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Headlines for Tuesday, November 29, 2022



Biden Calls on Congress to Head Off Potential Rail Strike

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass legislation to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month's deadline in the stalled contract talks. Biden said Monday that a tentative agreement approved in September provided a pay raise for workers, protected their health care benefits and improved their leave policy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers will take up legislation to impose those terms this week. If Congress acts, it will end the negotiations between four rail unions that rejected their deals and the railroads. Eight other rail unions have ratified their deals that include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.


Railroad Unions and Their Employers at an Impasse

UNDATED (THE CONVERSATION) - The prospect of a potentially devastating rail workers strike is looming again, prompting the Biden administration to call on Congress to intervene by passing legislation that would force them to agree to a new contract. Fears of a strike in September saw the White House pull out all the stops to broker a deal between railroads and the largest unions representing their employees. That deal hinged on ratification by a majority of members at all 12 of those unions. So far, eight have voted in favor, but four have rejected the terms. If even one continues to reject the deal after further negotiations, it could mean a full-scale freight strike could start as soon as the deadline passes on December 9, 2022. "Let me be clear: a rail shutdown would devastate our economy," President Joe Biden said in a statement November 18. "Without freight rail, many U.S. industries would shut down." Any work stoppage by conductors and engineers would surely interfere with the delivery of gifts and other items Americans will want to receive in time for the holiday season, along with coal, lumber and other key commodities. Strikes that obstruct transportation rarely occur in the United States, and the last one involving rail workers happened three decades ago. But when these workers do walk off the job, it can thrash the economy, inconveniencing millions of people and creating a large-scale crisis.

(Provided by the AP, The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news and analysis from academic experts. Read the original article here.)


Top Kansas Transportation Official to Step Down Dec. 23

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top transportation official in Kansas is stepping down just before Christmas. Governor Laura Kelly's office announced Tuesday that Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz plans to return to private business and that her last day leading the state Department of Transportation is December 23. It's the first major change at a state agency since the Democratic governor narrowly won reelection earlier this month. Lorenz spearheaded Kelly’s successful push in 2020 for a new, 10-year program of highway and bridge projects. Before Lorenz became the state's transportation chief in 2019, she was an executive at the Kansas City engineering and architectural firm Burns & McDonnell.


Ex-Majority Leader Jailed for DUI Is Leaving Kansas Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker who was forced out of one of the state Senate’s most powerful jobs following a drunken driving arrest is planning to leave the Legislature in early January. Republican state Sen. Gene Suellentrop, of Wichita, confirmed Tuesday that he plans to retire January 2. He said in an email that his 13 years as a lawmaker “is long enough.” GOP senators picked Suellentrop in December 2020 to be Senate majority leader but stripped him of the job four months later. He was arrested in March 2021 and later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless driving and driving under the influence charges. He served two days in jail.

(– Earlier Reporting –)

Former Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop to Resign from Kansas Senate

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Republican state Senator Gene Suellentrop will resign from his seat in January. The Kansas News Service reports that it's the latest move in Suellentrop's career since the longtime Kansas Republican lawmaker stepped down from his position as state Senate majority leader last year. Suellentrop was arrested in 2021 for driving drunk and traveling the wrong way on I-70 in Topeka. He eventually pleaded no contest to charges of driving under the influence and reckless driving.  Sedgwick County Republicans will choose his replacement. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that they will pick a new senator next month. 

Kansas Court Order Allows for Telemedicine Abortions

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Kansas court decision last week will allow abortion clinics in the state to provide medication abortions through telemedicine. On Wednesday, a Shawnee County District Court judge stopped the enforcement of legislation that prohibited doctors from prescribing abortion pills via telemedicine. The state law passed in 2011 required doctors to have a physical presence when initially administering medication to induce an abortion. KWCH TV reports that the FDA-approved medication abortion is a two-pill process that can be used up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. The temporary injunction is a win for abortion rights supporters in the state. Data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) shows last year, medication abortion accounted for 68% of abortions in Kansas. The latest order doesn’t settle the law, as the case is still pending in Shawnee District Court.


