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Headlines for Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Kansas Lawmakers Override Vetoes on Taxes, Guns, Elections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas have cut income taxes, lowered the age for carrying a concealed gun and tightened state election laws by overriding Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s vetoes of those measures.  A series of votes Monday in the GOP-controlled Legislature demonstrated that its Republican supermajorities can control policy if they hold together. The tax measure will provide $284 million in relief over three years. The gun legislation will allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to carry concealed firearms. The elections bill will make it harder for people to collect absentee ballots from voters and deliver them to election officials.

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GOP Leaders Close to Control over Kansas COVID Relief Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators are poised to give their leaders the final say over how Kansas spends federal coronavirus relief funds. Some also pushed Tuesday to set aside hundreds of millions of dollars of that money for small businesses. The Republican-controlled state Senate is expected to override Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a provision in budget legislation leaving to top lawmakers the final decisions on spending $4.8 billion in federal funds. The GOP-controlled House voted 86-38 on Monday to overturn the veto. The Senate also debated a bill to set aside $700 million in coronavirus relief funds for small businesses. Senators whittled down a plan for $2 billion in compensation.

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Push Against Trans Athletes in Girls' Sports Fails in Kansas as Legislators Fail to Override Veto

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republican legislators in Kansas have failed to override Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls' and women’s school sports. The Senate’s vote Monday to override Kelly was 26-14 and left backers of the measure one short of the necessary two-thirds majority and blocking an attempt in the House. More than 20 states have considered such proposals this year, as Republican lawmakers have pressed the issue. Kelly called the Kansas measure “regressive,” said it would send a message that Kansas was not a welcoming place. Backers of the bill said they were trying to protect fair competition and opportunities for female athletes.

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Kansas Legislature Passes Law Allowing 18-Year-Olds to Carry Concealed Weapons

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas lawmakers overrode a veto Monday from Governor Laura Kelly on a bill that will let people as young as 18 carry concealed weapons. Most people over 21 in Kansas can already carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Soon, people from ages 18 to 20 will also be able to if they get a state license. Republican Representative John Barker says 18-year-olds can carry a firearm openly, so it makes sense to allow concealed carry with a permit. “This requires them, if they’re going to get a concealed weapon, to get training and to get a permit and to have a background investigation through the attorney general’s office.” Barker said, “I think that’s a positive move.” The governor said the new law could mean more guns on college campuses.

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Kansas Lawmakers Override Governor, Bring Back Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Tax cuts are coming back to Kansas. Republican state lawmakers overrode Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of their tax bill. The bill would increase the standardized deduction for individuals and also let some people itemize their deductions in Kansas even if they don’t on their federal income tax returns. Democrats say the bill returns the state to Brownback-era tax cuts, but Republican Tax Committee Chair Caryn Tyson says the state will be better off for keeping money in the pockets of taxpayers. “That’s money that’s gonna come back into the Kansas economy, not be used to grow government” Tyson said. The new law is expected to cut state tax collections by hundreds of millions over the next several years.

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2 GOP Lawmakers Considering Bids for Kansas Attorney General

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Republican legislators are considering running for Kansas attorney general in 2022. House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch of Ottawa said Tuesday that he is looking at the race and will decide after lawmakers finish this month with their business for the year. Senate Judiciary Chair Kellie Warren of Leawood said people are encouraging her to run, but she hasn’t made a definitive decision. Attorney General Derek Schmidt is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced his candidacy for attorney general last week. Finch has served in the House since 2013 and Warren was first elected to the Legislature in 2018.

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Man Who Fatally Shot 3 at Kansas Jewish Sites Dies in Prison

UNDATED (AP) – An avowed antisemite who testified that he wanted to kill Jews and was sentenced to death after he fatally shot three people at Jewish sites in Kansas has died in prison. The Kansas Department of Corrections said in a news release Tuesday that 80-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. died Monday at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Miller, who was also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., was sentenced to death for the killings in 2014 in suburban Kansas City. The corrections department says preliminary indications were that Miller died of natural causes. Miller said during his trial that he didn’t expect to live long because he had chronic emphysema. A corrections department spokeswoman declined to comment further on his cause of death or his medical condition.

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Kansas Man Convicted in Plot to Kill Attorney, Informant

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man has been convicted of trying to hire someone to kill an assistant Geary County attorney and a confidential informant. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday that 31-year-old Samuel Ibarra-Chu was convicted on 21 charges including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The plot was formed between July 2018 and August 2018 but was discovered before the murders occurred. Ibarra-Chu is scheduled to be sentenced June 25. Court cases are pending for two other people charged in the conspiracy. 

