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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Kansas Senate Approves Major Anti-Abortion Legislation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved new restrictions on abortion providers, moving the most sweeping anti-abortion legislation in the state this year close to final passage. The vote Tuesday was 29-11 on a bill blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and prohibiting them from furnishing materials or instructors for sex education classes in public schools The measure also spells out in greater detail what information doctors must provide to patients before performing abortions, including information about a disputed potential link between abortion and breast cancer. The House approved the legislation last month. Senators made technical changes, and House members must examine them before the measure can go to Governor Sam Brownback. But supporters expect the House's review to be a formality. Brownback, a Republican, is a strong abortion opponent.


Kansas Drug Testing Bill Goes to Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Senators have sent a bill to Governor Sam Brownback's desk that would require Kansas residents who receive welfare and unemployment benefits to submit to drug testing. The Senate voted 29-9 on Tuesday to accept changes made to the bill by the House last week. Individuals who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Family assistance will be required to undergo testing and job skills training if there is a reasonable suspicion they are using drugs. People receiving unemployment benefits also would have to undergo drug treatment and job training if they test positive for drug use. Legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and certain public safety officials also would be drug tested if there is a reasonable suspicion about their behavior.


Kansas Governor Signs Anti-Deduction Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has signed legislation barring public employee unions in Kansas from deducting money from members' paychecks to help finance political activities. The measure was among five signed into law by Brownback on Monday. Proponents of the legislation argued state and local government agencies that process payrolls should not be involved in transactions to divert money from paychecks to political action committees. Opponents pointed out during legislative debate that union members in Kansas generally have to agree beforehand to any paycheck deductions. They also noted that Kansas is a so-called right-to-work state, meaning workers cannot be forced to join unions or to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Kansas lawmakers failed to approve similar legislation last year.


UPDATE: Kansas Senate Advances Measure to Lure New Casino

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to a bill aimed at bringing a state-owned casino to southeast Kansas but killing any possibility of slot machines at dog and horse tracks. Senators advanced the measure on a voice vote and expected to take final action on it Tuesday evening. Passage then would send the bill to the House. The bill revises a 2007 law authorizing state-owned casinos and slots at racetracks. The law requires a developer for a Pittsburg-area casino to invest $225 million. Backers of such a project say the threshold is too high, and the bill would drop it to $50 million. Southeast Kansas lawmakers have sought such a change. The trade-off for lawmakers who oppose an expansion of gambling is repealing the authorization for racetrack slots.


Kansas Tax Debate on Slow Churn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Negotiators from the Kansas House and Senate report little progress in working out differences in plans for further cuts in personal income taxes. Key legislators said Monday the main sticking point is whether to let a 2010 increase in the state sales tax expire in July as scheduled. The Senate is backing Republican Governor Sam Brownback's proposal to keep the sales tax at 6.3 percent to shore up the state budget in future years. The House has voted to let it drop back to 5.7 percent as required by current law. The rest of the legislation would make changes in income tax deductions and exemptions in efforts to raise additional revenue. Negotiators are scheduled to resume their talks Tuesday.


Kansas Senate Advances Bill Barring Local Wage Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to a bill barring cities and counties from requiring their contractors to pay union-scale wages. The Senate advanced the measure on a voice vote Tuesday. Approval on a second vote, expected later Tuesday, would send it to the House. The bill would bar local governments from requiring private firms to pay employees more than the federal minimum wage for work on public contracts. It's aimed at local policies requiring contractors to pay so-called prevailing wages. The federal Department of Labor sets those rates, and critics say they're often based on union scales. Wyandotte County has a prevailing wage policy. Republicans said the bill will lower the cost of public projects. Democrats said prevailing wage policies ensure workers earn a decent living.


More Rain Needed to Replenish Soil Moisture, Ponds

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service says more precipitation is still needed across the state to replenish soil moisture and stock ponds. The agency reported Monday that topsoil moisture was short to very short in 46 percent of the state. Subsoil moisture levels were short to very short across 81 percent of Kansas. The agency's weekly snapshot of winter wheat showed 29 percent of the Kansas crop rated in poor to very poor condition. About 40 percent is in fair shape, while 29 percent is in good and 2 percent excellent condition. KASS also said that just 13 percent of the Kansas winter wheat crop has jointed. That compares with 57 percent at the same time last year and a long-term average of 22 percent.

