Kansas Officials Boost Projected Tax Collections by $540 Million
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have issued a new fiscal forecast that boosts projected tax collections by a total of $540 million through June 2019. Governor Jeff Colyer's budget director and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said Friday that the higher revenue projections mean that the state can afford a public school funding plan passed by lawmakers earlier this month. But Republican Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita immediately called for income tax cuts. The new forecast predicts that Kansas will collect $6.7 billion in taxes during the current budget year. That's almost $226 million than predicted under a forecast issued in November. Forecasters predict the state will collect $6.9 billion in taxes during the budget year beginning in July. That's almost $315 million more than previously predicted.
Koch Industries Seeks Rule Change for Pro Bono Lawyers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Koch Industries is pushing for a change to a Kansas rule forbidding corporate in-house lawyers unlicensed in the state from providing free legal services to needy outside clients. Koch chief legal counsel Jennifer Adams says the Wichita-based company views it as an issue of equity in a justice system that favors the wealthy. Kansas businesses can hire attorneys unlicensed in the state if they only represent the company that employs them. Koch made its argument last month to the Kansas Board of Law Examiners, which has declined to say when or if it will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court, which ultimately will decide the issue. According to the American Bar Association, 33 states and the District of Columbia already have similar rules.
Convicted Former Guard Now Accused of Child Sex Crimes
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Sedgwick County detention deputy convicted of sex crimes against inmates is now charged with sex crimes against a child. The Wichita Eagle reports that 27-year-old David Kendall was charged Friday with two counts of criminal sodomy, three counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of violating offender registration requirements. Goddard police say someone accused Kendall on April 12 of sex crimes against a 15-year-old. Kendall was convicted in 2014 of six counts of attempted unlawful sexual relations and sentenced to two years' probation. Prosecutors say several men imprisoned at the Sedgwick County Jail reported they'd been raped or sexually propositioned by Kendall while he worked at the jail in 2012 and 2013. Kendall's next court date in the latest case set for May 3rd.
Fines Sought Against Wichita Used-Car Dealer
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office is asking a judge to order a Wichita used-car dealer to pay $100,000 in fines and penalties after customers complained that they didn't receive titles to vehicles they bought. The Wichita Eagle reports that District Attorney Marc Bennett says six customers of 5 Star Motors and its owner, Teresa Molinaro, have complained that they didn't receive legal titles within 60 days of buying vehicles. State law says that if a dealer doesn't provide title within 60 days, the sale is void and the buyer is entitled to a refund. Molinaro on Friday told the Eagle that her financing company, NextGear Capital, has the titles, and that she is suing NextGear for financing problems she says forced 5 Star Motors to close on March 1st. Molinaro says the titles "are being sent out." A hearing on Bennett's request is set for July 5th.
Kansas Counties to Host Big Kansas Road Trip
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three Kansas counties will be hosting special events for residents to participate in activities and meet local authors and artists. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kiowa, Comanche and Barber counties will host the Big Kansas Road Trip. The event will be held over four days from May 3-6. Attendees will have the opportunity to eat pie, ride a carousel, have cookies with Carry Nation, visit buffalo, walk in a meteorite field and sit in a round barn. Dave Webb is one of the coordinators of the weekend. He says the event gives residents a chance "to get out and see some of the unique attraction." The event is taking the place of the Kansas Sampler Festival, which has ended after nearly 30 years.
Hutchinson Officials: Don't Rely on Tornado Sirens
SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — South Hutchinson authorities are warning residents not to rely on the city's outdoor sirens to alert them to violent weather. The city's police department said this week that the sirens cannot be activated remotely because of recent changes in the system. The Wichita Eagle reports the sirens will be activated by hand by police, fire or city maintenance crews until the already-scheduled updates are completed. Emergency management officials say tornado sirens are meant to warn only those people who are outside. South Hutchinson police urge residents to be sure their weather radios are working and to download weather alert apps on their mobile devices. National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Ketcham says South Hutchinson's forecast is for a quiet spring to continue, with no severe weather expected in the near future.
