Headlines for Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Kansas Governor to Outline Plan to Close Budget Deficit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is preparing to release the details of his plan for balancing the next state budget. Brownback's budget director Shawn Sullivan is outlining the governor's proposals this morning (WED) during a joint meeting of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees. The state has a projected deficit of $190 million in its $15.8 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The governor didn't mention the shortfall in his State of the State address Tuesday evening and faced criticism from Democrats for the omission. But top Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature said they've known a budget-balancing plan was coming.
State of Kansas Cutting Off Medicaid Funds for Planned Parenthood
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has announced that Kansas will prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any funds through the Medicaid program. In his annual State of the State address Tuesday evening, the Republican governor also encouraged the GOP-dominated Legislature to process that directive into state law. Brownback used his speech to outline a broad legislative agenda on issues such as taxes, health care and education. He announced his action against Planned Parenthood near the end of the address. The governor signed a law in 2011 to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning dollars through the state health department. The governor said Tuesday that he directed the health department's secretary to see that no taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood through Medicaid, which provides health coverage for the indigent.
Firm Says Its Proposals Would Save Kansas $2 Billion over 6 Years
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A consulting firm has outlined dozens of proposals for Kansas legislators that it says could save the state more than $2 billion over the next six years. The proposals Tuesday from Kansas City-based Alvarez & Marsal include overhauling health insurance for state workers and bringing local public school employees into a single, statewide health plan. Under the proposal, the state would offer only high-deductible health insurance plans for its workers. The firm's 105 proposals include increasing taxes paid by workers' compensation insurance companies and leasing small plots of state-owned land for cell phone towers. Alvarez & Marsal says its proposals would save $302 million during the fiscal year beginning in July when the state has a projected $190 million budget deficit. The Legislature hired the firm last year to identify potential efficiencies.
Child Welfare Audit Won't Cover Anti-Gay Discrimination
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An audit of the Kansas Department for Children and Families won't include an investigation into whether the agency discriminates against same-sex couple. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Legislative Post Audit Committee deadlocked on the proposed anti-gay discrimination investigation and eventually decided to delay the issue until its April meeting. The audit the panel approved Wednesday will focus on safety and privatization. State Senator Michael O'Donnell, a Wichita Republican, says the audit will be the "most comprehensive" of the foster care system in the state's history. But Representative Jim Ward called the decision "simply unbelievable." The Wichita Democrat had proposed an audit of discrimination claims after several couples came forward in recent months. He accused lawmakers of voting to "cover up evidence of discrimination in a major state agency."
First Director Selected for KU Sexual Assault Prevention Center
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has chosen a University of Iowa woman as the program director for its new Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center. The university announced Wednesday that Jennifer Brockman will start her new job January 20. Brockman currently is executive director of the University of Iowa's Rape Victim Advocacy Program, which serves 250,000 people in eight counties. She coordinated primary sexual assault prevention and education for four institutions of higher education and many secondary schools. KU's new center will coordinate the university's sexual assault prevention and education programming. It also will assess those efforts and create new programming. Brockman is the center's first employee. The center is one of several changes recommended by the Chancellor's Task Force on Sexual Assault, which submitted its final report in May 2015.
Moran Campaign Amasses $3.1M in Cash for Re-Election Effort
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows U.S. Senator Jerry Moran has amassed more than $3.1 million in cash for his re-election effort as 2016 kicks off. The Kansas Republican is running unopposed so far. His campaign reported on Wednesday it raised about $750,600 during the fourth quarter last year, with nearly $280,000 of contributions coming from political committees. It spent more than $322,000. The campaign listed the transactions in a finance report, covering the period from October 1 to December 31, 2015. For this time in the election cycle, the campaign contends it has the largest cash-on-hand balance of any incumbent U.S. senator for Kansas in recent history. Deputy Campaign Manager Elizabeth Patton says in an email that the support is indicative that Kansans know and trust Moran puts Kansas first.
