said Johnny Yelverton pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of unlawful sexual relations. The Wichita Eagle reports an affidavit released earlier this year says Yelverton had sex with the female student in his classroom at Maize Career Academy and off campus between March and May 6, when the girl's mother and stepfather discovered their relationship. Yelverton was arrested May 7 and resigned from his teaching position four days later. He taught fire science and law and public safety courses to Maize High School and Maize South High School students at the academy. Before teaching, Yelverton worked for the Augusta twice as a police officer.

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U.S. Senate Bill Would Designate Route 66 as Historic Trail

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Missouri and Kansas supporters are optimistic that the iconic Route 66 is on the road to becoming part of a National Historic Trail.  U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Jim Inhofe announced this week that a bipartisan bill would include Route 66 in the National Trails System Act.  The route connected Chicago to Los Angeles and was an economic boon for small towns — including in Missouri and Kansas — before the interstate system was built. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in June.  Supporters say the designation would revitalize towns along the historic corridor. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill in June.  The Joplin Globe reports the proposal would allow the National Park Service to administer Route 66. The agency would award federal funds for preservation, development and promotion.

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New Documentary Features Wichita Refugee Students

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Wichita students whose families fled violence and civil war in their home countries are featured in a new documentary about refugee resettlement and its impact on the city's schools.  The film produced by Kansas State University's College of Education is called "Refuge in the Heartland" and will premiere during a free screening today (TUE) at Wichita Public Schools' headquarters, the Wichita Eagle reported.  The film follows students Alain and Dorcas, who are among more than 130 refugees enrolled in Wichita schools. Their last names weren't included in the documentary. Alain's family lived in a refugee camp for 17 years and Dorcas resettled in Wichita after fleeing the civil war in Congo.  The university focused on Wichita schools because of initiatives such as the Newcomers program, which helps new immigrants and refugees in their transition, according to district officials.  "We hope people walk away with a renewed sense of community pride and appreciation for their teachers and schools after watching this documentary," said Debbie Mercer, dean of the university's College of Education.  

Trina Harlow, the university's art education instructor who taught refugee and displaced students in Uganda and Ecuador, wanted the film to serve as an instructional tool for educators, volunteers and others who worked with refugee families.  "Children with refugee status are here legally and they are our collective responsibility," Harlow said. "Many schools have outstanding ESL programs but, in my opinion, refugee students need more — they need ways to release emotion and deal with trauma, they need to learn about our culture, some even need to learn how to go about their day in formalized schooling. They need caring educators and peers who understand what it means to be a refugee."

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Woman Killed in Lawrence Will Be Honored in Rose Parade

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old woman who was killed by a stray bullet in Lawrence will be honored in the Rose Bowl Parade. Leah Brown, of Shawnee, will be one of about 40 organ, eye and tissue donors from across the country who will be remembered on a Donate Life Rose Parade Float on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the donors will be seen in "floragraphs," which are artistic portraits often designed by their family members. Organ recipients and other advocates will ride and walk alongside the float. The Donate Life float website says Brown donated her corneas and tissues, which are helping at least 50 recipients. Brown and two men from Topeka were fatally shot on Oct. 1, 2017 when gunfire erupted in a crowd of people.

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'Nutcracker' Prince Proposes to Stunned Dewdrop Fairy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The prince in the "Nutcracker" had a special present for his favorite ballerina during a performance of the holiday classic in Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that Allison Evans was playing the Dewdrop Fairy in the Metropolitan Ballet production Sunday in Wichita when her boyfriend, Dalton Rupp-Meinert, dropped to one knee and proposed. The moment was captured on video . Even though he'd never danced ballet in his life, Rupp-Meinert broached the idea with choreographer Jill Landrith before rehearsals began this summer. They hatched a plan to make him the prince. Evans says she thought the decision was "hilarious." Rupp-Meinert says the thing that made him the most nervous was remembering the choreography, not the proposal. The crowd included about 40 to 50 of their relatives and friends.

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Les Miles Brings Auburn Offensive Coordinator to Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey is leaving Auburn to take the same job at the University of Kansas. KU announced Tuesday that new coach Les Miles named Lindsey to his staff. Lindsey has been Auburn's offensive coordinator for the last two seasons. Miles said in a news release that Lindsey has a proven record of coaching "electric" offenses and a strong reputation for developing his players. In 2017, Lindsey's Auburn offense was just the eighth in SEC history to rush and pass for 3,000 yards. He also has been offensive coordinator at Southern Miss (2014-15) and Arizona State (2016). Lindsey previously was an offensive analyst at Auburn in 2013 and quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2010. Miles announced Sunday that he hired Chevis Jackson as defensive backs coach.

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