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Kansas and regional news

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.
School funding plan’s effects on property taxes uncertain
03:44 p.m., January 23, 2015 Updated 10:26 p.m.
Kansas legislators from both parties say they’re not sure how Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s school-funding proposals would affect the power that local districts have to raise local property taxes.
Lawrence School District continues to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.
09:25 p.m., January 22, 2015 Updated 10:17 p.m.
The Martin Luther King Community Choir sang praises to their namesake Thursday night in the auditorium of Lawrence High School. As they sang the audience began to clap and chime in. “Equality and unity. This is what I think of when I think of the king,” the choir sang. “Freedom and liberty, is the legacy of Martin Luther King.”
President Obama drops in on Lawrence preschool before speech
January 22, 2015
Before his speech on the Kansas University campus Thursday, President Barack Obama paid a visit to a local Head Start preschool, drawing attention to his proposals to expand access to child care and early childhood education for working-class families. By Peter Hancock
I’m a Kansas Guy’: Thousands greet Obama during KU visit
January 22, 2015
President Barack Obama used Kansas University as a stage to campaign for budget proposals that he says are aimed at lifting the middle class. More than 7,000 people cheered as Obama called for expanding access to early childhood education and higher education, and economic development measures aimed at raising wages for American workers. By Peter Hancock
Plan for state to take over OSHA enforcement still has some support
03:53 p.m., January 21, 2015 Updated 10:26 p.m.
Support for the idea of having the state take over enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act lost more steam in a Senate committee when members learned it could not be used as a way to scale back workplace health and safety rules. But the idea may still be alive in the Kansas House. By Peter Hancock
Abortion foes push new bills in Kansas, Congress
January 21, 2015
Buoyed by conservative gains in the November election, foes of abortion are mobilizing on behalf of bills in Congress and several state legislatures that would further curtail women’s access to the procedure.
Kansas children’s activists push back on budget transfers
January 21, 2015
Children’s advocates are pushing back against a move to transfer funds out of the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund to fill state budget shortfalls.
Medical marijuana supporters to make case to Kansas Senate
08:34 a.m., January 21, 2015 Updated 10:29 p.m.
The Senate’s Public Health and Welfare Committee is to hear testimony this week from supporters and opponents of medical marijuana.
Kansas chief justice wants to divert IT funds to operations
08:33 a.m., January 21, 2015 Updated 10:25 p.m.
Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss wants legislators to divert $3.1 million from a statewide e-filing system to court-system salaries to avoid employee furloughs before July.
2 Kansas lawmakers push outlawing ‘revenge porn’
08:32 a.m., January 21, 2015 Updated 10:23 p.m.
Two Kansas lawmakers are pushing similar bills that would make it illegal to post nude photos or videos of a former spouse or significant other on the Internet without permission.