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Regional Headlines for Monday, April 1, 2013


Kansas Senate Rejects Rape Exception on Abortion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposal that would have added an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest to the state's restrictions on abortion. The proposal from Democratic Senator David Haley, of Kansas City, was defeated Monday on a 28-9 vote as the chamber debated an anti-abortion bill. Kansas bans most abortions starting with the 22nd week of pregnancy. Haley's amendment would have added an exception for rape and incest victims. It would also have added the same exception to other laws, such as one restricting private health insurance coverage for elective abortions. The underlying bill would block tax breaks for abortion providers and bar their participation in public school sex education classes. It already has passed the House, and abortion opponents expected the Senate to give it first-round approval Monday.


Kansas Senate Keeps Cancer Language in Abortion Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has retained language in an anti-abortion bill directing doctors to provide information to women before terminating their pregnancies about a disputed potential link between abortion and breast cancer. Senators on Monday voted 28-10 against an amendment from Kansas City Democrat Pat Pettey. She wanted to rewrite a provision detailing what information doctors must provide to women before an abortion. Under the bill, doctors would have to inform women about potential risks associated with abortion, including breast cancer. Pettey's amendment would have struck the reference to breast cancer. Scientists convened by the National Cancer Institute in 2003 concluded abortion did not raise the risk of breast cancer. Abortion opponents see a tie because of evidence that carrying a fetus to term can lessen the risk of breast cancer.


Kansas GOP Leaders Eye Final Push on Budget, Taxes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators returned from a long weekend determined to push through tax legislation, new restrictions on abortion, gun-rights legislation, the bulk of the next state budget and every other bill of any significance in just five days. Republicans leaders have pledged that lawmakers will finish almost all of the year's work by Friday, breaking with their standard practice over the past quarter-century, to shorten their annual session. But to make good on the pledge, some tricky and contentious issues will have to be resolved quickly. The biggest piece of the puzzle is how to resolve differences on taxes and whether a 2010 sales tax increase is allowed to expire in July as scheduled or remains in place to shore up the state's $14 billion budget for 2014.


Kansas Rape Statute of Limitations Change Signed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill has been signed into Kansas law that abolishes the statute of limitations for prosecuting rape cases, eliminating the five-year time frame. Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill Monday, and takes effect July 1. Kansas is among 10 states that required rape cases to be prosecuted within five years. The new law also allows for prosecution of a sexually violent crime within 10 years if the victim is at least 18 years old. For younger victims, prosecution would begin within one year of the date the suspect is identified through DNA testing, or within 10 years of the victim's 18th birthday, whichever is later. Rape victims say the change in the law helps them with their healing after the crime.

New Type of Dental Providers Unlikely This Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers aren't acting on a proposal to allow a new type of dental worker to perform routine services in underserved areas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that two bills have languished in House and Senate committees without hearings. The bills would allow for a midlevel dental provider to do about 30 basic dental procedures. Those procedures include "nonsurgical extraction" of diseased permanent teeth that are already loose. The providers would be licensed dental hygienists who pass a clinical exam, have practiced for 500 hours under the direct supervision of a dentist and purchase liability insurance. Advocates note that there is a shortage of dental care in many Kansas counties. But the Kansas Dental Association has objected, raising concerns about safety and the creation of two levels of care.


Kansas Bill Raises Concerns for HIV, AIDS Patients

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union and the leading gay rights group in Kansas worry that state legislators are moving toward ending the legal protections that prohibit AIDS and HIV patients from being quarantined. State officials said Monday that those fears are unfounded. House and Senate negotiators are working on the final version of a bill meant to help emergency personnel who deal with people who may have infectious diseases. It would allow the Department of Health and Environment to set statewide rules for disclosing information about a person's medical condition to emergency workers and to make it easier for those workers to get tested for diseases. But the measure also would repeal a 25-year-old law saying people with AIDS or the virus that causes it can't be quarantined.


