Headlines for Wednesday, August 26, 2015
South Carolina and Kansas Governors Threaten Lawsuit Over Guantanamo Detainees
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The governors of South Carolina and Kansas are threatening to sue the Obama administration if detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are brought to military installations in either state. In a joint letter Tuesday, Governors Nikki Haley and Sam Brownback told Defense Secretary Ashton Carter they are prepared to take "any action within our power" to stop the transfers. Last week, Haley said Defense Department officials were "wasting their time" in evaluating the Naval Brig near Charleston as a potential site to house detainees. Defense Department officials are also considering the federal penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth. The closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been a top priority for President Obama. But that effort has faced staunch opposition from congressional Republicans and some Democrats.
Kansas Agency Approves Increases to Health Insurance Premiums
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents who buy health insurance on their own could see their premiums increase up to 25.4 percent next year under new rates approved by the state's Insurance Department this week. The state agency says fewer than 5 percent of residents would be affected by the rate increases it approved on Tuesday. The increases don't affect people who purchase the insurance through their employers. The Wichita Eagle reports that there are several reasons why individual insurances plans are increasing. A department official says one is the guaranteed coverage for the plans granted through the Affordable Care Act. This was the first time insurance companies had a full year of experience with Affordable Care Act claims before the companies had to set rates for the following year.
Kansas Judge Allows Suit Over Citizenship Rule to Continue
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge is allowing two voters to continue pursuing a lawsuit challenging how Secretary of State Kris Kobach is enforcing a proof of citizenship requirement for registering. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis also suggested in an order that Kobach exceeded his authority in declaring that voters who use a federal form to register can cast ballots only in federal races. The federal form does not require proof of citizenship. Theis issued an order last week rejecting Kobach's request to decide the case in his favor before a trial. But the judge also didn't block Kobach from enforcing the law as he has for more than a year. ACLU attorney Julie Ebenstein on Wednesday called the ruling encouraging. Kobach said it's still very early in the lawsuit.
Clinton, Kobach Spar in Social Media Flap Over Voting Rights
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is trading barbs over social media with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on voting rights. The spat was sparked by Kobach's proposal to throw out after 90 days names of more than 34,000 potential voters who registered in the state, but didn't provide proof-of-citizenship documents like a birth certificate or naturalization papers. Clinton's campaign late Monday posted a comment on Twitter calling the plan a "targeted attack on voting rights," including a link to a story from The Associated Press about it. Kobach retorted the next day on Facebook that it is not a purge as "left-wing knuckleheads" claim because those people just have to fill out another voter registration form again. He said Clinton is "getting her pantsuit in a twist over nothing."
Kansas ACT Scores Above National Average but Change Little
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas high school students taking the ACT college entrance exam are scoring better on average than their peers nationally and a higher percentage appear ready for college courses. But figures released Wednesday by ACT also show that average scores for Kansas students haven't changed much in recent years. The State Department of Education noted that 32 percent of the 2015 high school graduates in Kansas met all benchmarks for college readiness on the ACT test. That's higher than the national figure of 28 percent and also up from the state's figure of 28 percent for 2011 graduates. The average composite score for 2015 graduates in Kansas was 21.9 on a 36-point scale, compared to the national average of 21. But the figure for Kansas was 22 for 2011 graduates.
Kansas Regulator Endorses Westar's $78M Rate Hike
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Corporation Commission has agreed to endorse Westar Energy's $78 million increase in annual electric rates. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the three members of the rate-setting KCC agreed to the plan Tuesday. Once the deal is finalized, households in Westar's territory can expect to see monthly bills rise $5 to $7. Adjustments contained in the plan are expected to take effect in October. Topeka-based Westar, the state's largest utility, has about 690,000 residential, industrial and commercial customers, mostly in eastern Kansas. The Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board, which advocates for small businesses and residential customers, had wanted the KCC to adopt a $56 million increase.
