Kansas news

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Activists and citizens from Dodge City to the Kansas City suburbs are reconsidering the involvement of police in their communities — including whether officers should continue to help respond to mental health crises.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved tuition hikes for four state universities, while the University of Kansas and Kansas State University held their tuition flat.

KU announced its plans not to raise tuition last month, saying the school needs to stay competitive. But it also said it wasn't right to raise tuition as students and their families deal with lost jobs and income caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

K-State gave similar reasons.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas officials will distribute $1 billion of federal aid to help cope with the fallout caused by the coronavirus, but Republicans and the Democratic governor disagreed on where some of the initial funding should go — to the unemployed? to businesses? to private universities?

Gov. Laura Kelly and the legislative leaders that make up the State Finance Council met this week and are targeting local governments with the first $400 million going toward health care needs, like county health departments, protective equipment or other coronavirus-related costs.

Two men convicted of the rape and murder of Kansas children more than two decades ago are among four men scheduled to be put to death in the first federal executions scheduled to take place in 17 years.

WICHITA, Kansas — At the beginning of the year, independent consulting firm London Economics released a study of Kansas electric rates — how they’re developed, why they’re more expensive than neighboring states and some suggestions on how to change that.

Legislators seemed poised to act on some of the recommendations until the coronavirus struck and shortened their session by several weeks. Some consumer and environmental advocates say the abrupt stop cut the time and energy given to critical policy aimed at reducing your utility bills.

COUNCIL GROVE, Kansas — Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and 30 other schools owe at least part of their existence to land taken from Kansas’ indigenous people.

As demonstrations against police brutality and racism have rocked the world, some Kansans have protested in hopes of pushing reforms at home.

Since Memorial Day, thousands of people have attended rallies and marches across the state, from Garden City to Kansas City, protesting the deaths of George Floyd and other black people at the hands of the police.

And like many other communities in the U.S., Kansas activists and law enforcement are taking another look at policing in their communities.

The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information about a 16-year-old cold case.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said he and the FBI reopened the investigation of Alonzo Brooks last year after finding new leads.

“His death was certainly suspicious, and someone, likely multiple people, know what happened that night. It is past time for the truth to come out,” said McAllister.

The Kansas Board of Regents met with Wichita State University President Jay Golden on Wednesday, but took no action over the furor caused by Golden removing a prerecorded message by Ivanka Trump from WSU Tech’s commencement ceremony.

The Regents spent more than four hours in executive session with Golden. They then adjourned and directed people watching the virtual meeting to a statement.

The statement read:

TOPEKA, Kansas — County health departments in Kansas lacked the resources and manpower to swiftly ramp up “boots-on-the-ground” work when the coronavirus pandemic hit, new research suggests.

The work by researchers at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita sheds light on the state’s preparedness for the pandemic. Local health departments do much of the frontline work gathering test samples from sick people and tracking down others who may have been exposed.

It’s late afternoon on a ranch just outside of Easton, Kansas, 50 miles northwest of Kansas City. Ten cowboys decked out in paisley shirts, silk bandanas and fringed leather gloves drive a herd of horses through a pond. It’s like a movie set. But, instead of a film crew, artists are behind all the cameras. They’re here to take reference pictures to use as inspiration once they get back in the studio.

Kansas is about to find out the value of a NASCAR race without people in the stands.

Like every other sport and industry, NASCAR has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately we’ve had to endure layoffs as a company and we’ve had to furlough employees,” says Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway. “Both of those decisions were made so that when this is over, we will be a strong enough organization, as strong as possible, to move forward and survive in a post-COVID 19 environment.”

Kansas school districts are trying to budget for some pretty big unknowns right now.

No one knows if it will even be safe to have students in schools in August, and everyone’s worried about the $650 million hole COVID-19 blew in the state’s budget. Administrators are worried that if the state’s economy doesn’t rebound soon, they’ll have to make deep cuts in the middle of next school year.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Pharmaceutical companies and large hotel chains snatched up emergency COVID-19 federal loans meant for businesses typically with 500 or fewer employees.

WICHITA, Kansas — Educators say there was a silver lining when Kansas schools and campuses had to shut down because of the coronavirus: It was a chance to learn how to do remote learning right.

Now with college finals submitted and most K-12 schools in summer vacation mode, educators are reflecting on those two months of online teaching, especially knowing that some universities will have to do it again come fall (Wichita State plans online-only instruction after Thanksgiving).

Here are six things that Kansas professors and teachers say they’ve learned outside of the physical classroom.

