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Headlines for Monday, January 23, 2023

News Summary updated image
Emily Fisher

Statewide Tax Cuts on the Table in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) - Tax cuts are squarely on the agenda for Kansas lawmakers this session. But they’ll have to choose from several competing proposals. Which taxes to cut... and by how much? Those are the questions facing the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled Legislature. Governor Laura Kelly wants to use part of a growing budget surplus to speed up the elimination of the sales tax on food. But many Republican lawmakers have other ideas. They want to replace the state’s two-tiered income tax with a flat tax. Meanwhile, the Kansas Chamber – the state’s most influential business group – wants budget surpluses to go toward income tax relief. Chamber lobbyist Eric Stafford touted the proposal in an interview with the Kansas Reflector. “Whatever they set for what they think revenues will be, anything over that is going to be used to buy down income taxes," he said. Hearings on some smaller tax-cut proposals are scheduled for this week.


Could Tax Incentives Lure More Hollywood Movie Productions to Kansas?

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) - One of the state’s most celebrated filmmakers says that Kansas could be a location for more Hollywood productions if lawmakers agree to provide some financial incentives. Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Willmott says Kansas is missing out. The University of Kansas professor, who won acclaim for partnering with Spike Lee on the movie Black Klansman, says Kansas could become the location for a lot more film and television productions if, like most other states, it offered producers tax breaks to offset their production costs. Willmott is leading an effort to convince Kansas lawmakers to approve $12 million a year in production tax credits. A hearing on the proposal is set for next month.

Kansas Senate Committee Considering Back-to-School Tax Holiday

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Supporters of a back-to-school sales tax holiday say it would help teachers and low-income families purchase needed classroom supplies. A Senate committee is considering three bills that would create a two- to four-day period each August when school items would be free of sales tax. That would include clothing, school supplies, computers and more. Missouri and Oklahoma both have similar tax holidays. Some senators said that many families cross state lines for tax relief. No testimony was offered in opposition to creating the tax holiday. Kansas officials estimate a four-day sales tax exemption would cost the state up to $9.5 million in revenue.


UPDATE: Kansas Man Arrested After Fatal House Fire Killed Woman, 2 Girls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The only survivor of a Kansas house fire that killed a woman and two young girls has been arrested on suspicion of setting the blaze. Topeka police arrested 32-year-old Kyle J. Tyler, of Holton, on Saturday. He remained jailed Sunday on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder committed in the commission of another felony, arson and several other charges. Tyler was being held in lieu of $1 million bail but had not been formally charged. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the three people who died in the Friday morning fire were identified by city spokeswoman Gretchen Spiker as 30-year-old Genny Fitzpatrick, 9-year-old Peyton Tyler, and 1-year-old Kourtney Tyler.

(Earlier reporting...)

2 Children, 1 Adult Killed in Kansas House Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE/KTKA) - A GoFundMe account has been established to help a Topeka family following a fatal fire. Authorities in Topeka say two children and one adult have been killed in a house fire. KAKE TV reports that crews responded early Friday morning to a home (in the 900 block of SW Warren Avenue). Four people were in the home at the time. One adult and a child were found dead inside. Another child and adult were transported to a local hospital where the second child died. Authorities have not yet identified the victims. The cause of the fire is under investigation. A GoFundMe has been created to help support the victims and family members.


Officer-Involved Fatal Shooting in Wellington Under Investigation

WELLINGTON, Kan. (KPR) - One man is dead following an officer-involved shooting in Wellington. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) says the shooting took place at a home (1111 E. 7th St.) Saturday night, where the Wellington Police Department had responded to a disturbance. A woman at the home reported that 30-year-old Harley Bagby, of Wellington, was “tearing the house up." As officers entered the home, police say Bagby walked into the hallway carrying a large knife. Officers told Bagby to drop the knife, Police say Bagby failed to comply and began walking toward the officers, knife still in hand. An officer fired multiple shots, hitting Bagby. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer who shot Bagby has been placed on paid administrative leave. The KBI is investigating.


