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Headlines for Thursday, November 5, 2015


New Report: Services Likely to Cost Kansas $47M over Estimates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Medicaid and other services will cost Kansas about $47 million more than expected during the next two budget years. The new estimates Thursday complicate the budget picture for Republican Governor Sam Brownback and the GOP-dominated Legislature. The report was issued by legislative researchers and Brownback's budget staff. State officials and university economists were expected Friday to issue more pessimistic projections for state tax collections through June 2017 that are likely to leave a projected deficit in the state's current budget. The report covers cash assistance, foster care and Medicaid's health coverage for the poor and disabled, which cost the state $1.1 billion annually. The new estimates are $16.6 million higher for the current budget and $30.8 million higher for the fiscal year beginning in July 2017.


Kansas Legislative Panel Examines Tax Exemptions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas legislative study committee is having two days of hearings to examine tax exemptions and credits for businesses, nonprofit groups and others. The Special Committee on Taxation Committee meeting that begins today (THUR) is an outgrowth of the Legislature's debate earlier this year on raising taxes to balance the state budget. The Legislature increased sales and cigarette taxes to avert a deficit in the $15.3 billion budget. Some lawmakers argued that the state wouldn't need to boost tax rates if it eliminated some of the dozens of tax breaks in state law. But some GOP leaders were skeptical because efforts over the past 25 years to repeal tax breaks generally have failed.


Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in School Funding Case


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to weigh arguments in a lawsuit that claims the state's school districts are inadequately funded. A three-judge Shawnee County District Court panel found in June that the state's newly enacted strategy for financing 286 school districts and cuts to state aid for low-income school districts were unconstitutional. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt requested a stay on the district court's order while he pursued an appeal. The Supreme Court approved the stay and scheduled oral arguments for Friday. Schmidt and Governor Sam Brownback have repeatedly argued that the judicial panel in the school finance case overstepped its constitutional authority.


Media Outlets File Open Records Suit Against Kansas Governor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Media outlets have sued Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and others in his administration seeking public disclosure of agency records related to the appointment of a magistrate judge in Reno County. The Associated Press, The Hutchinson News and the Kansas Press Association filed the open records lawsuit late Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court. The Kansas Press Association represents more than 230 member newspapers throughout the state. The governor's spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, declined to comment on the pending litigation. At issue is the state's refusal to release documents submitted by candidates seeking appointment to the position of Reno County magistrate judge left vacant by the retirement of Randall McEwen. Media attorney Nathanael Berg says the public has an interest in who's selected to be magistrate judge and how they are selected.


Kansas' Top Utility Consumer Advocate Resigning

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The top advocate for Kansas utility consumers is resigning to take a job in Washington. The Wichita Eagle reports that David Springe, chief consumer counsel for the Kansas Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board, announced Wednesday he'll leave the state job next month to become executive director of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates. CURB is a Kansas agency that represents residential and small-business consumers in Kansas utility matters. The national association represents CURB and similar agencies in 40 other states and the District of Columbia. Springe's been with CURB 17 years, and has been chief consumer counsel for 14 years. Attorney Niki Christopher will serve as interim executive director when Springe leaves. CURB's expected to begin the search for Springe's replacement immediately.


Kansas Senator Holds Up Obama Nominee Confirmation over Guantanamo Dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says he's placing a hold on President Barack Obama's nominee for the secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, to prevent the White House from taking executive action to close Guantanamo Bay and transfer detainees to the United States. Roberts and the five other members of the congressional delegation from Kansas condemned the Obama administration's refusal to rule out taking executive action to close the prison in Cuba. The federal government is considering using the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas as a possible alternative location for holding some of the Guantanamo detainees. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama wants to work with Congress to close Guantanamo Bay, but "if Congress continues to refuse," the president will explore other options.


Kansas Regents Consider New Policy for Guns on Campuses

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is soliciting comments from state universities about a proposal to allow people to have concealed guns on their campuses but not carry the weapons openly. The Lawrence Journal World reports that a regents committee has drafted a proposed policy and the full board hopes to vote on it in December. A 2013 state law says adults 21 and older who can carry concealed guns can bring them into public buildings unless those buildings have security measures such as metal detectors. The law allowed universities to exempt themselves until July 2017. Under the proposed policy, each university must have a place for people to securely store their weapons. Each campus also must identify the buildings in which concealed weapons won't be allowed.


Woman, Missing for 4 Months, Last Seen in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old Hiawatha woman last seen in Topeka has been missing now for four months. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1NtZS5K ) that Brandy Carter-Meyer was last seen at the Topeka Rescue Mission on July 3. Topeka police say she was entered into the National Crime Information Center as a missing person on Oct. 30. A missing persons flier describes Carter-Meyer as 5 feet 4 inches tall and 125 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.


