Headlines for Tuesday, August 2, 2022
BREAKING: Kansas Voters Say No to "Value Them Both Amendment"
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas voters have protected abortion rights by rejecting a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to possibly tighten abortion restrictions or even ban the procedure outright. Tuesday's vote was the first test of voters' feelings about abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. Voters rejected a change to the state constitution that would have declared there is no right to abortion. Approval of the amendment would have allowed legislators to regulate abortion as they see fit. The ballot measure was a response to a 2019 state Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights. Supporters of the change would not say whether they would pursue a ban, while opponents predicted one would be coming if the measure had passed.
Heat Advisory Issued for Entire KPR Listening Area
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - A heat advisory remains in effect for the entire KPR listening area. This includes Allen, Brown, Chase, Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Geary, Jackson, Morris, Nemaha, Osage, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, Riley, and Wabaunsee Counties. It remains in effect until 8 pm today (TUE). Dangerously hot conditions are forecast, with heat index readings of 105 to 110. This includes the cities of Abilene, Manhattan, Hiawatha, and Council Grove.
The heat advisory has been extended for Anderson, Atchison, Coffey, Douglas, Franklin, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Lyon, Miami, Osage, Shawnee, and Wyandotte Counties until 7 pm Wednesday. This covers the cities of Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, and the entire Kansas City Metro. Heat index readings up to 110 are forecast.
A heat advisory will be in effect until 8 pm Wednesday for Allen, Greenwood, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson Counties, with heat index readings of 103 to 108 possible. This includes the city of Chanute.
Get the latest forecast from the National Weather Service in Topeka.
Part-Time Kansas Police Officer Dies During Standoff with Highway Patrol, KBI
STAFFORD COUNTY (KSNT/KPR) – A part-time police officer is dead following a standoff with Kansas law enforcement officers in Stafford County. According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), the standoff took place Monday afternoon at a home in Macksville. KSNT reports that members of the KBI's High-Risk Warrant Team and the Kansas Highway Patrol Special Response Team were serving a search warrant on the residence of 41-year-old Michael Lee, of Macksville. Lee, a city employee serving as a part-time police officer, was being investigated for the crime of sexual exploitation of a child. When trying to execute the search warrant, Lee barricaded himself in his home and refused to comply with law enforcement. Shortly before 6:30 Monday evening, Lee exited his home with a gun in hand. Officers tried to subdue him with non-lethal means, but authorities say Lee shot himself to death. The investigation continues.
Osage County Sheriff: 2-Year-Old Child Dies in Hot Car
SCRANTON, Kan. (KAKE) - An eastern Kansas sheriff says a toddler died after being found in a hot vehicle over the weekend. The Osage County Sheriff's Office said the 2-year-old was found unresponsive in a vehicle in Scranton Sunday afternoon. KAKE TV reports that first responders immediately began lifesaving measures, but the child was pronounced dead at a Topeka hospital. The sheriff's office did not identify the child. The incident is under investigation, but investigators don't believe the child was left in the vehicle. According to data collected by Kids and Car Safety, at least 14 children have died in hot cars in Kansas since 2000 and more than 1,000 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990. Another 7,300 survived with varying types and severities of injuries. More than 25% of hot car deaths involve a child who got into a vehicle on their own and of those, 68% were little boys. ( Learn more.)
It's Election Day! Kansas Election Officials Expect Record Voter Turnout
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The top election official in Kansas is expecting a large turnout for today's (TUE) primary election, driven by a constitutional amendment on abortion rights. Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab predicts 36% of registered voters will cast a ballot. That’s almost 10% more than the 2018 midterm primary election. The amendment aims to change the state constitution to say there is no guaranteed right to abortion in Kansas. Schwab says everyone should vote, or else they leave important decisions to others. “You own this country, you own your community, you own this state — go vote. And I guess that message is resonating, which is a good thing," he said. All voters may cast a ballot, regardless of their political affiliation. Polls are open across the state until at least 7 pm. Mailed advance ballots can be returned to polling places or ballot drop boxes. Ballots that are mailed back must be postmarked by election day and received within three days.
