Headlines for Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Kansas Attorney General Criticizes Federal Home Health Laws
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says new federal regulations threaten home health care services in Kansas. Schmidt asked a federal appeals court on Monday to affirm a lower court ruling that blocked new U.S. Department of Labor regulations. In a court brief, Schmidt argued the federal agency overstepped its authority by s requiring overtime pay for home health care workers and reducing the services they can provide. Eight other attorneys general joined Schmidt in the court brief. The attorneys general argue Congress specifically exempted home health care workers from federal overtime rules. They also argue new rules on the types of services home health care workers may provide undermine the government's desire to allow senior citizens to receive care in their homes.
Kansas Governor Signs Nation's 1st Ban on Common Abortion Procedure
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback has signed legislation making Kansas the first state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus. Brownback signed the measure Tuesday in a private ceremony at the governor's residence. A photo posted by his office on Twitter shows him flanked by anti-abortion leaders and large photos of fetuses. The new law, which takes effect July 1, bans the dilation and evacuation procedure, and redefines the method as "dismemberment abortion." The method is commonly used in second-trimester abortions nationwide and in about 9 percent of the abortions in Kansas. Abortion-rights supporters say the method is sometimes the safest for a woman terminating her pregnancy. The National Right to Life Committee drafted the measure. Similar measures are being considered in other states.
State Hospital May Freeze Admissions Due to Renovations
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Osawatomie State Hospital is being forced to transfer or discharge 21 patients as it prepares for renovations. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services announced Tuesday that the facility's occupancy will be reduced to 146 from 167 until its ceilings can be upgraded to be safer. It also said it expects the hospital will have to stop taking additional patients until the renovations are completed in October. In the past six months federal officials have twice threatened to withhold federal funding from the hospital due to poor conditions and overcrowding. KDADS spokeswoman Gina Meier-Hummel says the renovations will cost $3 million and that most of the affected patients will be moved to assisted living facilities, nursing homes and other community mental health centers.
Wichita Voters Decide on Marijuana Ballot Issue
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Voters in Wichita will decide today (TUE) whether to approve a ballot measure that seeks to ease penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The issue is on the ballot for Wichita's municipal election. The proposed ordinance does not legalize marijuana. It makes first-time possession a criminal infraction with a $50 fine. Under state law, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in jail. Opponents contend the city has no legal authority to adopt an ordinance that conflicts with state law. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has said he would sue the city if it passes. Supporters say people should vote for the measure anyway to send the Legislature a message.
Lawrence School Officials Fear New Funding Law
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence school officials worry that their district will be forced to pay back nearly $672,000 in aid from the state by the end of June under a new school funding law. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Superintendent Rick Doll said Monday that the district might impose a hiring freeze for non-teaching jobs. He also said the district may have fewer teachers and larger classes in some schools in the fall. The new law replaced the state's former per-student aid formula with grants for districts. It cut $51 million from the amount of aid school districts had expected to receive for the current school year. The Lawrence district already has received more in aid than the new law provides. However, legislators are considering not requiring districts to repay the state.
Critics Slam Masterson's Bill on Kansas School District Boundaries
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Critics say that a new Kansas bill to protect current out-of-district students in school districts does not address the problem of state budget cuts. Republican state Senator Ty Masterson's new bill is designed to let current out-of-district students remain in their districts. But some say it does not address budget cuts related to the state's new law establishing temporary block grants for schools. Seaman Unified School District 345 and Silver Lake USD 372 will not accept new students who live outside their boundaries next year. Under the block grant law, districts will receive grants that largely freeze their general aid at this year's level. According to Democratic Senator Laura Kelly, this law puts schools in a position where they need to preserve money for students who live in their district.
Kansas County Reports First Whooping Cough Case in a Decade
KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas county is investigating its first case of whooping cough in a decade. Kingman County officials say a student at Kingman High School came down with the illness on March 27. The student currently is being treated at home. The Hutchinson News reports 25 to 30 people who were in close contact with the teenager are being treated with an antibiotic. Kingman County Health Department spokeswoman Mary Schwartz says those people will be tracked for 21 days. The department also is working closely with the school to watch for more cases. Outbreaks of the disease have been reported this year in Barton and Sedgwick counties.
Crash Claims Life of 1-Month-Old Kansas Girl, Hurts 3 Others
PERRY, Kan. (AP) — A 1-month-old girl is dead and three people were injured after a two-vehicle crash on US 24 in Jefferson County west of Perry. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kaysein Harris of Lawrence was in her safety restraint when the accident happened just before 3 pm Monday. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports a westbound 2008 Honda Civic moved over to the gravel shoulder but the driver overcorrected and the car slid sideways into the eastbound lanes. An eastbound 2010 Ford pickup truck struck the Honda's passenger side, killing Kaysein. A 3-year-old girl in the Honda and the car's driver also were injured. The Patrol says 32-year-old Aaron Thakker of Eudora was driving the pickup truck and also was possibly injured.