3 Hospitalized, 15-20 Displaced in KCK Apartment Fire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSHB) — Three people were hospitalized and 15-20 people were displaced in an apartment fire Saturday night in Kansas City, Kansas. KSHB TV reports that fire crews responded to the blaze at around 11 pm at Rainbow Ridge Apartments, near the University of Kansas Medical Center. A total of five people were rescued from balconies at the apartment building. Of the three hospitalized victims, one was injured with severe burns and smoke inhalation in the fire. No firefighters were injured. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Two People Dead, Another Injured in Kansas City Following Sunday Afternoon Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — Police in Kansas City are investigating after two people were killed Sunday afternoon. According to KMBC TV, officers were called to the area of 38th Street and Garfield around 2:30 pm following a report of gunfire. At the scene, officers were directed to two male shooting victims who were unresponsive in front of a residence. EMS declared the two unresponsive victims deceased. A third victim was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. No further information was released about the victims or a possible suspect. Authorities were still working to determine the identities of the shooting victims and what led up to the shooting.


Lansing Correctional Facility Inmate Dies

LANSING, Kan. (KPR) – An inmate at Lansing Correctional Facility, George E. Dobbs, died Saturday. Prison officials say he was found unresponsive while under observation inside the infirmary. Staff members began life-saving measures but Dobbs was pronounced dead by medical staff. The cause of death is pending the results of an independent autopsy. A preliminary assessment indicates the death was not related to COVID-19. Per protocol, when a resident dies in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC), the death is investigated by both the KDOC and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.  The 53-year-old Dobbs was serving an 89-month sentence following convictions in Leavenworth County for the distribution of heroin and meth.


KCK Child Killed By Accidental Gunshot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a boy who was 5-years-old or younger died after an accidental shooting Monday. Police say the shooting happened around noon in the the Piper neighborhood north of the Kansas Speedway. The child died a short time later at a local hospital. Police say their preliminary investigation indicates that the child was playing with a gun. No other details about the shooting were immediately available.


Kansas City Police Patrol Middle School After Internet Threat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - Police officers will have a visible presence on the campus of a middle school in Kansas City today (TUE) after a threat was made on social media. The Kansas City Star reports that officials at Central Middle School informed parents of the threat made on Snapchat in a message sent out last (MON) night. The Kansas City Police Department says it will station officers at the school. The school district is asking anyone with information about the threat to contact the school. Central Middle School is located at on 103rd St. in south Kansas City.


Flight from Topeka Makes Emergency Landing in Chicago

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A flight that took off from Forbes Field in Topeka made an emergency landing in Chicago Monday afternoon. WIBW reports that the pilot reported smoke in the cargo hold. The Atlas Air 747 landed safely at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago just after 4:00 pm. It was a chartered flight bound for Poland. News reports in Chicago say several passengers dressed in military fatigues were seen walking off the flight and into vehicles on the runway. Forbes Field often is the departure site for troops deploying overseas from Fort Riley. Authorities at the army base could not confirm whether its soldiers were on the plane but the Army recently announced that soldiers from Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division would be deployed in Europe. No one was injured.


Teen Dies Following ATV Crash in Marion County

MARION COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 16-year-old died Saturday night in an ATV crash. KWCH TV reports that Seth Mader was found around 11 pm, after driving an ATV about two miles southeast of Marion. Officials say he failed to navigate a curve and crashed into a ditch. The 16-year-old was from Hillsboro.


KPR Still Seeking Kansas Statehouse Bureau Chief to Join Station's Award-Winning News Team

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio, located at the University of Kansas, is looking for a new Kansas Statehouse Bureau Chief to cover all aspects of state government in Topeka for KPR and its statewide reporting partners. This exciting position requires skill, professional experience and curiosity. To apply, log on to:   https://employment.ku.edu/staff/23463BR. A review of applications began in October and will continue until a robust pool of qualified applicants is identified.

