Kansas Health Officials: 88% of Nursing Homes Vaccinated; Staff Only 65%
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR) — Kansas health officials say 88% of their nursing and long-term care residents have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman says the rollout in nursing homes is wrapping up with the exception of some second doses for residents and staff. He says the state is concerned that only 65% of nursing and long-term care staff have opted to take the vaccine. “The uptake by those staff, it seems to be a little lower than other healthcare settings. So we’ll need to think through how to increase the use there.” The University of Kansas Health System has reported much higher vaccination numbers within their hospitals, with 84% of their staff getting the vaccine. While vaccine distribution ramps up in Kansas, health officials say their COVID-19 testing numbers are on the decline. Dr. Norman says the decrease in testing could be due to the decrease in the number of infections. He says the state plans to continue mass testing and is also looking to include some at-home testing options. As of now, Norman says the state’s positive rate of infection has dropped to about 5%.
Kansas Republicans Propose Amendment Aimed at Limiting, Blocking State Regulations
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) – Republican state lawmakers have introduced a constitutional amendment that would let the Kansas Legislature block regulations from agencies controlled by the governor and other state officials. State regulations cover everything from health and safety policy to environmental protections and voting rules. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants to amend the state constitution so lawmakers can block regulations if they don’t approve. “There simply is no check and balance that’s functional over agency regulations,” Schmidt said. Democrats argue it’s a move by Republicans to grab more power and undermine the Democratic governor. Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Laura Kelly have clashed over some of her policies, but supporters of the amendment say the legislation is not directly aimed at her. For the Kansas News Service, I’m Stephen Koranda at the Statehouse
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Top Republican officials in Kansas have launched a new effort to curb Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s power after months of criticizing her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and problems with the state’s unemployment system. GOP Attorney General Derek Schmidt and top Republican lawmakers have outlined a proposal that would amend the state constitution to give the GOP-controlled Legislature the power to revoke regulations issued by state agencies. The proposal is the latest in a series of measures aimed at curbing the governor’s power, and Republicans also are trying to build a case against Kelly’s reelection in 2022.
Spirit AeroSystems Loses Nearly $900 Million
WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) — Spirit AeroSystems lost nearly $900 million dollars in 2020 because of the pandemic and the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max. The aviation manufacturer issued its fourth quarter and full-year earnings report this (TUE) morning. Spirit says it laid off 8,000 employees last year, part of $1 billion dollars in cuts. The 737 Max returned to service last December. Spirit delivered about 70 of the 737 Max units to Boeing last year, a drop of about 90 percent from 2019. Spirit was also hurt by the reduction in commercial air travel caused by the pandemic. Company officials hope that commercial air travel will rebound as more people are vaccinated. Spirit expects its defense business to continue to grow in 2021. It also expects growth in its business jet and aftermarket service sectors.
Kansas Bill Creating Agency to Track Foster Care System Advances
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has approved a bill to create an independent agency to oversee the state’s foster care system. The House Children and Seniors Committee on Monday advanced the bill creating the Office of the Child Advocate. The agency would investigate complaints and track child welfare agencies, primarily the state Department for Children and Families, which oversees the foster care system. The move came after the bill’s chief proponent agreed to have the proposed agency report to the Republican-led Legislature instead of an executive branch agency under Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. The bill now goes to the full House for a vote.
LGBTQ Advocates Take Aim at Proposal Regarding Trans Athletes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – LGBTQ-rights advocates are warning Kansas legislators that their discussion of a proposed ban on transgender students in girls’ and women’s school sports will lead to bullying. The American Civil Liberties Union is promising to sue the state if such a law is enacted. The state Senate Education Committee had a hearing on a bill backed by some athletes, Republican lawmakers and conservative groups. Supporters portrayed the bill as an attempt to ensure that girls and women aren’t deprived of scholarships and other opportunities in sports. But critics say even having a hearing tells transgender students that they’re not wanted and could encourage harassment.
Kansas Records Nearly 292,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,643 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports there have been 291,715 cases of COVID-19, including 4,643 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. Johnson and Sedgwick counties continue to have the most recorded cases, with more than 53,000 each. KDHE will provide another update later today (WED).
Kansas Governor Converts Pandemic Business Loans to Grants
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Hospitality businesses that got loans through an emergency relief fund in Kansas at the beginning of the pandemic will no longer have to repay the money. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced today (TUE) that funding provided through the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency Fund has been converted from bridge loans to grants. Businesses that have already made repayments will be reimbursed. The program was originally envisioned as a working capital loan program. The fund was established last year to provide immediate help to Kansas hospitality businesses faced with revenue losses due to COVID-19. In total, $5 million went to 344 businesses.
5 Officers, Deputies Cleared in 2019 Killing of Wichita Man
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County’s top prosecutor has cleared five Wichita officers and county sheriff’s deputies of wrongdoing in the fatal 2019 shooting of a Wichita man outside his home. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Tuesday that the officers are “immune from prosecution” in the May 27, 2019, death of 49-year-old Robert Sabater. Police say Sabater twice called police to his home in the hours before he was killed, claiming people were outside. Bennett said officers returned a third time and fatally shot Sabater after he had fired a gun and pointed it at police. The investigation showed officers fired fired 46 rounds at Sabater.
Kansas Member of Kansas City Proud Boys Chapter to Remain in Jail
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge in Washington D.C., has ruled that the alleged leader of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys should remain in custody until his trial on charges arising from the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Tuesday that 47-year-old William Chrestman be taken from Kansas to Washington to be held until his trial. Chrestman, of Olathe, is charged with conspiracy and several other counts. Federal authorities allege he led members of the Kansas City-area Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol last month. Howell’s ruling reversed a decision last week from a federal judge in Kansas that Chrestman should be released until trial.
