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Regional Headlines for Monday, March 11, 2013



New Kansas Income Tax Plan Emerging

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of a Kansas House committee has drafted an alternative to Governor Sam Brownback's plan for more cuts in personal income taxes. Taxation Committee Chairman Richard Carlson said Monday his proposal wouldn't rely on additional sales tax revenues to stabilize the budget while the state reduces income tax rates further. It would cut income tax rates automatically if state revenues increase. The St. Marys Republican said he will outline his plan during a Tuesday afternoon committee meeting but shared details with The Associated Press. Both the Carlson and Brownback plans would follow up on massive income tax cuts enacted last year. But the Republican governor also wants to bolster the budget by cancelling a drop in the sales tax scheduled for July.


Mediators, Court Date Set for Kansas School Finance Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys involved in a Kansas school finance lawsuit have chosen the dean of Pepperdine University's law school and a Topeka attorney to serve as mediators to settle the case. The attorneys told Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss on Monday that law school dean Deanell Tacha and Topeka attorney James Steven Pigg will mediate the case. Tacha is the former chief judge of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nuss also announced that the court would hear the appeal of a lower-court ruling on the case on October 8 in Topeka. The state is appealing a January ruling by a three-judge panel in Shawnee County that legislators must increase the state's annual spending on schools by at least $440 million.


Kansas Legislators Jump into Business Tax Fight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators have jumped into a tax dispute over refineries and fertilizer and cement plants, but critics worry that helping the business's operators could pinch local governments. A bill before the Kansas House revises a state law governing how counties value machinery and equipment in complex manufacturing plants for tax purposes. Business groups are watching the legislation, which cleared the House Taxation Committee last week. Supporters contend the bill would ensure that machinery is valued consistently statewide, preventing counties from overtaxing it. Critics contend the measure will take millions of dollars' worth of property off state and local tax rolls -- forcing local governments to cut services or raise levies on homes and other business property.


Kansas House Approves Bill to Boost KDOT, Turnpike Ties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill that supporters say is an attempt to encourage cooperation between the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the state Department of Transportation. The 81-41 vote Monday sent the measure to the Senate. Some House members fear that the bill is a step toward a merger and diverting revenues from the 236-mile turnpike to other uses. But the measure stops far short of Governor Sam Brownback's proposal for a merger of the transportation agencies. He contends such a merger would reduce costs. The bill would expand the specific authority of KDOT and the Turnpike Authority so they can provide administrative services to each other. Also, the two agencies could work jointly on roads connecting to the turnpike.

Kansas Appellate Judges to Hear Cases in Hays

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Court of Appeals panel travels to Hays this week to hear oral arguments in eight cases. The Hays Daily News reports the three-judge panel will convene Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ellis County Courthouse. The docket includes appeals in cases involving legal and medical malpractice, child custody, drunken driving, mineral rights and other legal issues. The three judges will also render decisions on 10 cases that were submitted without oral argument. The 13-member Court of Appeals sits in Topeka, but often sends three-judge panels to conduct business in other parts of Kansas.

Kansas Legislative Website Gets an "A" Grade

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — An analysis by a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that focuses on making government transparent and accountable is giving the legislature in Kansas an 'A' grade for how it makes legislative information available. The Sunlight Foundation also gave the top mark to Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas and Washington. Colorado and Nebraska are among the six states that received a grade of 'F.' The foundation rated legislative websites on such factors as completeness of the information on bills, votes and events; how quickly the information was updated; how easily the sites are to navigate; if the information was easily viewed with common software; and if information was preserved for future viewing.

Kansas Board of Ed to Hear Legislative, Science Updates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Education will get an update this week on school-related legislation and an effort to develop new standards to guide science instruction in the state. The board is meeting Tuesday in Topeka, then moves Wednesday to visit state schools for blind and deaf students in the Kansas City area. Several education-related bills are under consideration in the Legislature, including one that would make it easier to open charter schools. The board has been receiving regular updates on science standards, even though a final vote isn't expected until at least May. Kansas and 25 other states are working on common standards for possible adoption in their public schools. Past work on science standards in Kansas has been overshadowed by debates about how evolution should be taught.

