KU Wins Big 12 Tourney after 81-70 Win over West Virginia
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) The 9th-ranked Kansas men's basketball team beat West Virginia 81-70 in the Big 12 Tournament title game. It's the 11th Big 12 postseason championship for the Jayhawks. Devonte Graham scored 18 points; freshman Silvio DeSousa scored 16 points. Saturday's win at the Sprint Center in Kansas City moves KU to 27-7 for the year, with 27 wins for the 4th straight season. KU and Kansas State will learn their NCAA tournament fate Sunday evening. This will mark the 47th appearance at the NCAA tournament for the Jayhawks.
Critics Call Kansas House GOP's School Safety Plan Weak
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas have responded to the mass shooting at a Florida high school with a plan to mandate state safety standards for schools. The measure they unveiled this week also would provide state funds to school districts for training and security upgrades. But the bill faces skepticism from educators and other legislators. The skeptics say the new spending is not enough and argue that the House GOP leaders who drafted the plan are ducking a core issue by not proposing gun control measures. The bill would require the State Board of Education to impose standards for securing school entrances, using surveillance, training employees and conducting drills for students. It would set aside $5 million for grants to local schools for training and security upgrades.
Police: Man Killed, Another Injured in Wichita Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old man has died and a passenger has been injured in west Wichita crash. The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash happened early Saturday morning. Police say a pickup truck was traveling north when it ran a stop sign, jumped a curb, went through a wooden fence and hit a tree in a lawn. Police say a passenger, a 29-year-old man, was found outside the truck by officers who responded to the call. The driver was pinned in the wreckage, which caught fire after the crash. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not yet released the names of the men.
No Charges Filed in Manhattan High School Football Beating
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — No Manhattan High School football players will be charged in a beating that injured two teammates last fall. Lyon County Attorney Marc Goodman said in a letter to Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson this week that he found insufficient evidence to prove a criminal case in the October incident. He said investigators were given vague and conflicting statements and he was unable to determine who participated or caused injuries. The Manhattan Mercury reports two high school football players were hurt by teammates when they were hit and kicked in what was called a "birthday beatdown." Goodman said the conduct did not rise to the level of a criminal act. The case was sent to Lyon County because two of the players' parents work at the Riley County Attorney's office.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Closed at KU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A fraternity at the University of Kansas has been closed because of several health and safety violations and a failure to meet its national organization's guidelines. The national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization announced Thursday that the Kansas chapter will close after 115 years at the university. The national organization didn't elaborate on what led to the closing. All Kansas members have been suspended indefinitely. The chapter will remain closed for no less than four years or until the last current members have graduated or left the university. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university had placed the fraternity on probation for two years after violations of the students' code of conduct. Two other Kansas fraternities, Delta Upsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon, have been suspended this year.
Law Firm Announces Pro Bono Help in Kansas Deportation Case
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A large Kansas City law firm is offering free legal help to a Kansas chemist facing deportation. The Polsinelli law firm said this week it will work with immigration lawyer Rekha Sharma-Crawford to secure the release of Syed Ahmed Jamal, who was arrested in January and nearly deported after living in Kansas more than 30 years. He lived with his wife and three children in Lawrence. Jamal remains jailed in Platte County, Missouri. He was returned there nearly a month ago after attorneys secured a court order to remove him from a plane in Hawaii that was flying him back to Bangladesh. An attorney at Polsinelli's, Alan Anderson, is Jamal's neighbor. Jamal's case is being reviewed by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals and federal courts in Washington, D.C.
Wichita Businessman Hutton Drops out of Kansas Governor's Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas legislator who founded a Wichita construction company has dropped out of the crowded race for governor. Former state Representative Mark Hutton announced Friday that he was leaving the race for the Republican nomination. He trailed Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer in fundraising and began the race with less name recognition than Colyer and fellow GOP rival Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Hutton's statement did not say whether he would endorse another candidate. Colyer was lieutenant governor until January, when then-Republican Governor Sam Brownback resigned to take an ambassador's post. Brownback was term-limited and the race had attracted more than 20 potential candidates. Hutton served in the Kansas House for four years, starting in 2013. He did not run for re-election in 2016.
Expert: Voter Fraud Rare in Kansas, Nation
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An expert on voter fraud says voter confusion and clerical errors likely led to a "handful" of noncitizens successfully registering to vote Kansas. Lorraine Minnite, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, testified Friday in the trial for a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging a law requiring people to provide documents verifying citizenship when registering. Minnite believes voter fraud is rare in the United States. She said her research on the subject didn't support Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's public assertions that noncitizens registering to vote is a pervasive problem in the country. Earlier Friday, Brian Caskey, director of elections in Kobach's office, testified that he wasn't sure if the office had notified all suspended voters that they could vote in elections.
US Grants $16 Million Amtrak's Southwest Chief Track Repair
RATON, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $16 million grant to Colfax County in northeastern New Mexico to refurbish a freight railroad's tracks used by passenger trains serving Amtrak's Southwest Chief route. New Mexico congressional delegation members who supported the application for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funding announced Friday by the department say the work includes replacing 42 miles of 60-year-old bolted rail and replacing segments of crossties. Most of the work will be on BNSF Railway tracks in New Mexico but some will be in Colorado and Kansas. Two previous grants paid for work on other sections of the Southwest Chief route, which connects Los Angeles and Chicago.
New Kansas Law Stiffens Penalties for Deadly DUI Accidents
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new law in Kansas promises harsher sentences repeat drunken drivers who kill or injure others. Governor Jeff Colyer on Friday signed "Caitlin's Law." It takes effect in July and stiffens penalties for drivers who cause accidents while intoxicated or while circumventing restrictions placed on them because of DUI convictions. Colyer said state officials hope tougher penalties will send a message to people with a history of driving under the influence. The presumed prison sentence for a person with a previous DUI conviction will be nearly 8 years, rather than 5½ years. The new law is named for Caitlin Vogel, a Stilwell special education instructor killed by a drunken driver in 2016 with two previous DUI convictions at the time of the accident. Her 26th birthday would have been Friday.
Kansas Lawmakers Recommend Confirmation for DCF Secretary
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators upset with problems at the state's child welfare agency appear confident that its new top administrator can fix them. The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Friday unanimously recommended confirming Gina Meier-Hummel as secretary of the Department for Children and Families. The full Senate plans to consider Meier-Hummel's appointment next week, and she is expected to have little trouble winning confirmation. She has been acting secretary since December. The department has faced intense scrutiny over several deaths of children in abusive homes in recent years. One case involves a 3-year-old Wichita boy whose body was found last year encased in concrete. Records show that the state received at least eight reports the boy was being abused. But several senators told Meier-Hummel she already has improved the agency.