Kansas Governor Signs Bill to Barring Guns from Domestic Abusers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Jeff Colyer has signed legislation making it illegal under Kansas law for people convicted of domestic violence to own guns. The new law takes effect next week after Colyer acted Friday. The new law also will make it illegal for fugitives, people under protection from stalking and abuse orders and people in the country illegally to own or possess firearms. Federal law already prohibits domestic abusers from possessing firearms for five years following a conviction. The new Kansas law will allow state prosecution of offenders. Supporters say that's important because federal prosecutors rarely take up the cases. The gun-control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America lobbied for the measure and law enforcement groups supported it. The legislation had broad support. Colyer is a gun-rights backer.
Kansas Governor Candidate Releases Tax Returns
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican running for Kansas governor has released his income tax returns for the past three years and is calling for other candidates to do so. Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said Friday that he's setting an example of transparency. Selzer earned $700,000 in 2017, $659,000 in 2016 and $801,000 in 2015. Most of his income was deferred compensation from the insurance-industry executive's job he held before becoming commissioner in January 2015. Selzer paid $204,000 in federal and state income taxes in 2017, almost $190,000 in 2016 and $243,000 in 2015. He reported $57,000 in charitable contributions in 2017, about $48,000 in 2016 and $39,000 in 2015. Other candidates did not plan to release their returns but a spokeswoman said Democrat and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer would do so.
Wichita Bookie Sentenced in Illegal Gambling Probe
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An admitted bookie in an illegal gambling ring in Wichita will serve two years of probation for his crimes. The Wichita Eagle reports 65-year-old Daniel Dreese was sentenced Thursday for two counts of making false statements on income tax returns. He admitted making hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal bookmaking between 2010 and 2012. Dreese was also ordered to pay $214,540 in restitution and banned from gambling. Dreese is the first person to be sentenced who was investigated as part of a federal gambling probe. At least seven other people were charged for running or taking part in illegal poker games in Wichita, bookmaking and tax-related crimes. Some are law enforcement officers and one is a tennis coach who worked at Wichita schools.
Salina Pair Arrested after Dead, Neglected Animals Found
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County authorities say two people were arrested after nearly 190 animals were found starving or dead on property in rural Salina. Sheriff Roger Soldan says deputies went to the land on Saturday to investigate a report the cattle and horses appeared to be neglected. The Salina Journal reports the animals were seized and two people were arrested Wednesday. Soldan said the 189 animals included cattle, horses and 24 domestic animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits and goats. Deputies arrested 66-year-old Beverly Fullen and 40-year-old Matthew Fullen, of Salina, on charges that include 165 misdemeanors and four felony counts of cruelty to animals. Soldan says the animals were taken to pastures and shelters.
Kansas AG Seeks More Time for School Funding Defense
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking the state Supreme Court for an extra 10 days to file part of his legal defense for a new public school funding law because of a flaw in it. Schmidt filed a request Thursday to have until May 10th to report to the court on how legislators increased education funding. The court ruled in October that the state's current education funding of more than $4 billion a year is inadequate and gave Schmidt until April 30th to report on how lawmakers responded. Lawmakers approved legislation that was supposed to phase in a $534 million increase in spending over five years. But officials later found a flaw that lowered funding by $80 million. Lawmakers reconvene April 26 and could pass a follow-up bill.
Topeka Man Acquitted in Shooting Death of Best Friend
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been acquitted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his best friend. A Shawnee County jury on Thursday found 19-year-old Ernest Williams not guilty in Justice Mitchell's death. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Mitchell died June 26th after being shot during an attempted robbery. Investigators say Mitchell and Williams met 17-year-old Shayden Byrd and Lamero Dunstan at a Topeka fast-food restaurant for a drug deal. Testimony indicated Dunstan pulled a gun and shot Mitchell twice. Williams also drew a gun but didn't fire it. Prosecutors contended Williams was guilty of murder because the death happened during a dangerous felony. Byrd was sentenced to five years in a juvenile facility after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. Dunstan faces trial in August on first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery charges.