Judge Strikes Down Limits on Kansas Officials’ COVID Powers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A trial-court judge in Johnson County has struck down a state law requiring speedy legal hearings for people who challenge mask requirements and other COVID restrictions. Johnson County District Judge David Hauber’s ruling also struck down limits on the power of state and local officials to impose pandemic-related restrictions. The law the judge struck down allowed residents to file grievances with cities, counties and local school boards over mask mandates and other restrictions within 10 days. It also set a 10-day limit for courts to rule in such lawsuits. The judge said the law denied officials due legal process and violated the separation of powers between the courts and the Legislature.
Kansas Families Now Eligible for Child Tax Credit, but May Need to File
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Thousands of Kansas families will soon begin receiving at least $250 a month as part of an expanded federal child tax credit, but some of the people who are eligible need to take a step to get the money. Eligible families that already filed taxes and have provided a bank account will automatically receive monthly direct deposits of $300 for each child under six and $250 for older kids. Scott Hanson works with the Family Conservancy in Kansas City. He says the new tax credit is even available to families that don’t file a tax return. Families that did not file a tax return can use the non-filers tool on the IRS website to sign up for the monthly payment. Families can also opt out of the monthly payments.
Sex Offender Still at Large After Escaping from Larned Treatment Facility
LARNED, Kan. (KSNT/KPR) – Kansas authorities are still searching for a registered sex offender who escaped from a treatment facility in Larned State Hospital in central Kansas. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says John Freeman Colt is a dangerous sex offender who walked away from the facility in a diguise on June 30th. KSNT TV reports that in nearby Barton County, Sheriff Brian Bellendir blamed the escape on “sheer incompetency” at the hospital in neighboring Pawnee County, complaining that it took Larned State Hospital five-and-a-half-hours to report the escape to his office. Colt was convicted of aggravated sexual battery against a Topeka woman in 2001. The sheriffs of both Barton and Pawnee counties lashed out at the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the agency in charge of the facility, for not immediately reporting the escape to area law enforcement agencies.
Former Western Kansas School Superintendent Killed in Iowa Plane Crash
MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) – Authorities in eastern Iowa say two people from Missouri died in the crash of a small plane in a cornfield in rural Muscatine County. The county sheriff identified them as 68-year-old Daniel Slack and 69-year-old Sharon Slack, of El Dorado Springs, Missouri. Daniel Slack was superintendent of schools in Deerfield, Kansas, from 2015 until he retired last year. Investigators believe the plane was flying from Iron Mountain, Michigan, to Missouri when it crashed Wednesday about 4 miles north of Muscatine. No word yet on the cause of the crash.
Body Recovered from Eastern Kansas Lake
MAIMI COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Miami County Sheriff’s Office says a body has been recovered from Hillsdale Lake. KSNW TV reports that emergency personnel were dispatched to the lake early Thursday morning for a water rescue. It was reported a person had fallen into the water by the dock and did not resurface. A couple hours later, crews recovered the body. Authorities have not yet released additional details.
Police: Woman Buried in Rural Missouri Killed as Part of Sex Fantasy
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KC Star/KPR) – Authorities have identified female human remains found buried in rural Jackson County, Missouri, as those those of Kensie Renee Aubry, a missing 32-year-old woman originally from Texas. She was last known to be living in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that detectives found her dismembered body, buried near Grain Valley, Wednesday morning based on information from witnesses. Those witnesses told police that a neaby homeowner confessed to killing the woman with his girlfriend as part of a sexual fantasy he wanted to fulfill. Police have yet to officially name a suspect and no criminal charges had been filed as of Thursday afternoon.
Coronavirus in Kansas: 8 More Deaths, Nearly 1,200 New Cases Emerge
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Eight more Kansans have died due to COVID-19. That brings the state death toll to nearly 5,200. State health officials also report 56 more Kansans have been hospitalized with the virus in the past few days. KSNW TV reports that nearly 40% of Kansans are now vaccinated against coronavirus but the Delta variant continues to spread among the unvaccinated.