3 Junction City Men Arrested in Kidnapping, Shooting
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Three Junction City men have been arrested in a kidnapping, robbery and shooting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the suspects are jailed in Geary County without bond while awaiting their first appearance. Sheriff Tony Wolf says deputies went to a residence near Milford on Monday night after receiving a report about a kidnapping and robbery. One of the victims was shot and received medical treatment for what authorities described as a minor head wound. The suspects were arrested when authorities served a search warrant in Junction City. During the search, authorities seized marijuana, numerous guns and suspected stolen property.
Wichita Police Seek Driver in Deadly Hit-and-Run Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are asking the public for help finding a driver in a deadly hit-and-ran crash. Police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says the 65-year-old victim was hit by a vehicle Monday night as he was crossing a street. After a woman found the man in the street, he was taken to a Wichita hospital, where he died. The victim was pushing a shopping cart that contained personal belongings and liquor when he was hit. His name is being withheld until relatives are notified. Ojile says investigators have little information about what happened and are asking for possible witnesses to come forward.
4 Injured in Explosion at Southwest Kansas Company
LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are trying to determine what caused an explosion and fire at a southwest Kansas transportation company. The explosion Tuesday at Groendyke Transport, southeast of Liberal, injured four people. Seward County Fire Chief Andrew Barkley says a propane or natural gas tanker inside a large metal building exploded and caught fire. The Hutchinson News reports that three employees were flown to a Wichita hospital. They were in critical but stable condition. A fourth employee was treated for minor injuries. U.S. 83 was closed south of U.S. 54 in Liberal for about 2½ hours.
Kansas City Police Chief Wants to Demolish Abandoned Properties
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forte says the city should consider tearing down abandoned properties in blighted areas to help reduce crime. Forte mentioned the idea Tuesday during a Board of Police Commissioners, although he hasn't worked out details or the estimated costs. He suggested reallocating money for hiring extra officers to demolish the properties and make other improvements, such as repairing streetlights. He said rather than hire 60 police officers, the department should consider hiring 55 and using the money for the neighborhood improvements. The Kansas City Star reports that Forte believes a dilapidated environment can lead to crime. City Manager Troy Schulte said Tuesday the city has 875 dangerous buildings on a list and estimated it would cost $10 million to demolish them.
Report: Kansas Farmers Planting Fewer Winter Wheat Acres
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows U.S. farmers are planting fewer acres of winter wheat as major wheat growing states like Kansas cut back due to low crop prices. Kansas is the nation's top producing state. The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Tuesday estimated the nation's seeded area for winter wheat this year at 36.6 million acres. That is down 7 percent from a year ago. Winter wheat acres in Kansas are down 8 percent to 8.5 million acres. Growers in other major winter wheat growing areas also cut back on wheat acreage. Texas planted just 5.3 million acres, down 12 percent. Oklahoma seeded 4.9 million acres for an 8 percent drop in acres. Colorado and Montana are both down with 2.25 million acres of wheat each.
Iowa Panel to Examine State Lotteries' Jackpot-Fixing Case
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A legislative committee in Iowa plans to look into the jackpot-fixing scandal that started in that state and has spread to several other state lotteries, including Kansas. Iowa State Representative Bobby Kaufmann says the Iowa House government oversight committee will investigate how it was possible for an employee at the Multi-State Lottery Association to allegedly fix jackpots. He says lawmakers want to prevent it from happening again. Kaufmann said Iowa lawmakers may seek documents and testimony from the Urbandale, Iowa-based lottery association, which runs the popular Powerball game and is governed by 37 lotteries in U.S. states and territories. The alleged scheme didn't affect Powerball, which uses balls instead of computers to draw numbers. That game is expected to set a world jackpot record in Wednesday's drawing of $1.5 billion.
Wichita Library Receives $1 Million Gift
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The fundraising campaign to build a new central library in downtown Wichita has received a $1 million gift from the Naftzger Fund for Fine Arts. The Wichita Public Library Foundation announced the donation Tuesday. The Wichita Eagle reports supporters are seeking to raise $8 million to build a bigger library. So far, the effort has raised $5.5 million. The new library is expected to cost $30 million. City leaders agreed to pay about $27.5 million if the foundation provides another $2.5 million for the construction project.
