State Briefs

4/8/2014

Legislature funds Wichita State program

Legislature funds Wichita State program

TOPEKA (AP) — Wichita State University officials are celebrating after the Kansas Legislature approved $2 million for a new effort to create more technology jobs.

The university also will get back some of the millions it lost last year when lawmakers cut its budget and put a cap on some employees' salaries.

Wichita State wants to create an Innovation Campus by forming partnerships with companies, which will be housed in four buildings on campus.

The Wichita Eagle reports the effort to attract and train technology jobs is designed to make the city's economy more diverse and less dependent on aviation companies.

The Legislature gave the university discretion in how it will use the money, whether for building the complex or paying operating costs.

Governor signs Kansas jobless tax bill

TOPEKA (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill that he says will save Kansas employers about $42 million by adjusting their payments to the fund that pays benefits to unemployed workers.

Brownback had a signing ceremony Tuesday at Cerner Corp. in Kansas City. Executives from the electronic health records company attended, as well as state Labor Secretary Lana Gordon and officials of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Brownback's office says the bill will lower payments for about 44,000 businesses. Employers who've paid more into the fund than their workers have received in benefits will see a 15 percent cut in rates.

The measure also provides a discounted rate to non-construction employers who open businesses in Kansas.

Lawmakers OK tougher Medicaid fraud law

TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is praising legislators for unanimously approving a measure to increase penalties for defrauding the state's Medicaid program.

Schmidt said Monday the bill approved over the weekend also would make it easier to fine people who file false Medicaid claims. The Medicaid program is funded jointly by states and the federal government and provides health coverage for the needy and disabled.

Kansas law now carries a presumed sentence of two years' probation for a first-time offender convicted of defrauding Medicaid of $25,000 or more.

Under the bill, a person defrauding Medicaid of between $100,000 and $250,000 would face nearly three years in prison. Someone defrauding the program of $250,000 or more would face almost five years in prison.

Cosmosphere bell going to Germany

HUTCHINSON (AP) — The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson is preparing to launch the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule on a trip to Germany.

The capsule, flown by Gus Grissom in a 1961 space flight, will leave the Cosmosphere in August to be part of an exhibit in Bonn, Germany from October to February 2015.

The Hutchinson News reports the Cosmosphere is planning an exhibit beginning May 10 that will showcase the artifacts from Grissom's 15-minute suborbital space flight, including survival gear, medical equipment and personal items he had on board.

The Liberty Bell sank in the Atlantic Ocean after Grissom's flight. It was recovered in 1999 by the Cosmosphere's SpaceWorks team and the Discovery Channel. Spaceworks restored it, and it has been at the Cosmosphere for eight years.

Great Bend to host farm, ranch expo

GREAT BEND (AP) — Organizers of the annual Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo say the event is expected to draw more than 500 exhibitors and thousands of spectators.

The exhibition runs Wednesday through Friday at the Great Bend Expo complex, located about 2 miles west of the city. Admission is free.

This is the third year for the expo. Some of the new attractions include demonstrations on low-stress cattle handling and horse training.

Speakers from Kansas State University will discuss their research. Demonstrations of combines and sprayers are also planned.

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