Headlines for Wednesday, July 19, 2023
City of Lawrence Passes Ordinance Making Community a Safe Haven for LGBTQ+ Residents
LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) — Lawrence city leaders have moved to make the city a safe haven for LGBTQ+ residents. Commissioners voted unanimously to codify protections against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Ordinance No. 9999 declares Lawrence a “safe haven for all persons from the effects of discriminatory acts, legislation, regulation and other actions.” That particularly applies to transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. Commissioners approved the ordinance on first reading at its Tuesday meeting. It’ll come back for final approval at a future meeting. The action was taken in response to the recent passage of state laws affecting transgender residents.
Judge Rules Kansas Governor's Office Can Defend Birth Certificate Changes in Court
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is considering Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's arguments that a new Kansas law rolling back transgender rights doesn't bar the state from changing the sex listing on transgender people's birth certificates.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled Tuesday that Kelly's office can defend her administration’s policy of changing birth certificates and accepted its “friend of the court” arguments. The state's Republican attorney general, Kris Kobach, argues that a law that took effect July 1 prohibits such changes and requires the state to undo previous ones.
The new law, which was enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature over Kelly’s veto, defines male and female based on a person’s sex assigned at birth for “any” state law or regulation. If Kobach is successful, Kansas would be only among a few states that don’t make such changes, along with Montana and Tennessee.
The issue is before Crabtree because he is enforcing a 2019 legal settlement that requires the state to change birth certificates for transgender people. Kobach has argued that the new law nullifies that settlement and has asked Crabtree to revoke his order that made the agreement binding.
The 2018 lawsuit that led to the settlement was filed by four transgender people and named three Kansas health department officials who oversee birth certificates as defendants, but not the governor. Kelly, therefore, needed the judge’s permission to make her own arguments.
In her filing that Crabtree accepted Tuesday, Kelly's office argued that the new law is discriminatory but the health department is not violating it by changing birth certificates. In a separate filing, the four transgender people said “the zealous desire” of some officials to discriminate against transgender people doesn't justify reconsidering the legal settlement's terms.
“Such an outcome would undermine confidence in courts' ability to vindicate constitutional rights,” they argued.
Kobach also is attacking changes in the sex listings on Kansas driver’s licenses in a separate a state-court lawsuit.
Stolen SNAP Benefits in Kansas Can be Replaced
TOPEKA (KSNT) - Officials nationwide are receiving increased reports of stolen food assistance benefits. Thieves are stealing Electronic Benefit Transfer - or EBT - cards across the U.S. In Kansas, there have been fewer than 20 reports so far, but the crime appears to be spreading. KSNT reports that the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is now accepting requests for the replacement of stolen benefits, also known as SNAP benefits. Officials say the food assistance benefits are being stolen through a variety of methods: card skimming, card cloning, phishing and other types of scam attacks.
If a Kansan believes their food assistance benefits have been stolen, they should contact DCF at (888) 369-4777 or by calling the Fraud Hotline at (800) 432-3913.
Lawrence Chapter of Audubon Society to Change Name
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - The Lawrence chapter of the National Audubon Society and some other local chapters across the country are ditching their namesake, the 19th century bird painter and slaveholder. Members of the Jayhawk Audubon Society will brainstorm and vote on a new name. Audubon groups are named after bird painter John James Audubon. He owned and sold slaves. He also stole skulls from Native American graves for a collector trying to prove that white people were superior. The National Audubon Society will keep its name. Audubon of Kansas and the Wichita Audubon Society say they will too, for now. Kansas City’s chapter didn’t respond to a media inquiry.
Kelly Barth is president of the soon-to-be-renamed Jayhawk Audubon Society of Lawrence and surrounding areas. “In Lawrence, which was a city founded by abolitionists – and is home to Haskell Indian Nations University – keeping John Audubon’s name as our namesake was just unacceptable," he said. Other chapters around the country are also changing their names, including New York City, Seatlle, and Washington, DC.
Mountain Lion Reported in Edwardsville; Kansas Wildlife Officials Investigating
EDWARDSVILLE, Kan. (WDAF) — Police in Edwardsville have received a report of a possible mountain lion sighting (in the area of North Fourth Street and K-32). Police have contacted the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, which will be sending experts to investigate. According to Kansas wildlife officials, there have been no confirmed sightings of mountain lions in the Kansas City area. WDAF TV reports that the first confirmed mountain lion seen in Kansas in modern times was in 2007 in south-central Kansas. The animal was shot and killed.
One notable case occurred in May of 2021, when a mountain lion was documented twice by doorbell cameras eight days apart as it made its way through the city of Wichita. In total, more than 40 confirmations have been made in the state since 2007.
Kansas wildlife officials say domestic cats and bobcats are frequently mistaken for mountain lions. Coyotes and dogs are also sometimes mistaken for mountain lions. Edwardsville police say people should keep an eye on small pets and report any further sightings to (913) 356-6052.
