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Gage Skidmore, flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Sam Brownback is making an announcement about the Department of Corrections at a prison that has seen at least three significant disturbances in recent months.

Lawmakers and the state employees' union have urged the administration to address chronic staffing shortages and low pay among Kansas corrections workers. The governor's office has not disclosed what Brownback will say Thursday afternoon at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

kslegislature.org

Another Kansas state lawmaker has become the third Republican to enter the race to succeed retiring GOP U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Rep. Kevin Jones of Wellsville in east-central Kansas' Franklin County announced his candidacy Wednesday for the 2nd Congressional District seat held by Lynn Jenkins.

Forty-two-year-old Jones has served in the legislature since 2013.

Jenkins has represented the 2nd District since 2009. After being re-elected in 2016, the GOP congresswoman revealed her intention not to seek another term in 2018.

Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office

A federal judge has thrown out one of the charges against a Kansas man accused of plotting to attack Somali immigrants in the meatpacking town of Garden City.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren granted a defense motion to dismiss a firearms charge against Curtis Allen. The decision comes in the wake of a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal panel's ruling in May in an unrelated case that found that a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery under a city ordinance can legally carry a gun.

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Gov. Sam Brownback's spokeswoman is stepping down within days, ahead of his anticipated departure.

The governor announced Melika Willoughby's resignation today as communications director, effective Friday. She'll become vice president of communications and strategic development for Forge Leadership Network, which identifies and mentors young conservatives.

Willoughby joined Brownback's office in 2014 as deputy communications chief. She's been part of his senior staff since November.

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas corrections officials expect the next prison built by the state to be fully air-conditioned, including the cells for inmates.

They view climate control as a way to lessen problems with inmates and to help combat high employee turnover.

Some lawmakers who don't want to coddle criminals also see a need to make corrections officers less miserable in the summer heat.

Plans to air-condition the new prison in Lansing in the Kansas City area also come as a federal judge is forcing Texas to move hundreds of inmates sensitive to the heat to cooler areas.

www.westarenergyblog.com

The CEO of Westar says the utility and Great Plains Energy will file their new merger plan with Kansas regulators later this month.

CEO Mark Ruelle says meetings will be scheduled later this year for a shareholder vote on the proposal.

Ruelle updated investors yesterday [Wednesday] on the second plan to combine the utilities. The Kansas Corporation Commission rejected a proposal in April for the $12.2 billion sale of Westar to Great Plains.

Ruelle says paperwork will be filed with state and federal entities by the end of August.

Kansas State Historical Society

Morris Communications is selling its 11 daily newspapers and other publications in those markets to New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media Inc. New Media said Wednesday it purchased Morris Publishing Group, the newspaper division of Georgia-based Morris Communications, for $120 million.

The sale includes The Topeka Capital-Journal and daily newspapers in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Alaska. A news release said it should be finalized in October. GateHouse Media owns more than 130 daily newspapers and other publications in 36 U.S. states.

Joe Gratz / flickr Creative Commons

A federal appeals court ruling will force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to answer questions under oath about plans to change U.S. election law.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied the Kansas Republican's request for an emergency stay of his deposition by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kobach's office declined to comment on the decision.

sedgwickcounty.org

The Sedgwick County Commission had decided to tear down a longtime ranch for troubled boys.

The commission voted Wednesday to approve contracts to remove asbestos and then demolish the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch near Goddard. The property will be returned to park land for Lake Afton Park.

The decision comes after years of debate on the fate of the ranch, which opened in the 1960s. It was owned by the state but operated by Sedgwick County. The center closed in 2014 after the state refused to increase payments to help the county fund operations.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas says it collected $7.6 million more in taxes than anticipated in July during its first month under an income tax increase approved by legislators.

The Department of Revenue reported Tuesday that the state collected $453.5 million in taxes. That's 1.7 percent more than the official projection of almost $446 million.

The surplus in July collections came after the state ended its 2017 fiscal year on June 30 with tax collections exceeding expectations by $72 million, or 1 percent. Total tax collections for fiscal 2017 surpassed $5.8 billion.

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