Kansas Governor Signs New Legislative, School Board Maps
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has signed a redistricting measure expected to preserve Republican supermajorities in the Kansas Legislature. The measure she signed Friday also would make it possible for conservatives to elect more members to the state school board. Kelly didn't say why she signed the measure in announcing her action, but she previously had praised the new House and Senate maps. The new legislative lines also had bipartisan support. The State Board of Education map was more contentious because there were board members opposing it. The Kansas Constitution requires the state Supreme Court to review the legislative maps and rule on their validity within 45 days.
Kansas Governor Nixes Bills on Trans Athletes, Parents' Role in School Curriculum
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed conservative Republicans’ proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports and a GOP proposal aimed at making it easier for parents to try to remove materials from public school classrooms and libraries. Neither measure vetoed Friday cleared the Republican-controlled Legislature with the two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate necessary to override a veto. Kansas lawmakers are on their annual spring break but are scheduled to reconvene April 25. Kelly argued both were driving by politics. Republicans say the measure on transgender athletes protects competition and called the other measure a proposed “Parents' Bill of Rights.”
Independence Community College Professor Arrested on Rape, Sexual Battery Charges
INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (Montgomery County Chronicle/KPR) – A music instructor at Independence Community College was arrested Friday on charges including rape. Lawrence Markiewicz, associate professor instrumental music at ICC, is currently being held without bond at the Montgomery County jail. The Montgomery County Chronicle reports that the Independence Police Department is recommending charges of rape, aggravated sexual battery, and furnishing alcohol to a minor. Independence Community College president Dr. Vince Bowhay told the Chronicle he was prohibited from discussing the matter publicly, but did say that the school was conducting its own investigation. The 53-year-old Markiewicz is a nationally-recognized music instructor. Prior to taking his teaching position at ICC, he was a public school teacher in New Jersey. However, the Chronicle reports that Markiewicz was suspended from a position in the Bridgewater, N.J. school district in 2013, and that his teaching license was revoked by the New Jersey Department of Education in January 2016.
Report: Kansas May Have Overpaid Private Medicaid Companies by Millions of Dollars
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) —A new report from the Kansas Attorney General’s office found evidence that Kansas Medicaid programs may have overpaid millions of dollars for home-based care. The report says the state is overpaying private companies by millions of dollars for some types of Medicaid benefits. For example, the report suggests Kansas paid $8 million to rent Life Alert equipment for hundreds of people in recent years, even though the state could have paid as little as $55,000 for that equipment rental. The report also suggests the private companies that run Kansas Medicaid are not doing a good job of checking whether enrolled people remain eligible. Kansas privatized most of its Medicaid system in 2013.
Kansas GOP Ties New School Funds to 'Choice,' Other Policies
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State funds for Kansas’ public schools have been held up as Republican lawmakers push for policies critics say would punish educators for court rulings that forced the GOP-controlled Legislature to boost its spending. A legislative proposal ties $6.4 billion in spending to policies pushed by conservative Republicans that include an “open enrollment” proposal to allow parents to send their children to any public school with enough space. Republicans drafted the package before lawmakers began their annual spring break earlier this month. Legislators reconvene April 25. Conservatives argue that they're trying to make schools more accountable. Critics say it's payback for seven Kansas Supreme Court rulings that forced spending increases.
Kansas Governor Signs Mega Tax Cut Bill into Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has signed a mega-tax-cut bill into law. The measure includes tax breaks for homeowners, teachers and the state’s aviation industry. The bill includes tax breaks for just about everyone - about $100 million worth. It doubles the value of the income tax exemption that Kansans get for the property taxes they pay. It creates a new personal exemption for disabled veterans and a $250 tax credit for teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies. There are also benefits for the state’s critical aviation industry. Tax credits that aerospace companies can claim to offset some of their payroll and training costs. Farmers and ranchers recovering from wildfires also get some help. No state sales tax will be charged on the materials they need to replace the miles of fencing that burned.
Residential Property Owners in Kansas to See Tax Break
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly has signed a measure into law to give Kansas home and apartment-building owners a small property tax break. She signed the legislation Thursday, and it includes a grab-bag of changes expected to cut taxes by $310 million over the next three years. About $134 million of the savings would go to owners of residential property. The state imposes a property tax to help fund public schools but exempts the first $20,000 from the levy. The measure Kelly signed increases that exemption to $40,000, saving the owners of any residential property worth that much or more $46 a year.
