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Headlines for Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Kansas House Panel Passes Bill to End Business Tax Break

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas House committee has approved a bill to end a business tax break championed by Governor Sam Brownback. The Taxation Committee's 13-8 vote Monday sent the measure to the House for debate.  The bill would raise an estimated $134 million during the next fiscal year.  The measure repeals a tax break for 333,000 business owners and farmers enacted in 2012 at Brownback's urging to boost the economy. The bill imposes a 2.7 percent tax on most of the income and a 4.6 percent tax on rents and royalties.  The committee is considering proposals to raise taxes to close a projected budget deficit is $406 million for the next fiscal year.


Brownback Mum on Possible Veto of Tax Break Repeal  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is not saying whether he would veto a revenue-raising plan from legislators if it repeals a tax break he's championed for business owners and farmers. The Republican governor shrugged off that question Tuesday as the House Taxation Committee worked on a plan to close a projected $406 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The committee on Monday approved a bill repealing a tax break enacted in 2012 for more than 330,000 business owners and farmers. It exempted their profits from personal income taxes. Brownback pushed for the tax break as an economic stimulus and opposes repealing it. Asked about the House committee's action Monday, the governor said he wants to see what emerges from the lengthy process of passing a tax plan.


Kansas Lawmakers Gravitate Toward Raising State's Sales Tax 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas are moving toward increasing the state's sales tax to help close a budget shortfall while also reducing the tax on food. The House and Senate tax committees reviewed multiple proposals Tuesday for raising revenues to close a projected $406 million deficit in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. No plan emerged from either committee. But Republican legislators kept coming back to proposals to raise the state's 6.15 percent sales tax. The House committee considered and rejected proposals to boost the tax to 7.15 percent and 6.8 percent, but members planned to review more alternatives Wednesday. The Senate committee plans to debate a proposal to raise the sales tax to 6.5 percent. Both committees are considering proposals to drop the sales tax on food.


Kansas Club for Growth Airing Cable Ads Favoring Tax Break

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An anti-tax group has launched a statewide cable television ad campaign to pressure legislators into preserving an income tax exemption for more than 330,000 business owners and farmers. Kansas Club for Growth lobbyist Mark Dugan said the group began the television spots Tuesday and plans to run them at least a week. The ads began a day after the House Taxation Committee approved a bill to repeal the tax break to help close a budget shortfall. The break was enacted in 2012 and exempted farmers' and business owners' profits from personal income taxes. Republican Governor Sam Brownback championed it as an economic stimulus, and the ads say it has helped small businesses grow. Dugan declined to say how much the Kansas Club for Growth is spending on the ads.


Kansas Legislators Agree on Local Elections Compromise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators have agreed to move local elections to the fall in odd-numbered years. Representatives from the Senate and House came to a compromise Monday after each chamber passed different versions of the same elections reform bill earlier in the session. Republican Representative Mark Kahrs of Wichita says the move would boost turnout to between 30 percent and 40 percent - more than double the turnout in most recent local elections. The bill also would bar general election candidates from dropping out of the race unless experiencing "severe medical hardship." Presidential primaries in the state also would be canceled under the bill. 


Brownback Makes Appointments to Commissions, Boards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback has announced new appointments to four state boards and commissions Monday. Brownback appointed Stephanie Kupper of Overland Park and William Rogers of Kansas City to serve on the Kansas Volunteer Commission for three-year terms. The commission prepares a community service plan for the state. Larry Ross of Silver Lake has been re-appointed to serve a three-year term on the Kansas Board of Barbering. The governor appointed Dee Lynn Krehbiel of Plevna to serve a four-year term on the Coordinating Council on Early Childhood Development services.  David Meier of Humboldt was appointed to serve on the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. It reviews domestic violence cases and makes recommendations to prevent homicides.


Shawnee District Attorney: Fatal Police Shooting Justified

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Shawnee County District Attorney says police officers were justified in the fatal shooting of a man in Topeka after he committed two carjackings. Four law enforcement officers shot 38-year-old Richard Reed of Maple Hill in April during a standoff on a bridge in Topeka after he fired a rifle at them. District Attorney Chad Taylor said Monday three officers from the Topeka police department and one Capitol Police officer acted in self-defense and to defend others when they shot Reed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Reed carjacked two cars and rammed three vehicles - including a police car - before he was shot multiple times as he fired at officers. He was hospitalized for eight days before he died April 18.


Lawrence Mayor to Join Group Supporting Gay Marriage

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The mayor of Lawrence is set to join a national effort that supports marriage equality for gay couples. The Lawrence Journal World reports city commissioners are scheduled to authorize Mayor Jeremy Farmer to join the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition at their Tuesday meeting. More than 450 members have joined the coalition, which lobbies for an end to laws that prohibit gay couples from marrying. Farmer, who was sworn in as mayor in early April, said he is confident that such a change is supported by a majority of Lawrence residents. Mayors are asked to sign a statement that supports same sex-marriage and affirms how a community can be enriched by diversity.


County Commission Approves $17M for Assisted Living Facility

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Shawnee County Commission has unanimously passed a resolution issuing $17 million in bonds for an assisted living center in the River Hill subdivision. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the industrial revenue bonds will cover the cost of constructing, equipping and maintaining a transitional care facility on 10 acres containing more than 90 beds in southwest Topeka. Part of the bond money will be used to help fund support groups for mental health, substance abuse, sex offender and batterer's intervention, and domestic violence. Almost 100 people, including a full-time care coordinator, will be employed at the facility. A time frame for when construction will begin has not been set.


