Passage of Kansas School Funding Hike Highlights GOP Split
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have approved an increase in spending on the state's public schools in hopes of meeting a Kansas Supreme Court mandate on education funding. Their rancorous final days of debate highlighted deep divisions among top Republicans. Governor Jeff Colyer publicly endorsed a bill that would phase in a $534 million increase in education funding over five years. He sided with House GOP leaders who largely drafted it. The Senate's GOP leaders favored a plan to phase in a $274 million increase over the same five years. They argued that the bigger plan approved early Sunday and sent to Colyer would force lawmakers to raise taxes within two years. The votes were 21-19 in the Senate and 63-56 in the House.
Oklahoma Earthquake Felt in Kansas
COVINNGTON, Okla. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey reports that Oklahoma recorded a magnitude 4.6 earthquake that was also felt in Kansas and Missouri. It was one of four earthquakes in northwest Oklahoma on Saturday morning. Garfield County Emergency Management Director Mike Honigsberg says there are no reports of injury or serious damage following the quakes. The largest temblor was at 7:16 a.m. near Covington. Reports on the USGS website show it was felt as far away as Kansas City, Missouri, some 300 miles northeast of Covington. Residents of Wichita and Joplin also reported feeling it. Saturday's quakes were in the same area where four others struck Friday, including one of magnitude 3.7.
KC Waterpark Owner Probed over Home Confrontation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The co-owner of a Kansas waterpark where a 10-year-old boy was killed on a raft ride is being investigated in Texas over a confrontation with people in his home. New Braunfels, Texas, police say a woman reported Thursday that Jeff Henry had threatened her. Henry has not been charged. Henry co-owns Schlitterbahn Water Parks and Resorts and is charged with murder in the 2016 death of Caleb Schwab, who died on a waterslide when his raft went airborne and hit an overhead loop. Henry made his first court appearance in Kansas and flew back to Texas on Thursday. Defense attorney Ron Barroso told local media when Henry arrived at his home he discovered people staying there had burglarized and ransacked it. He says Henry confronted them, which prompted the woman's call to police. Barroso says Henry plans to file charges.
Designer of Fatal Waterslide Being Held in Kansas Jail
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The designer of a waterslide at a Kansas waterpark where a 10-year-old boy was decapitated has been booked into a Kansas jail. John Schooley, who designed the Verruckt slide for the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2016 death of Caleb Schwab. A Kansas City television station reports Schooley was released from a Texas jail and was booked into the Wyandotte County jail Friday afternoon. His attorney, J. Justin Johnston, says in a bond motion that Schooley's design for the waterslide and the raft involved in the boy's death were modified after the ride was commissioned, meaning his design is not responsible for the fatality. The motion seeking to reduce Schooley's bond says he wasn't affiliated with the Kansas park after April 2015.
Tobacco Suit Raises Issues with New Smoking Ordinances
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Fifteen municipalities in the Kansas City, Kansas metro area have passed ordinances restricting tobacco sales to people 21 and older. But a recent ruling in Shawnee County is calling into question whether such ordinances are legal. The Kansas City Star reports that a tobacco retailer won its case last month against Topeka's Tobacco 21 ordinance. The shop's lawsuit argued that the city's ordinance violated state law because the tobacco licenses the Kansas issues to retailers allow them to sell to people 18 and older. But supporters of the ordinance argue that state law prohibits retailers from selling tobacco only to people under the age of 18. The say Tobacco 21 ordinances are more stringent, but don't conflict with it.
KSU Athletics Eliminates Annual Student Fee
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State students will no longer be required to pay a fee to supports athletics. Kansas State Athletics and student government announced Friday the fee will end in the 2018-19 school year, a year earlier than had previously been announced. Kansas State officials say the decision makes it the only university athletics program in the state and one of only a few in the country to operate with no direct or indirect university and student funding or state support. The Student Government Association allocated $350,000 for intercollegiate athletics during the current fiscal year, most of which helped pay some of the $1.1 million the athletic department pays to student workers each year. The announcement comes after the department recently eliminated more than $2.6 million in other direct and indirect university funding.
Kansas Supreme Court Overturns Double Murder Convictions
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has overturned a woman's convictions in the 2002 shooting deaths of her ex-husband and his fiancee. Dana Chandler was convicted in 2012 of killing Michael Sisco and Karen Harkness in Topeka. The court ruled Friday that Chandler was convicted after Shawnee County prosecutors falsely claimed that Sisco had taken out a protection from abuse order against her before the killings. The justices wrote prosecutors used that false claim and circumstantial evidence to support its theory that Chandler was dangerous. Chandler consistently said that she did not kill the couple. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports no physical evidence linked Chandler, who lived in Denver at the time of the killings, to the crime. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay must decide whether to try Chandler again.
Holton Man Pleads No Contest after Police Standoff
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A Holton man pleaded no contest to attempted murder and other crimes after a standoff where authorities say he fired shots at officers and his wife. Patrick Wayne Miller entered the plea Friday to attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that on December 3rd, Holton police and Jackson County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call about a domestic dispute. Police say Miller ran into his house and fired several times at officers and his wife, who was in a police car. No one was injured. A Holton officer returned fire but no one was hit. Miller surrendered after a two-hour standoff. His wife, Erica Bell, was later charged with aggravated assault and two counts of domestic battery.
Man Sentenced in KCK Triple Homicide
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man who shot and killed three people inside a Kansas City, Kansas, home has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. The Kansas City Star reports 29-year-old Jason Tucker was given the sentence Thursday. He pleaded guilty in February to capital murder in the May 2017 deaths of Vincent Rocha, his wife Bernadette Gosserand, and his adult son Jeremy Rocha. Wyandotte County prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in exchange for Tucker's guilty plea. The shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute between Tucker and Gosserand's son, Bryan Balza, who had sought an order of protection from Tucker. Prosecutors say Tucker confronted and shot Balza on the front porch of the family's home, then went inside and killed the three victims. Balza survived.
Hutchingson Women Arrested in Hoax Emergency Call Case
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Two women have been arrested on suspicion of making a hoax emergency call that led police to order a man from a Hutchinson garage at gunpoint while he held a 3-month-old baby amid a custody dispute. The Hutchinson News reports that the women were arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of making a false call for emergency services. An affidavit read Thursday during their first appearance says police surrounded the garage after receiving a call that an armed man had battered two family members and didn't want to return to prison. No one was hurt before or during the call. A judge found probable cause for the women's arrest and ordered them to reappear next week. No charges were immediately filed. One of the women is awaiting sentencing for battery.