Extreme Drought Impacting Farmers Throughout Midwest
UNDATED (HPM) - Drought conditions in the Great Plains began spreading east this year, affecting much of the Midwest and leaving farmers worried about their crops. The region went into this summer with a lack of soil moisture that many have said is the worst they’d ever seen. Nebraska corn farmer Ryan Krenk says his plants are stunted and very dry. "It looked like death. And I said, you know, I don't think it's gonna see tomorrow. And it's still somehow here. Several tomorrows later," he said. Recent rains have been beneficial, but agriculture experts say it will take consistent precipitation over a long period to nourish crops and alleviate the historic drought in the region. (Read more.)
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows portions of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska still locked in extreme to exceptional drought conditions in mid July.
KCK Police Shoot and Wound Man After Stabbings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSHB) - Police in Kansas City, Kansas, shot a suspect Tuesday while responding to a stabbing in the city's Argentine neighborhood. KSHB TV reports that the shooting took place near Strong Avenue, east of I-635. Police received several calls from people saying a man was stabbing a woman on a street corner. The stabbing victim, whose name has not been released, had just finished volunteering at a food pantry in a nearby church. She underwent surgery Tuesday night. Her identity and condition have not been released. Officers say they found the suspect and ordered him several times to drop a large knife. Instead, he charged the officers. They shot and critically wounded the suspect, a man in his 30s. Investigators then discovered that the suspect had also fatally stabbed a family member in his 70s at nearby senior living facility. The name of the victim at the nursing home has not been released.
State Seeks Contractor for Anti-Abortion Counseling Centers
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas is looking for a contractor to run a $2 million program distributing money to anti-abortion counseling centers. The goal is to encourage people with unplanned pregnancies to choose childbirth instead of abortion. The new Alternatives to Abortion program will give tax money to groups that discourage women from having abortions and offer resources like free pregnancy tests and diapers. The centers have been criticized for using misleading tactics. Lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly to approve $2 million for the program this year. The Kansas Treasurer’s office is looking for a nonprofit to run the program. Bidding will close mid-August. The program comes as Kansas clinics see record numbers of people traveling to the state for abortions.
Premiums Increase for ACA Insurance Plans
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — The number of Kansans buying health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace is up, and so is the cost of premiums. The average premium for a silver plan for a family of four in Kansas rose more than 8% over last year, an increase nearly double the national average. The state also saw a record number of people enroll in marketplace plans, especially in rural areas. Linda Shepperd at the Kansas Health Institute says that’s partially thanks to bigger pandemic-relief tax credits that made plans affordable for more people. “We had a pretty high number of folks in the rural parts of the state who were not insured," she said. "And so I think that was just an area that was kind of ripe for growth.” But Kansas now lags behind the U.S. when it comes to overall insurance rates. One reason, Sheppard says, is the state’s failure to expand Medicaid.
Free Application Days Set for Kansas Regents Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — For three days this fall, Kansas universities will waive their application fees to try to get more students to apply to college. The Board of Regents approved the new program. Free application days for Kansas residents will be November 7th through 9th. Daniel Archer is vice president of academic affairs for the Regents. He says colleges need to increase the number of students of color who apply to college. “What are some things that we can do right now to remove barriers and better position ourselves to have a more robust high-school-to-college pipeline?” he said. In 2014, more than half of Black and Hispanic high school seniors in Kansas applied to a state college. In 2021, that number dropped below a third. College application fees range from $25 to $40, depending on the school.
2-Year-Old Kansas Drowning Victim Identified
OSAGE COUNTY (KSNT) – Osage County law enforcement officials have identified the victim of a recent drowning at Melvern Lake. Sheriff Chris Wells says the victim of last week’s drowning was 2-year-old Jaselyn Knoll. She was not a resident of Osage County. KSNT reports that the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks are investigating but the drowning is being ruled an accident at this time.
Suicide Prevention Hotline in Lawrence Busy Since Launch of New 988 Number
LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - It’s been a year since the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline switched to the new, nationwide 988 number. The Lawrence agency that serves as the Lifeline’s crisis center for Kansas has taken thousands of calls in the time since then. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters, based in Lawrence, took an average of 1,230 calls each month from July 2022 to June 2023. A little more than 1% of those calls resulted in an emergency dispatch, involving a response by emergency services for imminent risk of harm.
No Winner in Tuesday's Mega Millions Drawing, Jackpot Pushed to $720 Million
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Mega Millions jackpot has risen to an estimated $720 million after no winning ticket was sold — again. No ticket for Tuesday's drawing matched the white balls 19, 22, 31, 37, 54 and the gold Mega Ball 18. The estimated jackpot for the next drawing on Friday would be the fifth highest in Mega Millions history. The estimated $720 million jackpot in the next drawing would only be distributed to a winner who chooses an annuity paid over 29 years. Nearly all grand prize winners opt to take a cash payout. For Friday night's drawing, the cash payout is an estimated $369.6 million.
The largest Mega Millions jackpot was $1.537 billion won by an anonymous player in South Carolina in 2018. Despite the game's long odds (1 in 303 million), players continue to purchase tickets as the size of the grand prize grows.