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Six Kansas Hospitals Receive Top Ratings from Federal Agency

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) _ Six Kansas hospitals have received top five-star ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The six are AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Merriam; NMC Health in Newton; Pratt Regional Medical Center; Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth; Saint Luke's South Hospital in Overland Park; and University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City. CMS rated more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide with 455 rated as top hospitals based on performance in several categories: mortality; safety of care; readmission; patient experience; and timely and effective care. Consumers can look up the ratings by going to the Medicare.gov website and clicking on the tab for “find and compare.”

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Vaccination Rates Vary Widely Across Kansas and Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Vaccination rates vary widely across Kansas and Missouri as officials work to persuade more people to get the coronavirus shots. Statistics on the vaccination campaign show some communities making good progress distributing the shots while other, often rural areas, lag behind. In Kansas, a 26-percentage point gap exists between the county with the highest vaccination rate and the lowest. In Missouri, that gap is 33 percentage points. Health officials say the places with higher vaccination rates will have fewer cases of the virus. Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, said the uneven vaccination rates could lead to pockets of higher infections and hospitalizations. 

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Kansas COVID-19 Case Count Totals More than 309,000; Death Toll Nears 5,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports there have been 309,645 cases of COVID-19, including 4,985 deaths related to the coronavirus, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 515 cases and three deaths since Friday. Another update is expected Wednesday. 

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Coronavirus Variants Surge, Vaccine Distribution Slows in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say vaccinations to protect the public from COVID-19 slowed in April, even as more contagious variants of the coronavirus surged and hospitalizations from the disease rose in the state. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Department of Health and Environment numbers show about 91,000 fewer people received first doses of the available vaccines in April than in March. Officials say there were 520 new hospitalizations and 157 new ICU admissions in April, compared with 438 new hospitalizations and 150 new ICU admissions in March. Meanwhile, confirmed variant cases nearly tripled over the last three weeks of April. Officials did see a decrease in deaths from COVID-19 in April, at 69, compared with 170 deaths in March.

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200 Athletes Told to Quarantine at Kansas City Area School

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City-area high school athletic director is pleading with families to take pandemic safety protocols seriously after instructing about 200 students to quarantine this week. The Kansas City Star reports that Shawnee Mission South High School Athletic Director John Johnson said in a message to parents and athletes that “there are more students with positive tests, and that is causing an extreme domino effect of COVID transmission concerns.” Health officials in Johnson County, which is the state’s most populous, have warned that while the number of new coronavirus cases is down, the drop in testing makes it more difficult to know how widespread transmission of the virus has become.

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UMKC Student Charged in March Shooting Death 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A grand jury has indicted a University of Missouri-Kansas City student on second-degree murder and armed criminal action counts in a March shooting death over what police called a gambling feud. The Kansas City Star reports that 21-year-old Zyan Teague is charged in the March 20 death of 31-year-old Byren Dennie. Officers found Dennie lying in the grass in the Ivanhoe Southwest neighborhood with gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Witnesses told police that Teague had fought with Dennie outside Dennie's home following a night of gambling. Police say shell casings and a shoe left behind at the scene were matched to a gun, ammunition and the other shoe found in Teague's dorm room. 

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Police: Officers Found Teen Fatally Shot at Wichita Car Wash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Police say a teen has died after being shot at a south Wichita car wash. The shooting happened just before midnight Monday, when police were called to the area for a report of a shooting. Officers who arrived on the scene found the teen with a gunshot wound to his neck. Police say the teen was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died from his injuries. His name was not immediately released. Homicide detectives are investigating and say they don't believe the shooting was random. No arrests had been reported or suspects named by Tuesday morning. 

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Wichita’s Textron Aviation Will Switch to Bio-Fuel for Jets

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita-based Textron Aviation will start putting a new type of jet fuel made from things like cooking oil into its planes to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The biofuel is made from renewable waste such as cooking oil. Textron officials say the move could reduce the overall carbon footprint of regular jet fuel by 80 percent. Unlike some other solutions, the sustainable aviation fuel made by Finnish oil refining company Neste is approved for use in standard jet engines, meaning it can be used without any kind of modifications or updates to the planes or their engines. Textron will use the fuel at its Wichita headquarters for new aircraft deliveries and demonstration flights. Aviation accounts for about 2 to 3 percent of total global carbon emissions every year.

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Evergy Moves up Timeline to Close Coal-Fired Plants

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Evergy officials say the utility plans to close two coal-fired plants in the next nine years as part of its effort to reduce its use of fossil fuels. The company said in a report to regulators filed Friday that it will close its coal-fired plant near Lawrence by the end of 2023. The plant is the utility's oldest, with some units dating back to the 1960s. Evergy also will close Unit 3 of the Jeffrey Energy Center near St. Marys, Kansas, in 2030, rather than 2039 as originally expected. Evergy's plan is to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2045.

