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Headlines for Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Children Injured, Mother Held in Olathe

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ Police arrested an Olathe woman after her three children became ill after taking an unsafe substance.  Olathe police say the woman -- 37-year-old Therese Roever -- was involved in a child custody dispute with her ex-husband.  She allegedly gave the children a substance "meant to harm them."  The three children were taken to hospitals where they remain in stable condition.  The mother was arrested and booked into the Johnson County jail.  Court records show Roever and her former husband were scheduled to appear in court today (TUE) for a hearing on child custody issues.

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Lawrence Man Sentenced in Grandmother's Stabbing Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A Lawrence man who stabbed his grandmother to death has been sentenced to more than 48 years in prison.  Nineteen-year-old Jaered Long was sentenced today (TUE) in the December 2015 death of 67-year-old Deborah Bretthauer at a Lawrence apartment where the two lived.  Lawrence police say Bretthauer was stabbed dozens of times with a bread knife while she was in bed.  Long was 16 at the time of his grandmother's death.  He was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and eventually pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.  One of Long's therapists testified earlier that she asked Bretthauer to consider residential treatment for her grandson's abusive behavior but Bretthauer didn't agree to the plan.  

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Kansas Proposal to Tighten Lobbying Law Allows Bigger Gifts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A bipartisan legislative proposal for strengthening Kansas lobbying laws would also allow state officials to take more expensive gifts from people seeking to influence them.  The Kansas Senate gave first-round approval today (TUE) to a bill that would require people seeking to promote contracts or influence actions by executive branch agencies to register as lobbyists and disclose some spending.  The Senate expected to take another, final vote tomorrow (WED) to determine whether the bill passes and goes to the House.  Current Kansas law requires lobbyists to report some spending when they seek to influence legislators or work for or against an administrative rule.  But the bill also increases the total value of small gifts that state officials can accept in a year from an individual... from $40 to $100.

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Effort Ends to Repeal Tuition Help for Undocumented Students

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas lawmakers are no longer discussing a proposal to end in-state tuition for  undocumented students, those who were brought into the U.S. illegally when they were children.  After two days of testimony, a House committee on Monday did not act on a bill to end in-state tuition for  undocumented graduates. The bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Kevin Jones of Wellsville, said he would not try to advance the bill.  Kansas law currently allows students who have lived in the state since they were young and who graduated from a state high school to pay in-state tuition, which is much lower than out-state tuition.  The Kansas Association of School Boards opposed repeal of the current tuition law.  Supporters of the repeal argue undocumented students are breaking immigration laws and shouldn't be allowed to pay less than American citizens.  

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Bill to Protect Campus Speech Advances in Kansas Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would prohibit state colleges and universities from infringing potentially offensive speech on campuses.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the legislation would require colleges and universities to have policies that affirm that students and faculty have a constitutional right to free speech. The institutions also must be committed to giving student and faculty broad latitude to discuss any issue.  The legislation also would prohibit public colleges and universities from setting up areas that limit where protests and debates can occur, or revoking invitations to speakers based on an anticipated reaction to the speaker's message.  Institutions would be allowed to regulate the "time, place and manner" where speeches can occur.  The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee advanced the bill Monday.

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Ice Storm Hits Kansas and Western Missouri

Residents throughout much of Kansas and Missouri are dealing with potentially dangerous weather conditions today (TUE), but in wildly varying forms. Freezing rain has been falling in parts of Kansas this (TUE) morning.  Several accidents have been reported in both states and several flights were canceled or delayed at Kansas City International Airport.  Schools in some parts of Kansas and western Missouri are closed, extending the President's Day weekend to a fourth day. In eastern Missouri, St. Louis-area residents were seeing spring-like temperatures, but with a thunderstorm risk.  Get the latest information on the ice storm from the National Weather Service in Topeka.

Plans for Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer to sign a proclamation today (TUE) on the importance of being prepared for severe weather were canceled — because of severe weather.

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Woman Killed in Head-On Crash on Icy Kansas Highway

WAMEGO, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 38-year-old woman died and two other people were injured in a collision on an icy highway.  The crash happened last (MON) night on U.S. Highway 24 east of Wamego.  The patrol says a pickup truck and another vehicle collided when both drivers lost control on a bridge.  A woman in the vehicle, 38-year-old Sarah Salinas of St. Marys, died at the scene.  Wamego Police Chief Michael Baker says Salinas was a 911 dispatcher for the department for the past 10 years.  The man and woman in the pickup were taken to a Topeka hospital for treatment.