If Abortion Amendment Vote Is Close, Results May Take Some Time
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) Kansas will decide whether to let state lawmakers impose tighter restrictions on abortion today (TUE). But the Kansas News Service reports it might take days to know the outcome of the statewide vote. If the abortion vote is so close that comes down to mail-in ballots, don’t expect to know the results by Wednesday morning. Andrew Howell is the election commissioner in Shawnee County. He says ballots that decide a winner could come in up until Friday. "We’re definitely seeing a significant amount of mail ballots. I don't believe it's a record. It's significant, but I wouldn't call it a record," he said. The Kansas Secretary of State’s office said over 120,000 mail in ballots were sent out. That is more than double the number of ballots mailed in the 2018, but far less than the 2020 election.
Kansas Becomes First State to Vote on Abortion Measure Since Roe's Demise
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas is having the first test of voters' feelings since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. Kansas voters are deciding whether to allow state lawmakers to decide whether to further restrict abortion. The measure is a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution. A yes vote on the "Value Them Both" amendment would change the state constitution to say there is not a guaranteed right to abortion. Voting on the proposal coincided with the state's primary. Supporters of the measure haven't said whether they would pursue a ban on abortion if voters approve the measure, but opponents fear they would.
Vandals Attack Pro-Life Election Signs in Lawrence, Topeka, Johnson County
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS/KPR/TCJ) - Two churches in Lawrence were targets of vandalism Sunday night with messages opposing a constitutional amendment on abortion. Spray painted three-foot-tall words on Victory Bible Church included “vote no” and “protect choice.” The church supports the amendment. Pastor Leo Barbee Jr. says the incident shows that the debate over the issue has broken down. “I think it’s really sad where we are as people that we can’t disagree. I think you can disagree, you don’t have to become disagreeable. I think that’s where our country is at this particular time," he said. Another church in Lawrence was painted with similar messages. Johnson County law enforcement officials have reported similar acts of vandalism, primarily at Catholic churches. A sign supporting the "Value Them Both" amendment at a church across from the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka was also targeted by vandals. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that both sides of the abortion issue have complained about intimidation tactics.
Kansas Lawmaker Poised to Launch Independent Bid for Governor, Complicating GOP Strategy
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A hard-right Kansas lawmaker who’s clashed with Republican leaders is poised to win a spot on the November ballot as an independent candidate for governor with help from allies of Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly. State Senator Dennis Pyle, of Hiawatha, submitted petitions with nearly 8,900 signatures to the Kansas secretary of state’s office Monday for verification that the signers are registered voters, as required. State law requires 5,000 valid signatures. Pyle was a Republican until June, and his bid would complicate presumed GOP nominee and state Attorney General Derek Schmidt's efforts to unseat Kelly. Some Democrats are hoping Pyle and Schmidt will split the conservative GOP vote, boosting Kelly's chances.
Arrest Made in Neosho County Homicide Case
NEOSHO COUNTY, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) has announced the arrest of a Topeka woman in connection with a murder case in Chanute. The KBI says 41-year-old Nicole Fox was arrested Monday night in Allen County on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the killing of 34-year-old Blake Pearson, which occurred on July 25. Fox is also facing additional charges in a separate, unrelated incident which occurred in Chanute on July 6. She was arrested without incident and then booked into the Neosho County Jail. The KBI was assisted in the arrest by the Chanute Police Department, the Neosho and Shawnee County Sheriff's offices, the Kansas Highway Patrol and U.S. Marshals. The case will be prosecuted by the Neosho County Attorney.
Recent Rains in Central and Western Kansas but Areas Remain Under Drought Conditions
HAYS, Kan. (KNS/HPPR) - The rain that fell over parts of western and central Kansas last week brought much-needed precipitation to some extremely dry areas. But the Kansas News Service reports those recent rains are not enough to end drought conditions. Twenty-five percent of Kansas is now experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. And while recent rains were a welcome relief, they didn’t do much to make up for long-term precipitation deficits. Some parts of western Kansas are still seven or eight inches below their historical year-to-date average. Curtis Riganti, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, says meager rainfall totals over the past year in western Kansas make this one of the driest years in the past century. “Out of 100 years, you'd only expect two of those to be that dry… So by definition, a very rare event," he said. Riganti says the hot, dry weather is likely to continue as forecasts point toward more high temperatures and little rainfall through the month of August.