Suspect Killed, 3 Deputies Wounded in Kansas Firefight

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a wanted man was killed and three deputies were wounded Monday morning in an exchange of gunfire in western Kansas. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that the sheriff’s office in Clark County tried to stop the suspect at around 9 a.m. The Ford County Sheriff's Office joined the pursuit as it wound into Dodge City. There, the suspect was fatally shot and a woman in the vehicle was critically wounded. Their names were not released. Two deputies were rushed to a Wichita hospital with injuries that the release described as serious. The condition of the third deputy was described as good.


Kansas Lawmakers Look to Extend Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Crimes

TOPEKA, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Kansas lawmakers plan to introduce legislation this week extending the statute of limitations on childhood sexual assault cases. A summary of a Kansas Bureau Investigation report on sex crimes by Catholic priests in the state said no criminal charges have been brought against any of the potentially new cases it identified. That's largely because the alleged crimes happened so long ago they fell outside the statute of limitations. That time limit varies from crime to crime. State Senator Cindy Holscher, a Democrat from Overland Park, wants to stretch that window as far she says the state Constitution will allow. She says childhood sexual assault victims often take decades to report the crime. Average age of disclosure is 52. Holscher floated similar legislation last year, but it didn’t get out of committee.


Sex Abuse Charges Filed Against Former Kansas Teacher

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — The Johnson County District Attorney's Office has charged a former teacher at Gardner Edgerton High School with child sex crimes. KSHB TV reports that 28-year-old Nick Prutsman is charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. In a letter to families, the school district said the Gardner Police Department notified them of the allegations against Prutsman. The letter said Prutsman was immediately removed from the school campus on December 12. The school’s website identifies Prutsman as a teacher of automotive technology at the high school’s Advanced Technical Center. He was arrested last week and released after posting bond. He's due back in court on January 31.


Kansas Senator's Re-Election Campaign Scammed out of $690,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Someone scammed U.S. Senator Jerry Moran's reelection campaign out of $690,000 by getting the Kansas Republican's accounting firm to wire the money to fraudulent bank accounts, his office said Monday.

Moran's campaign treasurer, Timothy Gottschalk, notified the Federal Election Commission by electronic letter Dec. 8 of “fraudulent activity by a third-party cyber-criminal.” The letter said that after the campaign notified a local sheriff's office on Nov. 16, eight days after the general election, the case was forwarded to the FBI and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

The letter said the campaign received two fraudulent invoices that appeared to be from SRCP Media Inc., a Washington area company hired to handle Moran's broadcast advertising. The letter said the campaign organization wired $345,000 on Oct. 25 and another $345,000 on Nov. 9.

“As soon as a discrepancy was realized, it was reported to law enforcement,” Moran spokesman Tom Brandt said in an email Monday. “We are currently pursuing all avenues available to recover the money and there is an ongoing investigation with the FBI.”

The campaign's electronic letter to the FEC said that as of December 8, the campaign had recovered $168,184. The letter was first reported by the RawStory website last week.

The FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, said Bridget Patton, its spokesperson in Kansas City, Missouri. Representatives of the KBI and SRCP did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Moran won his third six-year term in the Senate in November with 60% of the vote against Democrat Mark Holland, a former Kansas City, Kansas, mayor. His reelection campaign raised more than $7.3 million and spent more than $5.1 million through Nov. 28, according to a finance report it filed with the FEC, also on December 8.

(–Additional Reporting–)

Cyber-Attack Results in Loss of Nearly $700,000 from Kansas Senator's Campaign

TOPEKA (KSNT)- Kansas Senator Jerry Moran's campaign has become the victim of a cyberattack. It was reported Friday that nearly $700,000 was stolen from the “Moran for Kansas” campaign. KSNT reports that a document from the Federal Election Commission was issued December 8, 2022, notifying Moran’s campaign about the fraudulent activity. The notification said the fraudulent activity happened in the post-general election reporting period in 2022. The incident was reported to the Republic County Kansas Sheriff’s Office and then handed over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. The investigation continues.


