Headlines for Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Kansas Voters Resoundingly Reject Pro-Life Amendment, Protect Access to AbortionTOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas voters have sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights by rejecting a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten abortion restrictions or possibly even ban the procedure outright. The vote Tuesday in a conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement was the first test of voters' feelings about abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. About 60% of voters rejected a proposed change that would have declared there is no right to abortion in the state constitution. Had the ballot measure passed, it would have overturned a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights. Opponents predicted a ban would be coming if the measure had passed.
( Read more.)
Failure of Amendment Means Kansas Lawmakers Likely Unable to Pass More Abortion Restrictions
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) – Kansas Republicans likely can’t pass more restrictions on abortion after failure of the "Value Them Both" constitutional amendment. The Kansas News Service reports that anti-abortion factions are now reviewing their options. GOP State Senator Molly Baumgardner says she wanted to bring back a bill banning dismemberment abortions. The law previously passed but was thrown out before being enforced. But with abortion protections remaining in the Kansas Constitution, Republicans cannot act on it. “The defeat (on the amendment) is disappointing, that struggle for truth, and the struggle for life is going to continue in the state of Kansas," she said. The state constitution still allows the legislature to restrict abortions, but courts can toss laws they deem overly restrictive. Baumgardner says the fight over abortion in Kansas is not over.
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.
Kansas GOP Nominates Kris Kobach for AG, Advancing Comeback Bid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Republicans have nominated Kris Kobach for Kansas attorney general, keeping alive the polarizing conservative's bid for a political comeback following his losses in a governor's race and U.S. Senate primary over the past four years. Kobach is a former Kansas secretary of state who built a national profile by advocating tough policies against illegal immigration and questioning the integrity of elections. He defeated two lesser-known candidates on Tuesday and overcame many Republicans' qualms over his losses to Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 governor's race and to Roger Marshall in the 2020 Senate primary. The Democratic nominee is first-time candidate Chris Mann, who is a former police officer and prosecutor.
AG Derek Schmidt to Face Governor Laura Kelly in November General Election
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has won the Republican nomination for governor in the state's primary election. He'll face Democratic Governor Laura Kelly who captured her party's nomination.
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.
Schwab Defeats Brown in Kansas Secretary of State Primary
UNDATED (PBS/KPR) – Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab defeated primary challenger Mike Brown to advance to November's general election. The PBS NewsHour reports that the race was one of several around the nation that featured candidates for secretary of state who expressed skepticism about state and federal election processes. Brown, a former Johnson County Commissioner who had promoted conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 elections, had promised to rid the state of ballot drop boxes. Schwab was adamant that the Kansas election process is safe, and supported new election laws pushed by Kansas Republicans, including those restricting the delivery of ballots by third parties. Schwab moves on to face Jenna Repass, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the general election.
Amanda Adkins Wins GOP Nomination, Will Face Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids in November
WASHINGTON (AP) — Amanda Adkins has won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District. She will face Kansas Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids in the November general election. This race is expected to be highly competitive in the fall, with the 3rd District the center of the redistricting debate in Kansas. The new congressional maps added three conservative counties and removed Kansas City, Kansas, which will likely provide a boost for Adkins' candidacy.
Kansas Congressional Match-Ups Set for November
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Navy intelligence officer Patrick Schmidt, a Democrat, will take on Kansas GOP Congressman Jake LaTurner in the 2nd Congressional District. Garden City teacher Jimmy Beard won the Democratic nomination to take on Kansas GOP Congressman Tracey Mann in the 1st Congressional District, which now includes part of Lawrence. And Kansas GOP Congressman Ron Estes will face Democratic challenger Bob Hernandez, a Wichita businessman and veteran.
Kansas GOP Senator Jerry Moran Advances, Will Face Democrat Mark Holland
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Mark Holland, former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, has won the Democratic nomination to take on Kansas GOP senator Jerry Moran in the fall. Moran is running for a third, six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He defeated a nominal primary challenge from Joan Farr, a far-right conservative running for U.S. Senate in both Kansas and Oklahoma.
2 Kansas State Lawmakers Who Faced Legal Issues Ousted
UNDATED (AP) – Two Kansas state lawmakers who have faced legal troubles since they were elected have lost their primary races. Freshman Rep. Aaron Coleman, of Turner, who was reprimanded by his party over his legal problems, was defeated in Tuesday's Democratic primary by Melissa Oropeza. Coleman agreed in March to undergo mental health counseling after being accused of misdemeanor battery involving his brother. He also admitted to abusing girls and young women before he was elected. And Republican Rep. Mark Samsel, of Wellsville, who pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors involving his treatment of two students, was ousted by conservative Carrie Barth, of Baldwin City.