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Investigators: Fatal Overland Park Police Shooting Justified

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say an officer who fatally shot an Overland Park teenager reasonably feared for his life and the shooting was justified.  Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said Tuesday he will not file charges against the officer who shot 17-year-old John Albers in January.  Howe released police dash cam video of the shooting, which shows the officer yelling at the teenager to stop before firing as a van backs out of the family's garage and then turns back toward the officer.  Officers were called to the home after receiving a call from someone who saw the teenager on FaceTime and believed he was suicidal. Albers' parents were not home at the time.  The officer was placed on administrative leave during the investigation and has since resigned for personal reasons.  

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2 Men Found Dead of Gunshot Wounds in Derby

DERBY, Kan. (AP) _ Derby police are investigating the deaths of two men whose bodies were found inside a home.  Police Chief Robert Lee says the bodies of 30- and 39-year-old men were discovered Monday. They appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.  Lee says investigators don't know the relationship between the two men.  He says there were no signs of forced entry on the home. The men are believed to have died during the weekend.

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Woman Killed While Stopped for Funeral Procession

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita police say a 59-year-old woman died when a van hit the back of her vehicle after she stopped for a funeral procession.  Police have identified the woman as Karen Capps.  Capps had stopped her car Saturday in Wichita near a curb out of respect for the funeral procession. A van slammed into her car and she died at the scene.  Police say Capps had stopped at an appropriate place.  The district attorney's office is reviewing the case to determine if charges are warranted.  

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Kansas Doctor Sued in Woman's Fentanyl Overdose Death

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas doctor is facing a lawsuit that alleges he contributed to a woman's 2014 fentanyl overdose death.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 approved Subsys, an opioid-based fentanyl spray for cancer pain. The drug is produced by Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company that was paying Overland Park doctor Steven Simon speaking fees to promote Subsys.  The Kansas City Star reports that the recent lawsuit by Bobby Ray Jordan says Simon treated his wife for back pain from 2013 until her death in January 2014.  Jordan alleges Simon never told him or his wife that Subsys was a fentanyl product only approved for cancer patients, that he was being paid to promote it, or that it could be fatal. Jordan also says his wife never had cancer, to his knowledge.  Simon's attorney declined to comment to the newspaper.

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Hesston Police Chief Awarded Medal of Valor

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder was among 12 law enforcement officers from across the country who were honored with a Medal of Valor.  President Donald Trump recognized Schroeder and others in a ceremony Tuesday at the White House.  He was honored for his response to a report of an active shooter at the Excel Industries plant in Hesston in February 2015.  Schroeder entered the lawn equipment factory alone and shot and killed the gunman, Cedric Ford, who had already killed three people and wounded 14 others.  Ford had been served a protection order hours before the shooting. Authorities said tests also indicated a high level of methamphetamine and alcohol in his system during the shooting

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Kansas Senate Committee Endorses Bill to Expand Medicaid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has endorsed a bill that would expand the state's Medicaid program to provide health coverage for 150,000 additional poor adults.  The bill approved Monday by the Public Health and Welfare Committee would expand Medicaid as encouraged by the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama. The Medicaid program covers more than 370,000 poor, disabled and elderly Kansas residents.  The committee's voice vote sent the measure to the full Senate, but Majority Leader Jim Denning indicated that a debate is not likely to occur soon.  Former Republican Governor Sam Brownback vetoed a similar bill last year. New Republican Governor Jeff Colyer also opposes an expansion.  Supporters say expanding Medicaid would help the uninsured. Critics see it as potentially costly for the state.

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General Motors Confirms New Vehicle for Kansas Plant

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — General Motors says it will build a new vehicle at its plant in Kansas City, Kansas.  The company said Monday it will build the Cadillac XT4 crossover sport utility vehicle at its Fairfax Assembly & Stamping Plant.  GM spokeswoman Mary Padilla says the announcement means the plant will keep about 500 jobs. The assembly plant currently employs 2,235, including about 2,000 hourly workers, making the Chevrolet Malibu.  The company is spending $265 million to prepare to manufacture the vehicle.  The Kansas City Star reports Fairfax lost its third shift last fall after sales of the Malibu slumped. It had employed about 3,000 with the three shifts.  The Cadillac XT4 is a crossover SUV.

