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Kansas at 12:05 a.m.
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STATE GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS:
TOPEKA — A top Kansas Republican sought Wednesday to quell criticism of a proposal to eliminate tenure for public school teachers approved by the Legislature as part of a court-mandated school funding plan, suggesting the anti-tenure measure is not as harsh as portrayed. House Speaker Ray Merrick's office released a memo from the Legislature's nonpartisan legal staff to support his argument that the proposal does not strip all teachers facing dismissal of their right to an independent administrative review. The same memo, dated Tuesday, also noted that the measure doesn't change teachers' rights to bargain collectively with individual school boards to preserve rights now being lost. By Political Writer John Hanna. SENT: 520 words.
KANSAS EDUCATION COMMISSIONER
TOPEKA — Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said Wednesday she is resigning next month to become an adviser to the chief education official in a major Middle Eastern city. State Board of Education members praised DeBacker as an innovative leader who guided the board's and the State Department of Education's work on complex issues that included technical education, teacher licensing rules and multistate academic standards for reading, math and science. The board named DeBacker as acting commissioner in 2009 and promoted her to commissioner the following year. By John Hanna. SENT: 390 words, photos.
AROUND THE STATE:
WICHITA — A program touted as a community-based alternative to costly nursing home care for the elderly is making a major expansion in Kansas. The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, now serves eight Kansas counties. Soon it will be available in 59 counties, all in eastern and central Kansas. Thirty states have PACE programs. By Roxana Hegeman. SENT: 420 words.
TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas physician who admitted allowing unlicensed staff members to distribute controlled substances at his pain clinic was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than half a million dollars in fines and forfeitures. Michael P. Schuster, 54, of Manhattan, Kan., pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances at his Manhattan Pain and Spine clinic from April 2007 to August 2012. In his plea, Schuster admitted allowing staff members to distribute drugs to his patients using blank prescription pads he had signed in advance. SENT: 330 words.
RICHMOND, Va. — The White House and the federal government have won the dubious honor of a "Jefferson Muzzle" for snooping on the news media and limiting access. The censorship-shaming awards announced Wednesday by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression are intended to draw a harsh light on people and institutions that engage in the most egregious affronts to the First Amendment. Other recipients included the governing board of Kansas' public universities. A new board policy says faculty members who use social media to disrupt "harmony among co-workers" or make comments deemed "contrary to the best interest of the university" can be fired. The policy was a reaction to a faculty member's statements on his personal Twitter. By Steve Szkotak. SENT: 580 words.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police have linked several apparently random shootings in the past month targeting vehicles on Kansas City-area roads and highways, but they didn't say Wednesday how many are connected or how they came to that conclusion. Inconsistent statements by witnesses and the possibility that some of the incidents were isolated cases of road rage have made it difficult to pin down an exact number of vehicles involved, Kansas City, Mo., police said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. Investigators also are not releasing information on suspect vehicles. SENT: 240 words.
TOPEKA SCHOOL BOND
TOPEKA — Topeka voters have approved a $143 million school bond issue that is partly aimed at helping enhance school safety measures. Early results show voters in Topeka Unified School District 501 approved the $143 million bond issue Tuesday. Results of the mail-in vote showed 65 percent of the ballots cast supported the issue. Results were expected to be finalized Monday. SENT: 180 words.
— KANSAS REGENTS-BUDGET — Leaders of the Kansas Board of Regents are pleased with legislative approval of a higher education budget that partly restores salary cuts imposed last year.
— E-CIGARETTE BAN — Reno County commissioners have approved a ban on all electronic cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles because people might put illegal substances in them.
— FEATHER SALES-SENTENCE — An Oklahoma man has been sentenced in Kansas for selling feathers from federally protected eagles and hawks to undercover federal agent.
— CHEROKEE COUNTY-VOTERS — Authorities in southeast Kansas say more than 4,800 voters may have been incorrectly removed from Cherokee County voter rolls.
KANSAS CITY — Kansas freshman Joel Embiid is entering the NBA draft after a breakthrough season that ended with a stress fracture in his back that kept the 7-footer out of the NCAA tournament. Embiid had been mulling whether to return for his sophomore season for weeks. He said during a news conference Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse that he reached his decision Sunday. By Sports Writer Dave Skretta. SENT: 750 words.
— RUN--KU RELAYS-STADIUM — Lawrence city commissioners have granted a permit to allow the Kansas Relays to be held at the new Rock Chalk Park later this month. APNewsNow.
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