Headlines for Thursday, September 3, 2015
Kobach Criticized Over Plan to Purge Kansas Voter Rolls
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An American Civil Liberties Union attorney says Kansas law doesn't give Secretary of State Kris Kobach the authority to remove thousands of names from the state's voter registration rolls. And another critic accused the Republican secretary of state Wednesday of trying to keep potential Democratic voters from casting ballots, which Kobach's spokesman disputed. ACLU of Kansas attorney Doug Bonney said during a public hearing that Kobach should drop a proposed administrative rule. The rule would require county election officials to cancel incomplete registrations after 90 days. About 36,000 registrations are now incomplete. Most are because prospective votes have failed to document their U.S. citizenship. Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell said the rule would make administering voting more orderly.
Judge Puts Court Selection Lawsuit Order on Hold
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has put on hold his order striking down a policy imposed on the courts in a move that protects the judicial branch's budget. Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks issued a stay Thursday at Attorney General Derek Schmidt's request. Hendricks on Wednesday struck down a 2014 law having district court judges instead of the Kansas Supreme Court pick chief judges in each of the state's 31 judicial districts. Hendricks said the law violated the state constitution by infringing on the Supreme Court's power to administer the courts. Legislators this year passed another law nullifying the judicial branch's entire budget if the policy change was struck down. Schmidt promised to appeal Hendricks's decision Wednesday. The stay will remain in effect in the meantime.
Kansas Supreme Court May Review Case Dealing with Its Power
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Chief Justice Lawton Nuss won't rule out having the Kansas Supreme Court review a lawsuit that involves an attempt by the Legislature to diminish the high court's administrative power. Nuss said Thursday the high court could invoke what he called "the rule of necessity" to settle whether legislators can strip the Supreme Court of the power to appoint chief district court judges in each of the state's 31 judicial districts. A 2014 law gave that power to the district court judges in each district. A district court judge struck down the law Wednesday. Nuss said it might not be practical to replace Supreme Court justices with what he called strangers to hear an appeal. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff King noted that the court has criticized the policy involved.
Kansas Supreme Court Won't Take Up Abortion Lawsuit for Now
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court is refusing for now to review a district court judge's order blocking the nation's first ban on a common second trimester procedure. The high court's 4-3 decision this week means that the state Court of Appeals first will handle a lawsuit filed by two abortion providers against a law that was supposed to take effect in July. The law embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee and bans what abortion opponents call ``dismemberment abortion.'' Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks in June temporarily blocked the law, and the state appealed. Both sides wanted the Supreme Court to take the case immediately, but the court declined Monday without explanation. The Court of Appeals on Wednesday set an expedited schedule for its review.
Kansas Legislature Creates Committee to Study K-12 Education
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas lawmakers have created a committee to review school standards and funding. The K-12 Student Success Interim Study Committee created Wednesday will have 15 members from the House and Senate. The Kansas City Star reports the committee will study education goals and ``the best funding mechanism'' for Kansas schools. House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, proposed the committee. It comes after the state replaced a per-pupil funding formula with block grants for the next two years while the state devises a new school financing formula. Lawmakers also approved an interim committee to study sales tax exemptions. During last session's budget debate, lawmakers disagreed over whether some current exemptions should be repealed.
Kansas Turnpike Authority to Tackle Flooding Risk
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority has announced additional plans aimed at preventing flash flooding along a 2-mile stretch of the toll road where deaths have occurred. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Turnpike Authority says it will do more than originally planned to enhance safety on the road south of Emporia where seven people have died in flash flooding since 2003. The design is expected to be done in 2016 and is intended to keep water off the roadway during what is known as a 100-year storm. A 100-year storm is one with a 1 percent chance of happening in any year. The Turnpike Authority will also install a stream monitor where a 21-year-old man died when his car drove into floodwaters. The monitor is to be operating around mid-September.