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Man Expected to Recover After Shooting in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A robbery victim is hospitalized but expected to recover after being shot in central Topeka.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the victim arrived at Stormont Vail Hospital around 8:45 pm Monday. The man told police he had been shot during a robbery. Police searched the area but no arrests were made.  The victim says the assailants were two men in ski masks armed with a handgun.

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2 Girls Killed in Crash on Suburban Kansas City Beltway

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two children have died and three other people are critically injured in a crash on a suburban Kansas City beltway.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Sunday when a minivan came to a stop for an unknown reason on Interstate 435 in Leawood, Kansas. A tractor-trailer then struck the van, killing 7-year-old Ruth Vasquez and 1-year-old Teresa Vasquez. The girls were from Kansas City, Missouri.  WDAF-TV reports that the minivan's driver and two boys, ages 9 and 14, are hospitalized in critical condition. The rig's driver also was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

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1 Dead, 7 Hurt in Kansas City, Kansas, Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police suspect that a weekend shooting in Kansas City, Kansas, that left one dead and seven injured was gang related.  KSHB-TV reports that the shooting happened Saturday night at a packed venue for a local musician. Police say one of the victims died at a hospital and that seven others sustained injuries that weren't life threatening. Police didn't immediately release the victim's name or suspect information.  Police Chief Terry Zeigler posted a message on Twitter saying police think the shooting is tied to gang activity.  

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Wichita Police Continue Search for Missing Child

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities searching for a missing 5-year-old Kansas boy are reporting few new leads in the disappearance.  Police said they received a call about 6:15 pm Saturday reporting that to report Lucas Hernandez was lost in southeast Wichita. When officers arrived, Lucas' 26-year-old stepmother said he was last seen Saturday afternoon in his bedroom before she showered and fell asleep.  Police spokesman Charley Davidson said Monday afternoon the search moved Monday from Chisholm Creek Park to Grove Park.  An FBI team joined officers and dogs who have searched the boy's home, neighborhood and the parks Davidson said police have found no evidence suggesting Lucas was abducted.  Lucas has brown hair and eyes and weighs about 60 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray shirt with a bear on it.

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Kansas GOP Leaders Support Abortion Amendment Effort

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas top political officials are supporting a fund-raising effort by a leading anti-abortion group to amend the Kansas Constitution to make it clear the constitution doesn't protect the right to abortion.  Governor Jeff Colyer and five of six members of the Kansas congressional delegation, all Republicans, helped Kansans for Life kick off the $2 million fund-raising effort during the weekend.  The Kansas Supreme Court is currently considering whether the state constitution offers the same guarantee of a right to abortion found in the U.S. Constitution. Anti-abortion advocates are concerned the court will rule in favor of abortion rights, which is prompting the campaign for a separate constitutional amendment.  The Wichita Eagle reports the only member of the delegation not supporting Saturday's event was Senator  Jerry Moran, who was ill with the flu.

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Kansas GOP Votes to Oppose Validating Transgender Identity

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party has voted to oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity.  The party's state committee endorsed the statement after a debate on human sexuality at the party's annual meeting during the weekend.  The resolution says God's design for gender is determined by biological sex and not by self-perception. It opposes surgical or hormonal efforts to alter a person's body to conform with gender identity.  Eric Teetsel, president of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, sponsored the statement. He says the resolution was prompted by love and noted it recognizes the dignity of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.  The Wichita Eagle reports that LGBT advocates criticized the resolution. Equality Kansas director Tom Witt called it an undignified and crass assault and a cheap election year attack.

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Keystone Foes Seek Details on Pipeline's Approval by Trump

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada are asking a judge to force the U.S. government to turn over emails and other documents related to President Donald Trump's approval of the project.  Environmentalists who have sued to stop the 1,179-mile TransCanada pipeline say the sought after documents could bolster their case that Trump's decision was arbitrary and therefore illegal.  Government attorneys say the disputed documents include internal deliberations that don't have to be made public.  Formal arguments in the matter are scheduled for Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls.  If the environmentalists prevail, State Department officials estimate they would have to review more than 5 million pages of documents at a cost of more than $6 million.

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White House Christmas Ornament to Honor Harry Truman

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — The White House Christmas ornament in 2018 will pay tribute to the 33rd president — Missouri's own Harry Truman.  The White House Historical Association since 1981 has commissioned an ornament to sell that honors either a particular president or a White House event. The recognition of Truman was announced Monday at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence.  One side of the ornament will feature the Truman Balcony, added to the White House in 1947 and 1948. The other side features the renovation of Blue Room.

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