Kansas Treasurer's Office Seeking Owners of $880K in Savings Bonds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County District Court judge has awarded the Kansas treasurer's office the title to $880,000 in unclaimed U.S. savings bonds. Treasurer Ron Estes will hold the bonds while efforts are made to return them to their legal owners or their heirs. Estes said Monday that the federal government is holding more than $16 billion in matured savings bonds that are no longer paying interest. He estimated that $151 million of the total is owed to people whose last known address was in Kansas. Some of the bonds were issued as far back as World War I.

Abortion Foes Flex Big Muscle in Kansas Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion opponents have shown they have a supermajority in the Kansas Senate as a vote approaches on new restrictions for providers. Senators planned to take final action Tuesday on a bill blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and prohibiting them from furnishing materials or instructors for sex education classes in public schools. During a debate on the measure Monday, anti-abortion senators repeatedly defeated amendments offered by senators who support abortion rights. Abortion opponents consistently had at least 27 votes, a two-thirds majority in the 40-member Senate. The House approved the measure last month, but senators made technical changes that House members would have to review before the bill could go to Governor Sam Brownback. The Republican is a strong abortion opponent.

Abortion Clinic to Open in Wichita This Week

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new abortion clinic is scheduled to open in Wichita this week. It's the first to operate in that city since former abortion provider George Tiller was killed nearly four years ago. The South Wind Women's Center will provide abortions up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, as well as other services. Clinic director Julie Burkhart, who worked for Tiller for seven years, says the clinic will open when last-minute details are worked out sometime this week. Three doctors will work on a rotating basis at the clinic. The Kansas City Star reports that abortion opponents are vowing to force the clinic to close. Burkhart says security will be heightened at the clinic and patients will be safe. Tiller was gunned down in 2009 at his church in Wichita by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder.


Former KS Sheriff Criticizes Ouster Petition

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An attorney for an eastern Kansas sheriff who tipped off his lover that she was the subject of a drug investigation says the woman's name should never have been revealed in a petition seeking his ouster. Former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry's resignation went into effect Monday after he agreed to a 12-month diversion program in exchange for prosecutors dropping two criminal counts against him. He was charged with misdemeanor official misconduct for telling former Franklin County prosecutor Heather Jones a confidential informant claimed she bought methamphetamine, and with felony interference for lying about having an affair with her. Jones was never charged with a crime, and her attorney says the drug allegation was unfounded. She now works as an assistant district attorney in nearby Johnson County.


Wichita Council Candidate's Home, Car Vandalized

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A candidate for the Wichita City Council says his home and vehicle were vandalized this week. His opponent says he is not to blame and is condemning the vandals. Josh Blick says he and his wife found spray paint on his yard signs, his home's front door and front window Monday, and the front windshield of his car was smashed in. The vandals also spray-painted the name "Jeff" on the home. Blick is running against Jeff Blubaugh for the southwest Wichita council seat. KAKE-TV reports that Blubaugh issued a statement saying he hopes police find those responsible and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. He says he considers Blick a friend.

KS, MO Lieutenant Governors Among Those Supporting Pipeline Approval

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — More than 20 Republican lieutenant governors urging approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline. The Republican Lieutenant Governors Association said in a letter to President Barack Obama that more pipeline capacity is needed to tap oil supplies from formations in Canada, Montana and North Dakota. The lieutenant governors contend construction of the pipeline would support thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs and would directly benefit many states. The letter is signed by lieutenant governors from Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.


Emporia State Debate Team Scores 2nd National Win in 1 Week

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — An Emporia State debate team made history with its second win in a national competition in one week. The team of Ryan Wash and Elijah Smith won the National Debate Tournament Tuesday morning at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The university says in a news release the duo also won the Cross Examination Debate Association national tournament at Idaho State University last week. Allan Louden, chairman of the communications department at Wake Forest University, says Wash and Smith are the first team to win both titles in the same season. The CEDA competition is open to all teams that want to compete, while teams must qualify for the National Debate Tournament. Smith is a sophomore from Newark, New Jersey, and Wash is a senior from Kansas City, Missouri.

Salina Teen Sentenced for Fatal Wreck

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina woman who admitted she was drinking and smoking marijuana before a car wreck that killed her friend will serve three months in jail. The Salina Journal reports that 18-year-old Tara Pfeifer was ordered Monday to report to Saline County jail immediately following her high school graduation on May 12. She will serve one year of probation after the three-month jail sentence. Pfeifer pleaded guilty in February to misdemeanor charges of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence in the May 2011 wreck in Salina that killed 15-year-old Journi Maas of Hutchinson.

