Headlines for Friday, January 01, 2016
Panel Approves Dropping Medicaid for Some Hepatitis C Patients
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative panel is recommending that hepatitis C patients who drink alcohol or stop using their medications should lose Medicaid coverage. The KanCare Oversight Committee also recommended this week that the state health department use step therapy, which requires Medicaid patients to try cheaper treatments first and receive more expensive treatments only if the other medicines fail. State law currently forbids that practice. The Wichita Eagle reports that Senator Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, suggested the proposals. Republicans on the panel said the state shouldn't have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on someone with hepatitis C who doesn't follow doctor's orders. The two Democrats on the committee voted against the hepatitis C proposal, with one calling it a "death sentence" for some patients.
Kansas Bioscience Authority to Become Private Entity
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bioscience Authority says it will become a private entity this year. The Olathe-based authority was established in 2004 to attract bioscience technology to Kansas, using both state and private funds. The Lawrence Journal-World reports it has been criticized in recent years for the types of investments it made. Some lawmakers also said it wasn't appropriate to use state funds for private equity investments. Last year, lawmakers cut the authority's state appropriation to $13 million for each of the next two years, rather than $35 million and $75 million the KBA was expecting. The authority said Thursday its board of directors voted December 18 to become a private entity. President Duane Cantrell will be replaced by Kevin Lockett, the current chief financial officer and chief operating officer.
Kansas Lawmakers Approve Contract for Software
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have approved a six-month contract with a software company that was criticized for technical delays last year. The Legislative Coordinating Council this week approved a $293,488 contract for Propylon, a Dublin-based technology firm with a U.S. office in Lawrence. The company will perform technical support and upgrades for the Legislature's custom software. The Wichita Eagle reports legislative leaders complained during the last session that software problems slowed down the legislative process and delayed votes. The contract was under review since July. The state has paid Proplyon about $16 million since 2005 to construct and maintain the Kansas Legislative Information System and Services portal. It is used for writing, researching and publishing bills. The new contract, which lasts through June, includes measures to ensure greater accountability.
Appeals Panel Sides with Tax Board on Dodge City Casino
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Court of Appeals panel has ruled that a Dodge City casino doesn't have to pay the state's "use tax" on electronic gaming machines it operates for the Kansas Lottery. The three-judge appeals panel agreed with a state Board of Tax Appeals decision that said the Kansas Department of Revenue was wrong in collecting $801,588 in compensating use tax from the Boot Hill Casino and Resort in Dodge City. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the tax was from the casino's purchase of out-of-state vendors' electronic gaming machines on behalf of the Kansas Lottery, the state agency that oversees operations at three state-owned casinos. The Court of Appeals panel said the casino isn't obligated to pay the tax because it doesn't own the equipment but manages them for the lottery.
Attorneys Move to Add New Plaintiff to Kansas Voter Lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Attorneys in a federal lawsuit challenging Kansas' proof of citizenship voting law want to add another plaintiff to the case in their bid to make it a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a 2013 Kansas law requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship when registering. The Lawrence Journal-World reports lawyers for the plaintiffs filed a motion recently to add a 20-year-old Kansas University student, Parker Bednasek, as a plaintiff. If approved, he'd serve as a representative of all members of the class of people whose voter registrations are being blocked for failure to show valid proof of U.S. citizenship. A spokesman for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says their attorneys will ask for an extension of time to respond to the latest motion.
Leavenworth to Pay $85,000 for Clean Water Act Violations
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) _ The city of Leavenworth will be required to spend $85,000 for violating the federal Clean Water Act. The payments come after the Environmental Protection Agency documented 19 sewer overflows between 2010 and 2015 from the city's water treatment plant near the Missouri River. The overflows sent sewer water into the river. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the city must pay $46,200 in penalties and spend $38,800 for improvements to its storm water system. Leavenworth spokeswoman Melissa Bower says the city had already planned a project to improve its storm water system before the EPA's report. The EPA at first proposed $104,000 in penalties and costs but reduced the amount after talking with city officials.
Westar Strikes Deal for Wind Energy
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest electric utility in Kansas has announced a new wind power contract in south-central Kansas. Westar Energy said Thursday that the company has struck a deal with an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources to buy 200 megawatts of wind energy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the deal is for power produced by the Kingman Wind Energy Center in Kingman County, west of Wichita. That wind farm is expected to be in service in early 2017. Westar has about 700,000 customers in Kansas.
Teenager Pleads Not Guilty in Grandmother's Death
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old Lawrence boy has pleaded not guilty in the death of his grandmother. The teenager is being charged as a juvenile with first-degree murder in the death of 67-year-old Deborah Bretthauer. Police say she was found dead Monday in her apartment with "obvious traumatic injuries." Authorities say the suspect, who lived with his grandmother, called police and initially said he had found the woman dead. He was arrested after a police interview. The suspect entered his plea Thursday in Douglas County District Court. He is being held without bond in the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center until his next court appearance on January 20.
Man Faces 15 Counts in Kansas City Shooting Rampage
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 25-year-old Kansas City man is charged with second-degree murder and 14 other felonies after a home invasion and shooting rampage that left one person dead, another injured and bullet holes in vehicles and houses near the crime scene. Vincent Jackson is charged with killing 17-year-old Gabriel Avila on Wednesday. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors say Jackson and several others forced their way into a Kansas City home occupied by one adult and seven children, aged six to 15. Jackson allegedly beat some of the children and fired shots with an AK-47 inside the home and at vehicles and other homes. Avila was inside one of the vehicles that was hit by gunfire. Jackson is being held in Jackson County jail. Online court documents do not indicate he has an attorney.
Affidavit: Slain Student Met Murder Suspect Online
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An affidavit says a slain Wichita State University student contacted a woman charged in his death about sexual services she advertised online shortly before he was killed. Rayan Ibrahim Baba, a 23-year-old Saudi undergraduate student, was found shot in a parking lot of one of the university's dormitories August 8. Eboni Fingal was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in October, and an unnamed 23-year-old man also faces the same charges. The affidavit says Baba called Fingal about 30 minutes before his death. The Wichita Eagle reports police tracked cellphone locations from the suspects and surveillance video pinpointed the three together in the parking lot.
$1 Million Lottery Ticket Purchased in South-Central Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The winner of a $1 million Kansas Lottery promotion bought the prize ticket in south-central Kansas. Lottery officials announced in a news release Thursday that the winning numbers for the Kansas Lottery Holiday Millionaire Raffle are 1-4-3-3-3-3. The winning ticket is worth $1 million. Twenty other people won $5,000 in the contest. Whoever has the winning ticket has a year to claim the prize.