County reaches casino settlement
COLUMBUS (AP) — Cherokee County officials are considering a $7.25 million tentative settlement offer to end a dispute over a planned state-owned casino that was never built in the county.
Penn National Gaming made the offer to settle a $53 million breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by Cherokee County in 2008 after the company pulled out of plans to build a casino in Southeast Kansas. The settlement, which must still be formally approved by the c...
Fiscal issues dominate legislative agenda
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas legislators opened their annual session Monday facing major budget issues even as many of them hoped to cut income taxes a second consecutive year.
Each chamber installed a new top leader for its conservative Republican majority, Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell in the House and President Susan Wagle of Wichita in the Senate. Both are allies of GOP Gov. Sam Brownback and committed to shrinking state government and phasing o...
Brownback unveils mental health plan
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday proposed a $10 million initiative to boost mental health services to targeted populations.
The initiative would direct funding to what Brownback called the most at-risk and challenging mental health patients to meet their specific treatment requirements. The program will not target residents who are receiving services through Medicaid.
The Republican governor announced the proposal...
School guards can carry guns in Emporia
WICHITA (AP) — Emporia school officials have decided to allow security guards at the district’s high school and middle school carry guns, as districts across Kansas re-evaluate safety protocols in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre.
“A number of districts throughout the state are reviewing their safety and security plans, their crisis plans” after the shooting on Dec. 14 that left 20 children and six staff members dead at Sandy Hook E...
Sports complex moves forward
LAWRENCE (AP) — The University of Kansas plans to begin building its part of a large new sports complex in Lawrence, but the city will wait until February to vote on its portion of the project, which will be called Rock Chalk Park.
City commissioners on Tuesday approved rezoning requests and a special-use permit that will allow the university and its private partners to move ahead with plans for a track and field stadium, soccer field, softbal...
Student’s letter gets attention
OSAGE CITY (AP) — A Kansas high school student’s extra-credit assignment in a government class was meant as an exercise in expressing her views on a hot topic. But it helped sway some opinions in Congress.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said he received a letter from Lindsey Heward criticizing the effects of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new rules about calorie counts in school lunches. Roberts, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Agriculture Com...
Two Kansas bases make short list for Air Force tankers
WICHITA (AP) — The Air Force has selected both McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita and Forbes Airfield in Topeka as finalists for basing the new KC-46A air refueling tankers.
U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts said Wednesday that both installations are finalists for main operating bases for active duty and National Guard sites. McConnell is also a finalist to house the tanker flight training school.
McConnell is competing against other act...
EPA gives Kansas pass based on fires
WICHITA (AP) — Federal environmental regulators gave Kansas a little more breathing room to comply with air quality regulations, agreeing that prescribed burns and drifting smoke from wildfires outside the state skewed the data, state officials said Thursday.
In a rare move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the state’s request to exclude four days from April 2011 when calculating air quality data for parts of central and easter...
More fiscal clashes loom ahead
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new Congress opened for business Thursday to confront long-festering national problems, deficits and immigration among them, in an intensely partisan and crisis-driven era of divided government.
“The American dream is in peril,” said House Speaker John Boehner, re-elected to his post despite a mini-revolt in Republican ranks.
Moments after grasping an oversized gavel that symbolizes his authority, Boehner implored the assem...
State tries to make sperm donor pay child support
TOPEKA (AP) — A Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple after answering an online ad is fighting the state's efforts to suddenly force him to pay child support for the now 3-year-old girl, arguing that he and the women signed an agreement waiving all of his parental rights.
The case hinges on the fact that no doctors were used for the artificial insemination. The state argues that because William Marotta didn't work through a clinic o...
Research lab takes step forward
TOPEKA (AP) — Department of Homeland Security officials have signed a land transfer agreement that allows for the construction of a new federal animal research lab near Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Gov. Sam Brownback and members of the state’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the move indicated the federal department is committed to building the $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility.
Kansas was selecte...
KU to begin new curriculum
LAWRENCE (AP) — A new curriculum that begins in the fall at the University of Kansas will have some ramifications for academic departments and graduate students that will have to be considered as the process begins, university administrators said.
This fall’s freshman class will be the first to pursue degrees under a curriculum that applies to all undergraduates, regardless of their course of study. The university said the curriculum will prov...
Schools to test ‘open-source’ materials
LAWRENCE (AP) — Move over MP3s, Kindle and Wikipedia. The next digital revolution that will shake up the powerful publishing industry is about to take place.
Starting with the new semester in January, Lawrence public schools will begin pilot testing a new Web-based tool that, among other things, will allow teachers to dispense with traditional hardbound textbooks and replace them with “open-source” learning material. That is, digital media tha...
Chamber, conservatives relish clout
TOPEKA (AP) — Conservative Republicans are firmly in control of the Kansas Legislature, largely because candidates on the right received a big boost from the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other anti-tax, small government groups.
The chamber and other conservative allies are eager for legislators to tackle proposals to control the size of government, starting with further cuts to taxes, reductions in spending and limits on how much go...
Kansas tax cuts take effect
TOPEKA (AP) — Sweeping changes in the Kansas tax code take effect Tuesday, when new rates for individual income taxpayers take effect.
The laws were approved by the Legislature in May and signed by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. They are part of the administration’s efforts to improve the state’s business climate and increase the amount of money residents keep in their paychecks.
The top individual income tax rate drops to 4.9 percent from 6.45 perce...
EPA Administrator Jackson announces resignation
WASHINGTON (AP) — EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the Obama administration's chief environmental watchdog, is stepping down after nearly four years marked by high-profile brawls over global warming pollution, the Keystone XL oil pipeline, new controls on coal-fired plants and several other hot-button issues that affect the nation's economy and people's health.
Jackson constantly found herself caught between administration pledges to solve tho...
Obama back from Hawaii, Congress bickers on cliff
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama returned to the White House on Thursday from a vacation shortened by government gridlock while Democrats and Republicans snarled across a partisan divide and showed no sign of compromise to avoid year-end tax increases and spending cuts.
Adding to the woes confronting the middle class was a pending spike of $2-per-gallon or more in milk prices if lawmakers failed to pass farm legislation by year's end.
U.S. consumers lose confidence
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers peering over the “fiscal cliff” don’t like what they see.
Fears of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week sent consumer confidence tumbling in December to its lowest level since August.
The Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell for the second straight month in December to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November.
The survey showed consumers’ outloo...
Large, powerful storm heads east
By The Associated Press
A powerful winter storm system pounded the nation’s midsection Wednesday and headed toward the Northeast, where people braced for the high winds and heavy snow that disrupted holiday travel, knocked out power to thousands of homes and were blamed in at least six deaths.
Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed, scores of motorists got stuck on icy roads or slid into drifts, and blizzard warnings were issued amid sn...
State laws on gay rights, child safety take effect
By The Associated Press
Measures on gay rights and child safety are among the top state laws taking effect at the start of 2013, along with attempts to prevent identity theft and perennial efforts to restrict abortion and illegal immigration.
In many states, new laws take effect on Jan. 1, while in others they do so 90 days after a governor’s signature.
Voter-approved laws allowing same-sex couples to marry take effect in Maryland in January ...