Headlines for Friday, July 16, 2021

  Judge Strikes Down Limits on Kansas Officials’ COVID Powers TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A trial-court judge in Johnson County has struck down a state law requiring speedy legal hearings for people who challenge mask requirements and other COVID restrictions.  Johnson County District Judge David Hauber’s ruling also struck down […]

 

Judge Strikes Down Limits on Kansas Officials’ COVID Powers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A trial-court judge in Johnson County has struck down a state law requiring speedy legal hearings for people who challenge mask requirements and other COVID restrictions.  Johnson County District Judge David Hauber’s ruling also struck down limits on the power of state and local officials to impose pandemic-related restrictions.  The law the judge struck down allowed residents to file grievances with cities, counties and local school boards over mask mandates and other restrictions within 10 days. It also set a 10-day limit for courts to rule in such lawsuits.  The judge said the law denied officials due legal process and violated the separation of powers between the courts and the Legislature.

==========

Kansas Families Now Eligible for Child Tax Credit, but May Need to File

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Thousands of Kansas families will soon begin receiving at least $250 a month as part of an expanded federal child tax credit, but some of the people who are eligible need to take a step to get the money. Eligible families that already filed taxes and have provided a bank account will automatically receive monthly direct deposits of $300 for each child under six and $250 for older kids. Scott Hanson works with the Family Conservancy in Kansas City. He says the new tax credit is even available to families that don’t file a tax return.  Families that did not file a tax return can use the non-filers tool on the IRS website to sign up for the monthly payment. Families can also opt out of the monthly payments.

==========

Judge Orders End to DACA Program; Current Enrollees Safe for Now

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge in Texas has approved a request by a group of states to end an Obama-era program that shielded young immigrants from deportation. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled Friday in favor of Texas and eight other conservative states…including Kansas…that had sued to halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, which provides limited protections to about 650,000 people. The ruling halts new approvals, but those already enrolled will keep their protections for now. The states argued DACA was unconstitutional. Supporters of DACA had argued the states lacked the standing to sue.

==========

New Election Commissioner Appointed for Sedgwick County

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s top elections official has appointed a local government manager to run elections in Sedgwick County. Secretary of State Scott Schwab on Friday announced the appointment of Angela Caudillo as election commissioner. Caudillo previously was administrative manager and office manager in the Sedgwick County clerk’s office. Schwab told departing Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman in January that he would not reappoint her to another four-year term when her current one expires next week. Lehman violated a policy against remotely accessing the state’s voter registration database. At the time, Lehman was working from home while fighting cancer during the coronavirus pandemic.

==========

Local Rise in COVID Cases Closes Eisenhower Residential Sites

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The federal government will shut down Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential library and museum again Monday as the faster-spreading delta variant fuels a growing number of new COVID-19 cases in Kansas. The decision to close sites in Abilene honoring the nation’s 34th president and the supreme Allied commander during World War II was a response to case numbers in their home of Dickinson County. The sites were closed throughout the pandemic but reopened May 20. State health department data showed that Dickinson County was 10th among the state’s 105 counties for new confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases per 1,000 residents during the 14 days ending Friday.

==========

Sex Offender Still at Large After Escaping from Larned Treatment Facility

LARNED, Kan. (KSNT/KPR) – Kansas authorities are still searching for a registered sex offender who escaped from a treatment facility in Larned State Hospital in central Kansas.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says John Freeman Colt is a dangerous sex offender who walked away from the facility in a disguise on June 30th.  KSNT TV reports that in nearby Barton County, Sheriff Brian Bellendir blamed the escape on “sheer incompetency” at the hospital in neighboring Pawnee County, complaining that it took Larned State Hospital five-and-a-half-hours to report the escape to his office. Colt was convicted of aggravated sexual battery against a Topeka woman in 2001. The sheriffs of both Barton and Pawnee counties lashed out at the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the agency in charge of the facility, for not immediately reporting the escape to area law enforcement agencies.  

==========

Kansas State University Will Require Freshmen to Live on Campus

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University will require first-year students to live on campus starting in the fall of 2022. The university said  in a news release Friday that the requirement aims to enhance student success. The university says its students who live on campus have higher grade point averages, are more likely to stay in school and graduate faster. Kansas State will join all other institutions in the Kansas Regents system, with the exception of the University of Kansas, in requiring freshmen to live on campus. Students may apply for an exemption to the policy. 

==========

Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Convictions for Topeka Triple Murders

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of a woman who participated in the deaths of three people who were strangled or smothered with trash bags in her Topeka home. In a unanimous opinion released Friday, the high court also affirmed Kora Liles’s sentences on 11 charges,  including three counts of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated kidnapping.  Liles was one of five people charged in the March 2017 deaths of 19-year-old Matthew Leavitt, 38-year-old Nicole Fisher and 20-year-old Luke Davis in a Topeka basement. Police said the violence stemmed from an unproven rape allegation against Leavitt.

