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Headlines for Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Heavy Snow Causes Partial Closure of Interstate in Central Kansas

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Heavy snowfall has been causing traffic disruptions in parts of central and north central Kansas.  The highway patrol reported one person died in a multi-vehicle crash south of Lindsborg early Tuesday. State transportation officials closed westbound Interstate 70 between Salina and Kansas 14 for several hours to respond to accidents near the Saline and McPherson county line. The highway was reopened about 11 am. Other highways in north central Kansas were snow and ice covered. The National Weather Service reported snowfall amounts of up to 9 inches near Sylvan Grove and Agra.  

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Kansas House OKs Bill to Address Missing Indigenous People

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are looking to encourage training for law enforcement agencies to help address the high rates of murdered and missing indigenous people. The House approved a bill unanimously Wednesday that calls for closer collaboration between Native American tribes, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and other agencies. The measure goes next to the Senate. The Kansas City Star reports that supporters hope that educating state agencies more thoroughly will help reduce the level of crime in indigenous communities. The Urban Indian Health Institute says indigenous people are murdered and go missing at higher rates than any other racial identity.

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Medicaid Paid for 4 Abortions in Kansas Since January 2013

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State health department data shows Medicaid has paid for four abortions in Kansas since January 2013. The Kansas News Service reports information from the Kansas Department of Health says one Medicaid-funded abortion occurred in 2014 and three in 2018. Public funding spent a total of $1,030 on the abortions, with $454 paid by Kansas. The information comes as Republican legislative leaders are blocking expansion of Medicaid coverage in Kansas, in part out of fear it could increase publicly funded abortions. Other lawmakers say Medicaid expansion and abortion are not linked. 

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Kansas Murderer Dies on Same Day He Is Admitted to Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas corrections officials say a man convicted of killing his roommate with a machete died on the same day he was admitted to prison. Sixty-year-old Timothy Russell Moses died Tuesday at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Inmate records show he was admitted to the prison Tuesday. He was sentenced earlier this month to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder in Labette County. Prison spokeswoman Jarris Perkins says Moses's cause of death is being investigated. He was convicted of killing 59-year-old Donald Trammell with a machete at a Parsons home in 2017. 

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Man Arrested in Death of Southwest Kansas 3-Year-Old Boy

ULYSSES, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been arrested in the death of a 3-year-old southwest Kansas boy. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 26-year-old Uraquio Arredondo was arrested Monday night at his home in Ulysses. He was booked into the Grant County Jail on possible charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. His bond was set at $500,000. The KBI says he is a suspect in the death of Carlos Valenzuela III of Ulysses in February 2019. Emergency personnel went to the boy's home after receiving a report of an unresponsive child. Authorities say Arrendondo was in a relationship with the boy's mother.

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House Report Faults Kansas Election Official in Dodge City

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Emails released as part of a congressional investigation into voter suppression show a Kansas county clerk being dismissive about the national outcry after Dodge City's lone polling site was moved outside the city limits. Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox called the move “a big mess” in an email to retired county clerk Sharon Seibel just weeks before the November 2018 election. Seibel replied that people “just need to get over themselves ...” The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform examined the decision by Cox to move the site as part of a broader probe of voter suppression allegations that also included looking at irregularities in George and Texas.

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UPDATE: Kansas Senate Approves Sports Betting Measure 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate approved a bill to legalize betting on sports events and allow online sales of lottery tickets. It passed with a vote of 23 to 15. The bill had faced criticism that it was too generous to companies already managing casinos for the state. The action comes less than month after the Kansas City Chiefs' victory in professional football's Super Bowl highlighted how many Kansas fans placed wagers on the team out of state or illegally. The measure now goes to the Kansas House. 

(–earlier reporting–)

Kansas Struggles with Details of Legalizing Sports Betting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers who want to legalize betting on sports events and allow online sales of lottery tickets are struggling to agree on the details. They also face criticism that they're too generous to companies already managing casinos for the state. The state Senate gave first-round approval Wednesday to a sports betting bill less than month after the Kansas City Chiefs' victory in professional football's Super Bowl highlighted how many Kansas fans placed wagers on the team out of state or illegally. Senators hoped to take a final vote on the measure later Wednesday to determine whether it passes and goes to the House. 

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Kansas Mobile Home Death Investigated as Homicide

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — A McPherson woman is charged with first-degree murder and related charges in the death of a 63-year-old man. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said 33-year-old Tina Nicole Brown was charged Wednesday. Kelly Peterson was found dead Monday in his mobile home in McPherson. Brown was also charged with felony mistreatment of an elder person and a misdemeanor battery of a law enforcement officer. Her bond was set at $500,000. The attorney general's office is prosecuting the death at the request of the McPherson County Attorney. 

(–related–)

McPherson Man's Death Investigated as Homicide

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — The death of a man whose body was found inside his mobile home in McPherson is being investigated as a homicide. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and McPherson police on Tuesday identified the victim as 63-year-old Kelly Peterson. Investigators said the death is being investigated as a homicide but said there is no threat to the public. The news release provided no further information. Peterson was found dead Monday.