Kansas Courts Start Project to Centralize Electronic Filing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is launching an initiative to centralize and standardize the electronic filing and storage of documents across the state. A steering committee for the "eCourt" project was having its first meeting Thursday in Topeka. The Supreme Court established the committee in April. The project is being financed with court fees, with at least $4.1 million set aside over the next four years. Some district courts introduced electronic filing in 2009, and more than half of the state's 31 judicial districts allow attorneys and court employees to file and store documents electronically. In Douglas County, electronic filing is required, and the Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals will start requiring it in November. But the Supreme Court wants to standardize filing systems so they can interact.
Kansas Nurse Sentenced to Jail for Nursing Home Abuse
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nurse who pleaded guilty to mistreating an adult at an Andover nursing home faces 60 days in jail. KWCH reportsthat Geofrey Nyangweso pleaded guilty to mistreating a dependent adult at Victoria Falls Skilled Nursing Home in Andover in 2013. He was sentenced Thursday. Judge David Ricke also ruled that Nyangweso is no longer allowed to work in any care facility working with patients. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said earlier it had cited the nursing home for failing to meet certain regulations and failing to investigate some abuse complaints. A department inspection showed at least two of the 63 residents suffered verbal and physical abuse, including one targeted by at least four staff members and another who had been abused by another resident.
Supremacist's Son Testifies in Penalty Phase of Trial
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The son of a man convicted of killing three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City says no one else in their family shares his father's anti-Semitic views. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. was convicted Monday of one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder, and assault and weapons charges for the April 2014 shootings. The Kansas City Star reports Miller's 39-year-old son, Frazier Glenn Miller III, testified Wednesday during the penalty phase of the trial. He said he doesn't know where his father learned about "hating Jews and about hating other races." The jury is hearing testimony to determine if Miller should be sentenced to death. Miller III also said outside the courtroom that no one in the family knew of his father's plans to kill.
FBI Investigates Wichita Police Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities have been investigating the death of a 23-year-old Wichita man who was shot by police. The Wichita Eagle reportsthe FBI said Wednesday it's been investigating the January shooting death of John Paul Quintero "for several months now." Quintero was shot and killed January 3rd by a Wichita police officer. Quintero's family presented a nearly 3,000-page petition to the local FBI offices Wednesday, calling for a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting. The family is demanding $10 million in damages.
Topeka Man Charged in Car Explosion
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been charged in a car explosion that injured his 4-year-old son. Authorities say Jacob Schell and his 4-year-old son, Roman, were injured in the July 5th explosion near Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reportsJacob Daniel Schell was booked into the Shawnee County Jail on Wednesday on charges including aggravated battery, aggravated endangering of a child and criminal use of explosives. He was released on bond. The fire marshal's office investigated the incident.
KCP&L Gets Rate Hike in Missouri, Awaits Ruling in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — State regulators have approved an 11.7 percent rate increase for some Kansas City Power & Light customers. The Kansas City Star reports that the decision will mean about half of KCP&L's customers in Missouri will see rates go up nearly $12 a month. The utility said it needed the increase to pay for pollution control at its La Cygne coal-fired plant, improvements at Wolf Creek nuclear power plant and rising transmission costs. A request for a 12.5 percent increase in Kansas to cover similar expenses is before the Kansas Corporation Commission, which could rule next week. The Missouri rate case covered 270,000 KCP&L customers in its original service area, which includes most of Kansas City. Rates for about 315,000 other customers in western Missouri are set separately.
St. Joseph Man Guilty of Fraud in Solar Panel Rebate Case
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A co-owner of a St. Joseph solar energy installation company pleaded guilty in a fraudulent rebate scheme that netted the company more than $1 million. Federal prosecutors say 38-year-old Richard Schonemann pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy and making false statements. Under the plea agreement, the government will not recommend a sentence of more than 15 months and the forfeiture of $350,000. Schonemann owned part of U.S. Solar in St. Joseph, which sold and installed solar-powered panel systems across northwest Missouri. Prosecutors say the company received $1.39 million in fraudulent rebates between 2011 and 2013. Prosecutors say he and a co-conspirator also falsified usage reports needed to certify that installed systems were still running. The St. Joseph News-Press reportsthat the co-conspirator hasn't been named. No sentencing date has been scheduled.
