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Headlines for Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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Emily Fisher

Kansas Governor Tests Positive for COVID, Puts Off Address

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has been forced to postpone her annual State of the State address after testing positive for COVID-19. Kelly's office announced Tuesday that she had tested positive. The test came after an inaugural ball Sunday night, her swearing in for a second term as governor and inaugural address Monday and a news conference Tuesday morning at the Statehouse. The State of the State address had been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday during a joint session of the House and Senate in the House chamber. The speech now is scheduled for January 24. But Kelly's office said her staff still plans to release her budget proposals Thursday as planned and, “This should not delay normal government functions.” Her office also said it had informed people attending the ball, the inaugural ceremony and the news conference that she had tested positive. Kelly's office said she began experiencing symptoms Tuesday and that they have remained mild. She is fully vaccinated and will work in self-isolation, her office said.

Kansas Public Radio stations will carry live coverage of the State of the State address beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.


Democratic Kansas Governor Sworn-in, Urges Civility

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly called Monday for leaders in Republican-leaning Kansas to follow the lead of the state's residents and "turn down the volume" on "this hate, this vitriol, this divisiveness" in politics as she started a second term with a new, hard-right state attorney general. Kelly and other statewide elected officials took their oaths of office under banners hung on the south side of the Statehouse, one declaring "Innovation," and the others, "Unity" and "Prosperity." Kelly was sworn in last and stuck with a pattern in major speeches of promoting bipartisanship after narrowly winning reelection in November.

The Democratic governor told her audience that the COVID-19 pandemic showed that Kansas residents "came through for one another," adding, "It's a part of who we've always been." "Time and time again, in ways big and small, Kansans choose kindness, cooperation and civility," Kelly said in her 14-minute inaugural address. "Those in leadership positions have a particular responsibility to follow Kansans' lead. The times demand it."

The ceremony also capped a big political comeback for Kris Kobach, the new attorney general. Over two decades, he gained a national reputation by advocating for strict immigration and election laws but became a lightning rod for controversy. He lost the 2018 governor's race to Kelly and then a GOP primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.

"I've always been willing to dust myself off and get up off the ground and keep on fighting," Kobach said after the inauguration ceremony ended.

Both Kelly's and Kobach's victories last year were narrow, as Kansas voters sent decidedly mixed messages. Voters in August decisively rejected a proposed change to the state constitution that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion, but Republicans maintained their super-majorities in both legislative chambers — keeping conservatives firmly in charge.

The Legislature convened less than an hour after Kelly's inauguration ceremony ended for House and Senate sessions of mostly housekeeping and swearing in new members. Kelly was scheduled to outline her legislative agenda in the annual State of the State address Wednesday evening, but on Tuesday afternoon her office announced that Kelly had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the speech will be postponed until Tuesday, January 24. That re-scheduled address will be carried live by Kansas Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state, beginning at 6:30 pm on January 24th.

"We cannot let the hostility and anger that has poisoned our national politics spread here to Kansas," Kelly said in her inaugural address. "We should all agree: Now is the time to turn down the volume. This hate, this vitriol, this divisiveness, it is not who we are as Kansans." Kelly's centrist credibility has rested on a few high-profile moves, such as breaking with President Joe Biden on COVID-19 vaccine mandates in November 2021 and signing a bill to ban "sanctuary" cities for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Last month, she banned the use of TikTok by state workers on state-issued devices, following similar action by Congress and a slew of Republican governors such as South Dakota's Kristi Noem.

Kelly's reelection campaign featured television ads showing her standing in the middle of a rural row, and she said in her address, "I believe the best choice is right down the middle of that road." "Because the middle of the road is where left and right come together, where well-intentioned people who hold different positions find common ground," she said. "And progress is made." But Kelly also has clashed frequently with Republican lawmakers on budget issues, tax cuts and education and public health policy. She twice vetoed their proposals to ban transgender athletes from girls' and women's K-12 and college sports. Her proposals to expand the state's Medicaid coverage for another 150,000 people have been dead letters for top Republicans.