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Missouri Mom Sues Police over Son's Shooting Death

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — The mother of a man fatally shot by police is suing the officers involved and police chiefs of two departments. Tamy Lorraine Lukecart alleges Independence and Sugar Creek officers used excessive force when they shot and killed 22-year-old Dakota Lukecart, of Lincoln, in January 2017.  He was shot after a police chase, which stopped when Lukecart drove into a dead end. Police say the officers shot Lukecart after he accelerated the car toward the officers. In the lawsuit, Tamy Lukecart says the officers should have tried all reasonable means to stop her son before shooting him.

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Kansas Mother Sues After Kindergarten Teacher Caught on Tape Kicking her Child

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (The Kansas City Star) — A mother is suing a suburban Kansas City school after a teacher was caught on surveillance video kicking her then-kindergartner. The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit against the Shawnee Mission School District was filed last month and moved to federal court this week, nearly a year after the video of what happened at the Shawnee, Kansas, elementary school was released. The first-year teacher was fired after the incident but doesn't appear to have been charged. The girl's mother accuses the school district of negligence in its hiring, training and supervision of the teacher. She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

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Ex-ICE Agent Sentenced for Impersonating Officer in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a former agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was sentenced Tuesday to nine months in prison for impersonating an immigration supervisor in a foiled effort to free a Mexican immigrant from a Kansas jail. The U.S. attorney's office says 42-year-old Andrew J. Pleviak of Topeka pleaded guilty in December to falsely claiming to be an officer of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations. Pleviak identified himself as another man who is an actual ICE agent in an effort on September 3 to get an acquaintance out of the Kingman County jail.

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Court Awards $1.5 Million to Kansas Man Wrongfully Convicted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit was granted more than $1.5 million in compensation under the state's mistaken-conviction statute. The Kansas attorney general's office said Monday that Lamonte McIntyre of Kansas City, Kansas, also received a certificate of innocence as part of a resolution of a mistaken-conviction lawsuit filed last year. McIntyre was 17 in 1994 when he was arrested for the killings of 21-year-old Doniel Quinn and 34-year-old Donald Ewing, even though no physical evidence or motive tied him to the crimes.

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Kansas Moves to Junk Local Tax Lid in Favor of Transparency

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is moving toward eliminating limits on local property taxes in favor of a proposal aimed at requiring officials to be more transparent about upcoming levies. Many lawmakers don't think current limits are effective, the Senate voted 39-0 on Tuesday to approve a bill described by supporters as a local tax transparency measure. It goes next to the House. The bill would repeal a local tax lid pushed through the Republican-controlled Legislature by conservative lawmakers in 2015. Cities and counties would be required to send notices to all taxpayers if they intend to raise more money from property taxes in the coming year.

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39 States, Including Kansas, Investigate Juul's Marketing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A lecturer at Harvard Law School says an investigation by 39 states leaves Juul Labs with little choice but to change its marketing practices. James Tierney said Tuesday that “when you see these kinds of numbers, it means they’re in a world of hurt." Attorneys general from Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Oregon and Texas say they will lead the multi-state investigation into San Francisco-based Juul. The company also is facing lawsuits from teenagers and others who say they became addicted to the company's vaping products. Juul says it has halted television, print and digital advertising and eliminated most flavors. Other states investigating include Kansas, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia.

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Sedgwick County Deputy Allegedly Shoved and Slapped Inmate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities say a sheriff's deputy is facing charges of mistreating an inmate after he allegedly shoved and slapped him while he was in handcuffs. Sheriff Jeff Easter says 47-year-old Matthew Stineman was charged last week with mistreatment of a confined person. Easter says the inmate was awaiting a courthouse hearing when he began rubbing the handcuffs against the wall and ignored orders to stop. Stineman allegedly went into the cell and pushed and slapped the inmate. He was placed on restricted duty after the Jan. 30 incident. Easter says Stineman has been a deputy for about 13 years and the allegations are out of character for him.

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U.S. Army Corps Increasing Water Flowing into Lower Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water being released into the Missouri River from Gavins Point Dam will be increased again to free up more space in the reservoirs upstream before spring. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that the amount of water flowing out of Gavins Point on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will be increased later this week to 41,000 cubic feet (1160.99 cubic meters) per second. That is up from the current 35,000 cubic feet (991.09 cubic meters) per second. The Corps is working to clear out as much space as possible in the reservoirs ahead of what is expected to be another wet year.

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English Woman Wins Annual Pancake Race with Kansas

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A woman from England has claimed victory in an annual trans-Atlantic pancake-flipping race against competitors in a Kansas city. Katie Godor, from Olney, in Buckinghamshire, ran the 71st International Pancake Day race on Shrove Tuesday with a time of 1 minute, six seconds. That just beat the time of Whitney Hay, who ran the Liberal, Kansas, race in a time of 1 minute, nine seconds. Contestants must carry a pancake in a frying pan and flip it at the beginning and end of the 415-yard race. The event began in Olney in the 15th century. In 1950, Liberal challenged Olney to an international competition.

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