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Regional Headlines for Monday, June 3, 2013



Kansas Lawmakers Conclude Business on Long 99th Day

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have finished their business for the year after stretching the 99th day of their annual session well past midnight. The Senate adjourned at just after 2 am Sunday. The House followed 11 minutes later. The only remaining scheduled business is a brief, formal adjournment ceremony on June 20. Lawmakers left the Statehouse after giving final approval to budget and tax legislation. The state constitution specifies 90-day sessions but allows them to run longer. Legislators had met more than 90 days in 32 of the previous 40 years, but only five of those sessions had lasted 99 days or longer. Only two sessions have exceeded 100 days. They were in 1991, at 103 days, and in 2002, at a record 107 days.

Kansas Legislators Approve Budgets for Next 2 Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have given final approval to a proposed state budget for each of the next two years despite criticism of cuts in spending. The Senate passed a bill containing the spending plans for state government on a 21-15 vote early Sunday morning. The House approved the measure, 63-51. It emerged from negotiations between the two chambers. The bill sets a budget of $14.5 billion for the next fiscal year, an increase of 1.5 percent. However, the budget for the fiscal year beginning in July 2014 would be $14.2 billion. Some lawmakers objected to cuts for prisons and higher education. Also, some legislators want to delay having long-term, in-home services for the developmentally disabled administered by private health insurance companies, as other medical services for the needy are now.

Republican Tax Plan Clears Kansas Legislature

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have given final approval to plan for raising new revenues to prevent future budget shortfalls even as the state further reduces income tax rates. The House approved the measure early Sunday on a 69-45 vote, shortly after the Senate passed it, 24-13. The plan emerged Saturday from private negotiations between GOP Governor Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders. The bill goes next to Brownback. He praised it as "a fabulous package" during a news conference. The measure would set the state's sales tax at 6.15 percent in July. The tax is now 6.3 percent but is scheduled by law to drop to 5.7 percent, also in July. The bill follows up on massive personal income tax cuts enacted last year with additional cuts in income tax rates.


Analysis: Kansas GOP Pushed Tax Plan as Old Business

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's Republican allies in the Kansas Legislature overcame resistance to raising new revenues by describing their proposals as old business left on lawmakers' agenda from last year. Legislators approved a bill canceling most of a sales tax decrease scheduled for July and adjusting income tax laws. The state treasury would gain a net $777 million in revenues over the five years. The revenue-raisers are tied to further reductions in personal income tax rates. The governor had trouble getting a plan through the Legislature because anti-tax, conservative Republicans saw such proposals as tax increases. Brownback and his allies spent much of their time answering the allegations. They described this year's as parts of a package lawmakers should have passed last year in approving massive personal income tax cuts.


Kansas Governor Expected to Sign GOP Tax Legislation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign the tax plan pushed through the Kansas Legislature by its GOP leaders. The measure raises new revenues for the state to prevent future budget shortfalls while still cutting individual income tax rates in the future. It's designed to close projected budget cuts caused by massive income tax cuts enacted last year to stimulate the economy. The House approved it early Sunday, 69-45, after the Senate passed it, 24-13. The measure emerged from private negotiations Saturday between the governor and GOP legislative leaders. Brownback publicly endorsed it and called it a "fabulous package." It sets the sales tax at 6.15 percent. The tax is now 6.3 percent but has been scheduled to drop by law to 5.7 percent, also in July.

Kansas Lawmakers Defeat Move to Expand Sec of State's Power

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has failed to gain authority he's sought to prosecute election fraud allegations because the state House rejected a bill containing the proposal. The House's vote of 64-45 early Sunday was against compromise legislation drafted by House and Senate negotiators. The two chambers approved similar versions of Kobach's proposals earlier this year. However, negotiators tied new authority for his office to another measure on the collection of DNA samples from criminal suspects. Some GOP conservatives said collecting such samples from suspects violates their civil liberties and opposed the package. Other House members didn't want to give Kobach the expanded authority. Kobach has argued that state and local prosecutors often aren't aggressive in pursuing election fraud allegations because they have numerous other cases.