WICHITA, Kansas — For the last two months, employees at Walnut Valley Packing in El Dorado have been working extra hours, even Saturdays, to cut, grind and package meat so it can keep up with a sudden spike in demand.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Fed-up with sticker shock from air ambulance bills, one insurer has pressed its case all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Expert Tip Sheet For Pushing Back Against Your Medical Bills

May 27, 2020

Got a medical bill that seems too high? First step: Ask if there’s been a mistake. Next step, fight back.

The tips below come from a dozen experts in law, medical billing and patient advocacy.

PITTSBURG, Kansas — Alvin Letner doesn’t remember signing the form where he promises to pay a medical bill of nearly $50,000 he hadn’t yet seen.

Much of that day in July 2019 is a blank for him. A dog ran onto the highway as he and other motorcyclists on a veterans fundraiser rode by. It knocked him off his antique BMW, breaking his neck, three ribs and an elbow.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas no longer will impose a statewide phased-in reopening plan, Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday.

In deciding to veto a bill that would have restricted her powers to respond to the coronavirus, she issued a new emergency declaration.

“This legislation creates more problems than it solves,” Kelly said. She argued it would ultimately delay coronavirus aid from the federal government. “This would only prolong the economic pain of this crisis.”

MANHATTAN, Kansas — Five Republicans running for the U.S. Senate debated farm issues in Manhattan on Saturday. They all described themselves as loyalists to President Donald Trump.

ANGIE HAFLICH / HIGH PLAINS PUBLIC RADIO

GRACIAS, GRACIAS

José Ambriz de Garden City tiene muchas responsabilidades para un joven de 18 años.

"Cada vez que me voy, le pregunto si necesita algo de la tienda o algo", dijo Ambriz, refiriéndose a su anciana madre, Soledad Salinas, que se ha quedado en el interior desde que el coronavirus comenzó a propagarse en la comunidad.

Angie Haflich/High Plains Public Radio

THANK YOU, THANK YOU

Jose Ambriz of Garden City has a lot of responsibilities for an 18-year-old.

“Every time I leave, I ask her if she needs anything from the store or anything,” Ambriz said, referring to his elderly mother, Soledad Salinas, who has mostly stayed indoors since the coronavirus began spreading in the community.

As businesses around Kansas reopen, and restrictions on everyday life are lifted, more people are wearing masks when out in public.

On a recent afternoon, Billy Chadwick is standing outside Tad's Carryout in Wichita, where he’s a cook. He wears a dark-blue mask — something he’s diligent about.

"I have asthma, but I go to other places I see people don’t be wearing them. They think this is a game," Chadwick said. "This ain't a game."

TOPEKA, Kansas — In a one-day marathon session that wrapped up a legislative year upended by the coronavirus, Kansas lawmakers reined in the governor’s powers to respond to the public health crisis.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly sharply criticized the all-night rush that drafted the bill, but she stopped short of threatening a veto. Instead, she said, she will read the legislation carefully and make a decision at a later date.

While most people across Kansas still slumber, trash truck crews start filing into work — and get their temperatures taken.

The people who haul debris to landfills shifted to working in a mask and doing their best to keep COVID-19 at bay a while ago. While the rest of the Kansas economy awakens from the coronavirus lockdown, trash crews already know the drill.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Starting Friday, Kansans can gather in slightly larger groups, take in a movie, go to an art museum and bowl a few frames.

But concerts, festivals, summer camps and parades will remain shut down. And you still won’t be able to get a drink at a bar.

At a news conference Tuesday a day before a meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House, Gov. Laura Kelly announced another round of gradually eased restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19.

Brighton Gardens of Prairie Village, a Kansas nursing home that is the site of a cluster of COVID-19 cases, was sued Monday for the wrongful death of one of its residents.

The lawsuit was filed by the family of Gordan Grohman, who was 88 when he died on May 1. It's the first of what is expected to be more such suits against Brighton Gardens.

“This is not just a failure of one employee, one nurse or anything like that. This goes all the way to the top,” said attorney Rachel Stahle.

Angie Haflich / High Plains Public Radio

Finney County residents will be able to get their haircut or get in a workout in starting Tuesday, despite a rapidly accelerating rate of increase in COVID-19 cases.

Finney County Commissioners — acting as the county’s board of health Monday — decided to follow the state’s reopening plan, which allows hair and nail salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors to open for pre-scheduled appointments. Gyms and fitness centers are also allowed to reopen, but without access to locker rooms or group classes.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — When Kansas lawmakers left for an early spring break in mid-March, the state was projected to have a healthy savings account of nearly $1 billion in reserves come June. They passed an $8 billion budget as the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning, not knowing whether they’d even come back to Topeka.

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