Greitens Loses to Schmitt in Missouri Senate Primary
WASHINGTON (AP) – Democratic hopes of picking up a U.S. Senate seat in deep-red Missouri faltered Tuesday after Republican voters selected Attorney General Eric Schmitt as their nominee over former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace in 2018. Greitens, they predicted, would be toxic in a general election. Democrats landed a strong recruit in beer heir Trudy Busch Valentine, who won her primary Tuesday. And the state’s Republican establishment prepared to put millions of dollars behind an independent candidate in the general election, potentially fracturing the GOP vote. But Greitens came up short Tuesday, finishing a distant third behind Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
His campaign’s tailspin can likely be traced back to March, when his ex-wife submitted a bombshell legal filing in the former couple’s child custody case. Sheena Greitens said in a sworn statement that Eric Greitens had abused her and one of their young sons. She also said he displayed such “unstable and coercive behavior” in the lead-up to his 2018 resignation that others took steps to limit his access to firearms. At the time, Greitens faced potential impeachment after his former hairdresser testified that he blindfolded and restrained her in his basement, assaulted her and appeared to take a compromising photo to pressure her to keep quiet about an affair. He resigned from office — and avoided testifying under oath about the affair.
He launched his comeback campaign for Senate last year, marketing himself as an unabashedly pro-Trump conservative. And while many in Missouri wrote him off, one important political figure didn’t: Donald Trump, who mused publicly about Greitens’ attributes. But in the end, Trump stopped short of issuing an endorsement, instead issuing a vague statement this week throwing his support behind “ERIC.”
And on Tuesday, the other “ERIC” in the race — Schmitt — won.
Lawrence Man Facing Double Murder Charge, Attempted Murder
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCUR) - A Lawrence man has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted capital murder after fleeing from and shooting at Lawrence police Sunday. The Douglas County District Attorney's Office has charged 51-year-old Rodney Marshall with two counts of first-degree murder in separate killings that took place just two miles apart early Sunday morning. Marshall fled from police when they tried to pull him over and began firing from his car window. For that, he is charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder and five counts of attempted capital murder. Marshall was eventually arrested after hitting stop sticks on Kansas Highway 10 near Eudora. His bond is set at one and a half million dollars.
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.
Lawrence Woman Arrested on Fraud Charges, Identity Theft
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – A Lawrence woman has been arrested on charges of fraud and identity theft. Investigators arrested 25-year-old Billie Jean Peterson for allegedly taking advantage of co-workers, acquaintances and a neighbor. Police say she stole their personal information and fraudulently charged thousands of dollars to their accounts over the course of several months. Peterson was taken into custody and charged with felony theft. She's also facing numerous counts of identity theft, criminal use of a financial card and other crimes involving multiple victims. Police say the investigation began in March when a small group of women who worked with Peterson at a local dental office compared notes about fraudulent charges on their bank cards.
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.)
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.
Haskell Indian Nations University Nets Major NSF Award
LAWRENCE, Kan. (Indian Country Today/KPR) – Haskell Indian Nations University has been named as the recipient of a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation. The award is the largest research award ever granted by the NSF to a tribal college or university. Indian Country Today reports that the award-winning project is called "The Large Scale CoPe: Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: The National Indigenous and Earth Sciences Convergence Hub." Its purpose is to create a hub for university-trained social, ecosystem, and physical earth systems scientists and students to exchange and develop information coming from Indigenous people from diverse coastal regions. This will allow those groups to work together in a systematic way to address coastal hazards related to climate change. Haskell Foundation Director Aaron Hove said the award "cements Haskell's leadership role in Indigenous Climate Change research, and demonstrates what a small institution can accomplish when it builds relationships internationally known research institutions like the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Scripps Research Institute, and large research universities." Haskell Indian Nations University is the lead institution in the hub project.
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.
Royals Trade 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 against COVID-19 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.
Chiefs' Travis Kelce Aims to Finish Career in Kansas City
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Andy Reid will always have a special fondness for Travis Kelce, one of the first players that the Kansas City Chiefs drafted after the coach took over a downtrodden franchise following his own frustrating finish in Philadelphia. But now that Kelce is one of the league’s elder statesmen, and the longest-tenured member of the Chiefs, it is only natural to begin wondering how long the tight end will continue to perform at the highest level. He turns 33 in October, though he's also coming off one of the best seasons of his nine-year NFL career.
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.