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TOPEKA — While some Kansas educators see the state's new science standards for public schools as a leap forward for encouraging innovative teaching and strengthening class offerings, a nonprofit education group thinks the opposite is the case. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute gives a C grade to the new, multistate standards adopted by Kansas, a full letter grade lower than the state's previous standards. By John Hanna.
INNOVATIVE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
TOPEKA — The State Board of Education is reviewing the application process for a new program that allows 10 percent of the Kansas school districts seek designation as innovative districts. The law passed by the 2013 Legislature is aimed at improving student achievement by giving districts relief from certain rules and regulations. By John Milburn.
WICHITA — A former jailer sued the Ellis County Sheriff's Department Wednesday claiming he was fired in retaliation for reporting a co-worker who allegedly threatened to repeatedly use a stun gun on a handcuffed inmate. Attorneys for David Vaughan of Hays filed a federal lawsuit in Kansas alleging violations under the Kansas Whistleblower Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. By Roxana Hegeman.
TOPEKA — A certified public accountant from Leawood who's also an insurance industry executive launched a campaign Wednesday for the Republican nomination for Kansas insurance commissioner. Ken Selzer announced that he's running for the regulatory position, and he'll face at least two other candidates in the GOP primary in August 2014. The incumbent commissioner, Republican Sandy Praeger, is not expected to run again, having said last year that she's very unlikely to seek a third, four-year term. By Political Writer John Hanna.
TOPEKA — A state consumer agency is alleging that the Kansas Corporation Commission violated the state's open meeting law when it approved a water rate increase without a public vote. The Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board filed a complaint Tuesday over the KCC's decision to allow a private water provider in Salina a total rate increase of $47,231 — a 127 percent increase for customers.
TOPEKA — A former NASA communications official who also is an astronaut's wife will be Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's new chief spokeswoman, the governor's office announced Wednesday. Brownback's office said Eileen Hawley will join his staff June 24 as communications director and press secretary. Hawley will replace Sherriene Jones-Sontag, who will become deputy director of the Kansas Lottery next month.
CROP REPORT-RAINY SPRING
DES MOINES, Iowa — Corn farmers are feeling the impact of a cool, wet spring but are still expected to bring in a record crop this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its monthly report released Wednesday that farmers are expected to bring in 14 billion bushels of corn this year. That's 135 million bushels less than last month's estimate, reflecting the impact of the cooler spring. But that would still beat 2009's 13.1 billion bushel record. Last year, farmers harvested only about 11 billion bushels because of the drought. By David Pitt.
KANSAS HALL OF FAME
TOPEKA — Superman, the inventor of basketball, 1970s rock band Kansas and the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment are among the 2013 class of inductees in the Kansas Hall of Fame. Dr. James Naismith, who moved to Lawrence from Massachusetts in 1898, brought basketball to the University of Kansas and helped put the sport on the map. He and other inductees will be honored June 21 at a ceremony at Washburn University.
SEDGWICK COUNTY-PROTECTION ORDERS
WICHITA — About half of the orders for protection from abuse and stalking get served in Sedgwick County, which has been working on ways to improve its success rate.
RENO COUNTY-GUN EXEMPTION
HUTCHINSON — Reno County Commissioners have voted to seek to exempt for one year all public county buildings from the state's new law mandating concealed carry or building security. By John Green, The Hutchinson News.
— DODGE CITY GANG-PLEAS — Three more members of a Dodge City gang targeted in a federal racketeering crackdown have pleaded guilty to criminal charges.
— TRIBES-HOUSING GRANTS — A federal agency has awarded grants totaling more than $1 million to two American Indian tribes in northeast Kansas for affordable housing.
— CHILD RAPE-LIFE SENTENCE — A Kansas man will spend at least 25 years in prison for the rape of a young girl who told police she was repeatedly abused over a period of years.
— KANSAS HEAT — Record-breaking heat is settling in over parts of western Kansas, and there's concern that gusting winds could create a fire hazard.
— KANSAS WHEAT — A new government forecast for the size of the 2013 Kansas winter wheat crop reflects improvements amid the state's wet spring weather.
— KANSAS-TAXES — Gov. Sam Brownback has scheduled two ceremonies to sign a tax bill that makes additional cuts to the Kansas income tax rate while lowering the sales tax rate.
— SOC--MLS-ORLANDO CITY-SPORTING KC. Wednesday night's game at Kansas City, Kan.
The AP-Kansas City