Still, Senate President Ty Masterson, a conservative Wichita-area Republican, expressed some guarded optimism, saying, "We'd love to meet in the middle and have those words have meeting." Masterson noted that Kelly is now term-limited. "People say, well, she's not accountable to voters anymore, so she can go as far left as she wants, or whatever, but the flip side is that she's also not beholden to that radical base," Masterson told reporters after the Senate's brief session.

Meanwhile, Kobach and his family marked his return to public office in what, as a former law professor, he called "a role that will suit me well." Kobach lost a congressional race in 2004 before winning the first of two terms as Kansas secretary of state in 2010. He was the first prominent Kansas elected official to endorse Donald Trump's bid for president in 2016 and served as vice chairman of a short-lived Trump commission on voter fraud. His unsuccessful 2018 and 2020 races crashed his political career and left many Republicans believing that he couldn't win a statewide race. But many GOP leaders and activists said his 2022 campaign was better organized and more focused, generating less drama or outrage.

The more combative Kobach could return: He's promised to file lawsuits to challenge Biden administration policies. He's already identified as potential targets a listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species and an expansion of waters covered by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Kobach said Monday that the attorney general's office also will examine a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule allowing more pharmacies to dispense abortion medications. Kobach is a strong abortion opponent, while Kelly supports abortion rights.


Kansas Right Pushing Back More Aggressively on LGBTQ Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Kansas legislators are pushing back more aggressively this year on LGBTQ-rights issues than in the past two years. They now propose to ban gender-affirming care for trangender youth and restrict how public schools discuss sexual orientation and gender identity. Those are in addition to the ban on transgender athletes in girls' and women's K-through-12, club and college sports they pursued in 2021 and 2022. The measure on transgender athletes is part of GOP leaders' agenda for this year, and Senate President Ty Masterson said he wants to pursue restrictions on how schools deal with human sexuality issues in their classrooms. Two GOP senators have introduced the measure on gender-affirming care.


EPA, Pipeline Operator Reach Deal to Clean Up Kansas Spill

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with a pipeline operator to clean up a spill that dumped 14,000 bathtubs' worth of crude oil into a rural Kansas creek.

The agency said in a news release that the Dec. 7 rupture of the Keystone pipeline affected 3 1/2 miles of the creek as it flows through rural pastureland in Washington County, in north-central Kansas. The order requires TC Oil Pipeline Operations Inc., whose parent company is Canadian-based TC Energy, to recover oil and oil-contaminated soil and vegetation and contain the further spread of oil in the creek. Meg McCollister, an EPA regional administrator, said in a statement that the federal government and the state are "committed to a thorough cleanup and restoration."

The 2,700-mile Keystone system carries heavy crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to the Gulf Coast and to central Illinois. The cause of the 14,000-barrel spill hasn't yet been announced. Each barrel is 42 gallons, the size of a household bathtub.

But U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, raised concerns in a letter Monday about the decision to grant TC Energy a permit that allowed the pressure inside parts of the Keystone system — including the stretch through Kansas — to exceed the typical maximum permitted levels. "This latest spill is no surprise," Cantwell told the deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in demanding a review of the permit. The spill was the largest onshore in nine years and larger than 22 previous spills on the Keystone system combined, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

The company and government officials have said drinking water supplies were not affected. No one was evacuated, and most of the Keystone system was back in operation in eight days. Concerns that spills could pollute waterways spurred opposition to plans by TC Energy to build another crude oil pipeline in the same system, the 1,200-mile Keystone XL, across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. President Joe Biden's cancelation of a permit for the project led the company to pull the plug on the project last year.


