Headlines for Wednesday, March 29, 2023
UPDATE: Kansas Jayhawks Advance to WNIT Championship
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – The University of Kansas women's basketball team defeated the Washington Huskies in the semifinal round of the WNIT, 61-36, advancing to the championship game scheduled for Saturday. Zakiyah Franklin led the Jayhawks in scoring with 14 points. Taiyanna Jackson scored 12, with Wyvette Mayberry and Holly Kersgieter adding 11 points each. Jackson also posted her 22nd double-double of the year. KU's record now stands at 24-11.
The Jayhawks will host the Columbia Lions in the WNIT finals at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets will go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m.
More information is available at kuathletics.com.
Kansas Jayhawks Take on Washington Huskies in WNIT's Fab Four
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – Only one college basketball team in Kansas is still playing ball - the University of Kansas women’s team. The Jayhawks made it to the WNIT's Fab Four and will play the Washington Huskies tonight (WED) at Allen Fieldhouse. KU made it to the NCAA tournament - or "Big Dance" - last season but was not selected this year. Instead, the Jayhawks accepted an invitation to the Women's National Invitation Tournament or WNIT. And now, KU is one of the few college teams still playing basketball in late March. KU coach Brandon Schneider sees this as an opportunity to build excitement around the program and increase the fan base. After all, they may not have made the Big Dance this year, but at least the Jayhawks are still dancing somewhere. Washington enters Wednesday's game against KU with a 21-14 record, including a WNIT win over Kansas State. The Jayhawks are 23-11. The winner will advance to the championship game on Saturday at the site of one of the finalists. (Listen to more.)
KU is hoping to "Fill the Fieldhouse" for the big game against Washington. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 pm inside the friendly confines of The Phog!
Kansas House Approves $4.8 Billion Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas House has approved a $4.8 billion budget proposal that likely sets the Legislature on the path to final negotiations over spending. The Senate recently approved its own budget and will conference with the House soon to craft a final plan. Democratic Representative Henry Helgerson objected to letting that small group of lawmakers make most of the budget decisions. “You are losing your rights here in this body - the rights that are constitutionally given to you to look (after) and manage the budget," he said. The House plan includes some of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s recommendations that the Senate rejected, like adding $500 million to the state’s rainy day fund. But the plan doesn't include school funding. Lawmakers moved that into a separate bill and paired it with some school policy changes.
Kansas Moving to Raise Age for Buying Tobacco from 18 to 21
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is moving to increase its legal age for buying cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21 from 18 after the federal government and most other states already have done it. The state Senate approved a bill to raise the age Tuesday on a 28-11 vote, sending it Governor Laura Kelly. The House had approved it earlier this month on a 68-53 vote. Kelly has not said whether she will sign the bill, but officials with the state Department of Revenue and the Department for Aging and Disability Services supported the measure. Public health officials believe raising the age to purchase tobacco products will reduce their use and the resulting health care costs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, disease and disability in the U.S. and nine out of 10 adults who smoke started by age 18. Forty-one other states have increased their legal age to 21, including the tobacco-producing states of Kentucky and Virginia. The federal government raised its age to 21 in 2019 and told states they'd have to enforce the higher age to receive federal funds for substance abuse programs.
Kansas Medicaid Patients Struggle to Obtain Medical Equipment
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Medical equipment - like wheelchairs, walkers or bath chairs - can make a big difference in the quality of life for people with disabilities. But Kansans who are on Medicaid often face red tape and that can cut them off from the equipment they need. Doctors, therapists and advocacy groups say the delays and denials of prescriptions for medical equipment are happening much too often. Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, says the issue got worse when Kansas privatized its Medicaid system 10 years ago and handed over management to insurance companies. “There’s been a lot more problems," he said. "It's a lot more difficult for people with disabilities or parents of kids with disabilities to get what they need under Medicaid. We don't have the right incentives in the contract that the state controls, to ensure that things are provided promptly.” Nichols says the state needs to force insurance companies to pay for necessary medical equipment more quickly. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says it is working to raise reimbursement rates through Medicaid. It did not respond to questions about long wait times and denials. (Read more.)
Kansas Legislature Takes Up Controversial Child Care Regulations
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas lawmakers could approve a controversial bill aimed at expanding child care access this week, sending it to the governor for consideration. The proposal would allow child care centers to take in more kids with the same amount of staff. State senator Chase Blasi says child care for two kids will cost him more than his mortgage. That’s because child care is in high demand, and he says removing regulations will address the shortage. “The child care crisis affects all demographics (so) this shouldn’t be a partisan issue," he said. "This should be an issue we can work together to address.” Opponents of the change say that puts kids in danger. Multiple proposals are in the mix, but they all face a possible veto from Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. Her administration is hoping to create a new state agency to address this issue.
Lawrence Students Walk Out to Protest Legislature's "Attack" on Trans Rights
LAWRENCE, Kan. (Lawrence Times) — Students at several high schools and middle schools in Lawrence walked out of their classes Tuesday to protest what they say is the Kansas Legislature’s attack on transgender people. The Lawrence Times reports that hundreds of students from Lawrence High School, Free State High and West Middle School left their classes to show support for trans kids. State lawmakers have been working on bills related to transgender people. One bill would ban doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors. Another new law would keep transgender women from competing on girls' and women's school sports teams.
Topeka Police Recover Vehicle Carjacked in Lawrence, Take Two People into Custody
TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka police have arrested two suspects in connection with a Lawrence carjacking. Authorities say officers saw a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle stolen in a carjacking case in Lawrence Tuesday morning. Officers tried to stop the vehicle, which resulted in a chase. KSNT reports that the suspects were stopped on I-70 and two individuals were arrested. The driver of the vehicle, 18-year-old Tashaun Jacks-Story, of Topeka, was arrested for possession of stolen property, fleeing police, reckless driving and criminal damage to property. The other suspect is thought to be a minor.