Friends University Partners With Western Kansas Community Colleges
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ Friends University in Wichita has partnered with four area community colleges to offer on-site degree programs. The university announced Wednesday it will work with students attending Hutchinson Community College, Dodge City Community College, Garden City Community College and Seward County Community College in Liberal. TheHutchinson News reports the program, called ``Finish with Friends,'' will offer degree completion programs in accounting, business management, computer information systems and human resource management at the four community colleges. Students will be able to attend upper-level classes taught by Friends University faculty on each community college campus. The students will be guaranteed admission to Friends University and may transfer up to 78 credit hours.
Kansas State Fair Searches for New General Manager
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas State Fair has announced plans to begin reviewing applications for the fair's general manager position. The fair said in a release Wednesday that a five-person committee will start reviewing resumes for general manager on October 1. The fair's former general manager, Denny Stoecklein, announced his resignation in June. He had led the fair since 2003. The Kansas State Fair starts the Friday after Labor Day in September and lasts for 10 days.
Army General Named Sedgwick County Manager
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A 49-year-old brigadier general with extensive military experience has been named Sedgwick County manager. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Brigadier General Michael Scholes as the next county manager. The job is the highest non-elected position in county government, which includes 2,663 active full- and part-time employees. Scholes replaces William Buchanan, who retired in June after 24 years. Scholes, a Gulf War veteran and one-star Army general who has led combat missions in Iraq and managed peacekeeping forces in the Balkan republic of Kosovo. He's expected to start work by November 15, and will have an annual salary of $165,000 in 2016 that will rise to $185,000 in 2017.
Newman Wrestler Dies in Mororcycle Accident
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Newman University officials say a 21-year-old wrestler from the school died when his motorcycle crashed into a building. The school says Reece Wright-Conklin was on his way to work at the PetSmart in west Wichita Thursday morning when the accident occurred. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wright-Conklin crashed his Honda 600 sport bike into the side of the building. He was discovered by a co-worker arriving for work and flown to a Wichita hospital, where he died. Wichita police Lieutenant Joe Schroeder says police aren't sure exactly when the crash occurred. A prayer service will be held at 4 pm Thursday in St. John's Chapel, inside Sacred Heart Hall on the Newman campus. Funeral arrangements are pending.
$3K Reward Offered in Kansas City Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A reward of up to $3,000 is being offered for information in the recent shooting of a Kansas City a woman and her teen daughter. Police have received more than 130 tips in the July 7 shooting. Relatives of the victims recently added $1,000 to the reward. The Kansas City Star reports that the 14-year-old daughter remained hospitalized Thursday. Her 46-year-old mother left the hospital weeks after the shooting, which occurred shortly after a neighbor called to report a gunman in the area. Authorities found the shotgun used in the shooting in the basement of a nearby home. But no arrests have been made. Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s with dark hair and a beard, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and 150 pounds.
Royals Believe Chickenpox Cases Limited to 2 Players
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The AL Central-leading Royals are confident no other players will come down with chickenpox after reliever Kelvin Herrera and left-fielder Alex Rios were diagnosed last weekend. Royals manager Ned Yost said Thursday that Herrera and Rios were both recovering quickly, and they could come to the ballpark early Friday for a workout. They would be sure to leave before the rest of the team arrived to start a three-game series against the White Sox. Herrera and Rios came down with chickenpox while in Tampa Bay, raising concern that others in the organization may have been exposed. The virus tends to be more serious in adults, though Yost said it appears both players only experienced minor symptoms.
Royals Roll Over Tigers in 12-1 Rout
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yordano Ventura struck out 11 batters in seven innings Wednesday night and the Royals offense hit four home runs as Kansas City rolled to a 12-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Ventura (10-7) walked one and hit one while matching a career high for strikeouts set in his last start. The 24-year-old with the 100 mph fastball has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last five outings, and is 6-0 since his last defeat July 20 against Pittsburgh. The Tigers' Randy Wolf (0-3) gave up eight runs in 3 2-3 innings and Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera was ejected in the third inning after a quarrel with umpire Quinn Wolcott.