One St. Mary Football Player Dead, One Injured in Oklahoma Crash

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (KSHB/KPR) - A football player from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth was killed and another player was critically injured Monday morning in Oklahoma as they traveled back from a bowl game in Miami Beach, Florida. University officials say 25-year-old Justin White died in the crash. His teammate, 24-year-old Hennessy Thomas, sustained critical injuries and was transported to a hospital in Oklahoma City. KSHB-TV reports that the two were returning from an all-star college bowl in Florida, where they played in front of NFL scouts. The crash happened just before 3 am Monday on Interstate 35, about 65 miles south of Oklahoma City. School administrators say White was originally from Jackson, Mississippi. Thomas, is from Rayville, Louisiana.


U.S. Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeals from Carr Brothers in "Wichita Massacre" Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the appeals of two brothers who were sentenced to death for four fatal shootings on a Kansas soccer field in December 2000 known as "the Wichita massacre." Former Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the high court's decision means Jonathan and Reginald Carr no longer have any direct appeals of their death sentences. However, he said they can still file lawsuits in state and federal courts to try to prevent their executions by lethal injection.

The U.S. Supreme Court's action came a little less than a year after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the two brothers had received fair trials and upheld their death sentences. Kansas has nine men on death row, but the state has not executed anyone since the murderous duo James Latham and George York were hanged on the same day in June 1965. "The slow but steady march toward justice continues," Schmidt said in a statement Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision came just hours before Schmidt stepped down as Kansas attorney general after 12 years in office, having lost the governor's race in November. The new attorney general is Kris Kobach, a fellow Republican. Clayton Perkins, an attorney representing Jonathan Carr in his appeals, declined to comment. Reginald Carr's attorney for his appeals, Debra Wilson, did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.

Prosecutors said the brothers broke into a home in December 2000 and forced the three men and two women there to have sex with one another and later to withdraw money from ATMs. Jonathan Carr was 20 and Reginald Carr was 23 when the murders occurred; they are now 42 and 45 and both are incarcerated at the state's maximum-security prison in El Dorado, about 30 miles northeast of Wichita. According to authorities, the women were raped repeatedly before all five victims were taken to a soccer field and shot. Four of them died: Aaron Sander, 29; Brad Heyka, 27; Jason Befort, 26; and Heather Muller, 25. The woman who survived testified against the Carr brothers. They were also convicted of killing another person in a separate attack. Each of the brothers accused the other of carrying out the crimes.

The Kansas court upheld their convictions in 2014 but overturned their death sentences, concluding that not having separate hearings violated the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision in 2016, returning the case to the Kansas Supreme Court. The Kansas court's ruling in 2014 led crime victims' friends and families to campaign for the ouster of four of the court's seven justices in the November 2016 election. Although that effort was unsuccessful and the four justices prevailed in statewide yes-or-no votes on whether they should stay on the bench, it was by smaller than normal margins.

When the Kansas Supreme Court took up the brothers' cases again, their attorneys raised questions about how their cases weren't conducted separately when jurors were considering whether the death penalty was warranted. Other issues they raised included the instructions that were given to jurors and how closing arguments were conducted.

The Kansas court's majority concluded that while the lower-court judge and prosecutors made errors, those errors did not warrant overturning their death sentences again.


Mother of Kansas Clergy Abuse Victim Welcomes New KBI Report

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The mother of a child abuse victim welcomes a new report that shows the Catholic Church in Kansas protected priests who molested parishioners. Wichita resident Janet Patterson says Robert Larson exploited his authority role as a Catholic priest to abuse her son in the 80s. “We don't assume – or understand – that our very leaders in the spiritual life are the ones who are doing the betraying," she said. A new Kansas Bureau of Investigation report says the Catholic Church regularly concealed abuse in Kansas. Many priests never faced justice. The Kansas News Service reports that Larson was convicted of abusing four children. Many others alleged he abused them, too. Five died by suicide, including Janet Patterson’s son, Eric. (Read more.)


