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Kansas at 5 p.m.
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TOPEKA — A Kansas House committee is preparing to consider a proposal to phase in sales of strong beer, wine and liquor at grocery and convenience stores. The House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee's debate Thursday represents a key test for backers of the bill. Committee approval would send it to the House for debate. By John Hanna. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words by 6 p.m.
STATE GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS:
KANSAS DEATH PENALTY
TOPEKA — Kansas death penalty opponents said Wednesday a bill that would shorten the appeals process amounts to a "leaky Band-Aid" on a broken system. At issue is a bill approved by the Senate last month that would set a limit of three and six months for the appeals to be prepared by attorneys, argued and decided by the seven-member Kansas Supreme Court. There is currently no time limit. By John Milburn. SENT: 440 words.
AROUND THE STATE:
WICHITA — A federal judge handed a key legal victory Wednesday to landowners battling a Nebraska gas firm in a lawsuit over the condemnation of more than 9,100 acres spanning three counties in south-central Kansas. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot ruled Northern Natural Gas lost its ownership interest in gas seeping from an underground storage facility. The judge ruled the company must pay landowners "just compensation" for the value of any storage gas and native gas that lies underneath their land in the condemnation proceedings now underway. By Roxana Hegeman. SENT: 530 words.
MISSOURI RIVER FLOODING-LAWSUIT
OMAHA, Neb. — A group of farmers and business owners sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday, seeking compensation for claims the agency mismanaged the Missouri River since 2006 and contributed to major flooding in five states. The federal lawsuit claims some plaintiffs experienced extensive damage — particularly during the extended 2011 flooding that devastated hundreds of thousands of acres of mostly farmland in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. By Josh Funk. SENT: 540 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words.
HUTCHINSON — The wife of Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce says in a court petition over her recent arrest for driving under the influence that she was unlawfully stopped and never refused to take a breath test. Sarah Bruce, of Nickerson, was arrested Dec. 11, 2013, in Hutchison on suspicion of DUI. She faces charges including refusing the request of law enforcement to submit to a preliminary screening test of her breath, driving in a manner that interfered with other traffic and operating a vehicle while the alcohol concentration in her breath was .159. SENT: 410 words.
LAWRENCE — The university of Kansas has announced a partnership with a Massachusetts company to recruit international students to the school. Shorelight Education, based in Cambridge, Mass., will recruit international students into the university's new Academic Accelerator Program, The Lawrence Journal-World reported. SENT: 350 words.
UNION STATION-CASH SURPLUS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After years of struggles, Kansas City's Union Station appears to be on solid financial footing, having recorded its fourth straight year of having more than $1 million in surplus cash, station officials said. Year-end numbers approved Tuesday by the station's board of directors showed a $1.8 million surplus before depreciation. The surplus was attributed in part to a popular exhibit on pirates, the success of first-run movies on the digital 3-D Extreme Screen and increased revenue from Science City and the planetarium, The Kansas City Star reported. SENT: 270 words.
FINNEY COUNTY-TAX PASSES
GARDEN CITY — Finney County voters have approved extending a quarter-cent sales tax, with most of the revenue intended for a new county building in Garden City. Unofficial results showed the issue passed Tuesday by 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent, with less than 7 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, The Garden City Telegram reported. SENT: 260 words.
— BANK EMPLOYEES-EMBEZZLEMENT — One of four women charged with embezzling money from a southwest Kansas bank has been sentenced to three years of federal probation.
— PREGNANT TEEN KILLED — A Sedgwick County judge says he won't order a new capital murder trial for a Wichita man convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl.
— NUNS-NEWMAN GIFT — The order of nuns who founded Newman University in Wichita has given $2.5 million to the university.
— ANIMAL SHELTER DONATION — A 93-year-old Hutchinson woman who died in May left a lasting legacy to her city's animal shelter.
— CAPTAIN PHILLIPS — The man portrayed by actor Tom Hanks in the Oscar-nominated movie "Captain Phillips" is scheduled to give a lecture in Hutchinson later this year.
— TOPEKA FAMILY-UKRAINE ADOPTIONS — A Topeka couple trying to bring their four adopted children home from Ukraine remain stuck in the capital city of Kiev, awaiting passports from the new government.
BKC--WICHITA STATE'S RUN
ST. LOUIS — The last school to go unbeaten in the regular season, St. Joseph's in 2004, lost its first game in the Atlantic 10 tournament by 20 points to Xavier. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall plans on throwing that factoid at his players before the Missouri Valley Tournament. The reminder: No one's invincible, but it's also not the end of the world if they lose. St. Joseph's advanced to the East Regional in 2004 before losing to Oklahoma State. By Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words.
LAWRENCE — Eighth-ranked Kansas will be without star center Joel Embiid, who is dealing with a back injury, when it faces Texas Tech in the Jayhawks' final regular-season game at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas beat the Red Raiders in Lubbock earlier this season. By Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m. CST. With hometown lead on losing team.
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