KU is an EO/AAE. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, national origin, disability, genetic information or protected Veteran status.


Check Your Tickets: Nearly $100 Million in Kansas Lottery Winnings Remain Unclaimed

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Nearly $100 million in lottery winnings remain unclaimed in Kansas. KSNT reports that millions of dollars worth of lottery winnings lay unclaimed and time is running out to redeem the winning tickets. According to Kansas Lottery officials, the unclaimed prizes range from a few thousand dollars to one ticket worth millions.  Some prizes remain unclaimed nearly a year after they were won. A recent Powerball jackpot prize of nearly $93 million, which was won on November 19, also remains unclaimed. Excluding the unclaimed Powerball jackpot win, $592,998 in various prizes are up for grabs across every part of the state. Winners have 365 days to claim their cash before the money is returned to the prize fund to be used for future prizes.


Kansas Head Football Coach Leipold Signs Lucrative Contract Extension

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lance Leipold has signed his lucrative contract extension at the University of Kansas, which includes a massive pay raise for the Jayhawks’ football coach along with his assistants and staff, and could keep him tied to the school through the 2029 season. Under terms of the contract, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, Leipold will make $5 million in the first year of the deal with annual $100,000 increases. That averages out to $5.3 million and tops out at $5.6 million in the final year. Leipold gets a $750,000 signing bonus while his buyout rises to $12.5 million. Leipold led the Jayhawks to a 6-6 record in his second year and their first bowl game since 2008.


No. 9 Kansas Routs Texas Southern 87-55 for Bounce-Back Win

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jalen Wilson hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 points, MJ Rice added 19 and No. 9 Kansas beat Texas Southern 87-55 on Monday night. Grady Dick had 15 points, Josef Yesufu 14 and KJ Adams 10 for the Jayhawks, who bounced back from a loss to Tennessee at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Davon Barnes had 22 points and Zytarious Mortle scored 11 to lead the Tigers, whose brutal nonconference schedule has taken them to Texas Tech, Houston and Auburn already this season. Up next for the Jayhawks is a game against Seton Hall in the Big East-Big 12 Battle.


Klieman Winning Games, Winning over Fans at No. 13 K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Chris Klieman received a rather tepid reception when Kansas State hired him away from North Dakota State. Wildcat fans pined for someone from the Bill Snyder coaching tree, and the longtime small college coach hardly fit the bill. Four years later, Klieman has the No. 13 Wildcats playing third-ranked TCU for a Big 12 title. Everything about his program, from the hard-nosed and mistake-free football to the lack of ego or selfishness, also seems to fit seamlessly in his new home. And wouldn't you know it? Klieman has won over even the most ardent of naysayers.


AP Source: KC Chiefs Adding Ex-Broncos RB Melvin Gordon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are signing two-time Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon to their practice squad, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press, adding some much-needed depth with a player that was recently released from the AFC West rival Denver Broncos. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the signing was not yet official. Gordon was cut by the Broncos last week amid fumble issues that plagued the 2015 first-round pick during his time in Denver. He had five in 10 games this season.


Kansas Volleyball Team Makes the NCAA Tournament

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Pairings for the NCAA Division I women's volleyball tournament were announced Sunday and the Kansas Jayhawks are in the field. KU plays Thursday in Lincoln, Nebraska, against the University of Miami. The match will start at 4:30 pm.


K-State Parting Ways with Longtime Volleyball Coach

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has decided to part way with volleyball coach Suzie Fritz after 22 years. The school announced Sunday that Fritz would not return next year despite having a 393-263 overall record and leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament 13 times as head coach. K-State athletic director Gene Taylor said he appreciates Fritz's leadership and what she did to advance the program. Fritz won more games than any other K-State volleyball coach. But her teams have struggled in recent years and recorded only 15 wins in each of the past two seasons.


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.