Kansas City Mayor Delays Vote on 'Living Wage' Proposal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James is delaying a vote on a "living wage" proposal because he says it's too important for a hasty decision. The Kansas City Star reports that the ordinance was discussed last week at a meeting of the council's Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee. The committee was expected to give it positive vote Wednesday, but James announced Monday that he'd reassigned the proposal to the full council. That will delay a decision because the full council isn't scheduled to take up the measure this week. The measure would require Kansas City employers to pay no less than $10 per hour beginning in September, with the minimum wage gradually rising to $15 per hour by 2020.
Judge Dismisses Indictment in Kansas Identity Theft Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has dismissed the indictment against a woman who had been accused of obtaining her U.S. citizenship by falsely claiming an identity theft victim was her stepfather. Government prosecutors told the court Monday no further action against 48-year-old Antonia Vargas-Ortega is contemplated unless additional evidence is discovered. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson says the prosecution doesn't have sufficient evidence against Vargas-Ortega to go forward with the case. Her father, Ramon Perez-Rivera, was separately indicted for an identity theft scheme in which authorities say he legally changed a U.S. citizen's name to his own. Her parents are charged with using the false identity to get food stamps and Medicaid, obtain a passport and driver's license, and attempt to get Social Security benefits.
Judge Continues Kansas Pollution Case While Considering Findings
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has delayed sentencing for a Kansas metal finishing business and its owner while he considers arguments in the case. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said Monday he would enter an order later in the case against C&R Plating and owner Kevin L. Cline. Cline and his company have admitted discharging untreated wastewater into a city sewer and submitting fraudulent samples and reports to conceal the dumping. They pleaded guilty in December to introducing pollutants into the water treatment system of the north-central Kansas community of Minneapolis. The U.S. attorney's office says the judge indicated at the hearing that this was a complex case and said it was better to get it right than do it quickly. Another sentencing hearing will be scheduled.
Russell County Opens 1902 Time Capsule
RUSSELL, Kan. (AP) - The opening of a 113-year-old time capsule discovered in the cornerstone of the Russell County Courthouse was a little anti-climactic. About 150 people crowded around Monday to see the contents of a 10-inch rectangular copper box in Russell. What they saw was mostly documents and newspapers from around 1902, when the capsule was buried inside the courthouse cornerstone. The time capsule was discovered when the cornerstone was removed during renovations in March. The Salina Journal reports the contents also included a 1901 coin, documents from churches and Masonic materials. The Russell County Historical Society now has the capsule's contents. The documents will be scanned into a computer so people can examine them without handling the papers.
Woman Arrested for Attacking Grandson with Branch, Car
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A 68-year-old Wichita woman didn't take kindly to having her grandson swearing at her, so police say she hit him with a tree branch and tried to run over him with a car. The Wichita Eagle reports the woman and her grandson's girlfriend were arrested on Monday after an incident that started as a domestic dispute escalated. Police say the 27-year-old grandson accused his girlfriend of having an affair with their landlord at an apartment complex, prompting the 19-year-old to start throwing her boyfriend's belongings out of the apartment. Police say the man began arguing with his grandmother when he went into the apartment to retrieve his young child. Police spokesman Lieutenant James Espinoza says the girlfriend was arrested for punching the man in the face during the argument.
Kansas City Police Hope to Prevent Spread of 'Coffin' Stunt
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are trying to stop a stunt where people jump backward onto an object to mimic someone laying in a coffin from spreading in the city after an incident occurred last weekend on the Country Club Plaza. The Kansas City Star reports that two juveniles were arrested Saturday after allegedly damaging three parked vehicles while participating in the act known as "put 'em in a coffin," which has become popular on social media. Victims of the alleged incident have told police they do not wish to prosecute. According to Captain Tye Grant, the weekend incident was the first time the stunt has occurred in Kansas City. Videos of similar incidents that have been posted on social media show people jumping on store displays, landscaping and unsuspecting individuals.
Fort Hays State Plans Race for Children's Speech Clinic
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Fort Hays State University is planning a race to raise money for children's speech therapy. The university announced Monday that it would hold the event April 25 in Municipal Park in Hays. Participants may choose to register for a five-kilometer run, a one-mile walk or the post-race celebration only. Proceeds from the event will go to the university's Herndon Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. The deadline for early registration is April 17 and the cost is $15 for Fort Hays State students, $20 for adults and $10 for children. It includes entry, a T-shirt and lunch. Those that miss the early registration deadline must pay an additional $5.
Ventura Wins Season Opener as Royals Rout White Sox 10-1
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yordano Ventura pitched six solid innings and Alex Rios had a three-run homer as the AL champion Kansas City Royals defeated the Chicago White Sox 10-1 to open the 2015 season on Monday. Ventura was replaced by Kelvin Herrera in the seventh inning after injuring his thumb. Royals trainers said the injury is not believed to be serious. Rios, who was making his Kansas City debut, homered in a five-run seventh inning and Alex Gordon also hit a two-run single in the inning. Jose Abreu homered in the seventh to score the only run for the White Sox.