Wyandotte County Has First Black Female Judge

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Wyandotte County now has its first Black female judge, Candice Alcaraz. She has served as an assistant district attorney in Wyandotte County since 2016. She beat a sitting judge with nearly 69% of the countywide vote in the November election. The 32-year-old Alcaraz, who was sworn in Monday, will rule on both criminal and civil cases.


Drunk Driver Crashes into Eudora Pizza Shop 

EUDORA, Kan. (WDAF/KPR) — An alleged drunk driver crashed into a pizza parlor in Eudora, injuring two employees inside the restaurant. Eudora police say the driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into Gambino’s Pizza on Church Street. WDAF TV reports that four employees were inside when the crash happened. Two were hurt but the restaurant’s owner says they are recovering. Eudora police arrested the 47-year-old driver of the truck for driving under the influence and reckless driving. Gambino’s will be closed while repairs are made.


7 Deer Lay Dead in Kansas Field, Game Wardens Search for Suspect

HANOVER, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas game wardens are searching for the person responsible for shooting, killing and leaving seven deer to lay dead in fields near Hanover in north-central Kansas. WIBW TV reports that a Washington County landowner reported at least five whitetail deer had been shot with a small caliber rifle and left to lay in their fields. During their investigation, game wardens said they found two more deer that had been shot and left to lay. They say the animals were killed just outside the town of Hanover. Game wardens believe all seven deer were killed January 2 and 3. Anyone with information about the crime is asked call Operation Game Thief at (877) 426-3843.


Kansas City Middle School Ordered to Pay Former Student $700,000 over Teacher’s Behavior

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A Kansas City jury found Hogan Prep Middle School liable of discrimination and a former teacher guilty of battery involving a former student. WDAF TV reports that a judge ordered Hogan Prep to pay $700,000 in actual and punitive damages. It also ordered former 7th grade teacher Douglas Bliss to pay the victim $250,000. The lawsuit accused Bliss of molesting a 7th grade student who attended Hogan Prep during the 2017-18 school year. The plaintiff claims she reported Bliss’ behavior to the vice-principal in 2018 but nothing came of it. The lawsuit claims the victim has been hospitalized for severe depression and tried to take her own life multiple times since she was assaulted.


One Dead, Two Hurt After Police Pursuit Crash in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One person died and two people are injured after an SUV being pursued by police crashed into another vehicle early Sunday. Police said the crash happened around 2 am Sunday after officers from Kansas City, Kansas, pursued a GMC Terrain that had been taken in an armed robbery into Kansas City, Missouri. The GMC was traveling at a high speed when it went through a red light and struck a Nissan Altima, according to Kansas City, Missouri, Police spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina. A passenger in the front of the Nissan died at the scene of the crash. The Nissan's driver suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital. The GMC driver was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.


Conservatives Take Aim at Tenure for University Professors

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Texas colleges to disavow critical race theory, the University of Texas faculty approved a resolution defending their freedom to decide for themselves how to teach about race.

Patrick said he took it as a message to "go to hell." In turn, Patrick, a Republican, said it was time to consider holding the faculty accountable, by targeting one of the top perks of their jobs. "Maybe we need to look at tenure," Patrick said at a news conference in November.

It's a sentiment being echoed by conservative officials in red states across the country. The indefinite academic appointments that come with tenure — the holy grail of university employment — have faced review from lawmakers or state oversight boards in at least half a dozen states, often presented as bids to rein in academics with liberal views.

Tenure advocates are bracing for the possibility of new threats as lawmakers return to statehouses around the country.

The trend reflects how conservative scrutiny of instruction related to race, gender and sexuality has extended from schools to higher education. But budget considerations also play a role. Tenured faculty numbers have been declining even in more liberal states. Universities are hiring more part-time, adjunct instructors amid declines in financial support from state governments. Traditionally, tenured professors can be terminated only under extreme circumstances, such as professional misconduct or a financial emergency. Advocates for tenure say it is a crucial component of academic freedom — especially as controversy grows over scholarly discussions about history and identity.