Kansas Army Chaplain to Receive Posthumous Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama will award a posthumous Medal of Honor to a Korean War Army chaplain credited with ministering and providing medical assistance to fellow soldiers under heavy fire during combat operations at Unsan, Korea. The award ceremony for Captain Emil J. Kapaun is scheduled for April 11. Members of Kapaun's family will attend. The White House says Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest from Kansas, exhibited "extraordinary heroism" while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during a battle with communist forces in 1950. Kapaun stayed behind to help the wounded even though he knew he would be captured. Kapaun died at the prisoner of war camp hospital seven months after he was captured by the Chinese in 1950.


Prosecutors Seek Contempt Order in Overdose Deaths Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have asked a judge to begin contempt proceedings against a Haysville woman convicted in a moneymaking conspiracy linked to 68 overdose deaths. The government is trying to force Linda Schneider to repatriate funds in a Mexican bank account and sell a villa in Acapulco to pay a $1.27 million forfeiture judgment. Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, were convicted in 2010 of unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering. He is serving 30 years in prison, she is serving 33 years. Prosecutors filed a motion Monday seeking a hearing on whether to hold Linda Schneider in contempt for not selling the villa and not bringing all money back to the United States. If found in contempt, the court can order her to serve consecutive sentences.


KC Worker Killed in Blast at Excavating Company

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A 23-year-old Kansas City, Missouri man is dead after an explosion at a Johnson County, Kansas excavation and tree removal company. Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands says his department received a call around 9:30 am Monday about an industrial accident at Rieke Grading. When fire crews arrived they found Nicholas Jerde dead and evidence of an explosion. Sands says Jerde was using an acetylene torch to open frozen valves on a vacuum truck when it ignited vapor inside the truck's tank. The Occupational Safety Health Administration was called to investigate the incident.


Suspect Enters Plea in Shooting of Topeka Women

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — One of nine suspects in the shooting death of a Topeka woman and the wounding of her partner has pleaded no contest in the case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 19-year-old Daquan Wilkins on Monday entered the plea to voluntary manslaughter in the July 2011 death of 40-year-old Natalie Gibson and the wounding of 43-year-old Lori Allison. He will be sentenced April 22. Last Friday, 19-year-old Jimmy Netherland was sentenced to life in prison plus 114 months in the case. Prosecutors said Netherland shot the women when they returned home just as the suspects were planning to break into their house to steal a television.


Police: Wichita Man Threatened Girl with Chain Saw

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 30-year-old man is in jail after allegedly firing shots at a party then going home and chasing his girlfriend through the house with a chain saw. Police Lieutenant Doug Nolte says the man got into an argument at a party Saturday night and fired six to eight shots into the air. No one was hurt. He then went home and got into an argument with his girlfriend. Nolte says when the girlfriend resisted, the man grabbed a chain saw and started it, then chased her through the house. The 36-year-old woman was injured but not from the chain saw. The Wichita Eagle reports the man was booked into jail on suspicion of several offenses.

Judge Weighs Prior Conviction Evidence in Wichita Murder Trial

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County judge is considering whether to allow evidence of a 1989 murder during a trial in a Wichita woman's death in 2011. Forty-seven-year-old Tyrone Walker is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Janis Sanders, who died in June 2011 in Wichita. When Sanders was killed, Walker was on parole for the murder of 25-year-old Tamara Baker, whose body was found in 1989 near Lawrence. Sedgwick County prosecutors are asking a judge to allow evidence of the first murder in Walker's trial in Sanders' death. The Wichita Eagle reports that prosecutors contend the two women's deaths were similar enough to suggest Walker was guilty of both crimes. Arguments on the motion are scheduled for March 20, and Walker's jury trial is scheduled to begin March 25.