==========

Sex Offender Still at Large After Escaping from Larned Treatment Facility

LARNED, Kan. (KSNT/KPR) – Kansas authorities are still searching for a registered sex offender who escaped from a treatment facility in Larned State Hospital in central Kansas.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says John Freeman Colt is a dangerous sex offender who walked away from the facility in a disguise on June 30th.  KSNT TV reports(link is external) that in nearby Barton County, Sheriff Brian Bellendir blamed the escape on “sheer incompetency” at the hospital in neighboring Pawnee County, complaining that it took Larned State Hospital five-and-a-half-hours to report the escape to his office.  Colt was convicted of aggravated sexual battery against a Topeka woman in 2001.  The sheriffs of both Barton and Pawnee counties lashed out at the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the agency in charge of the facility, for not immediately reporting the escape to area law enforcement agencies. 

==========

Hays Man Charged with Murder in Wife’s 2019 Shooting Death

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A west-central Kansas man has been arrested on a warrant charging him with murder in the 2019 shooting death of his wife. The Hays Daily News reports that 27-year-old Colby Alan Trickle was arrested Thursday after charges were filed by prosecutors against him on Wednesday. Prosecutors say he shot 26-year-old Kristen Trickle in the head with a .357 Magnum revolver in a premeditated killing on Oct. 31, 2019. Colby Trickle is also charged with interference with law enforcement. Officials say that charge stems from the accusation that he gave false information to police on the day of the shooting and again on Nov. 4, 2019.

==========

City of Wichita Settles Lawsuit over Police Shooting of Black Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The family of a Black man shot in the back by a white Wichita police officer in 2012 has reached a $900,000 settlement with the city. The Wichita Eagle reports that the settlement comes just weeks before a lawsuit filed by the parents of 23-year-old Marquez Smart was set for a jury trial in federal court. His parents allege that police officers used excessive force. A federal appeals court found last year that a reasonable jury could conclude that by the time the final police shots were fired, Smart was on the ground with his arms stretched out. No criminal charges have been filed against the officers.

==========

Former Western Kansas School Superintendent Killed in Iowa Plane Crash

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) – Authorities in eastern Iowa say two people from Missouri died in the crash of a small plane in a cornfield in rural Muscatine County. The county sheriff identified them as 68-year-old Daniel Slack and 69-year-old Sharon Slack, of El Dorado Springs, Missouri. Daniel Slack was superintendent of schools in Deerfield, Kansas, from 2015 until he retired last year.  Investigators believe the plane was flying from Iron Mountain, Michigan, to Missouri when it crashed Wednesday about 4 miles north of Muscatine.  No word yet on the cause of the crash.

==========

Body Recovered from Eastern Kansas Lake

MAIMI COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Miami County Sheriff’s Office says a body has been recovered from Hillsdale Lake.  KSNW TV reports that emergency personnel were dispatched to the lake early Thursday morning for a water rescue. It was reported a person had fallen into the water by the dock and did not resurface. A couple hours later, crews recovered the body.   Authorities have not yet released additional details.

==========  

Police: Woman Buried in Rural Missouri Killed as Part of Sex Fantasy

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KC Star/KPR) – Authorities have identified female human remains found buried in rural Jackson County, Missouri, as those those of Kensie Renee Aubry, a missing 32-year-old woman originally from Texas.  She was last known to be living in Kansas City, Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that detectives found her dismembered body, buried near Grain Valley, Wednesday morning based on information from witnesses.  Those witnesses told police that a nearby homeowner confessed to killing the woman with his girlfriend as part of a sexual fantasy he wanted to fulfill.  Police have yet to officially name a suspect and no criminal charges had been filed as of Thursday afternoon.

==========

Coronavirus in Kansas: 8 More Deaths, Nearly 1,200 New Cases Emerge

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Eight more Kansans have died due to COVID-19.  That brings the state death toll to nearly 5,200.  State health officials also report 56 more Kansans have been hospitalized with the virus in the past few days.  KSNW TV reports that nearly 40% of Kansans are now vaccinated against coronavirus but the Delta variant continues to spread among the unvaccinated.

==========

Most Kansas Nursing Homes Fall Short of Vaccination Goal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Only about 10% of the federally regulated nursing homes in Kansas have met the industry’s goal of vaccinating 75% of their workers against COVID-19.  According to federal data, just 34 of the 324 federally licensed homes in Kansas met the goal by late last month (June).  The new numbers about nursing homes come as state officials worry about the growing presence of the faster-spreading delta variant.