Kansas Couple Offers Reward in Horse's Death

GRANTVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas couple wants to know why someone shot and killed their daughter's 11-year-old horse. Gary and Ara Carbonneau are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest in the shooting of the chestnut filly named Aimee. WIBW reports that the couple's insurance company added another $1,000 to the reward fund. The couple says someone trespassed on their property last Tuesday and shot the horse at point-blank range. Topeka veterinarian Ed Kester says the bullet passed through the horse's liver and stomach before lodging in her intestine. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is investigating

Man Pleads Guilty in Shooting at Wichita Store

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 27-year-old man will be sentenced May 19 after pleading guilty in a shooting at a Burlington Coat Factory store in Wichita. Jake Jacobs pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated assault for shooting at a security guard who asked him if he planned to pay for a drink he took from a store refrigerator. The guard was not injured. KFDI reports that Jacobs aimed his gun at other customers during the incident last August. No one was hurt. Wichita police used a Taser on Jacobs as he struggled during his arrest.

Filmmaker Willmott to Discuss Tuskegee Airmen

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas filmmaker Kevin Willmott will speak in Lawrence next week about the Tuskegee Airmen and introduce a Hollywood drama about the black World War II combat pilots. The University of Kansas says Willmott will speak April 9 at the Dole Institute of Politics. There also will be free screenings this (TUE) afternoon of the film "Red Tails" at the Dole Institute and this (TUE) evening at the Kansas Union. The program is part of a series of events examining the role of African-Americans in World War II. Besides teaching at the University of Kansas, Willmott has written, directed and produced movies. He's examined racial division in several projects, including his Sundance Film Festival entry, "CSA: The Confederate States of America." The faux documentary examines the nation that might have resulted had the South won the Civil War.


Kansas Remains Focus as Missouri Lawmakers Debate Tax Cut

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas remains the reference point as Missouri lawmakers consider whether to cut income taxes and raise the state sales tax. During a House committee hearing Tuesday, business groups argued Missouri must cut income taxes to keep employers from being lured across the western border by recent tax cuts in Kansas. But education officials pointed to budget gaps in Kansas and expressed fears that schools could lose funding if Missouri cuts its tax revenues. The hearing came as a St. Louis-based nonprofit group called The Missouri Budget Project began airing ads opposing the legislation while citing the potential loss of $960 million of revenues annually. Sponsoring Senator Will Kraus, a Republican from Lee's Summit, called the ads "misleading" and "distasteful." He cites estimates putting the lost revenues at half that amount.


Wichita State Evens Field Against Final Four Rivals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino makes a base salary of $3.9 million. The entire Wichita State basketball program runs on a budget of just over $3 million. That doesn't mean there aren't some advantages enjoyed by the Shockers, who will face the Cardinals in the Final Four on Saturday night. Their strong aviation programs means they have a fleet of private planes at their disposal, and the fact that they no longer have a football program means Gregg Marshall's basketball team is the biggest thing going on campus. Besides, the startling disparity in financial resources between Wichita State and fellow Final Four teams Louisville, Michigan and Syracuse hardly means much on the hardwood, where the Shockers already have proven that everybody can be equal.

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

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The office of 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 reports 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 Incorporated 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 Senate Rejects Smoking Ban for State Casinos

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposal to ban smoking at state-owned casinos as it debates a bill for bringing one to the state's southeast corner. Senators voted 22-15 Tuesday against an amendment from Kansas City Democrat David Haley. State law bars smoking in many public places, and Haley said casinos should face the same rule. Even some senators who liked the idea voted "no" to preserve a compromise embodied in the bill. It encourages a southeast Kansas casino but repeals a law authorizing slot machines at racetracks. Kansas requires a developer for a Pittsburg-area casino to invest $225 million. Backers of such a project say the threshold is too high, and the bill would drop it to $50 million. Senators expected to vote on the bill Tuesday evening.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


Kansas Senate Endorses Ban on Online Gambling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has added a proposal to ban online gambling to a bill aimed at bringing a state-owned casino to the state's southeast corner. The vote Tuesday was 26-11 in favor of Pittsburg Republican Jake LaTurner's amendment, which would make it illegal for Kansas residents to place bets online. Critics questioned whether the ban could be enforced. The underlying bill revises a 2007 law authorizing state-owned casinos and slot machines at dog and horse tracks. The law requires a prospective developer to invest at least $225 million in a southeast Kansas casino, and backers of such a project say the threshold is too high. The bill would drop it to $50 million. But the measure would repeal the authorization for racetrack slots.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 



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