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ELECTION 2020-HOUSE-KANSAS 2ND

Democrats add Kansas Rep. Watkins' seat to list of targets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An arm of the national Democratic Party has added Republican Rep. Steve Watkins' seat in Kansas to its list of targeted congressional races this year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Thursday in a memo that the 2nd District of eastern Kansas “presents an opportunity.” The group's announcement came less than two weeks after Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla launched her campaign for the seat as a Democrat. Watkins is a former Army officer who won the seat by less 1 percentage point in November 2018 after emerging from a crowded GOP primary with less than 27% of the vote.

BOEING 737 MAX-KANSAS

Kansas says it's better prepared now for aviation layoffs

Kansas Labor Secretary Delia Garcia says the state is better prepared today to respond to layoffs from the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max than it was during the Great Recession, when it had to borrow money to prop up its unemployment insurance trust fund. That fund now has about $1 billion in it — money that could be tapped now for its shared work program that helps pay worker salaries to keep them on the job. Spirit AeroSystems announced last week plans to layoff off 2,800 workers. Since then, 10 companies have inquired about the program.

KANSAS RESEARCHER-INDICTMENT

Attorney: Kansas researcher denies concealing Chinese work

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a Kansas researcher accused of concealing work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas is hitting back against a new indictment against his client. Lawyer Peter Zeidenberg said Thursday that the case against Feng “Franklin” Tao has nothing to do with the Chinese government's alleged attempts obtain U.S. intellectual property. A superseding indictment charged Tao with two counts of wire fraud and one count of program fraud for failing to disclose on conflict-of-interest forms the work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas.

ABORTION-KANSAS

Kansas abortion measure's fate may rest on when vote is set

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The fate of a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution could depend more on when it would appear on the ballot than the language being considered by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Supporters of the proposal for overturning last year's Kansas Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights announced Thursday that they want to put their measure on the August primary ballot. They believe the measure has a better chance of passing in that lower-turnout election than in the November general election. But some moderate Republicans want the question decided in the higher-turnout election and worry about the measure helping conservative candidates in a primary.

KANSAS BUDGET

Kansas governor seeks to use cash reserves to pay off debt

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is proposing that Kansas burn through more than half of its cash reserves to pay off some debt early. The proposed budget she released Thursday would do that while taking longer to close a long-term funding gap for the state pension system for teachers and government workers. Kelly's budget director, Larry Campbell, outlined her spending blueprint during a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees. He told reporters that it “smooths out the ride” for state government. Her spending plan anticipates expanding Kansas' Medicaid program at a cost of $35 million a year to the state.

WOMAN KILLED

Man booked into jail after sister's body found in Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his sister in Overland Park. Twenty-seven-year-old Parker Mays of Lawrence, was charged Thursday in the death of 22-year-old Layne Mays. His is being held on $1 million bond. Police say Layne Mays' mother found her body Tuesday in her parents' Overland Park home. Police have not yet said how she died. A Kansas State University spokeswoman said Layne Mays was enrolled there through the fall 2019 semester but was not enrolled for the upcoming spring semester. She studied animal science and rode with the school's equestrian team.

FORMER HIGHWAY PATROL SUPERINTENDENT

Former Highway Patrol superintendent seeks reinstatement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas Highway Patrol superintendent is asking the state Supreme Court to force Gov. Laura Kelly to reinstate him. Mark Bruce resigned under pressure in April after questions arose about an alleged domestic violence incident involving another official in the patrol. Bruce filed a petition Wednesday asking the state Supreme Court to order Kelly and the patrol to rehire him as a major. Bruce says he wants to clear his name. He says he's asked Kelly and the patrol to reinstate him several times but they have refused. Kelly spokeswoman Dena Sattler said the governor’s office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

JUVENILE MURDER CHARGE

Jurors acquit teen who said he didn't know gun was loaded

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teen who said he didn't know a gun was loaded when he fatally shot a 14-year-old friend has been acquitted of second-degree murder. The Kansas City Star reports that the jury delivered its verdict Wednesday in the case against the Roeland Park teen, who was 13 years old in August when he shot and killed Zavier Mendoza in a home in nearby Olathe. The teen, who is now 14, was with with Mendoza and two other teens when the group found a handgun while stealing from cars and played with the gun. The defendant said he didn't realize it was loaded.