Kansas Budget Provides for New Topeka Crime Lab

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The budget approved by Kansas lawmakers over the weekend includes funding for two priorities of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. KBI officials have been working for years to secure funding for a new crime lab in Topeka. The current lab is housed in the converted basement of an old school that was built in 1928. The new state budget includes up to $3.5 million to plan and design a $55 million lab at Washburn University in Topeka. Washburn will build the facility and recover the costs by leasing it back to the KBI. Lawmakers also voted to complete the funding for a new KBI Child Victims Unit that was established last year. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the unit will focus especially on investigating sex crimes against children.


KEMA Head: Time to Ponder Rules for Storm Spotters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The head of a group that represents Kansas emergency responders says it's time to consider rules for storm chasers in the wake of the deaths of three professional chasers in Oklahoma. Three veteran chasers were killed Friday when a tornado turned on them near El Reno, Oklahoma. Officials say the men's deaths are believed to be the first among scientific researchers while chasing tornadoes. Brian Stone is president of the Kansas Emergency Management Association. He tells WIBW Radio that the deaths are likely to prompt new study of who should be out chasing storms. He says if someone chooses to chase tornadoes, there should be rules to ensure they know what they're doing. But Stone concedes he's not sure whether law officers could enforce such rules.


Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Sentences in Child's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the sentences given to a Labette County man convicted of killing a southeast Kansas toddler. Mark Anthony Baker was given four consecutive sentences, including life without the possibility of parole for 20 years, after he was convicted in the 2011 death of the 19-month-old Parsons boy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Baker had requested concurrent sentences. But the district court invoked consecutive sentences: a hard-20 life sentence for murder, 128 months for child abuse, and 19 months total for the remaining two charges. Baker argued on appeal that the district court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences, saying no reasonable person would agree with the lower court decision. The state high court rejected his argument in its unanimous decision issued Friday.

85-Year-Old Kansas Man Dies When ATV Overturns

LOUISBURG, Kan. (AP) — Miami County officials say an 85-year-old man died when his all-terrain vehicle overturned during the weekend. The sheriff's office says Edward Reed of rural Louisburg was spraying chemicals on thistles in his pasture when the vehicle overturned in a ditch. Reed was found dead about a mile southwest of Louisburg on Sunday afternoon.


Body Found in River Was Man Who Ran from Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a body that was pulled from the Little Arkansas River Sunday belonged to a man who ran from officers last week. Police say the body was that of 38-year-old Kenneth Zabienski of Wichita. A jogger reported seeing the body in the river Sunday. Zabienski ran after officers pulled him over last Thursday and he failed a field sobriety test. Officers were getting ready to arrest Zabienski when he ran and jumped in the river.


Southwest Adds Wichita Route

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Southwest Airlines has begun service to Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. Wichita city officials said in a release that Southwest's first flight from Chicago arrived in Wichita Sunday afternoon. Mayor Carl Brewer says the addition of Southwest will beef up economic development efforts for the south-central Kansas city. Southwest's initial schedule includes two daily flights to Dallas, Chicago and one flight a day to Las Vegas.

Doc's Killer Faces Hearing on Intimidation Charge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The killer of a Wichita abortion provider faces a disciplinary hearing over accusations he tried to intimidate the woman who reopened his victim's closed abortion clinic. Monday's closed hearing against Scott Roeder is being held at the state prison in Lansing, Kansas where he is imprisoned. The Kansas Department of Corrections said Friday the administrative charge was prompted by a letter from Ann Swegle, one of the prosecutors in Roeder's murder case. The letter asked whether the department planned any administrative action over a YouTube video of a jailhouse call with Roeder. In the jailhouse call posted on YouTube in April, Roeder says reopening Tiller's clinic is almost like putting a target on your back. Roeder is serving a life sentence for killing George Tiller in May 2009 at a Wichita church.