Mayor of Goddard and City Administrator Ousted

GODDARD, Kan. (KWCH) - The Goddard City Council has ousted its mayor and fired a city administrator. KWCH TV reports that the council voted to remove Larry Zimmerman as mayor last week and immediately installed a new mayor, Hunter Larkin. After that vote, Larkin then motioned to fire the city administrator, Brian Silcott. The new mayor refused to comment on the reasons the city council took such drastic actions. Zimmerman, who served on the city council for 23 years, said he was caught off guard. He resigned his regular council seat. On the Facebook page called “For Goddard’s Sake,” another former Goddard City council member, Mike Proctor, called for a recall election beginning with Mayor Larkin.


Weekend Winter Storm Closed Part of I-70 in Western Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KPR)- A winter storm that hit central and western Kansas over the weekend closed part of I-70 but the roadway has since been reopened. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) shut down the interstate from WaKeeney to Colorado Saturday because snow in northwest Kansas was falling at a rate of about one to two inches per hour.

Updates on road closures can be found at kandrive.org.


Overland Park Woman Sentenced for Bank Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - An Overland Park woman has been sentenced to more than 2.5 years in prison for bank fraud. Federal prosecutors say 52-year-old Stephanie Stites, of Overland Park, embezzled more than $712,000 from Norbrook Inc. KCTV reports that Stites created two fake companies and manipulated invoices. Stites was sentenced Friday to 33 months in prison. She's also been ordered to pay nearly $713,000 in restitution. In her plea agreement, Stites said she spent the stolen money on her home and vehicle as well as on travel, hotels and real estate.


2 Men Find Ancient Bison Fossil in Missouri River Near Downtown Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Two men have stumbled upon something special, possibly even prehistoric, along the Missouri River. KCTV reports that Mike Ruth and Dave Jamerson recently discovered a piece of a skull with attached horns that may have come from an ancient bison. Dr. Melissa Eaton, president of the KC Archaeological Society, confirmed that the skull was likely some kind of bison. She added that it may, in fact, be an extinct species of bison. Bison antiquus was a mammal even larger than the buffalo of today. She said the animal was a dominant species in this area 10,000 years ago.


Kansas Education Department: Graduation Rates on the Rise

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas State Department of Education has released new data showing public school students in the state are graduating at an all-time high. KSNT reports that the graduation rate for all public school students rose to 89% in the 2021-22 school year from 88.1% in the previous year. The graduation rate in Kansas has risen by more than 8% since 2010, when the state adopted its current calculation rate for record keeping. Some groups of students, including those who qualify for free meals, have disabilities or limited English proficiency are also earning their high school diplomas at record levels. In some previous years, lower-income students have had lower graduation rates, but the new data from the KSDE shows their graduation rates are rising faster than the average of all Kansas public school students. The data shows that, since 2010, the graduation rate for students who qualify for free meals has risen 14.6 percentage points.


Chiefs' Reid: Mahomes 'Going to Play' vs Cincinnati for AFC Title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday that Patrick Mahomes will play in the AFC championship game against the Bengals. He also said the high ankle sprain that the All-Pro quarterback sustained over the weekend against the Jaguars is less severe than the one he played through during the 2019 season opener. Mahomes was hurt in the first quarter of Saturday’s win over Jacksonville when pass rusher Arden Key landed heavily on his right ankle. Mahomes finished off the drive but was hobbling badly, and Reid and the training staff forced him to get an X-ray that came back negative. He had an MRI on Sunday that revealed the extent of the injury.


Chiefs Advance in Playoffs but Injury to Patrick Mahomes Worries Fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - The AFC Championship will be in Kansas City for the fifth straight year. But an injured quarterback and a strong opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals means stakes are high going into next week. The Chiefs’ biggest concern going into Sunday’s AFC Championship game is how much quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be affected by the high ankle sprain he suffered in the first quarter of last Saturday’s 27-20 win over Jacksonville. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, in the meantime, says his team is better than the version that traveled to Kansas City last year. "I think our O-line is better. I think our run game is better. I think our defense is better. I think our special teams is better. We’re overall a much better team than we were last year," Burrow said. The Bengals spoiled the Chiefs’ hopes of reaching the Super Bowl last year with a second-half comeback. A berth to Super Bowl 57 will be on the line once again in this postseason rematch.

