Headlines for Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Kansas House Passes Budget Requiring Higher Taxes to Balance
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a budget that would still leave the state with a $406 million shortfall. The chamber voted 64-48 to approve the measure Wednesday. It would cut in half a budget shortfall initially projected at about $800 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1. After days of acrimonious debate over tax proposals in the Senate, the House passed the budget without discussion. Republican Representative Dan Hawkins of Wichita said he believed there was no debate because the chamber understood a budget needed to be passed to prevent state worker furloughs. Administration officials have said workers would be furloughed Sunday without a budget signed by the governor. Democratic Minority Leader Tom Burroughs says Republicans violated procedure by closing debate before Democrats could speak.
Kansas Lawmakers' Tax Talks to Start Close to Brownback Plan
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House's top tax negotiator says he wants his chamber to vote on a revenue-raising proposal close to one from Republican Governor Sam Brownback. But GOP Representative Marvin Kleeb of Overland Park said Wednesday that he'll probably propose a lower increase in the state's sales tax than the governor. Brownback last week proposed increasing the sales tax to 6.65 percent from 6.15 percent and raising the state's cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack to $1.29. He's also proposing to increase business taxes by $24 million during the fiscal year beginning July 1. Legislative negotiators had their first, inconclusive round of talks Wednesday. Kleeb said he'll offer a plan during their next meeting Thursday. Lawmakers must close a projected $406 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.
Brownback Administration Seeks Dismissal of Media Lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration is asking a judge to dismiss or immediately decide a lawsuit filed over his refusal to release the names of applicants for the Saline County Commission. The Associated Press, The Salina Journal and The Topeka Capital-Journal are suing the governor, contending that names of applicants to public boards are public record. The administration argues the records are exempt from the Kansas Open Records Act. Attorneys for the governor filed their motion Monday in Shawnee County District Court seeking immediate action. Salina attorney Nathanael Berg told The Salina Journal that the motion is routine in such lawsuits, and he will file a response by July 1. Arguments in the case have been scheduled for September 17.
Kansas Lawmakers Approve Further Limits on Local Gun Rules
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators have approved a bill to prevent cities and counties from imposing special taxes on firearms or from using zoning ordinances to limit gun sales. The House passed the measure on a 96-14 vote Tuesday. The Senate approved it on a 35-3 vote Monday, and it goes next to Governor Sam Brownback for his potential signature. The measure follows up on a law enacted last year to nullify city and county restrictions on the sale, possession and transportation of firearms. The 2014 law didn't specifically address the power of local officials to levy taxes and fees or their power to restrict property use through zoning ordinances. Gun rights supporters say they're trying to prevent a confusing jumble of local rules. Critics contend local officials should have the power to regulate firearms their communities.
Services Set for Wichita Marine Who Died in Nepal Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A U.S. Marine who died in a helicopter crash in Nepal will be buried Friday in his native Wichita. The body of 31-year-old Marine Captain Chris Norgren was returned to Wichita Tuesday. He was one of six Marines and two Nepali service members who died May 12 when the Marine helicopter they were in crashed while delivering disaster aid to earthquake victims in Nepal. After his body arrived at McConnell Air Force Base, it was escorted to the funeral home by more than 50 motorcycle riders as hundreds of people lined the route to honor Norgren. Norgren's funeral is scheduled for Friday at 10:30 am at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wichita.
Man Sentenced to More than 25 Years for Junction City Death
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man was sentenced to more than 25 years in prison for the shooting death of a Junction City man. Anthony Nichols was sentenced Monday in Geary County District Court for the September 2013 death of 37-year-old Anthony Nixon. Nichols pleaded no contest in April to voluntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery in Nixon's death. The Manhattan Mercury reports Nichols is still facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 68-year-old John Burroughs in Manhattan the day before Nixon was killed. Nichols is accused of shooting and wounding Burroughs. His trial in that case is scheduled for July 28. Another man, 34-year-old James McKenith of Manhattan, was sentenced in May 2014 to life in prison for stabbing and killing Burroughs.
Charges Filed in Accident that Killed Kansas Deputy, Wife
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man is charged with involuntary manslaughter after an accident that killed a couple riding in a group of motorcycles near Great Bend last year. The Great Bend Tribune reports William Howard Baker of Great Bend made his first court appearance Tuesday and his attorney waived reading of the charges. Baker is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and four traffic infractions. Prosecutors say 27-year-old Reno County Jail Deputy Shawn Schellenger and his 33-year-old wife, Danielle, died last August when a trailer came loose from a truck Baker was driving. The trailer, which was hauling a lawn mower, hit a motorcycle the Schellengers were riding just outside Great Bend. They later died at a Wichita hospital.
Woman Sentenced for Embezzling from Kansas Honor Flights
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Great Bend woman was sentenced to about two years in prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from a program that flies military veterans to Washington D.C. to visit national war monuments. A Barton County judge on Tuesday sentenced LaVeta Miller to 25 months and ordered her to pay $130,000 in restitution. She was convicted in March of two counts of theft by deception for embezzling from the Central Kansas Honor Flights program. Program supporters say the embezzlement prevented some veterans from making the trip to Washington D.C. and led to the chapter being dissolved. Sentencing guidelines recommended probation but Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews asked the court to instead send Miller to prison. The Hutchinson News reports Miller has repeatedly said she did nothing wrong.
