Kansas

A judge has ordered federal prosecutors to produce grand jury materials in an ongoing probe of the audio- and video-taping of attorney-client meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson last year named a special master to conduct the investigation after criminal defense lawyers learned that some attorney-client conversations at the prison had been recorded. Such conversations are supposed to be off-limits to the government.

A U.S. Senate committee has given the green light for the full chamber to proceed with a vote on Gov. Sam Brownback’s confirmation to an ambassador-at-large position.

Approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the position relating to international religious freedom was the first hurdle after President Donald Trump picked Brownback for the role in July.

  

You and your family are fast asleep when the smoke alarm sounds: do you know what to do?

As FIRE PREVENTION WEEK kicks off, be sure that you have an escape plan for residential fires – including knowing TWO WAYS OUT.

Here are some tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:

Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams assured lawmakers Friday that the state’s new driver’s license system is on course for a smooth rollout at the start of 2018, despite auditor concerns to the contrary.

At issue is a critical Department of Revenue information technology project — known as KanDrive or KanLicense — to migrate records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to a new system. Access to those records is critical for motor vehicle offices and law enforcement agencies.

Millions of victims of a data hack that targeted a Kansas state agency in possession of Social Security numbers were not informed of the breach directly, according to information obtained through an open records request.

The Kansas Department of Commerce says it only had valid email addresses for about 2.5 million of the more than 6 million job seeker accounts that were exposed. It sent notices to those addresses and further spread word of the hack through news releases and other public messages.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Kansas has earned a D in a new analysis of states’ fiscal health.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, Kansas has the highest taxpayer burden of any Great Plains state, according to an analysis by the Chicago-based group Truth in Accounting, which found that each Kansas taxpayer would have to cough up $7,800 to help the state catch up on funding its liabilities.

The parade of candidates seeking the Kansas governor’s office continues to grow with the addition of Mark Hutton, a Republican former House member.

Hutton founded a construction company based in Wichita that he ran for years before moving into politics.

Kars4Kids / Courtesy photo

It might come as a surprise, but Kansas drivers are rude – almost as rude as New York drivers.  

As The Wichita Eagle reports, normally known as a friendly state, Kansas ranked as the 12th rudest state in the country, according to a survey from Kars4Kids, which says “Kansas drivers will let you merge in ahead of them, but make sure to speed up as soon as they do because they don’t like slow drivers.”

Kansas received the worst scores in the nation for aggressive responses to slow driving with a D+.

New Kansas Driver's License Causing Headaches For Some

Aug 10, 2017
Kansas Department of Revenue

The new Kansas driver’s license is causing frustration for some.

As the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the “Real ID” is meant to comply with federal identification requirements for airport security purposes and will contain either a gold circle with a white star cutout proving the holder is lawfully in the U.S. and that it is acceptable federal identification, or the words “not for federal ID.”

El Dean Holthus knows what people might think of a town like Smith Center, Kansas.

At nearly the exact geographic center of the contiguous United States, it's an hour from the nearest Interstate. It's home to about 1,600 people, but that population is declining like most of rural America's.

They probably think, he says, that "it's just a little hole in the ground."

Kevin Rofidal

Former Kansas Senator and national Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole has been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Lynn Jenkins jointly introduced resolutions to honor Dole on Monday, two days after his 94th birthday.

Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

What do High Plains folks hate the most?

There’s a new app called Hater that works like Tinder, except it matches users based on common things they loathe.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, according to the app’s users, the most common thing Texans hate is . . . “sleeping with the window open.”

This may come as a surprise, as there are so many things to hate in Texas, like rattlesnakes and poorly constructed tacos.

Starting Saturday, the fine for not wearing a seat belt in Kansas will triple.

Kansas’ current seat belt fine -- $10 -- is one of the lowest in the country. State legislators passed a law this session raising the fine to $30.

Public Domain

Determined residents and local officials have helped turn the tide on a declining population in a northwest Kansas community.

As High Plains Journal reports, the U.S. Census of 2010 reflected that Quinter, Kansas had experienced a 4.5 percent population decline and that Gove County’s population declined 12.2 percent since 2000.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says she’s considering a run for either Kansas governor or for the 4th District congressional seat in the Wichita area.