Judge Hears Sentence Dispute in Kansas Ticket Scheme

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The new attorney for a former University of Kansas athletics consultant is seeking a shorter sentence for his client in a $2 million ticket scalping conspiracy. The attorney told a federal judge Monday that Thomas Blubaugh deserves less than 46 months because of conflicting provisions in his plea agreement over whether he had provided "substantial assistance" to investigators. But a federal prosecutor countered there was no conflict in the plea deal he struck with Blubaugh. Blubaugh was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. through wire fraud, tax obstruction and interstate transportation of stolen property. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot did not immediately rule after hearing testimony from Blubaugh's former attorney, Stephen Robison. Belot wanted Robison to testify after Blubaugh claimed he did a poor job.


Garden City Mobile Home Park Sale Ousts Tenants

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Residents of a southwest Kansas mobile home park have until Friday to leave the property and may have to abandon their homes because a county law prohibits older mobile homes like theirs from relocating to other parks. Western Kansas News reports Garden City Community College bought the park's land in December from Business Management Service Inc. The company notified the park's tenants in early December about the sale and told them they had until March 15 to relocate. In Finney County, mobile homes built by 1986 can be relocated without special permits, and those built between 1975 and 1986 can be moved with a permit. Mobile homes built before 1975 can't be relocated. Residents say most of the homes are too old to move, and they're seeking compensation.

State of Kansas Begins Effort to Reduce Premature Birth Rate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials and the March of Dimes are working to reduce the premature birth rate in Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the goal is to drop the rate of premature births by 8 percent by the end of 2014. The effort will include an educational campaign to encourage pregnant women to carry to term and to wait until labor begins on its own instead of scheduling an induction.

I-70 Reopened Following Snow Closure

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — Interstate 70 has reopened again in western Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal says westbound lanes from Goodland to the Colorado border were closed at 1:50 pm Sunday because of weather conditions and multiple wrecks. The Kansas Department of Transportation said the road reopened around 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon. A stretch of I-70 also closed temporarily Saturday night and Sunday morning.

5 People Shot at Teen Concert in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five people have been shot, one critically, during a teen concert at a banquet hall in southeast Kansas City. Witnesses told police the shooting began early Sunday inside the Tropical Palms Banquet Hall, which was filled with about 150 juveniles. The Kansas City Star reported that the shooting continued into the parking lot. Police found three of the victims, including the one in critical conditions. Two other victims with non-life-threatening injuries were taken to a hospital in private vehicles. It wasn't immediately known who fired the shots.

Dog, Missing Since KC Restaurant Blast, Is Found

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A dog is back with his owner after bolting when a Kansas City restaurant exploded. The Kansas City Star reports that the yellow Labrador retriever, named Perceus, was found Saturday. That's more than 2½ weeks after he broke from his owner, Cisco Sherman, when JJ's restaurant burst into flames near the Country Club Plaza. One person was killed and 15 others were injured. Perceus had been an office dog at a nearby medical practice that had evacuated just before the blast. Social media was used to look for Perceus, with animal lovers hoping to find the missing dog before back-to-back winter storms. After multiple sightings failed to pan out, Sherman was summoned to a Kansas City street corner. A famished Perceus jumped at his owner. Sherman says he's "overwhelmed."


Small Districts' School Boards Lacking Members

CHEROKEE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas school boards are having trouble finding people to serve. The Kansas Association of School Boards says in the last 12 years, school districts across the state have consistently had 50 to 70 seats empty. The Joplin Globe reports that 62 positions were empty in 2011, the latest available data. Doug Moeckel, an executive with the association, says school boards often have to make difficult budget and personnel decisions, which can cause conflict for board members. He says many people want to serve but are frustrated when they realize the school districts don't have the resources to provide all the services needed. When no one is available to fill a school board seat, voters can either write in a candidate or the board can appoint someone.


Wichita 5-Year-Old Injured in Accidental Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 26-year-old man has been arrested after a 5-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the head with a pellet gun. Wichita police Lieutenant Doug Nolte says the man's 4-year-old son picked up the pellet gun and pulled the trigger on Sunday. A pellet penetrated the 5-year-old's skull. The Wichita Eagle reports that the victim was taken off a ventilator Monday because he is showing signs of being able to breathe on his own. Nolte says the father of the shooter left the pump-action pellet gun a on a table after returning home from hunting. The father was arrested on suspicion of offenses that include aggravated child endangerment and obstructing arrest.