Man Dead, Suspects at Large After Bullet Pierces Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 33-year-old man has died after being shot by a bullet that pierced through the walls of a southeast Wichita house. Lieutenant Ronald Hunt says police were called to the home around 7:15 pm Wednesday after multiple people in the neighborhood called 911 to report that shots had been fired. Hunt says officers arrived and found a man inside the house with at least one gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.Police say they think "at least 20" shots were fired at the house and that two or three suspects ran from the scene.The Wichita Eagles reports that police are speaking with another man who was in the house at the time of the shooting. Hunt says he cannot confirm whether the shooting was gang-related.


New Bishop Installed as Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese Leader

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. has been installed as the new leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Johnston gave a 20-minute homily Wednesday to a packed audience at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He called on the local church to ``constantly return to repentance and belief'' in order to move forward from its past mistakes. Pope Francis named 56-year-old Johnston in September to succeed Bishop Robert W. Finn, who resigned as leader of the diocese in April. Finn's departure came three years after he was convicted of failing to report a priest's suspected child abuse. Johnston was previously the bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in southern Missouri.


4 Men Charged with Providing Support to Al Qaeda; One from Overland Park

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Federal prosecutors say four men have been charged with trying to send money to an al-Qaida leader. The U.S. Justice Department says it was part of ongoing efforts to carry out violence against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. An indictment filed in federal court in Ohio says the men worked together to send money and other assistance to a known al-Qaida leader in the Arabian Peninsula. Prosecutors say one suspect traveled to Yemen in 2009 in an attempt to meet with the al-Qaida leader. Two of the men are brothers and Indian citizens while the other two are U.S. citizens.  Prosecutors say one of the American citizen suspects, Asif Salim, studied at The Ohio State University between 2000 and 2005, and became a resident of Overland Park in 2007. 


Wichita's Newman University Receives $1M Grant

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Newman University in Wichita has received a $1 million grant for the university's science and health science programs. The Wichita Eagle reports that the gift is from the Dwane L. and Velma Lunt Wallace Charitable Foundation. Newman President Noreen Carrocci says the donation will go toward helping students in the science, nursing and allied health fields. Dwane Wallace led the Cessna Aircraft Company from 1934 through 1975. The Wallaces established their foundation in 1989 to support programs and organizations in Wichita. Newman, a Catholic University founded in 1933, has an enrollment of about 2,700 students.


Consulting Firm's CEO Named New Kansas Commerce Secretary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback has named the CEO of an international business consulting firm as the next Kansas commerce secretary.  Brownback's office announced Wednesday that he has selected Antonio Soave of Overland Park to the economic development job. Soave's appointment is subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate. Soave is chairman and CEO of Capistrano Global Advisory Services. The company helps businesses with mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures and expanding their foreign markets. The Department of Commerce oversees the state's business development efforts. It has an annual budget of $113 million and about 250 employees. Soave will take over as secretary in December.  Former Secretary Pat George resigned in July to become a nonprofit group's CEO. 


Kobach Defends Participating in Conference 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is defending his participation in a conference organized by a group that's been called "anti-immigrant." Kobach gave a presentation last week in Washington for The Social Contract Press, which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers an anti-immigrant hate group. Kobach told The Kansas City Starthat criticism of the conference was "outrageous" in part because it included many minority presenters. Kobach also says opposing illegal immigration doesn't mean an organization is anti-immigrant. Kobach has championed Kansas's strict voter registration law, which requires proof-of-citizenship documents. 


Kansas Football Player Brain Dead After Collapsing During Game 

SHARON SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) _ A western Kansas high school football player who collapsed on the sidelines during a playoff game has died.  17-year-old senior Luke Schemm collapsed just after making a touchdown during a game Tuesday evening at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs near the Colorado state line. He died Wednesday at a hospital in the Denver suburb of Englewood. Officials at the Kansas State High School Activities Association say game officials didn't see Schemm sustain any head or neck contact during the game. If Schemm's death is determined to be football-related, it would be the third such death in Kansas in 17 years.


New Dinosaur Fossil Found in South Dakota by Team with KU Ties 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A dinosaur fossil found in South Dakota's Hell Creek Formation has led to the discovery of a new giant raptor. The Lawrence Journal World reports that a research team that includes University of Kansas paleontologists named the estimated 17-foot-long feathered creature a Dakotaraptor. According to a news release from the university, the raptor hails from the Cretaceous period and would have been lightly built and probably as agile as the vicious Velociraptor. The fossil was discovered on Monday. It's being researched and curated in Florida by a research team led by Robert DePalma of the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History.