Kansas City Museum Gets $1 Million Gift
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City museum has been awarded a $1 million grant for education programs. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art said in a release that the museum received the $1 million grant from the David T. Beals III Charitable Trust. Beals was a former Trustee of the museum. The museum says the $1 million grant will be used for education programs during its 12-month period. The museum says because of the lack of arts programs in many schools, the museum's education programs give students a chance to experience original works of art and explore their own artistic abilities.
Kansas Woman Who Tried to Flush Drug Money Sentenced
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman who tried to flush nearly $4,000 in drug money down a toilet was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said that 26-year-old Marisela Rameriz was sentenced Monday for one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. TheWichita Eagle reports that Rameriz admitted she helped arrange for 16 pounds of methamphetamine to be transported from California to Kansas. When she was arrested, she tried to flush $3,880 in cash down a cell block toilet. One of her co-defendants, Jorge Rodriguez-Maciel, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Another is scheduled for sentencing Friday and the third is awaiting trial.
Kansas Museum of History Given Nearly 200-Year-Old Spoon
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A sterling silver spoon that belonged to one of the Kansas Territory's earliest settlers will now be kept at the state's history museum. Allin and Donna Phister of Leawood, presented the spoon Tuesday to the Kansas Museum of History. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the spoon belonged to one of their ancestors, Christiana McCoy. She was the wife of Baptist missionary Isaac McCoy, who history experts say was an important early settler in Kansas. The McCoys lived in Kansas in the mid-1800s. Isaac McCoy was the first person to survey land that would eventually become the state of Kansas and he also worked with the Indian population. Museum officials say they hope the donation will help encourage education about the McCoy's contributions to the state.
Regulators Order Reduced Injection Well Volumes After Quakes
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma regulators are telling operators of 27 oil and natural gas wastewater disposal wells in northwest Oklahoma to reduce disposal volumes following a series of earthquakes that have rocked the area. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Wednesday it's calling for changes in the operation of wells around Fairview, Oklahoma, about 60 miles south of the Kansas state line. The commission says the daily reduction will be 54,859 barrels — about 2.3 million gallons — a drop of about 18 percent. The directive was issued a day after a class-action lawsuit was filed against the operators of injection wells the lawsuit alleges have caused earthquakes in the area. Oklahoma has become one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the world and the quakes have been linked to the injection wells.
No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks Lose to West Virginia, 74-63
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Number 11 ranked West Virginia beat top-ranked Kansas 74-63 last (TUE) night. West Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) is off to its best start since 1982, when it started 24-1. The Jayhawks' Perry Ellis scored 21 points for Kansas (14-2, 3-1), which committed a season-high 22 turnovers, shot 42 percent from the field and was held to its lowest point total of the season. West Virginia led 39-27 at halftime and never let the Jayhawks get closer than six points in the second half. West Virginia fans stormed the court and sang John Denver's "Country Roads" after the Mountaineers' first win over a top-ranked team in 33 years.
Kansas State Beats Texas Tech, 83-70, for 1st Big 12 Win
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown combined to hit seven of Kansas State's season-high ten 3-pointers, and the Wildcats notched their first Big 12 victory with an 83-70 win over Texas Tech last (TUE) night. Stokes and Wesley Iwundu led the Wildcats (11-5, 1-3) with 17 points apiece, part of an offensive unit that also saw Brown finish with 15 points. Five Wildcats finished the game with double digit scores. Brown helped fend off a comeback bid by the Red Raiders, who cut into a 16-point halftime deficit to trail 59-54 with 9:42 to play. Texas Tech capped an 11-0 two minute run with an emphatic, reverse dunk in transition. Justin Gray scored 23 points to go along with eight rebounds for Texas Tech (11-4, 1-3).