Kansas Governor's Mother-in-Law Dies at Age 86

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The office of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has confirmed the death of the governor's mother-in-law. Ruth Stauffer also was the wife of a former publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal. The newspaper reported that the longtime community volunteer died Sunday night at her home. She was 86. Her husband, John Stauffer, said she had been ill for several years with Parkinson's disease. During their 62-year marriage, John Stauffer became publisher of The Topeka Capital Journal after stints as editor and general manager. He also served as president of Stauffer Communications Inc. and retired as chairman of the board with the 1995 sale of the company to Morris Communications. The couple's children include Kansas first lady Mary Stauffer Brownback. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at a Topeka church.


Kansas Company Accused of Hiring Illegal Immigrants

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas framing company, its three owners and four crew leaders have been charged in a 31-count indictment accusing them of harboring illegal immigrants who worked for the company. A federal indictment unsealed Monday accuses Advantage Framing of Spring Hill, Kansas, of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants to gain an unfair commercial advantage. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says the company issued checks to crew leaders to cash and pay workers, but didn't pay Social Security, workers compensation or unemployment insurance benefits. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, harboring illegal aliens, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering. They were to appear in court late Monday afternoon. It wasn't immediately clear if any had obtained an attorney.


Former Sheriff Accused of Tipping Off Lover

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A former eastern Kansas sheriff is accused in a civil ouster petition of tipping off his alleged lover about a meth investigation. After several media outlets petitioned the court, the petition was unsealed Monday. Several hours later, Jeff Curry's resignation as Franklin County sheriff took effect. The Ottawa Herald reports that Curry says the allegations are untrue. The Franklin County sheriff's office referred calls to the county attorney's office, which wasn't open. The ex-sheriff doesn't have a listed phone number. The unsealed documents say Curry admitted in September to informing the woman that she had been identified by a confidential informant. He reportedly told her she was going to be a subject in a federal drug investigation. Prosecutors have agreed to dismiss criminal charges against Curry if he completes a diversion agreement.


Shortage of Kansas Court Reporters Looming

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas court officials say up to 25 percent of the state's court reporters will be eligible to retire in the next three years, leaving a big gap in courthouses. Many of the state's current 132.5 court reporters are older, and even more are expected to retire in the next five to 10 years. Court reporters type the official record of legal proceedings, using a series of complex letter combinations to record up to 225 words per minute with 95 percent accuracy. The Hutchinson News reports that Butler County Community College and the Court Reporting Institute of Kansas City are the only two schools in Kansas that offer training for court reporters. The Kansas Court Reporters Association says it's encouraging its members to promote the field to young people.


Dept of Justice to Monitor Elections in Finney County

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department says its civil rights division will monitor Tuesday's elections in a southwest Kansas county to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws. The agency said Monday its personnel will observe activities at polling places in Finney County. Voters there will be deciding a sales tax issue. They'll also be electing city commissioners for Garden City, members of the local public school board and trustees of Garden City Community College. The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color or membership in a minority language group. Finney County has a large Hispanic population. The Justice Department sends out observers every year to watch elections across the country.


14-Year-Old KCK Boy Dies After Being Shot

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 14-year-old boy has been shot and killed after an argument in northeast Kansas City, Kansas. Police identified the victim Sunday as Miguel Garcia of Kansas City, Kansas. The victim and another teenage boy were walking together Saturday afternoon when a sport utility vehicle approached them. An argument between the two groups ensued. The SUV then circled the block before its occupants opened fire, striking Miguel. He was rushed to a hospital, where he later died. A 15-year-old boy who was walking with the victim wasn't injured. The case is under investigation. Authorities are seeking tips about the identity of the shooters or the location of the SUV.

Wife of Kansas Convict Wants Complaint Dismissed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka woman charged with helping her husband avoid arrest in the 2009 murder of a Kansas woman is asking to have the complaint dismissed. Rebecca Hollister's attorneys have filed a motion in Nemaha County seeking dismissal of a complaint that alleges she helped her husband, Roger Hollister, avoid arrest after the murder of 58-year-old Patricia Kimmi of rural Horton. Roger Hollister died March 20 while serving a life prison term for Kimmi's death. Rebecca Hollister's attorneys say in a motion filed Friday that she was given immunity before she testified against her husband. The attorneys contend she can't be charged based on statements she made under immunity. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Hollister's preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 22 in Nemaha County.