Wichita Airport Officially Opens New Terminal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new terminal at the Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita is officially open. State and local officials were on hand Wednesday morning as the terminal mark its first day of business. Wichita media report the first flight was supposed to be an American Airlines flight to Dallas but that flight was delayed because of a power problem on the airplane — not because of any problems in the terminal. So a United Airlines flight to Chicago became the first plane out of the terminal. The American Airlines flight was able to take off a short time later. The new terminal has 12 gates on two levels, although three of the gates won't be open until further work is done, which could take up to a year.
Classes Begin for Kansas College's Doctoral Program in Nursing
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Classes have started this week at Pittsburg State University for the school's first group of students working toward a doctorate degree in nursing practice. The coursework comes amid a need for highly educated nurse practitioners in the southeast Kansas area, largely because of a recent growth of rural health clinics. The Joplin Globe reports that around 16 students are in the program. Director Mary Carol Pomatto of the university's nursing school says the program's goal was to admit 12. She says students should finish their degree in December 2016. Students say they selected the program because of affordability and location. Others said the program would help them provide the highest level of care for patients.
NTSB Report: Faulty Engine Part Caused 2012 Wichita Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Records of a fatal 2012 plane crash near Wichita indicate a part that broke inside the aircraft's engine was the likely reason the Cessna Caravan went down. The Wichita Eagle reports the probable cause statement from the November, 2012 accident was posted online Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The crash killed 52-year-old pilot Brian P. Quinn of Lawrence, who told air traffic controllers soon after taking off from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport that he had lost engine power and was trying to return to the airport. His final transmission, eight minutes after takeoff, said he was going to land in a grass field. He was killed when the plane touched down in a field of winter wheat and rolled into a tree row and struck a tree.
Kansas Man Gets 8 Life Sentences for 3 Child Sexual Assaults
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A 41-year-old Wichita man with a long history of sex crimes has been given eight life sentences without the possibility of parole for sexually assaulting three underage girls. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says Terrill Andrews was sentenced Tuesday on three counts of rape, three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. District Court Judge Jeffrey Goering ordered two of the life sentences to run consecutively. Bennett says Andrews was a registered sex offender in 2013 when he sexually assaulted three girls ages 13, 14 and 16, including two who were runaways from a Wichita halfway house. Andrews previously was convicted of sexual intercourse with a minor in California and court-martialed in the Navy for rape and sodomy.
Lawrence Manufacturer Moving Operations to Alabama
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A longtime Lawrence manufacturer says it will close its production center later this year and move its operations to Alabama. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kinedyne, which makes cargo straps and similar products, is moving operations to Prattville, Alabama, later this summer. The Lawrence plant employs 93 people. The company says 23 production and warehouse positions will displaced by the closure, and an undisclosed number of office workers will stay in Lawrence until December 2016. Kinedyne has operated in Lawrence since 1989 when it purchased Aeroquip Corporation.
Mom and Baby Survive After Being Ejected in I-70 Collision
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Topeka woman and her 5-month-old daughter have survived after being flung from their SUV when a truck struck it from behind on the shoulder of Interstate 70. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Passion Hendricks was feeding the baby in a Chevrolet Suburban parked alongside the highway with mechanical problems around 7 pm Tuesday. The Kansas Highway Patrol says Michael Saulsbury of Kansas City, Missouri, was westbound when his GMC Sierra left the road and struck Hendricks' vehicle. The impact sent the SUV onto its side and into the ditch, ejecting Hendricks as she held the baby. A 16-month-old girl who was restrained in a child seat remained in the SUV. Saulsbury's vehicle also overturned. All four were taken to a Topeka hospital, where they were treated and released.
Missouri Man Killed While Trying to Save Burning Home
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 49-year-old western Missouri man is dead after taking a fire hose into his burning home in an attempt to save it. The Jackson County (Missouri) Sheriff's office says deputies were called to the rural Jackson County home at 4:30 am Wednesday. A 48-year-old woman who lives in the house told deputies she awoke to the sound of her brother, John Romanchuk, yelling for everyone to get out and call 911. The woman says after everyone was safely out, Romanchuk ran back inside with a fire hose. Firefighters found the man unresponsive in the upstairs bathroom. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Residents of the home told investigators it might have started when Romanchuk fell asleep while smoking.
KU Lands Top Basketball Recruit Lagerald Vick
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Prized basketball prospect Lagerald Vick, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, signed an agreement Tuesday to play basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks this year. Vick was originally planning to attend prep school for a year, but he managed to complete all the academic requirements necessary to be part of this year's recruiting class. Vick averaged 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists last season for Douglass High School in Memphis, Tennessee. Vick joins incoming freshmen Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg in giving the Jayhawks one of the top recruiting classes in the country. All three are consensus top-50 recruits.
MLB Apologizes to Royals for Costly Glitch in Replay System
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Major League Baseball has apologized to the Kansas City Royals for a breakdown in its replay process during a crucial moment in a 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The issue occurred in the eighth inning of a tied game Tuesday night, when first base umpire Bob Davidson ruled the Indians' Jose Ramirez had beaten out a relay throw to prevent a double play. Replays showed Ramirez was out, but the call stood after a nearly 3-minute review. The Indians wound up scoring the go-ahead run later in the inning. MLB said Wednesday that the "super slow motion view" was delayed in getting to the replay crew in New York, so umpires there had to render a decision without that information.