KCC Workers Leave Civil Service System for Pay Raises
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Corporation Commission says most of the agency's classified workers have chosen to leave the state's civil service system in exchange for a pay raise. KCC said Tuesday that 81 percent of its classified workers opted to leave the civil service system. 76 of KCC's 94 classified employees took a 7.5 percent salary hike, and left the classified system. The KCC, which regulates utilities in the state, extended the raise offer to all its classified workers this month. Lawmakers passed legislation this spring that requires state workers to move out of the classified system when they take voluntarily pay raises or promotions.
Roth Named Administrative Law Judge with Labor Department
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A magistrate judge has been named to the position of Kansas Department of Labor administrative law judge. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that state Department of Labor Secretary Lana Gordon announced Steven Roth's appointment Tuesday. He'll serve in the position in Topeka. Roth's nomination was submitted by the workers compensation and employment security boards nominating committee to fill the position previously held by Judge Brad Avery. Roth was an attorney in private practice before he became a magistrate judge 22 years ago.
Defendant in Jewish Site Shootings Trial Seeks Postponement
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A white supremacist charged with killing three people at Jewish sites in Overland Park asked a judge Tuesday to postpone his murder trial after prosecutors finish presenting their case because he needs more time to collect evidence. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. says documents he requested from the state have not yet arrived in the mail. Miller, who is representing himself, told a Johnson County judge the prosecution's case is progressing faster than anticipated and it wouldn't be fair if he doesn't have the evidence to present in his defense. Miller has asked few questions of prosecution witnesses, which has also helped to expedite the proceedings. Prosecutors say Miller killed 69-year-old William Corporon and Corporon's 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside a Jewish community center before shooting 53-year-old Terri LaManno outside a nearby Jewish retirement home in April 2014.
Memorial Held for Kansas State Student Killed in Chicago
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas State University student who was killed in Chicago was remembered for her positive attitude and beaming smile. The Kansas State Black Student Union organized a memorial Tuesday night for 22-year-old Briona White, who was shot to death August 6 in Chicago. White was killed days before she was to return to Manhattan to finish her degree to be an orthodontist. KMAN reports about 60 people attended the memorial, including White's parents. Her parents said White was anxious to return to Kansas State. They urged those in attendance to strive to be the best they can be and thanked them for remembering their daughter. Associate biology professor Kent Kerby spoke fondly of White's attitude and smile, while other speakers urged students to confront the issue of gun violence.
Man Will Not Be Charged in Shooting Death in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who fatally shot another man in Wichita last month will not face charges. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Tuesday the shooter acted in self-defense when he fired at 42-year-old Billy Massey Jr. in July. Massey was later found lying in a driveway suffering from several gunshot wounds. Bennett says Massey went to the home to retrieve property belonging to a woman and threatened the woman's ex-boyfriend with a gun. The Wichita Eagle reports Bennett said evidence indicated Massey turned the gun toward the ex-boyfriend's roommate, who shot Massey. Bennett says Kansans are immune from prosecution if they were acting in self-defense when harming or killing a person. The shooter fled but later called law enforcement. He was questioned and released.
Police: Loaded Gun Found Outside Olathe Middle School
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after a loaded gun was found outside a middle school in Olathe. According to police, a parent discovered the gun on the ground near a parking lot at Pioneer Trail Middle School Tuesday morning. Authorities say the parent notified school officials and a resource officer secured the weapon. Olathe assistant superintendent Erin Dugan said the school was not put on lockdown because the gun was found and secured before an announcement could be made.
Kansas Recycling Firm Ordered to Pay Restitution, Fine
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A recycling facility for plastics and electronics has been ordered to pay restitution plus a fine for mishandling dangerous chemicals at its premises in El Dorado. The U.S. attorney's office says Integrated Plastic Solutions, LLC, was sentenced to pay $97,612 in restitution and a $10,000 fine at its sentencing in federal court in Wichita. It must also serve three years of probation to include participating in a compliance and ethics program. The company pleaded guilty in June to one count of unlawful storage of hazardous waste. Its owner, Sean M. Riley, was sentenced last month to 18 months of unsupervised probation. Its general manager, Brian J. Riley, received three years of probation in May. The court also ordered the two men to pay $118,807 in restitution.
