Top Morning News 4.24.13 (UPDATED)
Updated at 9:45 am
Kansas government jobs, but not benefits, up last year; Former cheerleading coach convicted on sex crimes; Brownback calls KU an innovation institution; Lesser prairie chickens up for endangered species list; Shawnee to retry a capital murder case; ACLU demands records on a school assembly held in southwest Kansas.
KS Government Jobs Up Last Year, Though Most Lack Benefits
The number of people working for Kansas state government increased last year, but most of the growth was in temporary jobs with no benefits.
The Kansas Department of Administration says the state employed just shy of 70,000 people in fiscal year 2013. That's an increase of 143 jobs from the last fiscal year. Of those total numbers, the state cut 937 regular positions but added 1,080 temporary positions. Only 103 of those temporary jobs included benefits.
The report shows the state shifted toward unclassified employees, who are not protected by the civil service system from being fired or demoted. The state had 989 fewer classified employees in fiscal 2013, and 1,132 more unclassified employees.
Former Cheerleading Coach Faces Life In Prison For Sex With Students
A 29-year-old former cheerleading coach from Wichita could face up to life in prison after being convicted of a series of sex crimes on Tuesday.
Timothy Wells-Lee was convicted of sex crimes involving four of his female students.
Wells-Lee has denied having sexual relationships with three of the students, and says the sexual relationship with the fourth student began after she was over the legal age of 16.
Brownback Calls KU 'Great Innovation Institution'
Gov. Brownback visited the University of Kansas in Lawrence on Tuesday.
He met with school officials and student leaders as part of a tour to promote higher education in the state.
Brownback called KU a "great innovation institution" and highlighted its role in the Kansas economy.
"We've really got some momentum moving forward in job creation off our universities, providing excellence in education, which is a primary issue for us," said Brownback. "And we just want to keep that momentum growing and building."
State legislators are proposing cuts to higher education funding for the 2014 budget. The governor hopes to keep that funding at current levels.
Brownback visited Wichita State and Butler Community College on Monday. He continues his tour Wednesday at Pittsburg State University.
Lesser Prairie Chicken Up For Threatened Species List
State officials will soon hold an online meeting about the possibility of granting the lesser prairie chicken federal protection.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide by September whether to add the lesser prairie chicken to the nation's list of threatened species.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Park and Tourism, and the Kansas State Research and Extension office will host the online information session for anyone interested in the listing process.
Speakers from the department, the Farm Services Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide background on the lesser prairie chicken's listing status. They will also explain programs aimed at improving the bird's habitat.
The online meeting is scheduled for April 30 at 7 p.m.
Shawnee DA To Retry Capital Murder Case
A Kansas prosecutor says he's planning to retry a capital murder suspect rather than ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the man's convictions for killing two women in Topeka.
ACLU Demands Records On Kansas School's Assemblies
The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding more information from a southwest Kansas school district about assemblies this week that featured a speaker from a creationist group.
The ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri has requested the Hugoton district release emails between its staff and employees of the Oklahoma-based Creation Truth Foundation.
The ACLU also wants copies of materials used at the assemblies and other documents.
Hugoton Superintendent Mark Crawford says that his district would fulfill the ACLU's request.
But he said the group tried to intimidate the district into canceling the assemblies.
The ACLU criticized the assemblies as an opportunity to promote creationism. Crawford said creationism wasn't mentioned even though speaker Matt Miles is a foundation instructor.