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Kansas high court: School funding unconstitutional
Written by JOHN MILBURN, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 11:58

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court said Friday the state's current public school funding levels are unconstitutional.

In the much-anticipated ruling, the court said Kansas' poor school districts were harmed when the state made the decision to cut certain payments when tax revenues declined during the Great Recession.

The Supreme Court also sent the case back to district court for more review to "promptly" determine what the adequate amount of funding should be, but didn't set a deadline for a hearing. It did, however, set a July 1 deadline for legislators to restore money for two funds aimed at helping poorer districts with capital improvements and general school operations.

The case has broader implications beyond the classroom: Kansas enacted sweeping cuts to income taxes in 2012 and 2013 championed by Gov. Sam Brownback that have reduced the amount of available resources to comply with a court order.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 on behalf of parents and school districts who argued the state had harmed students because spending cuts resulted in lower test scores. State attorneys maintained that legislators did their best to minimize cuts to education.

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Couple accused of letting two-year-old smoke pot
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 11:24

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Montana couple faces charges for allegedly letting a 2-year-old boy smoke marijuana.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1ij8lus ) Lucas Keith Wilson and Camilla Rose Samuels were charged on Feb. 27 with felony and misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. A $50,000 arrest warrant was issued for Wilson. No warrant was issued for Samuels.

Court records say the investigation began in August when Samuels' mother told investigators she found a video on her daughter's phone showing Wilson's son putting a pipe in his mouth.

Prosecutors say both Wilson and Samuels told investigators they let the boy smoke marijuana five times since August. Wilson said it would make the boy mellow.

Charging documents say the couple recently had a baby that tested positive for marijuana and meth when he was born.

___

Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Judge dismisses FAA fine against small drone user
Written by JOAN LOWY, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:37

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed the Federal Aviation Administration's only fine against a commercial drone user on the grounds that the small drone was no different than a model aircraft, a decision that appears to undermine the agency's power to keep a burgeoning civilian drone industry out of the skies.

Patrick Geraghty, a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge, said in his order dismissing the $10,000 fine that the FAA has no regulations governing model aircraft flights or for classifying model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft.

FAA officials said they were reviewing the decision and had no further comment. The agency can appeal the decision to the full five-member safety board.

The FAA levied the fine against aerial photographer Raphael Pirker for flying the small drone near the University of Virginia to make a commercial video in October 2011. Pirker appealed the fine to the safety board, which hears challenges to FAA decisions.

FAA officials have long taken the position that the agency regulates access to the national airspace, and therefore it has the power to bar drone flights, even when the drone weighs no more than a few pounds.

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Bill would let Paul run for two offices at same time
Written by BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:38

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Rand Paul's biggest political decision is approaching: whether to run for president in 2016 or focus solely on re-election to his U.S. Senate seat. A Republican lawmaker from his home state wants to free him from the potential dilemma by letting him run for both.

State Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said Thursday he wants to clarify that current Kentucky law, which prevents someone from running for multiple offices, does not apply to federal elections.

A bill he introduced would allow candidates' names to appear twice on the same ballot if one or both offices sought are federal offices.

"He (Paul) is the impetus for it, but it could affect anyone in the federal delegation," said Thayer, R-Georgetown, who introduced the bill in the GOP-led Kentucky Senate.

He waited until the last day Senate bills could be introduced in the current legislative session to bring it forward. The 60-day session is two-thirds complete. Thayer said he was approached by Paul's staff about the legislation and later spoke several times with Kentucky's freshman senator about it.

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On the rocks? 'Ice yachts' sail cold Hudson River
Written by MICHAEL HILL, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:17

BARRYTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Sharp winds lashed up the Hudson River as sailors launched boats onto the ice. Sails whipped furiously as the long blades slid across a white sheet that spread for miles.

Finally, a frigid winter has created excellent conditions for ice sailing on the river.

"In the blink of an eye you can get up to 30 miles an hour ... you can just feel the power of the wind filling the sails," Michael Soldati said after a bracing run across the ice. "It's just awesome. It's just you and the wind."

More than a dozen boats hit the ice last weekend on a wide stretch of river with a view of the Catskill Mountains, about 100 miles north of New York City.

Many were one-person craft that skittered over the ice like so many puppies around two big dogs — the Rocket and Jack Frost. The two larger craft — each about 50 feet long — are reconditioned 19th-century ice yachts, made of heavy lumber and fitted with tall sails.

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