Lawrence Police ID Suspect in Connection with Double Homicide
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Police in Lawrence have identified the man accused of killing two people in separate homes and leading officers on a car chase through town Sunday morning. Police say that around 1 am, they received calls about shots fired at a home, where they found a 53-year-old victim critically injured. Shortly after, they responded to another report about two miles away, where police found a 43-year-old victim. Both men died. Police say the suspect in both shootings is 51-year-old Rodney Ericson Marshall. But when officers attempted to pull him over, Marshall allegedly drove away while firing at police from his window. He eventually hit stop sticks on Kansas Highway 10 near Eudora and was taken into custody. Charges are pending with the Douglas County District Attorney.
Kansas Man Arrested After Double Homicide in Lawrence
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP/KPR) — A 51-year-old Kansas man was arrested Sunday morning in connection with two fatal overnight shootings in Lawrence after fleeing from police and firing on officers during the chase. Lawrence Police spokeswoman Laura McCabe says the shootings were reported early Sunday morning just a few blocks apart. One victim, a 53-year-old man, was found critically hurt but died later at a Kansas City hospital. The second victim was found dead. When officers located the suspect, he fled east out of Lawrence and fired at officers several times before police used stop sticks to end the chase and arrest him near Eudora.
Wichita Starbucks Store Employees Vote Not to Unionize
WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) - The first group of Wichita Starbucks workers to file for a union election have voted not to unionize. Workers at the 21st and Amidon Starbucks rejected the union drive Monday in a 6-to-5 vote. The goals of the union effort were better pay, more consistent hours and a private space for breastfeeding employees to pump breast milk. When organizers filed, they said about 70% of the store’s employees supported the union drive. But in the time leading up to the vote, they say morale declined due to tensions with management and fears about the future of the store. More than 200 Starbucks stores have held union elections since December 2021. Only about 13% of those have voted not to unionize. Workers at another Starbucks in Wichita will have their union vote results on August 16th.
Top State Election Official Races Feature Candidates Who Question 2020 Presidential Results
PHOENIX (AP/KPR) — An Arizona lawmaker endorsed by former President Donald Trump and another lawmaker who also believes the 2020 election should be overturned are among four Republicans vying to be the top election officer in Arizona. Voters in Kansas also go to the polls to select Secretary of State candidates Tuesday. They have a choice between a candidate who questions the results and the incumbent Republican who believes the 2020 election in Kansas was secure. Washington state’s open primary also has a candidate who backs Trump’s claims of a stolen election. Republicans who question election results have sought top spots overseeing voting in several GOP states this year.
Classes Underway at Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine
WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) - Classes at Wichita’s new osteopathic medical school are underway. School officials hope it'll help train more physicians for rural Kansas. The Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine was founded partly in response to a 2017 task force that identified a shortage of primary care providers in the state. The school’s inaugural class includes 91 students – around 20 of whom are from Kansas. Dr. David Ninan is the interim dean and chief academic officer. He says he hopes many students remain in Kansas after graduation. “At the end of the day the goal is to increase the supply of physicians to Kansas and particularly in the underserved areas," he said. The school is the first of its kind in Kansas. It'll teach a holistic approach to medicine that emphasizes preventative care and community health.
Johnson County Adds $15 Million to Existing Subsidies for Panasonic Battery Plant
JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Johnson County is adding $15 million to the record-breaking tax subsidies Panasonic is getting to build a battery factory in De Soto, in western Johnson County. The county commission has approved half the money for road improvements and the rest for a new fire station. The county is using federal pandemic relief money. Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara opposed the additional incentives. “This isn’t money from heaven. This is money coming out of taxpayers’ pockets," she said. Commissioner Michael Ashcraft voted no on the fire station. The rest of the commission supported the whole package. The state has promised that the electric battery plant will lead to the creation of 4,000 jobs, but there's no guarantee the $4 billion project will create that many jobs.
Royals Send Whit Merrifield to Blue Jays for 2 Players
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals sent Whit Merrifield to the Blue Jays just minutes before Tuesday’s trade deadline, even though the two-time All-Star was unvaccinated and had to miss Kansas City’s trip to Toronto last month. It’s unclear whether Merrifield, who has primarily played second base but is capable of playing anywhere in the outfield and across the infield, has received or is planning to get the shot required of all players traveling to Canada. In exchange, the Royals received speedy outfielder Samad Taylor and right-hander Max Castillo, both of whom could help their big league team immediately.
These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.