Officials Identify Kansas Woman Killed in Shootout with Deputies
WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — State investigators in Kansas have identified a woman killed in an exchange of gunfire. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 32-year-old Andrea C. Barrow of Arkansas City was killed Friday in Cowley County after she pulled out a handgun as deputies tried to remove her from a vehicle. Investigators said Saturday that two of the deputies are recovering at home. A third remains hospitalized in good condition. Authorities say the deputies were responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle when Barrow pulled out the gun and “gunfire was exchanged.”
2 Bird Flu Cases Confirmed in U.S. Zoos as Avian Virus Spreads
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Two cases of bird flu have been confirmed in U.S. zoos, but officials said they won’t order widespread euthanasia of zoo birds the way they have on farms. Agriculture Department spokesman Mike Stepien declined to release any details about the zoo cases Thursday. Many zoos across the country have closed down their aviaries and moved birds inside whenever possible to help protect them from bird flu that officials believe is primarily being spread by the droppings of wild birds. Nearly 27 million chickens and turkeys have been slaughtered in 26 states to limit the spread of bird flu during this year’s outbreak. Officials order entire flocks to be killed when the disease is found on farms.
Feds Agree to Return $1.1 Million to Company Busted for Hauling Legal Weed Money in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - In a possible harbinger of how a similar case in Kansas might end, the government has agreed to return more than $1 million it seized from an armored car company that was transporting cash from state-licensed cannabis businesses in California. Last year, a Dickinson County, Kansas, sheriff’s deputy stopped one of Empyreal Logistics’ vehicles on I-70 and seized nearly $166,000 it was transporting to Colorado from legal marijuana dispensaries in Kansas City, Missouri. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas later filed a forfeiture action against Empyreal, arguing the seized cash came from sales that violated federal law. Empyreal ran into a similar problem in California, where authorities also seized cash it was transporting from legal cannabis businesses. Empyreal sued over the seizures, and now the Justice Department has agreed to return the money it seized in California. Empyreal, in turn, has dropped its lawsuit. In court documents, the U.S. Attorney in Kansas says it’s working toward a resolution of the case here. (Read more from KCUR Radio.)
Kansas Man Arrested After Hit-and-Run Crash Kills 2 on Motorcycle
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been arrested in a hit-and-run crash in west Wichita that killed two people on a motorcycle. Police say they received a call shortly before 2:30 a.m. Saturday about a collision between a green SUV and a motorcycle. A male who had been thrown off the motorcycle was pronounced dead at the scene. Another male was transported to a local hospital where he died of his injuries. Investigators say the 23-year-old driver of the SUV drove off but his father brought him back to the scene to talk to police. The driver faces two charges of failure to stop at an accident resulting in death.
Kansas Man Who Fatally Hurt Baby, then Played Video Games, Sentenced
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas father who reportedly played video games after fatally injuring one of his twin infant children has been sentenced to more than 26 years in prison. Television station KAKE reports that 25-year-old Marlin Williams Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 316 months in prison. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree murder in the January 2020 death of his 2-month-old son, Marrell, and to three counts of aggravated battery for abusing the baby and his twin sister. Williams told police he was frustrated with the infants' crying and squeezed his son's head “extra hard" before leaving the room to go play video games for around a half-hour. Doctors later found that Marrell had suffered two skull fractures and that his twin sister had suffered a broken femur.
Woman Sentenced for Fatal Crash During Wichita Police Chase
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 27-year-old woman has been sentenced to life in prison after a May 2019 crash during a police chase killed two people and injured well-known Wichita musician Jenny Wood. Mia Collins pleaded guilty in October to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 70-year-old Maria Wood and her 12-year-old granddaughter, Rosemary McElroy, who were Jenny Wood's mother and niece. They were in a car that collided with one driven by Collins, who was fleeing from police. The driver of another car, Alfred Angel, also was seriously injured. During sentencing on Thursday, Wood said police shared blame for initiating a car chase through downtown Wichita that reached 75 mph.
Dozier's Two-Run Blast Lifts the Royals to Win over Detroit
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hunter Dozier homered to break a tie in the sixth, and lead the Kansas City Royals to a 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. After Carlos Santana walked with one out, Dozier lifted an 0-2 pitch from Will Vest (0-1) into the left field bleachers for his first home run of the year. Collin Snider (2-0), the first of four Royals relievers, picked up the victory getting five outs. Josh Staumont earned the club’s first save of the season as Kansas City snapped a five-game losing streak. Tigers starter Matt Manning left the game after two innings with right shoulder discomfort. Miguel Cabrera was hitless and remains five shy of 3,000 hits for his career.
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 is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!