Without tenure, faculty are "liable to play it safe when it comes time to have a classroom discussion about a difficult topic," said Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors. But in difficult financial and political times, even tenured professors may not be guaranteed employment.

In Kansas, Emporia State University this fall cut 33 faculty — most of them tenured — using an emergency pandemic measure that allowed universities to bypass policies on staff terminations to balance budgets. Max McCoy, Emporia State's sole journalism professor, penned a column that began, "I may be fired for writing this" — before learning this would be his last year teaching at the school. "This is a purge," he said. He said all the fired professors were "Democrats or liberal in our thinking." University spokesperson Gwen Larson said individual professors were not targeted for dismissal. She said the cuts followed a review of how demand for academic programs is changing and "where we needed to move in the future.

Attacks on higher education have been fueled by a shift in how conservatives see colleges and universities, said Jeremy Young, of the free-expression group PEN America. The share of Republicans and independent-leaning Republicans who said higher education was having a negative effect on the country grew from 37% to 59% from 2015 to 2019 in Pew Research Center polling.

In Texas, university administrators are working behind the scenes to squash anticipated legislation that would target tenure, fearful it will hurt recruitment, said Jeff Blodgett, president of the Texas Conference of AAUP. Some people already aren't applying for university jobs because of the discussions, said Pat Heintzelman, president of the Texas Faculty Association.

In Florida, a federal judge in November blocked the "Stop-WOKE" Act, a law pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in colleges. The governor's office is appealing the injunction. Compliance with the law would be part of the criteria for evaluating tenured professors under a review process that the university system's Board of Governors is weighing. "They've latched onto the idea that many totalitarian regimes have done over the years, which is if you can stop students from learning about ideas that a political party in power disagrees with, that is one way to stop those ideas from existing in the society at all," said Andrew Gothard, president of United Faculty of Florida. DeSantis, though, has questioned the argument that tenure provides academic freedom.

"If anything, it's created more of an intellectual orthodoxy where people that have dissenting views, it's harder for them to be tenured in the first place," he said at a news conference in April.

In Louisiana, lawmakers set up a task force to study tenure with the Republican-backed resolution noting that students should be confident that courses are free of "political, ideological, religious, or antireligious indoctrination." Professors raised concerns until they learned the task force's members were mostly tenure supporters.

In Georgia, the state's Board of Regents approved a policy that made it easier to remove tenured faculty who have had a negative performance review. Elsewhere, legislation to ban or restrict tenure also has been introduced in recent years in Iowa, South Carolina and Mississippi, but failed to win passage.

The pushback follows decades of declining rates of tenured faculty. According to the AAUP, 24% of faculty members held full-time tenured appointments in fall 2020, compared with 39% in fall 1987, the first year for which directly comparable information is available. Part-time college instructors rarely receive benefits. They frequently must travel from campus to campus to cobble together a living. "It's a nightmare," said Caprice Lawless, who wrote the "Adjunct Cookbook," replete with recipes that poorly compensated Ph.D.s can cobble together with food pantry staples.

"I've taken Ph.D.s to foodbanks and watched them cry because they can't get enough food for their family," said Lawless, who said she served as a social worker of sorts before retiring two years ago from Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado.

The opposition to tenure has united conservatives for different reasons: Not all share the same concerns about "woke higher education," said Marc Stein, a San Francisco State University history professor, who has written about the shift to part-time faculty. "But," he said, "if you attack the 'wokeness' of higher education and that leads to declining funding for higher education, then economic conservatives are happy."

Tenure exploded after World War II when it helped with recruitment as the GI Bill sent enrollment soaring, said Sol Gittleman, a former provost of Tufts University who has written on the issue. Lately, the country has overproduced Ph.D.s, said Gittleman, who predicts tenure will largely disappear in the coming decades outside the top 100 colleges and universities. "Critical race theory — that's an excuse," he said. "If there was a shortage of faculty, you wouldn't hear that."