Cherokee County Signs Agreement to Cover Casino Legal Costs 

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Cherokee County commissioners have signed an agreement with a Missouri company that will pay legal bills the county amassed while fighting a proposed casino for nearby Crawford County. The Joplin Globe reports the commissioners and Penfield's Business Centers signed an agreement on October 26. The company will pay the county's legal fees, which total close to $150,000. The agreement says the county has two years to repay the money if the state-owned casino is shifted to Cherokee County. If no casino is built, the county does not have to reimburse the money. The funds to cover legal fees will come from company managing partner Gary Hall, who owns land that would have been purchased if Cherokee County won the contract. Cherokee County has filed a lawsuit, saying state regulators arbitrarily awarded the casino contract to Crawford County.


Passenger on Diverted Flight Charged After Dispute 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A passenger who threatened to bring down an American Airlines flight faces a federal charge stemming from an inflight dispute that escalated after he was forbidden to smoke an electronic cigarette. A federal court filing shows 38-year-old Jason Baroletti of Holbrook, New York, was charged Wednesday with one count of interfering with the performance of a flight crew. Court records do not indicate an attorney. The disruption caused American Airlines to divert a Phoenix-to-New York flight Tuesday evening to Wichita, Kansas. An FBI affidavit contends Baroletti became agitated and threatened to kill a passenger after flight attendants refused to serve him beer, which he claimed he needed for anxiety.



Kansas City Proposes Closure of 3 Schools 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials have proposed closing a high school and two elementary schools as part of a plan that will affect most of the district's schools. Kansas City Public Schools said at a board meeting Wednesday the proposal calls for closing the Southwest Early College Campus and the Crispus Attucks and Satchel Paige elementary schools. The Kansas City Star reports that the plan, which requires the board's approval before going into effect in 2016, would also reconfigure school attendance boundaries, reduce the distance students walk to school and phase in year-round school for four of the lowest-performing elementary schools. The proposed plan aims to raise student achievement by putting schools at the center of neighborhoods. The Kansas City district has been working toward improving performance to regain full state accreditation.


Closed KC Charter Assets Will Be Allocated to Other Schools 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nearly all of the remaining $2.6 million in assets from a closed charter school will be divided among the Kansas City school district and other charter schools in the area. A Jackson County (Missouri) judge earlier this month spelled out how to divvy up the money still in the coffers of Renaissance Academy. The K-12 math and science school closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year after struggling with low test scores. Last month, it paid back all but about $5,000 of its remaining funds, and will use what is left to cover its tax preparation and shredding bills. Renaissance attorney Dana Cutler says the district had kept some money in its coffers because it was embroiled in a lawsuit with its former operator, Imagine Schools.


Phone Records at Issue in Missouri Murder Case 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge will determine if cellphone records can be used in the trial of a Lee's Summit lawyer charged in the deaths of her father and his girlfriend. The Kansas City Star reports that the phone records are evidence in the case against Susan Elizabeth Van Note, who's charged in the 2010 deaths of 67-year-old William Van Note and 59-year-old Sharon Dickson. Defense lawyers say the cellphone evidence was obtained through an "unconstitutional search" because investigators didn't acquire it with a search warrant. Instead they used a subpoena, which doesn't require probable cause. At a Laclede County court hearing Tuesday, a Camden County sheriff's sergeant told Judge Kenneth Hayden the subpoenas are standard, and both were signed by a judge. Each side has 20 days to file written arguments.


University of Missouri-Kansas City Receives 3 Gifts 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received three significant gifts to support a proposed campus for the arts. The university's foundation said it recently received $1.5 million from the David Beals Charitable Trust and two $1 million gifts from anonymous donors. The Kansas City Star reports the gifts bring the university within $14 million of reaching its $48 million fundraising goal for the arts campus. It needs to reach that goal by June 30 to request matching funds from the state to cover the project's first phase, estimated to cost $96 million. The arts campus would house the university's Conservatory of Music and Dance, replace several outdated buildings and move other facilities. About 600 students would be relocated to downtown, near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.


Royals Exercise Options on Escobar, Davis; Gomes Declined 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The World Series champion Kansas City Royals have exercised their $8 million option on All-Star closer Wade Davis and a $5.25 million option on All-Star shortstop Alcides Escobar, while declining a $3 million option on outfielder Jonny Gomes. The moves Thursday came one day All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon declined his $13.75 million player option and the Royals declined options on outfielder Alex Rios and starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Davis took over as the closer when Greg Holland required Tommy John surgery late in the season. He wound up saving four games in the playoffs, and recorded the final out in the 12th inning of Game 5 against the New York Mets to wrap up the World Series. Escobar, a Gold Glove finalist, was MVP of the American League Championship Series.


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