Man Pleads No Contest After Woman Nearly Thrown from Kansas Bridge
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man pleaded no contest to attempted second-degree murder on Wednesday after he tried to throw a woman off a bridge into the Kansas River last year. In exchange for his plea, three felony charges of criminal threat were dismissed against 38-year-old Adam Blake Amyx Jr., the Lawrence Journal-World reported. Prosecutors said a group of women were walking across the bridge on April 14, 2022, when they encountered Amyx yelling and cursing. When one of the women approached him, Amyx tried to pick her up and throw her off the bridge, Senior District Attorney David Greenwald said. The woman escaped and called police. Greenwald said the fall likely would have killed the woman. Before he entered his plea, Amyx told the judge that he has mental health problems but he was on medication and was confident he could make the plea decision. Amyx is being held in the Douglas County jail on $50,000 bond. He will be sentenced May 26.
Kansas House Votes to Prohibit Bans on Plastic Bags, Straws
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas House has voted to prohibit local governments from banning single use plastics, like plastic bags and straws. But the bill fell short of a veto-proof majority and may not survive. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a similar measure last year. Supporters argue plastic bans hurt small businesses that would need to spend more money on alternatives. Republican Representative Pat Proctor says many restaurants could even go bankrupt. “Restaurants operate on a razor thin margin. And we’ve already had to raise our prices because of the cost of eggs, the cost of meat," Proctor said. Critics say the bill takes away local control from city and county governments. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Kansas Senate Approves Adoption Tax Credit
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas Senate has given initial approval to a bill increasing state tax credits for adoption. Under the measure, those who adopt children would get almost $15,000 per child. The Senate also made the tax credit refundable. That means parents eligible for the tax credit would receive it in one payment from the state, rather than using it to reduce their income taxes for several years. Republican Senator Caryn Tyson opposed making the tax credit refundable. She says a single payment would be too costly for the state. “The state could be writing each family that adopts a $14,000 check," she said. "Our tax code is not a welfare program.” Supporters say the plan encourages adoption and provides better access to the benefit for parents with lower income. The Senate still needs to take a final vote on the bill.
Study: Firearm Suicide Rates Higher in Rural Areas
HAYS, Kan. (KNS/HPPR) - A recent study says Americans in non-urban areas are at higher risk of dying by firearms than Americans living in big cities. That’s because of the high per-capita rates of suicide in many rural areas. The rate of firearm deaths in Kansas is 24% higher than the national average. But it’s not because of homicides. Those are below average. It’s because Kansans die by firearm suicides at a rate nearly 50% higher than the nation overall. The report from RAND, a public policy and health issues research group, found similar rates in other largely rural Great Plains states, too. RAND estimates that changing some Kansas gun laws, such as requiring a waiting period before buying a gun and raising the minimum purchasing age to 20, could prevent dozens of firearm deaths in the state each year.
Kansas College Enrollment Plunges Over Decade
WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Enrollment at public universities in Kansas has decreased dramatically over the past decade. The Kansas News Service reports that fewer people are going to any kind of schooling after graduating from high school. Enrollment at the state’s public universities has dropped more than 6% over the past decade. The data from community colleges is even more dramatic — they’re down more than 28%. Board of Regents President Blake Flanders says more high school grads are forgoing higher education altogether. “This is really troubling to me, because it’s anyone choosing any post-secondary option, and I think we have to focus a lot of our work here," he said. At high-poverty high schools in Kansas, less than a third of students seek any kind of higher degree.
Company Recalls Pasta Dish Sold at Hy-Vee Grocery Chain, Including in Kansas
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A company announced Tuesday that it is recalling a packaged pasta dish sold in Hy-Vee grocery stores in eight Midwestern states, including Kansas. Chester, Illinois-based Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. said it was recalling Hy-Vee Hamburger Chili Macaroni Skillet Meals produced at a plant in Steeleville, Illinois, because of undeclared milk in the product. The milk could be dangerous to people who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk. The recall is for lots packaged in 5.2 ounce cartons that have a best by date of February 8, 2024. The food was sold at Hy-Vee and Dollar Fresh Market stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. People can return packages to Hy-Vee stores for a refund or can discard it. Hy-Vee is based in West Des Moines, Iowa.
KBI: Two Arrested on Drug Charges in Baxter Springs
CHEROKEE COUNTY – Two people have been arrested on drug charges in Baxter Springs. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and local police conducted a traffic stop and executed a search warrant at the residence in Baxter Springs (400 Washington Avenue). During the search, police discovered pills believed to contain fentanyl. They also located cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. A man and woman were taken into custody. Police say 26-year-old Braydon J. Krokroskia and 22-year-old Brittany A. St. Clair, both of Baxter Springs, were arrested on drug charges. Both were booked into the Cherokee County Jail.
Royals' Sherman Optimistic About New Ballpark, Current Team
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals owner John Sherman believes that plans are progressing toward a new downtown ballpark, which would replace the nearly 50-year-old Kauffman Stadium as early as 2027 or 2028. The club has had dialogue with fans, business leaders and politicians about potential sites, though none has been decided. The idea is to build a $1 billion stadium as the centerpiece of a $1 billion residential and commercial development. Meanwhile, the owner is similarly optimistic about the current team, which lost nearly 100 games a year ago. The Royals have a new manager in Matt Quatraro and several promising young prospects that they believe will continue to develop throughout the upcoming season, which begins Thursday against Minnesota.
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 and updated throughout the day. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.