Missouri U.S. Senator Blunt Wil Not Run for Re-Election
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri has announced that he will not run for reelection in 2022. Blunt, the state’s senior senator, posted the announcement to supporters and on social media Monday morning. “After 14 general election victories, three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives and four statewide elections,” Blunt said “I won’t be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year” Blunt has served in the Senate since 2011; prior to that, he represented Missouri in the House for 14 years, serving as Republican Whip from 2003 to 2009, and acting Majority Leader after Representative Tom DeLay was indicted on felony charges and temporarily resigned from the leadership role.
Deep Freeze to Affect Kansas Utility Customers Differently
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Utility customers in different parts of Kansas will likely see higher electric bills as a result of February’s extreme cold snap. While residents of the Kansas City area could get refunds. The difference has to do with how two different divisions of utility giant Evergy fared during the brutal cold. The company’s Kansas Central division had to spend an additional $100 million to buy power but Evergy’s Metro Division, which serves the Kansas City area, was able to generate $60 million in extra revenue because it was able to generate surplus power and sell it to other utilities.
Kelly Adding Workers to Help Alleviate Workload at Department of Labor
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Governor Laura Kelly is adding workers to the Kansas Department of Labor this week to help improve services at the overburdened agency. But some state lawmakers are working to take more control of the state’s labor department because of ongoing problems. Kelly plans to eventually double the staff responsible for answering the overloaded phones at the Department of Labor. But ongoing problems at the agency have led lawmakers to set deadlines for improvements and increase legislative oversight. A House plan would also trim back unemployment benefits when the jobless rate is low to encourage people to look for work. Senators are considering a separate bill that does not include trimming back unemployment benefits.
Protesters Object to Lack of Charges in Police Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – More than 50 people gathered outside the home of Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to protest her decision not to charge a police officer who shot and killed a Black man last year. The protesters called for justice for 47-year-old Donnie Sanders as they marched to Peters Baker’s home Saturday. Peters Baker announced last week that investigators didn’t find enough evidence to support charges against the Kansas City police officer involved in the shooting. Sanders’ sisters, who participated in the protest, said they want Peters Baker to release a complete copy of the investigation into the shooting and for the officer who shot their brother to be held accountable.
Attorney Pushes Back After KU Football Coach Put on Leave
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – An attorney for University of Kansas football coach Les Miles is pushing back after Miles was placed on administrative leave. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that attorney Peter Ginsberg released a statement calling KU’s actions “deeply disturbing and unfair.” Ginsburg also disputed KU’s claim that it was unaware of Louisiana State University’s 2013 internal investigation of Miles before the report went last week. Miles was accused of sexual harassment while at LSU; a Title IX review released by LSU alleged that Miles “attempted to sexualize” the program’s student staff. KU Athletics Direct Jeff Long says that KU will conduct “a full review to determine the appropriate next steps.” Miles was coach at LSU for more than eleven years before being fired four games into the 2016 season.
USDA Relocations to KC Curtail Ag Research
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a year after two U.S. Department of Agriculture research agencies were moved from the nation’s capital to Kansas City, Missouri, they remain critically understaffed and some farmers are less confident in the work they produce. The relocation of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in September 2019 led to a mass exodus of employees who couldn’t or didn’t want to move halfway across the country. The agencies are producing research that is smaller in scope and less frequent, and some farmers say they now have to corroborate USDA research by comparing it to private market analysis. A USDA spokesman says the agency is focused on rebuilding employee confidence and morale.
Ex-Kansas Governor Colyer Signals 2022 Bid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer is signaling that he’ll make a comeback bid in 2022 by bringing a granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower to his team. Colyer stopped short of formally announcing his candidacy but described philanthropist Mary Eisenhower as joining “our campaign” as its treasurer. The announcement came on “Jeff Colyer Governor” letterhead. Colyer’s path to the GOP nomination and the right to challenge Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is far from open. Many Republicans expect state Attorney General Derek Schmidt to run. Colyer’s last race was his narrow loss in the 2018 primary to conservative firebrand Kris Kobach, who lost to Kelly in November 2018.
Washburn University Plans Fall Return to In-Person Classes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University plans to start its fall semester with in-person classes after the Shawnee County Health Department updated its vaccine plan to include university faculty and staff. University president Jerry Farley says this additional level of protection should allow them to return fully to a traditional campus model. University officials said that Washburn students can expect a more normal fall 2021 semester with university faculty and staff now prioritized for vaccine distribution. It was not immediately clear what prompted the change in vaccination policy. Vaccine distribution has ramped up in recent weeks and COVID-19 transmission rates and hospitalizations have fallen.
Kansas Crosses 295,000 COVID-19 Case Mark, Including 4,816 Deaths
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Friday that there have been 295,861 cases of COVID-19, including 4,812 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. That’s an increase of 752 cases and 0 deaths since Wednesday. The overall death toll was revised downward by KDHE on Friday following the department-standard review of death certificates. Some deaths initially reported to KDHE/Local Health Departments as COVID-19 related were identified during the review process as not having COVID-19 as the main cause or contributing cause of death. Such revisions are normal and not considered unusual during health statistics compilation. Johnson County has the highest number of recorded cases in the state, with more than 54,700. KDHE will provide another update Monday.
COVID Helpline Launched for Douglas County Residents
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – A new COVID helpline is now available for Douglas County residents. The phone number – (785) 864-9000 – will be answered by trained staff who can help answer questions about vaccinations, testing, symptoms, local public health orders and other questions related to the coronavirus. The helpline will be available from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, and from 8 am to noon on Saturday. The University of Kansas has been using this phone number to help answer COVID-related questions since before the fall 2020 semester. Now, it has expanded the number of phone lines and employees available to answer calls with the help of various Douglas County agencies. Those agencies include: Senior Resource Center for Douglas County, LMH Health and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.
Analysis: Some Kansans Hesitant to Get Vaccination
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — A new analysis by the Kansas Health Institute of US Census Bureau survey data indicates that most Kansans want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but many remain undecided. As of mid-January, a bit more than half of Kansans had either gotten their shot or said they definitely would get it. Another quarter said they would “probably” agree to be vaccinated. But nearly 10% say they definitely do not want the vaccine. Kansans on the fence about the vaccine have a wide range of reasons. Some worry about side effects while others say they distrust the government.
Mother Arrested After Rollover Crash that Killed Five-Year-Old Daughter
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A 26-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a rollover crash that killed her 5-year-old daughter. The crash happened around 3:15 a.m. Sunday in a rural area southeast of Wichita, according to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office. Deputies found the woman’s 2014 Ford Escape off the road and overturned. The 5-year-old girl in the vehicle, Aleah Reyes, died at the scene while the mother had only minor injuries. Officials said Nory Lam was arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol and transporting an open container of alcohol.
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