States Target Transgender Health Care in First Bills of 2023

UNDATED (AP) - Republican state lawmakers are following up a midterm election and record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year by zeroing in on bodily autonomy with proposals to limit gender-affirming health care and abortion access. More than two dozen bills seeking to restrict transgender health care access have been pre-filed in 11 states. Other bills targeting transgender people are expected in several additional states with GOP majorities. Gender-affirming health care providers and parents of trans youths are the primary targets. A growing list of other proposals across statehouses target drag performances, bathroom use, LGBTQ discussions in schools and medical gender transitions beyond age 18.

After a midterm election and record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy with new proposals to limit gender-affirming health care and abortion access. More than two dozen bills seeking to restrict transgender health care access have been introduced across 11 states — Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia — for the legislative sessions beginning in early 2023.

Bills targeting other facets of trans livelihood have been filed in many of the same states and are expected in several others with GOP majorities. Gender-affirming health care providers and parents of trans youths are the primary targets of these bills, many of which seek to criminalize helping a trans child obtain what doctors and psychologists widely consider "medically necessary care."

Erin Reed, a researcher who tracks transgender legislation, said statehouses where Republicans expanded their margins in the midterms will likely double down on anti-trans legislation this year and reintroduce some of the more drastic measures that didn't pass in previous sessions.

Of the 35 anti-LGBTQ bills already introduced in Texas, three would classify providing gender-affirming care to minors as a form of child abuse, following a directive last year from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that ordered child welfare agents to open abuse investigations into parents who let their children receive gender-affirming care.

In Tennessee, the GOP-controlled legislature announced after Election Day that its first priority would be to ban medical providers from altering a child's hormones or performing surgeries that enable them to present as a gender different from their sex. The pre-filed bill would replace present law with more stringent restrictions.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health said last year that teens experiencing gender dysphoria can start taking hormones at age 14 and can have certain surgeries at ages 15 or 17. The group acknowledged potential risks but said it was unethical to withhold early treatments, which can improve psychological well-being and reduce suicide risk.

Legislation pre-filed this week in Republican-controlled Oklahoma, which passed restrictions last year on trans participation in sports and school bathroom usage, seeks to ban gender-affirming care for patients under age 26 and block it from being covered under the state's Medicaid program. "This is the worst anti-trans bill I have ever seen filed in any state," Reed said, noting that adult medical transition bans were a "hypothetical escalation" until recently.

Another Oklahoma proposal would prohibit distribution of public funds to organizations that provide gender-affirming procedures to patients younger than 21.

"It's irresponsible for anybody in health care to provide or recommend life-altering surgeries that may later be regretted," said the bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jim Olsen. "Performing irreversible procedures on young people can do irreparable harm to them mentally and physically later in life." A similar bill pre-filed in South Carolina, where Republicans control both chambers, also requires that trans adults older than 21 obtain referrals from their doctor and a licensed psychiatrist before they can begin treatment.

Cathy Renna, spokesperson for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said she views these bills as the product of "a permissible climate of hate," driven by disinformation and fearmongering, that made anti-LGBTQ rhetoric more palatable in the years since former President Donald Trump's election in 2016. "We have politicians, celebrities and just folks in our communities who were given permission under Trump to kind of pick that scab and do and say harmful things without consequence," Renna said. "It unleashed a nightmare Pandora's box of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism." "When you look at the last few years," she said of the LGBTQ community, "we feel like we're under attack in a way that we have not for decades."

Meanwhile, Democrats in some states are taking a more aggressive approach to transgender health protections.

A new California law, effective as of January 1, shields families of transgender youth from criminal prosecution if they travel to California for gender-affirming health procedures, such as surgeries or hormone therapy, from states that ban such treatments for minors. Making California a refuge for trans youth and their parents, the law blocks out-of-state subpoenas and prohibits medical providers from sharing information on gender-affirming care with out-of-state entities.