Another Kansas Man Linked to Proud Boys Charged in Connection with Capitol Riot
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man linked to the Kansas City metro chapter of the Proud Boys is charged with participating in the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. FBI agents arrested Ryan Ashlock, of Gardner, Monday morning without incident. Federal authorities allege in an affidavit the he was with several members of the Proud Boys who are already charged in the attack. The affidavit says Ashlock conspired with other Proud Boys members and helped knock down metal barricades between police officers and protesters outside the Capitol. The FBI says Ashlock separated from the group when he was hit with pepper spray and it was unclear if he went inside the Capitol.
Wyandotte Nation Set to Open Casino Near Wichita
PARK CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The Wyandotte Nation plans to open a new main casino next week near Wichita. The Crosswinds Casino will open next Tuesday in Park City. The opening comes after years of legal battles, including the state of Kansas filing an unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to block the tribe from operating the casino. The Wyandotte Nation opened a small temporary facility in October. The new 20,000-square-foot casino offers 500 slot machines, 200 video gaming machines, a bar, cafe and a high-limit lounge. The Wyandotte Nation bought the land where the casino was built nearly 30 years ago.
Anti-Hunger Groups, Agriculture Advocates Fight to Save Program Launched by Trump Administration
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Agricultural groups and anti-hunger organizations are pushing the Biden administration to continue a program launched by President Donald Trump that spent $6 billion to prevent farmers from plowing under food and instead provide it to millions of Americans left reeling by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture began the Farmers to Families Food Box program in April 2020 after many people were shocked to see farmers destroy crops even as food banks were being overwhelmed by demand from people suddenly out of work. If the USDA extends the program, it will be a rare example of the new administration retaining rather than dismantling a Trump initiative.
93-Year-Old Woman Dies After Being Hit by Vehicle in Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 93-year-old woman hit by a vehicle as she attempted to cross a street in Hutchinson has died of her injuries. Television station KAKE reports the crash happened Saturday afternoon, as Carmen Raya of Hutchinson was crossing East Avenue. Officials say Raya was taken to a local hospital, where she later died. Police continue to investigate her death and have not released the name of the driver involved. No charges in the case have been announced.
Missouri Senate Bill Cracks Down on Road-Blocking Protesters
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri protesters who repeatedly block traffic without permission could face felony charges under a bill advancing in the state Senate. Senators on Tuesday gave the measure initial approval. The measure follows protests last summer in the St. Louis area over the death of George Floyd, including demonstrations that blocked major highways. Republican critics have argued the protest method might block ambulances and puts demonstrators at risk of being hit. Blocking traffic without permission would first be punished as an infraction under the bill. A third offense would be a felony. Violators would face up to four years in prison.
Missouri Senate OKs Bill to Limit COVID-19 Lawsuits
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri senators have passed a bill to shield hospitals, manufacturers and other businesses from lawsuits over alleged wrongdoing during the pandemic. The GOP-led Senate voted 20-13 in favor of the bill. The measure now goes to the House for consideration. Republican Governor Mike Parson has been pushing lawmakers to pass legislation protecting businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19. Supporters say businesses shouldn’t be punished for trying to help during the pandemic. But critics say the measure primarily helps big businesses and would limit people’s access to the courts.
Missouri House Tries Again with Photo ID Law for Voting
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Republican-led Missouri House is advancing another version of a Missouri voter photo identification law that was gutted by the state Supreme Court. Judges last year permanently blocked a central provision of the 2016 voter identification law that required voters without a photo ID to make a sworn statement in order to cast a regular ballot. The new bill would give voters two options: either show a photo ID to cast a regular ballot or cast a provisional ballot. Missouri is one of several states where Republican-led legislatures have passed voter photo ID laws touted as a means of preventing in-person voter fraud.
Clay Center Dedicates Mural Honoring WW II Veterans
CLAY CENTER, Kan. (KFRM/KCLY) — This week marks the 76th anniversary of U.S. Marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi during World War II. In honor of the anniversary, officials in Clay Center held a dedication ceremony Tuesday for a new mural, titled Freedom Isn’t Free. The painting depicts the iconic moment marines raised Old Glory during the battle for Iwo Jima. Brett Hubka, president of Clay Center’s Rotary Club, said, “Not only is today the 76th anniversary of the flag raising at Iwo Jima, but it’s also World Rotary Day and this was a rotary project so support was astounding.” The ceremony included members of Ft. Riley’s Big Red One and several guest speakers, including Brad Logan. Brad is the son of William C. Logan, a former mayor of Clay Center and veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima.
K-State Upsets #7 Oklahoma!
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Mike McGuirl scored 19 points Tuesday night, hitting three straight 3’s in the final minutes, and Kansas State took down No. 7 Oklahoma 62-57. The Sooners led by six with three minutes to play, before McGuirl took over. He hit the three 3s and Kansas State took a 3-point lead. The Wildcats (7-18, 3-13 Big 12) didn’t lose the lead after that point. Davion Bradford scored 13 points and DaJuan Gordon had 11 as Kansas State beat a top 10 opponent at home for the first time in three years.
No. 14 Texas Rallies for OT Win over No. 17 Kansas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Courtney Ramey scored 15 points and made two free throws with a minute left in overtime to give Texas the lead as the 14th-ranked Longhorns earned a regular-season sweep of No. 17 Kansas with a 75-72 win. Kansas had a chance to tie after Ramey’s free throws, but Jalen Wilson lost the ball driving for a layup. Kai Jones made one free throw for Texas with 5 seconds left for the final margin. Ochai Ogbajai scored 17 points for Kansas, which had its five-game win streak snapped. The Jayhawks lost to Texas twice in the regular season for the first time since the Big 12 went to round-robin play in 2011-2012.
KPR’s daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR’s weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.