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Headlines for Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ACLU Attacks Restrictions on Protests in Kansas Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal judge to make it easier to protest inside the Kansas Statehouse. The group sought to show during a court hearing Wednesday that restrictions on demonstrations violate protesters' rights to free speech and due legal process. The ACLU asked U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter to block enforcement of the rules while a lawsuit challenging them goes forward. The ACLU sued after three college students were banned from the Statehouse for a year for hanging banners promoting Medicaid expansion in the Statehouse in March. The ban was lifted the next day, but the ACLU contends rules are too harsh. They require a permit for events and prohibit most signs. An assistant attorney general argued the ACLU is overstating how severe the rules are.

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Quinton Lucas Defeats Jolie Justus to Become Kansas City's Mayor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 34-year-old black man whose family was homeless at times during his childhood in Kansas City, Missouri, will become the city's 55th mayor.  Unofficial results showed that Kansas City voters on Tuesday chose Quinton Lucas over fellow City Council member Jolie Justus in a mayoral runoff. He will assume office in August, replacing Sly James, another black mayor who served two four-year terms.  Despite poverty and homelessness, Lucas earned academic scholarships to Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell Law School. He is a lawyer and member of the University of Kansas law faculty who was elected to the City Council in 2015.  Lucas pledged during the campaign to bring an outsider mentality to the mayor's office. He said he would work to reduce crime, increase affordable housing and to steer development projects to underserved areas.  (Read more about the election.)

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Kansas Faces Future Budget Woes Even with a Revenue Surplus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas tax collections have beaten expectations nearly every month for the past two years and the state expects to end June with close to $1 billion in cash reserves, but the budget problems that followed a former governor's notorious tax-cutting experiment aren't necessarily a thing of the past.  The steep income tax cuts that former Republican Governor Sam Brownback championed to try to stimulate the Kansas economy contributed to persistent and severe budget shortfalls that caused some GOP legislators to rebel and gave the state's new Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, a potent issue to successfully campaign on last year.  Seeking to keep the budget stable since taking office in January, Kelly twice thwarted efforts by the Republican-controlled Legislature this year to reduce taxes.  However, problems have arisen on the spending side of the state's ledger: The budget that lawmakers eventually approved this year was relatively generous, leaving it unclear how far into the future the new spending can be sustained.  Projections from the Legislature's nonpartisan research staff show that spending will outpace revenue under the budget covering the fiscal year that begins in July.  (Read more about this story.) 

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State Universities Won't Hike Tuition for Kansas Undergrads

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State universities will not be increasing tuition this fall for undergraduate students from Kansas. But the state Board of Regents on Wednesday approved tuition increases for some Kansas graduate students and out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students. The regents considered tuition proposals after the Legislature increased state funding for their operations by $38 million for the 2019-20 school year, or nearly 6.5%. Some lawmakers said they expected the universities not to increase tuition in return. Board of Regents members said they focused on helping undergraduates from Kansas the most and believe that they sent a clear message to lawmakers that they're holding the line on tuition. All graduate students at the University of Kansas will see their tuition rise by 2.5% and at Kansas State University, by 1.5%.

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Man 'Mad as Hell' That Regulators Shut Racial Bias Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A black man who was detained by police while moving into his home says that Kansas regulators investigated his racial bias complaint and closed the case with no further action. Karle Robinson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was "mad as hell" when he got the letter last week from the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training. The 61-year-old Marine veteran was held at gunpoint and handcuffed in August as he was carrying a television out of a rented moving van into the home he had bought a month earlier in Tonganoxie, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Kansas City. Robinson alleged police harassed him for weeks after that incident, and that the police chief blocked him from filing a racial bias complaint with the department.

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Topeka Police: Man's Death Classified as Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say the death of a man whose body was found inside a home is being investigated as a homicide.  The victim, 36-year-old John Waller, of Topeka, was found dead Monday at a central Topeka house.  Police Lt. Andrew Beightel said in a news release that evidence at the scene and information from the coroner's office prompted the decision to investigate the death as a homicide. He did not elaborate on the evidence.  Police officials said officers who responded to the home noticed "several suspicious circumstances" that prompted them to call in detectives.

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Affidavit: Meth-Filled Revenge Plot Led to Deadly Stabbing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Court records say a man charged with helping his girlfriend fatally stab her ex-stepfather told Wichita police that the couple was seeking revenge because of past sexual abuse. The Wichita Eagle reports that an affidavit was unsealed Tuesday in the case against 24-year-old Micaela Spencer and 25-year-old Royce Thomas. They are charged with first-degree-murder and several other felonies in last month's meth-fueled killing of 50-year-old William Callison. Police began investigating after Callison's boss, who owns an auto-dealership, saw the couple driving Callison's truck out of a storage facility. It was pulling the boss' trailer and was loaded with a $150,000 classic car. Police tracked the truck to a camper, where they eventually found Callison's body. Spencer said the plan initially was to get money from Callison in exchange for sex.

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Mother Accused of False Father's Day Claim Arrested

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a woman who is accused of making false accusations about her daughter's father that prompted a search for him on Father's Day.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 34-year-old Ronetta Ann Clement was arrested Monday and booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of interference with law enforcement and providing false information.  Wichita police Captain Brent Allred said Tuesday at a news conference that Clement reported Sunday that the father of her 2-year-old daughter was refusing to return the girl and making homicidal and suicidal statements. Police asked for help locating the two before determining that the girl's father didn't make those statements. Police spent 117 hours on the investigation.  Allred said the child has been located with her grandmother and appeared to be fine.

