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Headlines for Friday, December 23, 2022

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KPR News

Winter Storm Leads to Delayed, Cancelled Flights at KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - About two dozen flights at the Kansas City International Airport were canceled due to the extreme cold and snow early Thursday morning. KCI officials expect additional delays and cancellations throughout the weekend. Travelers can check the status of flights online at FlyKCI.com.

(-Related-)

Winter Weather Caused Power Outages

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Extreme winter weather caused power outages in some parts of Kansas, impacting thousands of Evergy customers, particularly in south-central Kansas. Strong winds, snow, ice and extreme cold temperatures caused around 12,000 customers in the state to lose power Thursday morning. Around 8,000 were in the Wichita area, including Valley Center. Parts of Jefferson County in northeast Kansas also lost power for a period of time Thursday.

Wind Chill Warnings and Advisories remain in effect for many Kansans. Visit the National Weather Service online for the latest weather information.

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$43 Million Earmarked for KU Cancer Center in U.S. Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LJW/KNS) - The U.S. Senate has passed a huge omnibus spending bill. Included in the budget measure is $43 million for a new University of Kansas Cancer Center building. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran announced the news Thursday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU officials have been discussing a major new cancer research building in Kansas City, Kansas, since June. That's when KU received a federal designation as a "comprehensive cancer center," making it just one of 53 such centers in the country.

The earmarked money from the $1.7 trillion federal funding bill passed the Senate 68 to 29. The funding bill is now headed to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. KU Cancer Center officials say the money will fund biomedical research and help with public outreach, particularly to underserved and high-risk populations. The Kansas City Business Journal reports the new building will cost more than $450 million.

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Kansas Joins Multi-State Lawsuit over Train Crossings

UNDATED (KC Star) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined 18 other state attorneys general in asking that the U.S. Supreme Court restore the rights states and local governments once had to regulate the length of time that trains can block railroad crossings. The attorneys general say the public is being put at risk without that type of local control. The Kansas City Star reports that many people have died when emergency vehicles were delayed at rail crossings. Congress has thus far failed to pass any laws limiting how long trains can block a crossing.

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Democratic State Senator to Resign from Position Midway Through Term

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) – State senator Tom Hawk of Manhattan has announced that he will retire on January 10. The Kansas Reflector reports that Hawk, a Democrat, was first elected to the Kansas Senate in 2012, after serving three terms in the Kansas House. He was at one time a school superintendent and teacher. Hawk serves on the Kansas Senate budget, transportation, and utilities committees. His seat will be filled through a selection process organized by the Kansas Democratic Party.

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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.

KUisan 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.

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Food Tax Elimination Could Be Used for GOP Advantage

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is again proposing to fully eliminate the sales tax on food in Kansas, and the idea might again run into opposition. The Kansas News Service reports that Republican lawmakers could use the tax cut for a political advantage in the next election. Governor Kelly recently called for eliminating the Kansas sales tax on groceries by April 1st. Currently the tax is set for a phaseout that will eliminate it in 2025. The Republican-controlled Legislature has not expressed an interest in Kelly’s plan. Alexandra Middlewood, a political scientist at Wichita State University, says the current phaseout aligns well with the 2024 elections and could help Republicans: “It’s more to their advantage to keep it the same way that it is currently and to try to gain some political advantages in the next election.” The food sales tax is set for its first drop from 6.5% to 4% on January 1.

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Former Kansas Lawmaker Guilty of COVID-19 Relief Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) - A former Kansas lawmaker has been convicted of fraud and other charges related to Covid-19 business recovery funds. Michael Capps, of Wichita, was found guilty Wednesday of 12 charges in federal court. The charges included bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and false statement to a bank. Authorities say Capps lied when he submitted
documents to several state and federal agencies in order to receive Covid relief funds. He received more than $350 thousand dollars for his two businesses and a nonprofit he operated in Wichita. Capps was elected to the Kansas House in 2018. The Republican lost his 2020 reelection bid.

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Kansas Attorney General Joins Multi-State Lawsuit over Train Crossings

UNDATED (KC Star) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined 18 other state attorneys general in asking that the U.S. Supreme Court restore the rights states and local governments once had to regulate the length of time trains can block railroad crossings. The attorneys general say the public is being put at risk without that type of local control. The Kansas City Star reports that many people have died when emergency vehicles were delayed at rail crossings. Rail industry deadlines and practices have made blocked crossings a more common occurrence. Several state and federal courts also have overruled the authority of other states and local governments to enforce their blocked crossings laws, saying that only the federal government can regulate train movements. Congress has thusfar failed to pass any laws limiting how long trains can block a crossing.

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Unit on Social Justice Removed from Lansing Curriculum

LANSING, Kan. (KCUR) - A Leavenworth County school district has removed a unit on social justice from its senior English curriculum. The section was removed last week after a parent complained it was indoctrinating her daughter and other students. The class at Lansing High School had students watch clips from the documentary 13th, about the criminalization of African Americans, and the movie The Laramie Project, about the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd. The video clips were designed to teach students about critical thinking and media bias. Senior Nikki Sadarski said removing the unit would have a chilling effect on teachers. "The idea that teachers do not know how to teach, and are the enemy of parents, does an extreme injustice to the great majority of teachers at this district who have impacted lives so profoundly as mine," she said. A review committee of staff, community members and students found the material was age-appropriate and recommended keeping it. However, the school board voted 4-3 to remove the unit from the high school curriculum.

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Proposal Would Put Cameras in KCK Public School Classrooms

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Kansas City, Kansas School District will consider a proposal that would put cameras inside classrooms. KCTV reports that KCKPS held an in-person and virtual forum to enable public comment on the possibility. The school district says school officials believe the cameras it would make it easier to live stream and record lessons to classrooms staffed with teachers and substitutes not qualified to teach certain subjects. The National Education Association said it is opposed to the plan for a variety of reasons, including lack of privacy and concerns about the cost of the proposal. Putting cameras in every classroom within the district would cost about $6.7 million. The KCK board will make the final decision on whether to move forward on the idea.

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Kansas Gas Customers Still Paying 2021 Storm Costs

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) - As severe winter weather rolls through Kansas, many residents are seeing new fees on their utility bills to pay for a record storm last year. The Kansas News Service reports that starting this month, Kansas Gas Service customers will notice a separate fee that raises their monthly bill by about $5 dollars. It’s connected to a storm in February of 2021 that knocked out power to much of the country and sent natural gas prices soaring. Utility bills will go up as colder temperatures increase demand. The price of natural gas is still way up over last winter, especially in the Midwest. The average cost to heat a home in Kansas is expected to rise by 33%.

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KU Defeats Harvard 68-54 at Allen Field House

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Jalen Wilson scored 21 points and No. 4 Kansas overcame a frigid performance from 3-point range to beat Harvard 68-54. Wilson reached the 1,000-point mark in his career in the game. The Jayhawks are now 11-1.

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Chiefs Try to Keep Pace in AFC as Seattle Visits Saturday

UNDATED (AP) - The Chiefs will try to keep pace with Buffalo for the best record in the AFC when they face the slumping Seahawks on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City already has clinched its seventh consecutive AFC West Division title. Seattle is slipping out of playoff contention after losing four of its past five games. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is riding a streak of 20 consecutive completions, just five off the NFL record, and is putting together a strong case for his second league MVP award.

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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 ismade possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.