Another California bill, filed in December, would expand those protections by prohibiting a magistrate from issuing an arrest warrant for violating another state's law that criminalizes helping someone obtain an abortion or gender-affirming care.

An Illinois lawmaker introduced a similar sanctuary bill late last year. The state House passed another bill Friday to increase protections for patients and providers of abortions and gender-affirming treatments. And in Minnesota, where Democrats gained a trifecta of state government control in the midterm elections, a new bill would give the state jurisdiction in child custody cases involving parents who bring their children to Minnesota for gender-affirming health care.

Reed, a trans woman, is monitoring a growing list of other proposals across statehouses, including drag performance bans, bathroom usage restrictions, limits on LGBTQ discussions in schools and obstacles to changing the gender marker on a driver's license or birth certificate. But the rising age minimums proposed to access gender-affirming care are among her chief concerns. "Adult transition bans are coming into play, and I'm already hearing some talk of, 'Well, the brain doesn't finish developing until 25, so why not restrict it until then,'" she said. "Any further loss of autonomy is incredibly concerning."


State Investigators Probe Lansing Prison Homicide

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — State investigators are probing what they're calling a homicide at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Kansas Bureau of Investigation officials say the facility contacted the agency Friday night to report the suspicious death of an inmate. Guards found 62-year-old inmate Gary Raburn dead in his cell about 8:30 pm Friday. He appeared to have been strangled. An autopsy is pending. KBI officials said a suspect has been identified but released no further information.


KCK Man Arrested for Allegedly Killing 16-Year-Old Girl in 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man has beens taken into custody for allegedly killing a 16-year-old girl in 2014. An investigation by the KBI and the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department led to the arrest of 38-year-old Billy I. Dupree. KSHB TV reports that Dupree is currently being held at the Lansing Correctional Facility due to prior convictions. Nearly eight years after the young girl's death, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office requested that the KBI join Kansas City police in investigating once it was “determined that the murder had taken place in Kansas City, Kansas. The victim's body was located December 21, 2014, near 24th Street and Monroe Avenue in KCMO. The Kansas Attorney General’s Office expects to prosecute the case.


5 Alpacas Missing After Several Others Shot in Kansas

MARION COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Five alpacas are missing after several others were shot in northern Peabody Sunday night. KSNW TV reports that several alpacas were shot (in the 800 block of Old Mill Road). According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, five of the animals are still missing. Anyone with information regarding the shot and missing alpacas is asked to call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at (620) 382-2144.


New Principal at Topeka-Based Youth Prison School Fired in Arkansas over Sex Scandal

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - A school at a Kansas juvenile prison hired a leader who had previously been fired from a post in Arkansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Matthew Wendt had been dismissed in Arkansas over sexual harassment allegations stemming from an affair with a subordinate. In July, Topeka's Lawrence Gardner High School, which serves youth at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex, hired Wendt as its new principal. Wendt was terminated from his position at the Fayetteville School District in 2018, following a complaint from a former secretary, who alleged that Wendt stalked her, used her employment as a means of controlling her and berated her with expletives. Wendt has denied the allegations.

A school district investigation framed the relationship as a consensual sexual one that eventually soured but dismissed Wendt for violating school policies. It's unclear whether the Kansas Department of Corrections knew about Wendt's background when he was hired. A spokesperson for the agency wouldn't comment. According to his LinkedIn page, Wendt, a Kansas native, also served as a principal at a foreign school in China, as well as working as an international education consultant based in Topeka.


Chiefs QB Mahomes Joins Ownership Group for NWSL Team

UNDATED (AP) – Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has joined the ownership group of the Kansas City Current of the National Women’s Soccer League. Brittany Mahomes, his wife, was one of the founding owners of the team. Mahomes joins a handful of current and former NFL players who have a stake in the women’s professional league, which embarks on its 11th season this year.


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. This news summary is made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.