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Kansas Man Spared Prison in Gambling Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal magistrate has spared a Wichita businessman prison time after he pleaded guilty for his role in concealing the transfer of betting information from illegal poker games.  Brandon Steven was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation and 200 hours of community service. He also forfeited nearly $1.1 million as part of a plea deal on one misdemeanor count of being an accessory after the fact to the transmission of wagering information.  Prosecutors say Steven assisted a person prevent apprehension, trial or punishment related to illegal gambling.  Defense attorney James Hobbs told the judge his client would not disappoint the court.  Steven and his brother are partners in health clubs, auto dealerships and other enterprises in Wichita.

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Kansas Boy Very Lucky to Survive Knife Impaling Face and Skull

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 15-year-old Kansas boy got a large knife to the face, and doctors say he's extremely lucky.  Jimmy Russell says her son, Eli Gregg, was playing Thursday outside of their home in Redfield, about 90 miles south of Kansas City, when she heard him scream. She found him with a 10-inch knife jutting out from below his eye and called 911.  The knife was embedded in his skull and extended to just under his brain. The tip, meanwhile, was pushing against his carotid artery, which supplies the brain with blood.  Dr. Koji Ebersole, who oversaw the blade's extraction, says he doesn't think Eli would have survived if it had stabbed him any harder.  The surgery was successful and Eli was due to be discharged Monday.

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Security Assigned to Threatened, Black Superintendent

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — A security detail has been assigned to a black suburban Kansas City school district superintendent who received racist threats after proposing racial equity training.  The Kansas City Star reports that Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté devised the plan to protect Lee's Summit school leader Dennis Carpenter and his family, even though the city's police investigated the threats and said they were unfounded. No arrests were made.  Carpenter is the first black superintendent of the predominantly white district. The school board approved an equity plan four months ago but, under pressure from the community, rejected two attempts to hire a firm to lead the training.  Carpenter became so frustrated at one point that he suggested that board members buy out his contract and hire someone they trust to operate the district.

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Kansas Pilot Escapes Injury when Plane's Wing Hits Windmill

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says the pilot of a crop duster plane was not hurt when the wing of his aircraft hit a windmill tower and crashed in southwest Kansas.  Troopers say the fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft was flying north Monday morning when its right wing struck the windmill near Liberal, about 200 miles west of Wichita. The aircraft hit the ground and slid to a stop.  Emergency crews were called to the scene. The patrol says the pilot, 61-year-old Craig Stratton, of Meade, had no apparent injuries.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Federal Aviation Administration records show the 1997 Air Tractor turboprop is owned by  Stratton's company, Crop-Serv Inc., which is also known as Bringham Flying Service.

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Pup Fostering Gives Genetic Boost to Wild Mexican Wolves

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A dozen Mexican gray wolf pups are being raised by wild packs in Arizona and New Mexico as biologists mark another season of playing matchmaker to bolster the genetics of the endangered species.  The foster program involves placing captive-born wolves into the dens of established packs as part of an ongoing effort to return the wolves to their historic range in the American Southwest.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Maggie Dwire says this marks the most pups to be fostered in a single season since the technique was first used in 2014.  A zoo in Kansas and breeding programs operated by conservation centers in Missouri and New York helped this year.  For fostering to work, the timing has to be just right. The pups are usually less than two weeks old when they're placed with a surrogate pack.

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Wichita State Has Groundbreaking for Student-Athlete Center

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State's new center for student-athletes is one step closer to reality. The school held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for its $13.8 million Student-Athlete Success Center close to where it will be constructed near Koch Arena. The Wichita Eagle reports the 36,000-square-foot, two-level center will include a 2,500-square-foot study hall, tutoring rooms and a large computer center. The university's track and field program will also have a dedicated space in the facility. The team is housed in Cessna Stadium, which athletes say has mice in the showers and rundown conditions in locker rooms and team rooms. Currently, all student-athletes at Wichita State share the same academic center and weightlifting room and the areas are often overwhelmed by demand. The new center is expected to be completed by July 2020.

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McDonald's Kansas City Burger Starts Barbecue Feud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ McDonald's has started a transatlantic barbecue feud with the introduction of a Kansas City-themed hamburger in the U.K.  Outgoing Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James said Tuesday that the fast-food chain should "stay in your lane'' in a tweet that included a picture of what he says a "real'' burger looks like. Kansas City is known for its style of dry-rubbed, slow-cooked meats drizzled in tomato-molasses sauce.  He responded after McDonald's proclaimed "Yeehaw'' as it introduced its "Kansas City Stack'' in a tweet. Other Twitter users rushed to join the mocking. Barbecue powerhouse Q39 kidded "Yeehaw, mate!'' while Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que re tweeted a scathing critique of the burger and added a laughing tears and thinking faces emoji. The burger is available until June 25, but not in America. 

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Netflix Announces 2 More Seasons of "Queer Eye" in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Netflix's show "Queer Eye" says it's bringing fabulousness to the masses for two more seasons.  The streaming service announced Tuesday that the fourth season will debut July 19. The eight episodes were shot in the Kansas City area, where last season the stars revamped a prison guard, a children's camp program director and two sisters who own a barbecue joint. Netflix also says production will begin soon in Philadelphia for the fifth season, which will be released next year.  The show features resident fashion expert, Tan France, along with food guru Antoni Porowski, hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness, culture expert Karamo Brown and home designer Bobby Berk. The Emmy-winning show is a reboot of the 2003 series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

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