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KANSAS-STATE OF STATE

Kansas governor pushes for highway plan, Medicaid expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is calling for a new program to improve the state's roads and bridges and has urged state lawmakers to approve a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan. In her annual State of the State address Wednesday, the Democratic governor warned the Republican-controlled Legislature that she is likely to veto the income tax cuts that GOP lawmakers are pursuing. Kelly promised her own tax cuts but signaled that they will be relatively modest initiatives dealing with the sales tax on groceries and property taxes. Kelly called for a new transportation program to follow one the state is winding down.

AP-US-KANSAS-RESEARCHER-INDICTMENT

Indictment: Kansas researcher secretly worked for China

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A revised indictment alleges a Kansas associate professor with concealed work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas and tried to recruit other researchers and students for the Chinese government. A superseding indictment filed Wednesday charges 47-year-old Feng “Franklin” Tao of Lawrence, Kansas, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of program fraud for failing to disclose  the work he was doing for China while employed at the university in Kansas. Prosecutors say some of the Tao's research  was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. His defense attorney did not immediately return after-hours phone and email messages.

BABY ABUSE-POT OPERATION

Upgraded charges expected after Wichita baby dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 9-month-old Wichita girl who was seriously injured earlier this week has died. Police say Maela Flores died Wednesday after being in critical condition since Friday. Her mother's boyfriend, 25-year-old Brietan Ron Rader, was charged Tuesday with two counts of child abuse and two drug charges after the girl was injured. Wichita office Charley Davidson said he expects Rader will be charged with first-degree murder in Maela's death. Police said earlier that Rader was arrested after officers found the girl critically injured in an apartment that had a marijuana-growing operation. Investigators determined the girl’s injuries happened while Rader was caring for her.

HOSPITAL CLOSING

Company closes Boonville hospital with short notice

BOONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas hospital company abruptly closed a central Missouri hospital because of regulatory issues. Pinnacle Regional Hospital announced Wednesday that its Boonville hospital would close by the end of the day. The hospital said in a statement that conversations with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services led officials to decide it would be too costly to bring the hospital into compliance and make necessary repairs. Boonville, a town of about 8,400 people, will also lose a clinic and a rehab facility. Emergency department staff will remain at the hospital for two weeks to help walk-in patients. Pinnacle is based in Overland Park, Kansas.

KANSAS VOTING LAW

New law on polling places likely won't be ready this year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Scott Schwab says it is unlikely a new law that allows Kansans to vote at the polling station most convenient to them will be in place for this year's election.  Schwab told the state Senate election committee Tuesday that technical considerations made drafting regulations for the law difficult, meaning the program won't be ready until next year. He says if his office tried to rush the process for this year, mistakes would be made. The change was part of a voting reform bill signed last year by Gov. Laura Kelly.

AP-US-ACTRESS-MURDER-CHARGE

Actress charged in mom's stabbing death claims self-defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Court records say an actress accused of killing her mom in suburban Kansas City told 911 operators and police that she was acting in self-defense. But medical examiners found no signs to support her claims. Thirty-eight-year-old Mollie Fitzgerald had a small role in the movie “Captain America: The First Avenger.” She's charged with second-degree murder in the death last month of 68-year-old Patricia Fitzgerald. Court records show she told police her mom tried to stab her and she managed to take away the knife. The records were released Tuesday, the same day that a judge ordered that Mollie Fitzgerald undergo a mental competency evaluation.

COAL POWER PLANT-KANSAS

Sunflower Electric abandons proposed Kansas coal power plant

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sunflower Electric Power Corp. has abandoned its proposed coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas after nearly 15 years of pushing for the project, handing a huge victory to environmentalists who opposed the plan from the start. The utility said in a news release Wednesday that it will allow the air permit for the Holcomb expansion project to expire on March 27. Sunflower Electric already operates one plant near Holcomb and had proposed building an adjacent $2.2 billion, 895-megawatt facility. Sunflower Electric and development partner, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, together invested more than $100 million in the now-abandoned project.

BABY ABUSED-POT OPERATION

Man charged with critically injuring girlfriend's baby

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors allege in court documents that a Kansas man shook his girlfriend's 9-month-old daughter and either tortured or “cruelly beat" her before she was found with critical injuries amid a marijuana-growing operation. The Wichita Eagle reports that 25-year-old Brietan Ron Rader was charged Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court with two counts of child abuse and one count each of marijuana cultivation and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested Friday at an apartment where investigators determined that the girl was injured while in his care. He is jailed on $250,000 bond.