==========

KU Ready to Welcome Back Students Amid Spike in Virus Cases

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) – University of Kansas officials anticipate a normal beginning for the fall semester despite a second surge in coronavirus cases.  Chancellor Doug Girod says the school will offer vaccine incentives. Girod says KU will offer incentives for vaccinations even though he says those incentives don’t work very well. “A lot of folks who have not gotten a vaccine, it’s not because they weren’t incentivized, it’s because they were making a decision that they didn’t want to access it,” he said.  And then there’s the problem of access. International students, about 8% of the student body, are one population of concern for Girod. Some international students might not have easy access to vaccines in their home countries.  Still, the school will be encouraging vaccinations any way it can. In roughly a month, University of Kansas starts its new school year with plenty of vaccines and incentive programs to boot.

==========

Pfizer Agrees to Settlement in EpiPen Litigation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Pfizer Inc. and two of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $345 million under a proposed settlement to resolve litigation over EpiPen price hikes. KCUR-FM reports that the New York-based Pfizer and its subsidiaries – Maryland-based Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. and Tennessee-based King Pharmaceuticals – asked a federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursday to grant preliminary approval to the settlement. Numerous class action lawsuits were filed alleging the companies engaged in anti-competitive conduct. EpiPens are auto-injectable devices that deliver the drug epinephrine and are used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. When Mylan acquired the right to market and distribute the EpiPen in 2007, a package cost about $100. Today, it costs more than $650.  

==========

Kansas Governor’s Panel On Racial Justice Pushes for Medicaid Expansion, Makes Other Recommendations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas racial justice panel appointed by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has recommended expanding Medicaid, adding another income tax bracket for top-income earners, restoring a food sales tax rebate and banning Native American mascots and team names in public schools. The 15-member Commission on Racial Justice and Equity created the recommendations after meeting with Kansas Department of Commerce officials, Kansas Department of Health and Environment staff and others, according to the report. Kelly established the commission last year in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  

(–Additional Reporting–) 

Kansas Governor’s Commission Releases 51 Recommendations for More Racial Equity

TOPEKA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) – Governor Laura Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice has released a report with 51 recommendations for improving racial equity in Kansas.  The recommendations covered a variety of topics such as additional tax brackets for high-income earners and keeping college tuition stable for low-income students.  It also suggested anti-racism and implicit bias training for school resource officers and a rebate on the food sales tax.  The report’s recommendations are designed to bring awareness and suggest potential solutions to issues like higher pregnancy-related deaths among minority women, diversifying teachers, Native American imagery in school mascots, wage supplements for essential workers and vaccine distribution to the most impacted communities.  Kelly established the commission in June and it released its first report last December. That report focused on law enforcement and policing and made more than 30 recommendations. The Kansas Legislature did not act on any of the proposals.  This latest report also lists subjects for future study, like accessible broadband and the racial wealth gap. The commission has to submit a final report by the end of the year.

==========

Kansas Targets Early Literacy with $15 Million in Pandemic Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas is setting aside $15 million to improve early literacy. The money comes from federal funding that must be used to address learning loss stemming from the pandemic. Kansas plans a three-year initiative to train educators in the science of reading. It intends to focus training on pre-kindergarten through third-grade teachers, English as a second language educators, reading specialists and special ed teachers.

========== 

Groups Worried About Racism Push to Rename Asian Carp
 
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – What’s in a name? When it comes to Asian carp, quite a lot. For decades, that term has been used to describe four fish species that have infested many U.S. rivers and threaten to invade the Great Lakes. They were imported to cleanse fish farms and sewage ponds but escaped into the wild. Now some government agencies are changing the label to “invasive carp” in the wake of anti-Asian hate crimes that surged during the pandemic. At the same time, Illinois officials and partner groups are planning to give the four species yet another name in a marketing campaign to get more people to eat them.  

==========

3-Year-Old Las Vegas Boy Drowns in Above-Ground Pool in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old Nevada boy has drowned in an above-ground pool located in the backyard of a rural Kansas home. The Sedgwick County Sheriff Department identified the child in a news release Friday as Chasson Carver of Las Vegas. He died at the scene. Deputies were dispatched to a drowning at 3:46 p.m. Thursday at a residence located about 19 miles west of Wichita. During the investigation, deputies learned the child got into the pool without the knowledge of his guardians. The sheriff’s office says circumstances of the drowning are under investigation.

==========

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 and by 1 pm on weekends.  This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!    

Marilynn Veness

Next Post

Sharad Pawar meets PM Modi, suggests no politics was discussed

Sun Jul 18 , 2021
Countrywide Congress Occasion (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter’s residence for a almost hour-extensive tete-a-tete over problems of national curiosity on Saturday. This was also the NCP chief’s first 1-on-one particular assembly with PM Modi since 2019. Achieved the Hon. Prime Minister of […]