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Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff's Office

A man who is accused of killing three people because he believed that they were Jewish is arguing with the judge in his case.

OLATHE, Kan. -- A judge rejected a series of defense motions Friday in the death penalty case of a white supremacist charged with killing three people last year at two Jewish sites in Kansas.

Leonid Mamchenkov, flickr Creative Commons

KANSAS CITY, Mo.--Mars Inc. announced plans Wednesday for a $100 million expansion of its candy-making plant in Kansas, a facility that was the company's first new plant in 35 years.

The deal, which the company disclosed in advance of a Topeka economic development meeting, comes a little more than a year after the New Jersey-based company opened its $270 million plant south of the city.

Hugo Phan file photo

The American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that a federal court needs to directly strike down the same-sex marriage ban in Kansas in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

Its latest filing Tuesday in the ongoing lawsuit opposes the state's efforts to have the case simply dismissed as moot now that such marriages are recognized. It contends courts across the country have since implemented the Supreme Court's decision by entering final judgments, not by dismissing cases.

Jeffrey Beall, flickr Creative Commons

A religious liberty group is now threatening to sue over the ongoing Native American sweat lodge dispute at the VA hospital in Wichita.

The Liberty Institute sent another letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs alleging discrimination against Native American religious practices of veterans at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The sweat lodge's spiritual leader, who is a substance-abuse counselor at the center, has been indefinitely suspended. Members of the sweat lodge have been unable to meet for religious worship there without him.

Bloomsberries, flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas council that reviews legal issues plans to study expanding the state's Open Records Act to cover officials' emails about public business on private accounts.

The Kansas Judicial Council says it is forming a committee that is expected to meet once a month, starting Aug. 7 through November.

The chairmen of the Kansas House and Senate Judiciary committees requested the study.

Governor Sam Brownback's chief spokeswoman says the governor's recent executive order on same-sex marriage does not apply to local governments.

Spokeswoman Eileen Hawley issued a statement yesterday in response to criticism from the group Equality Kansas.

The order this week protects clergy, churches and religious groups that refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or to provide goods, services or accommodations for them.

The order says state agencies and political subdivisions shall not punish them for acting on their opposition to same-sex marriage.

wikipedia.org

A small liberal arts college in Lindsborg has received a more severe sanction from the Higher Learning Commission than what was recommended earlier this year.

The Salina Journal reports that Bethany College, which has been running deficits for the past eight years, has been placed on probation by the commission.

The commission, which provides accreditation to colleges across the nation, has given the college until November 2016 to document a resolution of its financial issues.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has been appointed to a committee established by the national group for state attorneys general to study legal issues surrounding agriculture.

Schmidt's office said his membership was confirmed Tuesday for the new National Association of Attorneys General panel.

The Republican attorney general is a former chairman of the Kansas Senate Agriculture Committee and served in the Senate for 10 years before being elected to the statewide office in 2010.

Agrilife Today, flickr Creative Commons

The latest government update shows the 2015 winter wheat harvest is nearing completion in some parts of Kansas, and making good progress everywhere else.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that harvest statewide was 79 percent finished. That is ahead of the 66 percent cut at this time last year, but still behind the 83 percent average for this date.

Jack Snell, flickr Creative Commons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Amtrak routes across Kansas and Missouri could keep running under a tentative agreement reached in a dispute over federally required safety systems, officials said Monday.

The rail passenger service had warned it might stop or reroute its Southwest Chief line through Kansas and to end its River Runner service between Kansas City and St. Louis because of disagreements over who would pay to install safety technology designed to prevent traffic accidents caused by human error. The disagreement centered on lines used to route trains through the Kansas City area.

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