Most Kansas Nursing Homes Fall Short of Vaccination Goal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Only about 10% of the federally regulated nursing homes in Kansas have met the industry’s goal of vaccinating 75% of their workers against COVID-19. According to federal data, just 34 of the 324 federally licensed homes in Kansas met the goal by late last month (June). The new numbers about nursing homes come as state officials worry about the growing presence of the faster-spreading delta variant.
KU Ready to Welcome Back Students Amid Spike in Virus Cases
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) – University of Kansas officials anticipate a normal beginning for the fall semester despite a second surge in coronavirus cases. Chancellor Doug Girod says the school will offer vaccine incentives. Girod says KU will offer incentives for vaccinations even though he says those incentives don’t work very well. “A lot of folks who have not gotten a vaccine, it’s not because they weren’t incentivized, it’s because they were making a decision that they didn’t want to access it,” he said. And then there’s the problem of access. International students, about 8% of the student body, are one population of concern for Girod. Some international students might not have easy access to vaccines in their home countries. Still, the school will be encouraging vaccinations any way it can. In roughly a month, University of Kansas starts its new school year with plenty of vaccines and incentive programs to boot.
Pfizer Agrees to Settlement in EpiPen Litigation
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Pfizer Inc. and two of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $345 million under a proposed settlement to resolve litigation over EpiPen price hikes. KCUR-FM reports that the New York-based Pfizer and its subsidiaries – Maryland-based Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. and Tennessee-based King Pharmaceuticals – asked a federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursday to grant preliminary approval to the settlement. Numerous class action lawsuits were filed alleging the companies engaged in anti-competitive conduct. EpiPens are auto-injectable devices that deliver the drug epinephrine and are used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. When Mylan acquired the right to market and distribute the EpiPen in 2007, a package cost about $100. Today, it costs more than $650.
Kansas Governor’s Panel On Racial Justice Pushes for Medicaid Expansion, Makes other Recommendations
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas racial justice panel appointed by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has recommended expanding Medicaid, adding another income tax bracket for top-income earners, restoring a food sales tax rebate and banning Native American mascots and team names in public schools. The 15-member Commission on Racial Justice and Equity created the recommendations after meeting with Kansas Department of Commerce officials, Kansas Department of Health and Environment staff and others, according to the report. Kelly established the commission last year in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Kansas Governor’s Commission Releases 51 Recommendations for More Racial Equity
TOPEKA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) – Governor Laura Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice has released a report with 51 recommendations for improving racial equity in Kansas. The recommendations covered a variety of topics such as additional tax brackets for high-income earners and keeping college tuition stable for low-income students. It also suggested anti-racism and implicit bias training for school resource officers and a rebate on the food sales tax. The report’s recommendations are designed to bring awareness and suggest potential solutions to issues like higher pregnancy-related deaths among minority women, diversifying teachers, Native American imagery in school mascots, wage supplements for essential workers and vaccine distribution to the most impacted communities. Kelly established the commission in June and it released its first report last December. That report focused on law enforcement and policing and made more than 30 recommendations. The Kansas Legislature did not act on any of the proposals. This latest report also lists subjects for future study, like accessible broadband and the racial wealth gap. The commission has to submit a final report by the end of the year.
Kansas Targets Early Literacy with $15 Million in Pandemic Funds
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas is setting aside $15 million to improve early literacy. The money comes from federal funding that must be used to address learning loss stemming from the pandemic. Kansas plans a three-year initiative to train educators in the science of reading. It intends to focus training on pre-kindergarten through third-grade teachers, English as a second language educators, reading specialists and special ed teachers.
Groups Worried About Racism Push to Rename Asian Carp
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – What’s in a name? When it comes to Asian carp, quite a lot. For decades, that term has been used to describe four fish species that have infested many U.S. rivers and threaten to invade the Great Lakes. They were imported to cleanse fish farms and sewage ponds but escaped into the wild. Now some government agencies are changing the label to “invasive carp” in the wake of anti-Asian hate crimes that surged during the pandemic. At the same time, Illinois officials and partner groups are planning to give the four species yet another name in a marketing campaign to get more people to eat them.
These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and by 1 pm on weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!