Divorce rate in Kansas reaches all-time low

Jun 27, 2017
Pixabay

Kansas’s divorce rate has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years, when the state began keeping annual records.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the divorce rate last year dropped to 2.6 per 1,000 persons and there were just under 7,200 divorces, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 

Those numbers have never been that low.

JIM MCLEAN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim Barnett is throwing his stethoscope into the ring.

Again.

The 63-year-old doctor and former state senator is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Again.

Barnett, who represented an Emporia-centered district in the Kansas Senate for a decade, won the 2006 GOP primary over a relatively weak field but lost in a landslide to incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the general election.

Four years later he came up short in a race against Tim Huelskamp for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

MEG WINGERTER / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Editor’s note: Kansas privatized its foster care system in 1997 after a lawsuit revealed widespread problems. Twenty years later, the number of Kansas children in foster care has shot up — topping 7,100 in April — and lawmakers approved the creation of a task force to examine the system. The Kansas News Service investigated problems in the foster care system and possible solutions. This is the fifth story in a series.

By Meg Wingerter

The head of the Kansas agency that oversees the state’s hospital system is working to jump-start the process of recertifying Osawatomie State Hospital.

Federal officials decertified the state’s largest psychiatric hospital in December 2015 due to concerns about patient safety and staffing.

The decertification order is costing the hospital approximately $1 million a month in federal funding.

During a Friday visit to Junction City that included a stop at a food pantry site, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said he would work to maintain funding for programs that feed the hungry.

Marshall represents Kansas’ 1st District, which includes two counties — Geary and Riley — with the state’s highest rates of food insecurity. Residents of those counties also are more likely than most people across the country to lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

Michael Pearce / The Wichita Eagle

After record-breaking wildfires late last month, Kansas saw another record broken on Saturday.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, southwest Kansas shattered the rainfall record for April first, according to the National Weather Service.

The original record of 1.2 inches had already been broken by six a.m., and the rain kept on coming. By day’s end, Dodge City reported receiving over double the original record, with a total of almost two-and-a-half inches.

Kansas ranked fifth for most outbound movers in 2016

Jan 5, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Kansas moved up a spot from last year in a ranking of the states most moved out of in 2016.

KHI News Service File

While staff vacancies at two state-run psychiatric hospitals in Kansas are down, state officials say there is still room for improvement.

Marvel Entertainment / Hays Daily News

Kansas now has its own Marvel superhero, reports The Hays Daily News.

Kansas City Star

Earlier this month, racist messages were written on the sidewalks of a college in a small Kansas town, reports The Kansas City Star.

Creative Commons

Exactly how flat is Kansas?

As Atlas Obscura reports, Kansas geographer Jerry Dobson has been dogged his whole career by that very question. Finally, a few years ago, he and fellow Kansas geographer Joshua Campbell undertook to measure the flatness of every state in the union.

The Wichita Eagle

For many, Kansas brings to mind the image of flickering wheat fields. But the state has had more than its share of celebrities and luminaries.

The Wichita Eagle has published a list of 19 famous people—and 2 animals—that spent time in Kansas. Military leaders on the list include Colin Powell, who was once deputy commander at Fort Leavenworth, and George Patton, who was stationed at Fort Riley before World War I.

Ted S. Warren / AP photo

Nationwide, more Americans are dying in car crashes recently. But that’s not the case in Kansas, reports The Kansas City Star.

From 2014 to 2015, the U.S. saw an increase in traffic fatalities of just over seven percent, the largest year-over-year increase since 1966. But the numbers in the Sunflower State declined at almost the same rate. Kansas highway fatalities fell 7.8 percent from 2014 to 2015.

The Gazette

Colorado and Kansas are two of the most welcoming states toward refugees, according to a new study.

Researchers from the International Rescue Committee combed through tweets from all 50 states looking for positive and negative language regarding refugees. Colorado ranks eighth for having the most positive tweets regarding newcomers fleeing terror and hardship, reports The Gazette. Kansas performed even better, landing at fourth on the list.

Getty Images

Trivia wiz and 74-time Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings recently reported on strange phenomena on a Kansas farm for Condé Nast Traveler. The 360-acre farm of Joyce Taylor, just north of Potwin, is a quiet place off the beaten path. But a few years ago Taylor, 82, began receiving strange phone calls and visitors.

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