Kansas Woman Sentenced for $561K Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman is going to federal prison for embezzling more than $561,000 from the Missouri company where she worked for 14 years. The U.S. Attorney's office says 53-year-old Paula Cathey, of Leavenworth, was sentenced Monday to three years and five months in prison. She was also ordered to pay about $557,000 in restitution. Cathey was the controller for Mega Industries Incorporated, a heavy-construction company located in North Kansas City, Missouri. She pleaded guilty last October to 15 counts of bank fraud, admitting she wrote unauthorized company checks to herself and forged the signatures of company officers. Prosecutors said Cathey used the stolen money mostly for gambling. She hid the crimes partly by destroying most of the company's monthly bank statements.


Wichita Police Say Child Burned with Boiling Water

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 5-year-old girl is recovering after a man poured boiling water on her as punishment. Police say the relative was watching the girl Saturday at a home in southwest Wichita. Lieutenant Doug Nolte says the man became upset when the girl took food into the living room and poured a pan of boiling water on her. The girl did not receive immediate medical attention. Nolte says the girl's father came to pick her up later in the day, noticed the injuries and took her to a hospital. She was treated for 2nd-degree burns to her back, face and arms. No arrests were made as of Monday. The child's name has not been released. 


KC Family Survives Murder of 2 Kids, 2 Others

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City couple whose two sons were killed along with two adults in 2009 is working to keep their boys' memory alive. Gerard Clemons and Rasheed Myers will be in the stands at Raytown South High School this weekend watching the Clemons Classic, a basketball tournament named for their sons, Amir and Gerard Clemons Jr. The 7- and 10-year-old boys were killed along with their aunt and her boyfriend in March 2009. Gevante Anderson is serving life in prison for the murders. He was the father of a toddler who was left alive in the carnage. The Kansas City Star reports that Clemons and Myers had twins a year after the murders. And they are raising Anderson's son. The Clemons Classic began because the boys loved playing basketball.


40 Years After 3 Kansans Killed, Still No Answers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Forty years after three Kansans were found shot to death in a car near Ottawa, it's still unclear why the killings happened, or who is responsible. Sixty-year-old Hazel Avery, her 19-year-old son, Steve; and a family friend, 23-year-old Gary Longfellow, were shot execution-style in her car. Police say Steve Avery had been hitchhiking from Iola to Lawrence along Highway 59 in March 1973. He was going to testify on behalf of a friend in a Jefferson County custody case. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Avery called his mother for a ride from a pay phone in Richmond, and she and Longfellow went to get him. Their bodies were found two days later. Franklin County Sheriff's Detective Mike Reed says he's still looking for leads in the case.


Wichita Children's Specialty Clinic Dedication Set

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Children's Mercy Hospital of Kansas City, Missouri is holding the formal dedication of its permanent clinic in Wichita. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran was expected to be among the speakers at Monday's event at Children's Mercy Specialty Clinic. The facility opened last year as Children's Mercy's first permanent clinic outside the Kansas City metropolitan area. The hospital has been leasing space around the Wichita area and sending specialists to the area for more than 20 years. Children's Mercy says it served about 3,400 patients from Wichita last year and expanded its pediatric specialty services in response to that demand.

Kansas, French Agency Sign Education Pact

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas education officials have signed an agreement with counterparts from France that will create new ties between schools, teachers and students. The agreement signed last week will connect elementary and secondary schools in Kansas with schools in an academic region near Paris that includes the large cities of Orleans and Tours. The Kansas Department of Education says the partnership will promote the teaching of French in Kansas, and the teaching of English in the French schools. It also provides for one-year teacher exchanges, student internship programs and collaboration on educational and cultural programs. Kansas already has similar partnerships with schools in Spain and China. The agreement with France is for four years, with the possibility of a fifth.

No Sign of Trauma in Body Found in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they have found no signs of trauma on the body of a man found during the weekend. Two children found the body Saturday afternoon near a drainage ditch in east Wichita. Sergeant Scott Brunow says the body has been turned over to the Sedgwick County Coroner's Office and an autopsy will be performed. The man's name has not been released.

