War kills 6,000 Syrians in March
BEIRUT (AP) — March was the bloodiest month yet in Syria’s 2-year-old conflict with more than 6,000 documented deaths, a leading anti-regime activist group said Monday, blaming the increase on heavier shelling and more violent clashes.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the increased toll is likely incomplete because both the Syrian army and the rebel groups fighting the government often underreport thei...
Prosecutors seek death penalty in theater attack
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — For James Holmes, “justice is death,” prosecutors said Monday in announcing they will seek his execution if he is convicted in the Colorado movie theater attack that killed 12 people.
The decision — disclosed in court just days after prosecutors publicly rejected Holmes’ offer to plead guilty if they took the death penalty off the table — elevated the already sensational case to a new level and could cause it to drag o...
Kansas turns to crops with drought tolerance
WICHITA (AP) — Kansas farmers are planting fewer acres of thirsty crops, such as corn and soybeans, this spring and more acres of drought-tolerant crops like sorghum, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Thursday.
Overall, Kansas’ four major crops account for about 20.7 million acres — unchanged from the previous year — the agency said in its snapshot of prospective plantings.
Corn growers plan to plant 4.6 million acres in Kansas, ...
Brownback says sales tax reduction is not possible with budget
TOPEKA (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday that Kansas’ “budget reality” will push lawmakers toward approving his proposal to cancel a scheduled decrease in the state sales tax.
The Republican governor said he’ll consider “anybody’s proposal” as the GOP-dominated House and Senate negotiate the final version of tax legislation. But Brownback also said legislators have limited options for stabilizing the budget while seeking further cuts in ...
Legislators begin tax plan negotiations
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas Senate’s top negotiator on tax issues said Wednesday that it’s critical for the state to cancel a planned sales tax decrease if legislators want to cut individual income tax rates further.
Sen. Les Donovan, a Wichita Republican, defended GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to keep the sales tax at its current rate as negotiators for the House and Senate began work on the final version of tax legislation. The three senato...
Negotiators begin work on Kansas budget
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas House and Senate negotiators held their first meetings Tuesday to settle differences over the 2014 and 2015 state budgets, a process expected to take at least the next couple of weeks.
The House and Senate have both approved $14 billion spending plans for each of the next two fiscal years that closely resemble a proposal offered by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Two Republicans and one Democrat from each chamber met for ab...
Cosmosphere gets rocket engines
HUTCHINSON (AP) — Parts of rocket engines that boosted Apollo moon missions into space arrived Monday in Hutchinson, where workers at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center’s SpaceWorks division will clean, preserve and document them.
The F-1 engines were part of the giant Saturn V rocket used in Apollo moon missions in the 1960s and 1970s. After separating from the upper stages of the rocket, the lower stage containing five F-1 engines broke...
House measure aims to boost KPERS fund
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas would issue $1.5 billion in bonds to improve the short-term financial health of its pension system for teachers and government workers under a bill receiving first-round approval Tuesday in the state House.
The measure would allow the state to inject a big dose of new dollars into the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System so that its assets would cover more of its long-term obligations to provide retirement benefits to...
Total identity theft case comes to close
WICHITA (AP) — For almost 12 years, a Houston elementary school teacher and an illegal immigrant living in Topeka have engaged in a tug of war to claim the identity of Candida L. Gutierrez in a case that has put a face on the growing crime of total identity theft in the United States.
On Monday, the real Candida L. Gutierrez saw her identity thief, Benita Cardona-Gonzalez, for the first time. Their encounter came inside a federal courtroom in ...
Two face dog fighting charges
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities in Kansas said Monday that they have broken up a dog fighting operation that included training pit bulls to fight in Kansas, Missouri and Texas by chaining the dogs to treadmills for hours at a time and using live chickens as bait.
Pete Davis Jr., 38, and Melvin L. Robinson, 41, both of Kansas City, Kan., were charged in a federal complaint in the U.S. District Court for Kansas with one count of tran...
Panel advances anti-abortion bill
TOPEKA (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee approved legislation on Friday to block tax breaks for abortion providers and bar public schools from using sex education instruction from abortion providers.
The Public Health and Welfare Committee approved the bill after a brief hearing. Legislators made no changes to the bill, which cleared the House on Wednesday on a 92-31 vote.
“I thought the House did good work on the bill,” said Sen. Mary Pilcher-...
Lawmakers to study corporate farming
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawmakers decided Friday that they need more information before making changes to the Kansas corporate farming law.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources will have a judicial council review the corporate farming statute. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources, meanwhile, called for an interim committee to review the law before the 2014 legislative session.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has be...
KCK agrees to address sewer problem
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has reached an agreement to address pollution in stormwater and the overflow of untreated raw sewage that has reached the Missouri and Kansas rivers, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday.
A settlement filed Thursday in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., requires the Unified Government to improve its operation and maintenance programs and ...
Immigration hearing draws emotional response
TOPEKA (AP) — An emotional crowd gathered for a House committee hearing on a measure that seeks to repeal in-state tuition for Kansas students without legal residency.
The measure under consideration in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee would repeal the nearly 10-year-old statute that allows students who graduate from Kansas high schools and have lived in Kansas for at least three years to pay in-state tuition at state universities...
Beechcraft sues over lost contract
WICHITA (AP) — Aircraft manufacturer Beechcraft announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit to contest the U.S. Air Force's decision to award a contract for a light air support plane to Sierra Nevada Corp.
The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., is the latest development in a bitter, high-stakes competition that has taken nearly three years with legal challenges from both sides.
The contract for 20 planes fo...
House passes tax cuts
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas House approved a bill Thursday overhauling the state’s tax system, setting up talks with the Senate over cutting personal income tax rates and canceling a sales tax decrease to stabilize the budget.
The Republican-controlled House’s vote was 82-39 on a measure that would mandate small reductions in individual income tax rates in each year that overall state revenues grow by more than 2 percent. The bill also would allo...
Sales, income tax bill advances
TOPEKA (AP) — Proposed cuts in Kansas’ sales and income taxes advanced Wednesday in the state House, but members stripped out a key provision of the legislation aimed at stabilizing the state budget.
The House gave initial approval to the bill on an 82-37 vote, with only majority Republicans supporting it. The tally suggested that GOP leaders will have enough votes to pass the measure on final action, which is scheduled for Thursday. Passage t...
Senate debates budget after House approves it
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas House gave final approval Wednesday to the chamber’s version of a $14 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes a 4 percent cut to higher education.
The 68-55 vote sent the bill to the Senate. The Kansas Senate began debating its version of the budget bill later in the day.
The Senate was making minor changes to its proposal, which would cover the years that start July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014. The b...
Eisenhower family wants new design of memorial in D.C.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The future of a planned memorial honoring Dwight D. Eisenhower was thrown into doubt Tuesday as lawmakers questioned the project’s design and cost and the 34th president’s family called again for the memorial project to be redesigned.
A House panel hosted a hearing on the 14-year-old project, which is planned for a site on the National Mall near the National Air and Space Museum. Planners could lose that space, though, withou...
House measure further restricts abortion
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas House members on Tuesday gave first-round approval to sweeping new restrictions on abortion after refusing to add exceptions that would allow victims of incest or rape — including children who are raped — to get late-term abortions.
The measure builds upon the state’s current ban on most abortions starting in the 22nd week of pregnancy by barring abortion providers from receiving tax breaks and prohibiting public schools f...