(AP version)

Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes Sustained High Ankle Sprain in Victory over Jacksonville

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — Patrick Mahomes sustained a right high ankle sprain in the Kansas City Chiefs' divisional playoff win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. That's according to an AP source familiar with the nature of the injury. Even so, the All-Pro quarterback expects to play against Cincinnati in next week's AFC championship game. Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter Saturday, when a Jacksonville defender landed on him. X-rays taken during the game came back negative, and Mahomes returned after halftime to lead Kansas City to the 27-20 victory. Mahomes underwent an MRI exam Sunday to better determine the extent of the injury, the person told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce the results. The tests showed no structural damage.

The Chiefs will face the Bengals Sunday in a rematch of last year's AFC title game. Cincinnati rallied from an early 21-3 deficit for a 27-24 overtime victory and a spot in the Super Bowl.


Germans "Excited" To Host Kansas City Chiefs Game

UNDATED (Forbes) - The NFL has designated the Kansas City Chiefs to play in one of the two games in Germany during the 2023 season. The date, time and opponent for the Chiefs are still being finalized. The game will likely will take place in either Munich or Frankfurt. This contest will mark the third regular season international game in Chiefs history. The club previously played the Detroit Lions in London in 2015 and the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City in 2019. The Chiefs won both contests.

According to Forbes magazine, many NFL fans in Germany are excited by the news. Daniel Jensen, the head of content at SPORTFIVE global sports marketing agency and co-host of a Chiefs podcast called Das Kingdom, was asked for his country’s reaction to the news. “Extremely excited,” Jensen said. “People are really going crazy right now. They (Kansas City) have the team that gets the best ratings when they’re broadcasted in Germany," he said. Like the Chiefs, the Patriots also will play in Germany in 2023. But Chiefs have the added draw of being quarterbacked by the presumptive 2022 MVP, Patrick Mahomes. “Patrick Mahomes probably is the most popular player,” Jensen said.

In addition to having Mahomes, the Chiefs have made strong efforts to enhance their brand in Germany. “It’s the team that is the most active,” said Jensen, who lives in Hamburg. “The Chiefs are really interested in Germany as a market.” The Chiefs have the highest social media engagement among teams with marketing rights in Germany and even have a tab on their official web site to translate the text to German.


Purdue Back at No. 1 in AP Top 25 Hoops Poll; K-State Climbs to No. 5

UNDATED (AP) – Purdue is back at No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Alabama is right behind the Boilermakers.

Purdue returned to the top spot in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll on Monday, moving up two spots after Temple knocked off No. 1 Houston over the weekend. The Boilermakers received 39 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel after a volatile week where just two teams kept the same spot from a week ago.

Alabama climbed two spots to No. 2, picking up 23 first-place votes for its highest ranking since reaching No. 1 in 2002-03. Houston, Tennessee and Kansas State round out the top five.

Houston moved atop the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama years of the 1980s earlier this season before a loss to Alabama dropped it back to No. 5.

Kansas State moved up eight spots to No. 5 after outlasting rival Kansas 83-82 at Bramlage Coliseum last week. It's the Wildcats' highest ranking since reaching No. 3 in 2010-11.

TCU gave Kansas consecutive losses in the state for the first time since 1989 with a 23-point beatdown at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. It was one of Bill Self's worst losses in 20 years as KU's coach and ended the Jayhawks' 16-game home winning streak.

The No. 14 Horned Frogs moved up three spots in this week's poll after the win. Kansas, the defending national champion, dropped seven spots to No. 9.


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Tom Parkinson and Kaye McIntyre. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.