Powerball Jackpot Reaches $1 Billion for Wednesday
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The Powerball lottery jackpot has climbed to $1 billion after nobody won the top prize in Monday night's drawing. The next drawing will be held Wednesday night. At this point, the potential jackpot winner could choose between $1 billion paid in yearly increments or a one-time, lump sum of $516.8 million before taxes. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 292 million.
The winning numbers drawn Monday were: white balls 5, 8, 9, 17, 41 and red Powerball 21.
Public Invited to Dole Institute’s Celebration July 22
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The public is invited to attend a celebration this month honoring the 100th birthday of the late Kansas Senator Bob Dole and the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. The celebration will be held July 22, starting at 10 am. The events include tributes to Dole, with appearances by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole and Dole's daughter, Robin Dole. (Read more.)
Wichita Teen Golfer Advances at U.S. Junior Girls Championship
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - It's been an eventful month for 15-year-old Wichita golfer Emerie Schartz. She already won the Kansas Women's Amateur championship earlier this month. Now, she's the seventh seed for match play at the U.S. Junior Girls championship in Colorado Springs. Schartz shot a 1-under par 71 Tuesday on the second day of medalist play. Earlier in the tournament, she also hit a hole-in-one.
Chiefs Training Camp Underway in St. Joseph
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (KPR) — Patrick Mahomes has reported to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph where the Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks and rookies are starting training camp. The full squad reports later this week. For Mahomes, the biggest difference between training camp a year ago and this year is one additional member of his family. Mahomes says it’s now the toughest part of ending his off-season. "I mean it’s fun here to me, but to have those long stretches where I’m not seeing my daughter and my son, that’s the toughest part about it," he said. Mahomes injured his ankle in the Super Bowl victory over Philadelphia and says he was a little timid running and cutting during the off-season drills. But he says now that he’s got his confidence back, he’ll be at full speed for this season.
Chiefs' Mahomes Ready to Build Off Second Super Bowl Title Going into Training Camp
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Quarterback Patrick Mahomes arrived at training camp Tuesday with the understanding that he and his Kansas City Chiefs teammates need to be better in 2023 if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
“I think the theme this year is how can we keep building,” said Mahomes, who reported for camp at Missouri Western State University on Tuesday along with the team’s quarterbacks and rookies.
Mahomes earned Most Valuable Player honors last season and captured his second Lombardi Trophy.
“Obviously we won the Super Bowl last year and it was amazing but we still have a lot of young guys. We want to continue to get better and better. You look around AFC everybody’s gotten better.”
If the Chiefs hope to improve, much of the challenge falls on Mahomes. Following the offseason departure of free agent receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman, it’s up to Mahomes to build connections with a group of young receivers including Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and this year’s second-round selection Rashee Rice.
The good thing, according to head coach Andy Reid, is how much Mahomes relishes challenges.
“With quarterbacks, the work’s never done,” Reid said. “It’s like being a farmer, and you just keep on cranking. We’re always trying to give him new challenges with things and he loves that, and loves to attack those types of things.”
It’s the ability to challenge his players that Mahomes says makes Reid a great coach.
“I’m sure you ask Travis (Kelce), you ask Chris Jones, you ask all these guys they think the same thing because he doesn’t let you be satisfied with where you’re at.”
Indeed, if the Chiefs hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they can’t be satisfied with what they accomplished last season.
The previous time the Chiefs looked to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they finished with a 14-2 record before losing Super Bowl 55 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9.
Mahomes feels the need to motivate his teammates further this time around.
“Even though we’re winning football games let’s not be satisfied with just winning, let’s be satisfied with finding ways to get better every single week,” he said.
“I’ve said a lot of the AFC when you look at the AFC, there’s like almost every team you can see a path of them getting to the playoffs,” Mahomes said. “I know you say that every year but I think this year is really real, and so we know week in and week out it’s gonna be a challenge for us. Let’s get better and try to win as many football games as possible and put ourselves in that position."
CHRIS JONES' CONTRACT
With only a few days until the team’s veterans report to training camp, Reid remained unsure if All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones will arrive with his fellow teammates.
“I don’t know that,” Reid said. “I’ll have to just see how that goes. There’s communication going on. That’s the important part, then we just have to see.”
Jones is scheduled to earn $19.5 million in base salary this season with a cap hit of more than $29.4 million. The 29-year-old is seeking a contract extension while the club also wants an extension for Jones to free up much-needed cap space.
Reid said defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton, who finished last season on injured reserve with a torn ACL, will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Running back Isiah Pacheco, who underwent surgery for shoulder and hand injuries in the offseason will be evaluated when veterans report Friday to determine whether he’s ready to practice with the club.
Mahomes, who sustained a high-ankle sprain during the team’s postseason run, said he felt timid at times running and cutting during the offseason organized team practice activities (OTAs).
He feels he's in a good spot now, however, heading into camp.
“When I got kind of through like closer to the (veteran) minicamp and that later OTA stage, I got that confidence back in my ankle,” Mahomes said. “I’m sure I’m not going be running a lot right now, but we’ll be testing especially in these half gassers, so I’ll make sure that it’s ready to go.”
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. You can also follow KPR News on Twitter.