Thieves Target Topeka Cemetery Visitors

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are investigating several reports of thefts from vehicles parked at cemeteries in late May. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports there were eight theft reports from several different cemeteries between May 15th and May 26th, and that stolen items ranged from cellphones and credit cards to personal checks, driver's licenses and insurance cards. Three of the victims were women in their 80s who were visiting gravesites. Police say they've recovered some of the stolen property. Police spokeswoman Kristen Veverka also says police are still trying to locate suspects and additional property, so tips from the public are welcome. The department urges people to lock their car doors and remove personal items, even if they plan to be away for just a short period.

Historic Home in Topeka to Be Auctioned

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka house that preservationists say is an important architectural structure from pre-World War I will go up for auction June 25. The Dillon House, which is across the street from the Kansas Statehouse, features Renaissance-style architecture and the first electric elevator in a Topeka home. Banker and lawyer Hiram Price Dillon moved into the home in 1914. The state acquired the property in 1998. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Oklahoma-based AmeriBid LLC will conduct the auction. The home's appraised value is $448,500. Two bids were made on the house in February but state officials determined they were below the fair market value. A bill introduced during the 2010 legislative session that would have allowed the Kansas Arts Commission to raise $4.6 million to restore the house fell through.

Inmate Case Files for Clutter Murderers Placed Online

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Historical Society says the inmate case files for the two men charged in the infamous "In Cold Blood" murders are online. The Historical Society says in a release that the files for Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith have been added to Kansas Memory, the Historical Society's online archives of photographs, manuscripts and government records. Hickock and Smith were convicted of the 1959 murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter, their daughter, Nancy, and son, Kenyon, at their home in Holcomb. The murders inspired the Truman Capote's book "In Cold Blood." Hickock and Smith were executed by hanging in 1965. The case files contain correspondence with prison officials and family, clemency petitions and legal documents, as well as their last meal requests and execution witness lists.


Kansas Mother Sentenced for Leaving Baby in Alley

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman who left her 7-week-old son alone in an alley has been sentenced to 60 days in jail. The Leavenworth Times reports that Elizabeth Michaud will also spend a year on probation under the sentence she recently received in Leavenworth County District Court. Michaud pleaded no contest earlier to child endangerment. The incident occurred in May 2012 when Leavenworth police received a missing-child report. Officers found Michaud walking around in a front yard saying she couldn't find her baby. Another woman noticed the infant in a stroller about three hours later, alone in a Leavenworth alley. The baby was slightly dehydrated. Michaud told a judge she was "under the influence" when she lost track of her son. She faces sentencing June 14 on charges in two unrelated drug cases.


Father Kapaun's Medal of Honor Returns to Kansas

PILSEN, Kan. (AP) — The Medal of Honor awarded in April to the Reverend Emil Kapaun has returned to his Kansas home. Kapaun's family presented the award to the town of Pilsen Sunday during Father Kapaun Day, an annual celebration that was especially noteworthy this year. In April, President Barack Obama conferred the award on Kapaun to honor his heroism while serving as a chaplain before he died in a prison camp during the Korean War. The Wichita Eagle reports Kapaun's nephew, Ray Kapaun said his dad always believed Emil Kapaun would someday receive the Medal of Honor. And he said his dad wanted Pilsen to receive the medal. Emil Kapaun was born on a farm near Pilsen and said his first Mass as a Catholic priest there in 1940.

Beechcraft to Celebrate 4,000th Bonanza Delivery

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita aircraft maker Beechcraft is celebrating the delivery of its 4,000th Model 36 Bonanza plane. Beechcraft employees were scheduled to join CEO Bill Boisture at a ceremony Monday to hand over the keys to the customer. The event was taking place at the company's headquarters in Wichita. Beechcraft Corporation, formerly Hawker Beechcraft, emerged in February from bankruptcy protection as a slimmed-down company.