Dodge City Police Investigate Fatal Stabbing

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man is dead and another is in custody after a stabbing in Dodge City during the weekend. Dodge City police chief Craig Mellecker says two men were taken to the hospital Saturday night with stab wounds. One of the men, 22-year-old Jesus Ortiz, later died. The second man, a 52-year-old Garden City resident, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder. His name is being withheld until formal charges are filed. Further information about the circumstances of the stabbings were not released.

Lawrence Man Sentenced for Tying Dog's Hind Legs

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man has been sentenced to four days in jail for tying his dog's hind legs together after the animal bit his hand. The Lawrence Journal World reports that 23-year-old Byron Snowton also was ordered Friday in Douglas County to pay nearly $2,200 for the dog's care. Snowton bound the dog in October while he went to the hospital and received 12 stitches. He used the type of plastic ties used as handcuffs by military police. Snowton had the ties because of his service in the Kansas National Guard. Animal control officers found the dog unable to stand outside an apartment. A veterinarian says the dog had abrasions on its legs. Snowton can reclaim the dog from the Lawrence Humane Society after completing an anger management course.


New Union Agreement with KC Police Sparks Outrage at Missouri Legislature

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new collective bargaining agreement for Kansas City police officers is causing a stir with Missouri House Republicans. The new agreement requires officers who don't belong to their union to pay $73 in annual fees. GOP Representatives Eric Burlison, of Springfield, and Rick Brattin, of Harrisonville, are citing the agreement as a reason to restrict how public safety unions can use their money. They're pushing legislation that would bar unions representing first responders from using dues for political contributions without consent. The Missouri Senate was expected to take up a separate bill on paycheck deductions Monday. That version would not apply to "first responders" but would prevent all other labor organizations from automatically collecting dues out of members' paychecks.


President Bill Clinton to Receive Truman Good Neighbor Award

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — President Bill Clinton will receive the 2013 Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award. The Good Neighbor Award Foundation announced Monday that Clinton will receive the honor during the foundation's annual luncheon in Kansas City on May 8, the 129th birthday of President Truman. Karl Zobrist, president of the award foundation, says Clinton was chosen because of his record of public service. Clinton was president from 1993 to 2001. Zobrist says in a statement that since leaving the White House, Clinton's continued public service work has exemplified the spirit and principles to which Truman was dedicated. Previous recipients of the award include President Gerald R. Ford, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and news anchor Walter Cronkite.

2 KU Jayhawks Named to AP All-Big 12 Team

University of Kansas basketballl players Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey were unanimously chosen for the 2013 Associated Press All-Big 12 team. They are joined on the first team by Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Baylor's Pierre Jackson, and Kansas State University's Rodney McGruder. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart was named The Associated Press Big 12 men's basketball Player of the Year. Kansas State's Bruce Weber was chosen as the league's Coach of the Year.


Big 12 Men's Hoops Title Part of Big Year for K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — It's been a big year for Kansas State University sports. The Wildcats under new coach Bruce Weber wrapped up a share of their first conference title in men's basketball in 36 years over the weekend, tying with the University of Kansas, which has won the title nine times. The 11th-ranked Wildcats will be the number 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament at the Sprint Center this week. The title follows a surprising conference championship by Bill Snyder and the football team, and an Olympic silver medal won by high jumper Erik Kynard. Beyond that, the school recently opened a new basketball training facility, and the football stadium is in the midst of a $75 million renovation and expansion. Says K-State president Kirk Schulz, "I'm enjoying every minute of it."


Kansas Cyclists Save Tennis Courts with New Sport

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka bicyclists have saved a couple tennis courts with a new sport, bike polo. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County recently spent less than $200 to transform a dilapidated facility into the city's first bike polo court. The work primarily consisted of installing a short fence between two tennis courts. That allows for more than one game at a time and prevents the ball from careening too far away from the match. Topeka cyclist Andy Fry has plans to have a match every Sunday night through the fall. Fry helped get the bike polo movement off the ground last year after finding out about a similar Lawrence group. Initially, players used mallets fashioned out of broom sticks and 2x4s. Now, they use PVC pipes attached to ski poles.



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