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American Rescue Plan Offers Help for Those Seeking ACA Health Coverage

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Most uninsured people qualify for subsidized health coverage and 40% of them can get a plan through the Affordable Care Act for free or nearly free. The American Rescue Plan that Congress passed in March offers more help for buying insurance over the next two years. If you couldn’t get a subsidy on the ACA exchange before, you might be able to now. Others who get partial subsidies can now get plans for free. People without health insurance can adjust their health plan at HealthCare.gov. The tax credits will be retroactive to the start of this year. The deadline to buy or update a plan is mid-August.

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Monthly Midwest Economic Survey Index Soars to All-Time High

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey shows the economy in nine Midwest and Plains states roaring back to life in the wake of a devastating global pandemic, with the survey's overall index soaring to its highest reading since it began almost three decades ago. The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions for April released Monday came in at 73.9 from March’s 68.9. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests recession. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says the region has regained more than half the 106,000 manufacturing jobs lost to the pandemic in April 2020. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Kansas Man Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Attempted Murder

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas man was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for trying to stab to death another 18-year-old. The Kansas attorney general's office said in a news release Monday that Harper County District Judge Galen T. Wood also ordered 18-year-old Brian Sandoval of Anthony to pay the victim $9,390 in restitution. Sandoval pleaded guilty in March to attempted second-degree murder stemming from the December 2020 attack.

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Southwest Airlines Resuming and Adding Flights from KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Southwest  Airlines is adding and resuming more flights out of Kansas City International Airport as demand ticks upward since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kansas City Star reports that some of the flights had previously been cut due to the pandemic and were being resumed; others are to new destinations, like Miami and Sarasota, Florida. The announcement comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced new guidelines for vaccinated people, saying that fully vaccinated people do not need to get COVID-19 tests before or after domestic travel, and do not need to self-quarantine after domestic travel.

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KC Man Fatally Shot by Police, Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Teen Brothers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - Kansas City police fatally shot an armed man suspected of killing two teenage boys this weekend. The Kansas City Star reports that the Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified the man as 25-year-old Hanad Abdiaziz. Abdiaziz was the prime suspect in Friday's double homicide of 16-year-old Abdulwahid Abdulaziz and 14-year-old Abdirahman Abdulaziz. The teens were gunned down as they were returning home from an evening Ramadan service. Family report that Abdiaziz was the older brother of the victims.

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UPDATE: Iowa Man Charged with Killing Inside Kansas Apartment

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an Iowa man has been charged with killing an eastern Kansas man found fatally shot in his suburban Kansas City apartment last week. Johnson County prosecutors have charged 58-year-old Michael Balance, of Des Moines, Iowa with first-degree murder in the death of 70-year-old John Hoffman, of Prairie Village. Officers found Hoffman's body Saturday evening in his apartment and say he had been shot several times. Prairie Village police quickly identified Balance as a suspect in the shooting and contacted Des Moines police, who arrested him. Balance is being held in the Polk County Jail in Des Moines on $1 million bail.

(–Earlier Reporting–)

Police ID Man Killed Inside Prairie Village Apartment; Arrest Made

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) _ Police have identified a man who was found shot to death Saturday in a Prairie Village apartment unit and announced an arrest in the case. Prairie Village police say 70-year-old John Hoffman died in the apartment after being shot several times. Officers were called to the apartment complex around 6 p.m. Saturday and found Hoffman's bullet-riddled body. Police say a suspect was quickly identified and taken into custody. Police have not released the name of the person arrested or given a motive for the shooting. 

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Missouri Police: Man Found Dead in Crashed Car Had Been Shot

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) _ Police in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview, Missouri, say a man who was found dead in a crashed car had been shot. Police say officers were called to the scene around 1:40 p.m. Sunday and found a vehicle that had crashed into a tree. Officers found the body of a man who had been driving inside the vehicle and say he had been shot several times. Police have not released the victim's name, but say he was in his early 20s. Police say a person of interest in the death was arrested a short distance from the crash scene. Police are investigating to determine what led up to the shooting. 

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Leipold Goes from D-3 to Power 5 in Taking on University of Kansas Rebuild

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lance Leipold has gone from quite possibly the lowest rung of college football to the highest, or at least some version of it. After winning six national titles at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater and turning around Division I Buffalo, Leipold is taking on the monumental task of turning around the University of Kansas football program. The Jayhawks have been to four bowl games in the past 26 years, haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and have won seven conference games total over the past dozen seasons.

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