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Top Morning News 10.19.12

Kansas unemployment rate drops in September; Lead House Democrat knocks Gov. Brownback's website for school reporting; 14-year-old files lawsuit against Brownback administration

KS Unemployment Drops to 5.9 Percent In Sept.

A new report says the Kansas jobless rate dropped below 6 percent in September for the first time in almost four years.

The state Labor Department said Thursday that seasonally adjusted unemployment fell last month to 5.9 percent from 6.2 percent in August. Kansas last had a jobless rate below 6 percent in December 2008.

The department also said Kansas continues to see modest growth in private, non-farm employment. The state had nearly 1.1 million such jobs last month, an increase of 1.2 percent from September 2011.

KS Democratic Leader Knocks Brownback's Schools Effort

A leading Kansas Democrat is criticizing efforts by Gov. Sam Brownback to solicit anonymous tips about inefficient use by schools of their state funding.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis says a new website where people can offer tips amounts to an online forum for criticizing schools. A task force on school efficiency appointed by Brownback launched the website this week.

Brownback spokesperson Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the governor wants to make Kansas a leader in education and get more dollars into instruction.

Davis says the state should discuss innovative ways that schools have done more with less because of past reductions in base state aid. Davis also said the state should celebrate schools by restoring some of the lost aid.

Grant Funds KS Precision Agriculture Partnership

Kansas farmers and farmers-in-training will get some help learning to use the latest technology. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $277,000 to Fort Hays State University and Hutchinson Community College to promote so-called precision agriculture.


TransCanada Temporarily Shuts Down Keystone Pipeline

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says TransCanada Corporation has temporarily shut down its existing Keystone pipeline after tests showed "possible safety issues."

TransCanada reported shutting down the approximately 2,100-mile pipeline, which moves about 500,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta, Canada, to facilities in Illinois and Oklahoma. The pipeline passes through Kansas en route to Cushing, Oklahoma.

Jeannie Layson, spokesperson for the agency, said the possible safety issues were found on part of the pipeline that extends between Missouri and Illinois. Layson said that an agency inspector has been sent to review the test results, observe repairs and follow any necessary safety activities.

TransCanada spokesperson Grady Semmens says the pipeline was shut down Wednesday and is expected to restart tomorrow.

14 Year-Old Files Suit Against Brownback Administration Over CO2

Fourteen year-old Samantha Farb of Lecompton has sued Governor  Brownback's administration in hopes of forcing it to impose limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

She filed the lawsuit Thursday through her parents in Shawnee County District Court. It's part of a campaign launched last year to file such lawsuits in all 50 states.

The effort is led by a nonprofit Oregon group called Our Children's Trust.

Samantha Farb's lawsuit argues there's a public trust for the state in protecting the atmosphere and fighting climate change from manmade greenhouse gases.

Named as defendants are Brownback, the state Department of Health and Environment and the agency's secretary.

Appeals Court Revives Shawnee Mission School Funding Case


An appeals court has revived a school finance lawsuit filed by some northeast Kansas parents.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver Thursday reversed a lower court dismissal of a lawsuit filed by parents in the Shawnee Mission School District.

The parents want a judge to lift a state cap on local option school budgets so district patrons can raise their taxes to support local schools.

U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum dismissed the lawsuit in March 2011. He agreed with state officials, who argued that ending the cap on local option taxes would cause the state's school funding system to collapse.

The appellate court ruled the court must hear the case to determine if the cap is constitutional.