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Kansas and regional news

Brownback: It’s up to Legislature to cut budget
December 14, 2014
A new budget report released this week says Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for balancing the current fiscal year’s budget will only add to next year’s budget problems, creating a $648 million hole in fiscal year 2016. That’s because most of what Brownback recommended only involves transfers of money between various funds and not actual spending cuts. But in an interview this week, Brownback defended his plan and said the Legislature needs to be involved in making actual cuts. By Peter Hancock
New Kansas insurance regulator: Focus on market
December 14, 2014
The accountant and industry executive taking over as Kansas’ top insurance regulator next month says creating a more robust market is a top goal and argues that greater competition will address problems with the federal health care overhaul.
Atkins diet co-author sentenced to 41 months
December 12, 2014
A Kansas obesity specialist who co-authored the “Atkins Diabetes Revolution” has been sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison for tax evasion, the U.S. attorney’s office announced Friday.
Man, 20, convicted of stealing dying woman’s ring
December 12, 2014
A jury has convicted one of the men accused of stealing a wedding ring and other items from a dying woman after she suffered a brain aneurysm at a Taco Bell drive-thru.
Gas prices fall more than 40 cents since November; Lawrence fuel prices lower than state average
December 12, 2014
Kansas drivers have reason to be pumped this holiday season as average fuel prices have been steadily declining. Since this time last month, the average gas price in the state has dropped about 42 cents to $2.42 per gallon, according to AAA’s fuel gauge report for Friday. Since December 2013, the average price is down about 60 cents per gallon, the report said. By Caitlin Doornbos
City, Topeka district settle on school officers
08:14 a.m., December 12, 2014 Updated 11:00 a.m.
The school district and city of Topeka have agreed that 10 city police officers will work in district schools for the rest of the current school year, dropping to seven next year, after the city’s new police chief said not enough officers were patrolling the streets.
Brownback fills vacancy on eastern Kansas court
December 12, 2014
Gov. Sam Brownback has appointed a county prosecutor to a judgeship on a district court in eastern Kansas.
KCC, natural gas companies collaborating on replacing old pipes cost-effectively
December 11, 2014
The Kansas Corporation Commission and natural gas companies are working to find a way to replace aging gas pipes in a less-expensive way.
At least 7 injured after Kansas railcar explodes
07:00 p.m., December 11, 2014 Updated 10:59 a.m.
The two people most seriously injured in a railcar explosion in northeast Kansas are improving in a burn unit at a Kansas hospital while the state fire marshal investigates a possible cause.
Preliminary hearing set for men charged in alleged Haskell rape
December 11, 2014
Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin set a March 25 preliminary hearing Thursday for two men charged in connection with the alleged rape of a woman in a Haskell Indian Nations University dormitory last month.
Pay raise for Kansas state workers still on table
December 11, 2014
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback isn’t ruling out pay increases for government workers despite projected budget shortfalls.
Report: Kansas cotton production up this year
December 11, 2014
A government report forecasts cotton production in Kansas this year at 52,000 bales, up 27 percent from a year ago.
School district fund balances to be targeted, education group says
December 10, 2014
A group that lobbies on behalf of Kansas public school boards told its members Wednesday that legislation will likely be introduced in the Legislature next year aimed at limiting their ability to maintain cash carry-over balances in many of their funds. By Peter Hancock
Kansas attorney general sues EPA over ethanol rules
December 10, 2014
Attorney General Derek Schmidt is challenging a new EPA system for measuring fuel emissions, saying it could be devastating to Kansas agriculture and the ethanol industry. The system is used to measure state compliance with federal clean air standards, which is required to qualify for federal highway funding. The EPA says the new system is based on solid science that has determined ethanol is a source of toxic emissions. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Gov. Brownback working on pension, school plans
01:25 p.m., December 10, 2014 Updated 03:37 p.m.
Gov. Sam Brownback is working on proposals for changing how Kansas distributes aid to public schools and for bolstering the pension system for teachers and government workers, but wouldn’t discuss the details in an interview Wednesday.
New Kansas insurance chief hiring former rival
December 10, 2014
Incoming Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer says he’s planning to have a former Republican primary rival serve in a key position in the office.
Brownback announces $280 million in allotment cuts to fill budget shortfall
10:37 a.m., December 9, 2014 Updated 03:56 p.m.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration announced plans Tuesday to fill a $280 million shortfall in the current fiscal year’s budget, but officials insisted the cuts will not affect K-12 education, higher education or public safety. But those cuts will do nothing to address the additional $436 million shortfall projected for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That job will fall to the Kansas Legislature which convenes Jan. 12 for the start of the 2015 session. By Peter Hancock
Kansas City suburb studying plastic bag ban
09:29 a.m., December 9, 2014 Updated 12:09 p.m.
The Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village is considering reducing the use of plastic grocery bags by imposing a ban or fining shoppers who continue to use them.
KCC staff recommends Chanute broadband plan
08:54 a.m., December 9, 2014 Updated 10:12 a.m.
A panel is recommending that the Kansas Corporation Commission approves Chanute’s plans to extend ultra-high fast broadband internet to its residents and businesses.