Headlines for Sunday, April 18, 2021
Governor Kelly Signs Bill Criminalizing Pipeline Trespassing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill signed into law by Democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kelly will make it a misdemeanor to trespass near oil and gas pipelines. The legislation also makes it a misdemeanor to trespass near oil and gas, rubber manufacturing and wastewater treatment facilities and a felony to trespass with the intent to obstruct railroad tracks. Proponents say damaging those facilities could harm Kansans. Some House Democrats, including two Native American legislators, said the bill targets Native American protestors like those who opposed the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Atchison School District Ditches Native American Mascots
ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas district has decided to ditch its “Redmen” and “Braves” mascots after public opinion shifted. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Atchison school board approved the change unanimously this past week. It was a reversal from 2018 when the board voted to keep the “Redmen” mascot for the district’s high school and the “Braves” mascot for the middle school. Board member Carrie Sowers said she changed her vote because the community “spoke loud and clear." Sowers said the board heard considerable support in 2018 for keeping Native American-themed mascots. But this time, all nine people who addressed the matter at a public input session asked the board to do away with the mascots.
Douglas County Program Rescues Unwanted Produce for Needy
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Farmers in the Lawrence area are being recruited to participate in a program that gathers unsellable produce and donates it to people in need. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Lawrence-Douglas County Sustainability Office is working on the effort with two other nonprofits. The county received a federal grant to support the effort. Lawrence-Douglas County Sustainability Food Waste Reduction Specialist Jamie Hofling said that volunteers were recently able to rescue 40 pounds of organic spinach that had been invaded by small insects called aphids, which do not render the plants inedible but do need to be washed off.
ACLU: Merriam Panhandling Ordinance Unconstitutional
MERRIAM, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union and another advocacy group are warning a Johnson County suburb that its panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional. The Kansas City Star reports that no lawsuit has been filed over the two-month-old Merriam ordinance that bans pedestrians from standing or sitting on medians at nine high-traffic intersections, other than to legally cross the street. But the ACLU and National Homelessness Law Center wrote that it “almost certainly violates the constitutional right to free speech protected by the First Amendment” and asked to meet with the city in an effort to “work toward an effective solution.” The ACLU has sued over panhandling ordinances in other cities.
Boyfriend Charged with Murder in Fatal Kansas City Beating
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man has been charged with fatally beating his girlfriend who apparently had been dead for a few days before her body was found inside her Kansas City, Missouri, apartment. 35-year-old Anthony Jones, of Kansas City, Kansas, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Michelle Long, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday. The Kansas City Star reports that police found Long’s bruised and bloody body on a bedroom floor around 10 a.m. Thursday after a tipster reported that she had possibly been killed few days earlier. Jones surrendered to authorities but told detectives he had ended his relationship with Long months earlier and denied being involved in her death.