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Kansas and regional news

New two-lane Wakarusa roundabout may be a little confusing at first, but it’s safer, city official says
08:26 p.m., January 27, 2015 Updated 10:34 p.m.
The Wakarusa roundabout intersecting Inverness and Legends drives has been twisting traffic in the three weeks since its completion. City Engineer David Cronin said that’s the reason roundabouts are preferable to traffic lights or four-way stops: safety. The roundabout’s design keeps speeds low and reduces the number of “conflict points,” or opportunities for collision, thus reducing the likelihood of an injury accident, Cronin said. By Caitlin Doornbos
Senate bill would repeal Common Core standards
04:38 p.m., January 27, 2015 Updated 10:31 p.m.
A Senate bill would repeal many of the new academic standards adopted by the Kansas State Board of Education and would make future standards merely advisory for local school districts. By Peter Hancock
Kansas bill targets patent trolls
04:25 p.m., January 27, 2015 Updated 10:29 p.m.
Business and banking groups say their members are being targeted by companies that demand licensing payments based on bogus claims of owning patents or trademarks. A bill being considered in the Senate would prohibit that activity and give the Attorney General authority to seek civil damages against such companies. By Peter Hancock
Brownback nominates Kansas Highway Patrol veteran for superintendent job
January 27, 2015
Gov. Sam Brownback is nominating the man serving as interim superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol to get the job permanently.
Kansas City area to get 1,001 electric car chargers
08:35 a.m., January 27, 2015 Updated 10:04 a.m.
Kansas City Power & Light plans to spend about $20 million to install 1,001 public electric car chargers in an effort to make the Kansas City region one of the most convenient areas in the country to drive an electric car.
Brownback’s tax proposals panned by anti-tax activist
January 26, 2015
National anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is urging Kansas legislators to reject Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposals to increase the state’s tobacco and alcohol taxes to help close state budget shortfalls.
Kansas geologist says fracking not the cause of earthquakes
05:52 p.m., January 26, 2015 Updated 10:33 p.m.
The recent spate of minor earthquakes in south-central Kansas is more likely caused by the disposal of saltwater, a byproduct of oil drilling, than the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” One quake in November registered 4.9 on the Richter scale, the strongest temblor ever recorded in Kansas. By Peter Hancock
Perry-Lecompton High principal stepping down
04:56 p.m., January 26, 2015 Updated 10:21 p.m.
J.B. Elliott is stepping down from his position as the principal of Perry-Lecompton High School to become the district’s curriculum director, according to Superintendent Denis Yoder.
Ex-executive seeks to toss extortion claims from Kansas Medicaid suit
01:48 p.m., January 26, 2015 Updated 10:35 p.m.
A former executive of the firm managing part of the privatized Medicaid program in Kansas has asked a judge to toss out counterclaims accusing her of trying to extort $3 million.
Topeka district works with historically black colleges
January 26, 2015
The Topeka school district is working with several historically black colleges and universities in Texas to make its teaching staff more diverse.
Kansas courts now in center of partisan politics
10:15 p.m., January 25, 2015 Updated 10:18 p.m.
Judges in Kansas are finding themselves increasingly at the center of partisan political fights, an unusual position for the state courts. And that’s likely to continue as Gov. Sam Brownback calls for changing the way state Supreme Court justices are chosen. Some argue that the courts need to become more accountable to the public, but other legal experts say the proposed changes would not help. By Peter Hancock
Tammy Faye’s legacy more than cosmetic to visitors of grave
January 25, 2015
On the edge of Kansas’ wind-swept prairie, near a nondescript grave, sits the most recent token of affection. It’s a tube of lip gloss.
Fueled by oil, agriculture sector welcomes low diesel prices
January 25, 2015
The recent plunge in fuel prices has been a welcome relief across the agricultural sector, helping ease the pain of low grain prices for growers and boosting profits for cattle ranchers.
Kansas governor proposes to backpedal on school funding
January 25, 2015
Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing that Kansas backpedal on a much-ballyhooed increase in spending on public schools, just as he is asking fellow Republicans in the Legislature to slow down aggressive tax-cutting because of big budget shortfalls.
Sin tax increases could hurt wallets, but unlikely to curb vices, Lawrencians say
January 24, 2015
In the town named the most hungover city in America this month by Business Insider, Gov. Sam Brownback’s new tax proposition, which would raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products to balance the state budget, would have little effect on vices, but a big impact on pocketbooks, some Lawrencians said. To aid against the projected budget shortfalls of more than $710 million in the current budget and in the next fiscal year, Brownback suggested increasing the cigarette and tobacco product tax trifold and the alcohol tax by 50 percent. Under his plan, the state would raise $394 million over a period of two years, the Associated Press reported earlier this month.
Supporters push new level of dental worker at Kansas Statehouse
January 24, 2015
A plan to address a Kansas dental care shortage with a new type of health care worker is being pushed again in the Legislature despite stiff opposition.
Kansas medical marijuana advocates see progress in legalization effort
January 23, 2015
State Sen. David Haley has an expression he often repeats when describing lawmakers’ interest in legalizing medical marijuana in Kansas: “The ice is beginning to thaw.” But don’t get carried away, he added. “It isn’t spring yet.” By Elliot Hughes
Kansas attorney general asks court to clarify school finance ruling
January 23, 2015
Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the three-judge panel handling the school finance lawsuit didn’t explain what facts it relied on in its ruling that said current funding for schools is unconstitutional. He is asking the panel to revise its Dec. 30 opinion, which will delay any review by the Kansas Supreme Court. By Peter Hancock
Lawrence man, 63, sentenced to 18 years after confessing to sexual encounters with 11-year-old boy
04:42 p.m., January 23, 2015 Updated 01:23 p.m.
Larry D. Kelley, 63, of Lawrence, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty in December to aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Kelley admitted to “multiple incidents of sexual contact” with a Lawrence boy between January 2012 and November 2013, according to the affidavit supporting his arrest. The boy was 11 years old when the abuse began.