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Conservative losses, factory shooting among Kansas’ top news

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Election losses for conservatives and a mass shooting in Hesston were among the top 10 stories in Kansas in 2016. The full list is:

ELECTION

Kansas took a more moderate turn due to mounting discontent over budget shortfalls, education funding and sales and cigarette tax increases.

Eleven GOP legislators were ousted in the general election and 14 GOP conservatives lost in the primary. In Congress, incumbent tea party favorite Tim Huelskamp lost a Republican primary challenge to Roger Marshall, an obstetrician who went on to win the 1st District seat.

Kansas voters also retained five Kansas Supreme Court justices despite a bitter election challenge from those critical of their rulings on the death penalty, abortion and school funding.

Multiple federal and state courts forced Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to put on voting rolls for the election people who registered to vote at motor vehicle offices or with a federal form, even if they do not provide documentary proof of citizenship.

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SHOOTINGS-KANSAS BUSINESS

A gunman killed three people in February at a Hesston lawnmower factory. About 300 people were working at Excel Industries when Cedric L. Ford, armed with an assault-type rifle and a pistol, opened fire. Fourteen were wounded, including two people Ford shot as he drove to the plant. Ford was killed by the local police chief.

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SOMALIS TARGETED

Three members of an anti-Muslim militia group were charged in October with plotting to bomb an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live and worship in the meatpacking town of Garden City. They have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Two of the men also face firearms charges.

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WATER PARK FATALITY

The 10-year-old son of a Kansas state lawmaker died in August on a water slide that was billed as the world’s largest. It still isn’t clear what happened to Caleb Thomas Schwab on the 168-foot-tall “Verruckt” – German for “insane” – at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City. Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts subsequently announced plans to remove the slide.

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BUDGET

Kansas’ budget situation worsened – a projected shortfall of more than $ 345 million in the current budget and a total of $ 1.1 billion of gaps in funding for existing programs through June 2019.

Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since Republican legislators slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Gov. Sam Brownback’s urging in an effort to stimulate the economy. The Republican governor continues to blame slumps in agriculture and energy production for the state’s current budget problems.

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OFFICERS SHOT

Two Kansas City officers were shot and killed within less than three months. Capt. Robert Melton was slain in July while searching for a suspect in a drive-by shooting. Melton was part of the police honor guard for Det. Brad Lancaster, who was fatally shot in early May near the Kansas Speedway.

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FATAL SHOOTINGS-MANHUNT

Prosecutors allege that a Mexican national killed his neighbor and three other men in March at his neighbor’s home in Kansas City and later gunned down another man in Missouri while on the run. Pablo Serrano-Vitorino is charged with five counts of first-degree murder – four in Kansas and one in Missouri – among other charges.

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TRAIN DERAILMENT

An Amtrak passenger train derailed in March and injured more than two dozen people near Cimarron, where a feed truck had caused damage to the track. Damage from the derailment was estimated at more than $ 1.4 million.

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SHOOTING-MISSING BABY

Authorities allege a Dallas woman killed a Wichita mother and took her baby in November. She had been arrested several months earlier in Wichita when she allegedly threatened another woman with a knife and tried to hold the women’s two daughters for ransom. Although she was in the country illegally, she had been released from jail before immigration officials had a chance to request she be held.

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WILDFIRES

The biggest fires in Kansas history scorched nearly 600 square miles of sparsely populated land in the southern part of the state and neighboring Oklahoma in March. Several buildings were lost, but no serious injuries were reported

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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