Galena Rebounding from Pollution, Mineshaft Problems

GALENA, Kan. (AP) — A small southeast Kansas town is beginning to bustle again after years of fighting a reputation as a polluted town riddled with abandoned mine shafts. Officials in Galena say a hospital that opened in February and created 80 new jobs has capped a decades-long effort to revive the city. Decades ago, the United States Geological Survey said Galena was the most polluted city Kansas. And when a bar was nearly swallowed by a mineshaft in 2006 — attracting national news coverage — city officials said rebuilding efforts were stymied by a lack of money. The Joplin Globe reports that several new businesses have opened in downtown Galena in the last two years, with hopes of attracting hospital employees and patients and persuading travelers on the nearby Route 66 to stop and visit the town.


Family of Woman Killed In Plaza Explosion Files Lawsuits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The parents of a woman killed in a Kansas City restaurant explosion are suing several companies. Megan Cramer died in a gas explosion that destroyed JJ's restaurant. Cramer's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Missouri Gas Energy, Time Warner Cable Midwest, three other companies and an employee of one.


Steady Growth Predicted for Midwestern and Plains Economies

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy in nine Midwest and Plains states will continue growing steadily over the next few months. The overall economic index for the region declined slightly to 56.2 in May from April's 56.8, but any score above 50 suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says the stronger dollar is hurting prices for farm and energy products, but that has only slowed the growth in those businesses. The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Donation Pays for New Cancer Center at Truman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's safety-net hospital is expanding its ability to treat cancer patients after receiving a donation from local philanthropists. The Kansas City Star reports that Truman Medical Center officials were to announce details of the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation donation on Monday. The money will be used to establish the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Center across the street from the hospital's current cancer care clinic. Foundation executive director Jim Dawson says the new cancer center is part of an ongoing effort by Truman Hospital to upgrade its facilities. He says the guiding philosophy is that everybody deserves quality care regardless of whether they have insurance. The new center is expected to become a key research collaborator with the University of Kansas Cancer Center on clinical trials of new therapies.


KC Expects Record Crowd for Supreme Court Justice Visit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Public Library is expecting a huge crowd to come hear former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The Kansas City Star reports that the main library is expecting about 1,200 people to show up for the event Monday evening. O'Connor is scheduled to talk about her new book, "Out of Order," which details the first woman Supreme Court justice's time on the bench. The event is open to the public, but people who registered and indicated that they would attend the talk will be admitted first and be able to sit on the main floor. Library spokesman Henry Fortunato says if everyone who sent in an response attends, the event will be the largest the library has hosted.

K-State Wins 1st NCAA Baseball Regional Title, Edging Arkansas 4-3

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University won its first NCAA regional title in school history, scoring two runs on a pair of wild pitches in the same at-bat to edge Arkansas 4-3 on Sunday night. Arkansas pitcher Jalen Beeks threw a wild pitch on the second pitch of an attempted intentional walk to Kansas State's Jared King in the seventh inning, allowing Ross Kivett to score from third. Two pitches later, on ball four, Beeks' second wild pitch brought in Tanner Witt from third and gave the Wildcats (44-17) the lead. The Razorbacks (39-22) led 3-0 after the first inning, using a two-run single from Brian Anderson and an RBI hit from Matt Vinson to score the runs. K-State scored two runs in fourth inning on an RBI single and a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Esquivel (2-2) earned the win for the Wildcats, while Michael Gunn (1-1) was charged with the loss.

Missouri Bill Lets First Responders Engage in Politics

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri first responders would be allowed to engage in political activity under a bill being considered by Governor Jay Nixon. The measure would prohibit local governments from restricting the political activities of first responders while they're off-duty and out of uniform. First responders, including firefighters and police, could also not be prohibited by local ordinance from seeking political office. The legislation was sponsored by Republican Representative Dave Hinson, of St. Clair. Hinson is a firefighter and paramedic. Another version also awaiting Nixon's signature would repeal a law barring Kansas City police officers from serving in political office or engaging in political activity. Nixon has until mid-July to act on legislation.


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