Spring Enrollment at KU Down 2.7 Percent

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Enrollment this spring at the University of Kansas fell about 2.7 percent from last year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university's total spring enrollment fell to 26,258. Last spring, that number was nearly 27,000. Fall enrollment fell to about 28,000 this academic year, which is also a drop of 2.7 percent. Matt Melvin, vice provost for enrollment management, says few students enroll for the first time in the spring semester. He says the spring numbers usually show a slight decrease from the fall because of December graduations and dropouts.


KU's McLemore Among Wooden Award Nominees

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ben McLemore of the University of Kansas is among the 10 players selected to the John R. Wooden All-American team. The Wooden Award for the college basketball player of the year will be announced this weekend at the Final Four in Atlanta. The winner will be honored at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 12. The Wooden team is chosen by media covering college basketball. The voting deadline came after the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament.


Kansas Mom Injured in Alabama Airport Out of Hospital

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A Kansas woman is out of the hospital where she was treated after being seriously injured by a flight information cabinet that fell at Birmingham's airport. Officials say Heather Bresette of Overland Park, Kansas, was released Saturday from UAB Hospital. Bresette had been treated there since a steel cabinet holding video monitors fell on her family at the newly renovated Birmingham airport on March 22nd. The accident killed her 10-year-old son Luke and injured two other sons. The family was returning home to Kansas following a beach trip to the Florida Panhandle at the time of the accident. The monitor that fell was installed as part of a $201 million upgrade of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Wichita Students Gear Up to Practice Firefighting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Students at a Wichita high school are getting some unusually realistic experience in firefighting, thanks to a specially built room that offers every challenge but the flames. The Wichita Eagle reports a carpentry class converted a former photography darkroom at Wichita South into a two-story structure for firefighting drills. Students in Wichita South's fire science program enter the structure wearing heavy firefighting gear to practice climbing a ladder, avoiding a collapsing floor and carrying hoses filled with sand. The fire science program is a partnership between Wichita schools, the Sedgwick County Fire Department and Hutchinson Community College. Students who complete the fire science classes can credits toward an associate's degree in fire science or emergency medical science at the college.

Garden City High Seniors Make Supervised Mess

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A prank at Garden City High School wasn't done in secret. The Garden City Telegram reports that principal James Mireles let 50 to 100 seniors into the school on a recent Sunday night to perform a supervised senior prank. The students used streamers, yarn, toilet paper and newspapers to cover the commons area. They also used sidewalk chalk outside. Mireles says several seniors asked for permission beforehand and promised to clean up after their classmates got a chance to see their handiwork. Mireles acknowledged that some people were surprised and that he wasn't anticipating the Vaseline on door handles. But he says he didn't think any teachers were complaining. Senior Gary Harley says his sole regret is that only 10 people showed up to clean up the mess.


Survey Shows Kansas Economy Dips Slightly in March

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A monthly economic survey index for Midwestern states shows the Kansas economy slipped in March but remains steady overall. The Mid-America Business Conditions index from Creighton University surveys business leaders and supply managers. It uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline. The survey found the Kansas overall index slipped to 52.0 in March, from 54.1 in February. Manufacturers of durable- and nondurable-goods manufacturers experienced favorable conditions during the month. But transportation equipment producers and food processors showed little to no improvement during the period. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

UPDATE: Kansas Senate Taking Up Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion opponents expect the Kansas Senate to approve a bill this week to block tax breaks for abortion providers and to bar them from participating in public school sex education classes. The bill on the Senate's agenda Monday already has passed the House. Supporters hope senators won't make any changes so that a vote to pass it will send it to Republican Governor Sam Brownback, who opposes abortion. The Senate has a solid anti-abortion majority. The bill would prevent abortion providers from claiming tax credits and exemptions available to other groups and health care providers. Also, a woman couldn't include abortion expenses if she deducts medical expenses from her income taxes. The legislation also would prohibit abortion providers from providing materials or instructors for sex education classes in public schools.


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