Widespread Rains Boost Kansas Crops

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Widespread rains helped boost farm crops and replenish soil moisture across Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 70 percent of the state's winter wheat crop has now headed. Wheat condition was rated as 31 percent poor to very poor with 42 percent in fair condition. About 25 percent of the crop is in good and 2 percent in excellent condition. The agency also issued a report for spring-planted corn fields. It rated corn condition as 5 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 52 percent good and 4 percent excellent. Kansas farmers this last week also moved cattle to summer pasture. The agency rated pasture conditions in the state as 17 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 38 percent good and 7 percent excellent.


Report: Kansas Wheat Crop Forecast at 272M Bushels

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Agricultural Statistics Service is forecasting that the nation's winter wheat crop will be up 7 percent this year. Their official production estimate of 1.47 billion bushels released Tuesday is based on average yield forecast of 43.5 bushels per acre. For Kansas, the agency estimated the state will bring in 272 million bushels of winter wheat. That is up from the 246.4 million bushels cut during last year's drought-plagued season. But the government's initial forecast is less optimistic than the 288.5 million bushels estimated by participants in last week's wheat tour. NASS is forecasting the average Kansas yield at 32 bushels an acre. Their estimate for the nation's hard red winter wheat crop is up 16 percent to 853 million bushels. Kansas grows mostly hard red winter wheat.


U.S. Corn, Soybean Crops Expected to Be Slightly Smaller 


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The government says farmers are expected to grow 13.6 billion bushels of corn this year, about 4 percent less than last year's record crop. The estimate released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture assumes an average per-acre yield of nearly 167 bushels an acre, down from last year's record 171 bushels. Soybean farmers are expected to grow nearly 3.85 billion bushels, down 3 percent from last year's record crop. The soybean per-acre yield is projected at 46 bushels per acre, down 1.8 bushels from last year's record. The USDA says farmers have started well this growing season with 75 percent of the corn crop planted, ahead of the five-year average of 57 percent. Soybean farmers have planted nearly one-third of the crop, ahead of the average of 20 percent.


Jury Seeks Multiple 24-Year Sentences in 1991 Rape of Teen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Jackson County (Missouri) jury is recommending seven 24-year sentences for a Kansas man convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl more than two decades ago. Prosecutors say 43-year-old Maurice Parnell Webber of Overland Park, Kansas, was found guilty last week of three counts of rape and four counts of sodomy for the 1991 assault of a woman in Kansas City's Swope Park. The same jury on Monday recommended the sentences. Police say the victim was driving home from a concert and pulled over into an apartment complex parking lot to sleep. She says she awoke in a different car occupied by four males and was sexually assaulted by three of them. Webber was linked to the assault through DNA. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.


Association Plans Online Brown v. Board Discussion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The urban school's arm of the National School Boards Association is planning an online discussion to mark the 61st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Association officials said in a news release that one school each from Baltimore, Little Rock, Arkansas, and New York are participating in Monday's event. It's happening one day after the anniversary of the May 17, 1954, ruling that overturned segregated education. Students from the participating schools will talk about the effect the Brown decision has had on their lives and on our nation's educational system. They'll also talk about issues such as inequitable educational opportunities. The association's Council of Urban Boards of Education plans to put on a similar event each year. This year's will be the first.


Kansas City Police Seek Car Connected to Teenager's Death 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say they are looking for a white Chevrolet Malibu connected to the death of a 17-year-old girl who died in a crash as her car attempted to flee from someone firing shots. The Kansas City Star reports that the death of Brayona Hullum on Friday afternoon is being investigated as a homicide. The girl was found dead outside the vehicle, while her sisters and a cousin were taken to hospitals with critical injuries. Police say the crash happened around 12:30 pm Friday as a male with gold teeth and braids fired shots from a different car. Brayona was not hit by gunfire. Her stepmother said at a vigil on Monday the family has no idea why someone would shoot at them.


KC-Area High School Band Selected for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri marching band has nabbed a spot in the 2016 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy's made a surprise announcement at Grain Valley High School near Kansas City. The retailer says hundreds of marching bands from across the nation vied for 10 performing slots. The annual parade through the streets of New York City started in 1924.


Royals Drop Game One in Series Versus Texas Rangers 8-2 

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Kansas City Royals lost the first of a four-game series versus the Texas Rangers 8-2 Monday night. The defending AL champion Royals didn't arrive in Texas until about 5:45 a.m. Monday after their 10-inning, rain-delayed victory at Detroit that ended after midnight. The Royals' Danny Duffy (2-2) matched his career high with six walks while pitching only 3 and 2/3 innings. He struck out four while giving up six runs and five hits. The Rangers' Colby Lewis (3-2) beat the Royals for the first time since 2003 by limiting them to one run and three hits over seven innings. 


Chiefs Sign 6 of 9 Draft Picks, 11 Undrafted Players


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs have signed six of their nine selections from the NFL draft, including second-round pick Mitch Morse, along with 11 undrafted free agents. Along with Morse, an offensive lineman, Kansas City signed fourth-round pick Ramik Wilson, a linebacker; fifth-round selection D.J. Alexander, another linebacker; fellow fifth-round pick James O'Shaughnessy, a tight end; sixth-round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches, a defensive tackle; and seventh-round selection Da'Ron Brown, a wide receiver. Among the undrafted free agents signed by the Chiefs on Tuesday are former Pittsburg State cornerback De'Vante Bausby, Mississippi State cornerback Justin Cox, Georgia Southern offensive lineman Garrett Frye and Iowa State defensive tackle David Irving. The Chiefs have their rookie minicamp scheduled for this weekend.


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