KU to Break Ground on New $75M Building
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Medical Center is beginning work on a $75 million building. Governor Sam Brownback is among the dignitaries scheduled to attend a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning for the new Health Education Building. It will serve as the primary teaching facility for the KU schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions. Funding comes from $25 million in state bonds, $15 million from the University of Kansas Medical Center and $37.3 million in private gifts. The Hall Family Foundation was the largest donor, chipping in $25 million. Dr. David Zamierowski, of Overland Park, also will be honored after he and his wife gave money for simulation equipment and facilities. Even after construction begins in mid-September, fundraising will continue to help pay for technology and equipment for the building.
Kansas Wesleyan, Seminary Announce Joint Program
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Wesleyan University and the Saint Paul School of Theology are planning a degree program that will reduce the number of years students will need to earn a divinity degree. Under a program announced Tuesday, students will be able to prepare for ordination and receive a ministry degree in six years instead of seven. The organizations said in a news release that students in the Christian ministry major at Wesleyan would be able to complete the program in three years, rather than the current four years. Students would then study for three years at St. Paul's to receive both their bachelor's and Master of Divinity degrees. Saint Paul School of Theology has campuses in Leawood and Oklahoma City. Kansas Wesleyan is in Salina.
Old Mid-Continent Airport Terminal Auction Yields $83,000
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An auction of items from the old Mid-Continent Airport terminal has brought in about $83,000 for the Wichita Airport Authority. The Wichita Eagle reports people who bought items at the auction arrived Tuesday to pick up their purchases, which they had to remove from where they were in the terminal. Those who bought items included aviation enthusiasts and the Kansas Aviation Museum. Daniel Bateman, the museum's executive director, said they spent about $130 on the shelving and racks that were in the terminal's gift shop so the museum could expand its own gift shop. Assistant director of airports Brad Christopher said the money made from the auction will go into the airport's general budget for next year. Demolition of the concourses at the old terminal is expected to begin next month.
Shawnee County Considers Releasing Cremains to Family Members
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County leaders are deciding whether they should release the ashes of people the county paid to cremate to their family. County coroner Charles Glenn says the county cremates the bodies of an estimated 15 people free of charge annually, because they have no family or their family lacks the money to pay for a funeral service. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the county keeps the cremated remains at the coroner's office, with the intent to scatter them later at Westlawn Memorial Gardens. Glenn says some family members are now asking for the ashes. The commission's chairman directed a county counselor to prepare an analysis of the legalities involved in releasing the remains.
Court Backs Wichita State University in Test Lawsuit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has sided with Wichita State University in a lawsuit over a failed test brought by a student with attention deficit disorder. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the university did not violate Stephen Cunningham's rights when it held a 2011 test in an office located in a busy hallway. Cunningham attended Wichita State's program for physician assistants. He blamed his attention deficit disorder for failing exams in pharmacology and neurology. The university allowed him to retake the failed tests. He then passed the test for pharmacology, but failed the neurology test. The court rejected his argument that the university violated his rights under the American with Disabilities Act because he did not request special accommodation for his attention deficit disorder.
Royals' Bullpen Holds Orioles for 3-2 KC Win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kendrys Morales hit a solo homer, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer also drove in runs and the Kansas City Royals leaned on their bullpen to beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 on Tuesday night. Danny Duffy (7-6) dodged trouble for most of 6 innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. The Orioles threatened to pull ahead in the sixth but reliever Luke Hochevar shut down Baltimore's rally and Kelvin Herrera had no trouble handling the seventh and eighth innings. Wade Davis pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 12th save. The Orioles' Miguel Gonzalez (9-10) allowed all three runs on six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings.