Entries in Kansas (4)


Exotic Dancers Can Collect Unemployment, Kansas Supreme Court Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOPEKA, Kan.) -- The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that exotic dancers at a strip club have the right to collect unemployment insurance as employees and not independent contractors.

In 2005, a dancer at Club Orleans in Topeka filed an unemployment claim.  The dancers earn money through tips, while the club maintains that it is offering “rental space” for them to perform.

By ruling that the workers are employees because they had to follow a number of house rules, the state Supreme Court decided that the club’s owners must contribute to the state unemployment-insurance fund, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The Kansas Department of Labor argued that the minimum rates for particular dances and rules binding interactions with customers could be interpreted as rules for employees.

The Department of Labor would not release the name of the worker who filed for unemployment.

Michael Merriam, an attorney for Milano’s, a company that owned Club Orleans since 2002, told ABC News that the ruling “was incorrectly decided.”

“The court relied almost entirely on the fact that we had some house rules, which were requested by the dancers.  They were designed to keep everything legal,” Merriam said.  “And the court relied on that fact alone to say we had control over them and that made them employees.”

He said his client does not plan to appeal the decision.

“This is the Kansas Supreme Court.  This is where it ends,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Labor said this ruling applies to the workers at issue in this case.

“All decisions concerning unemployment are based on the applicable law and the specific facts of each case,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cities Offer to Pay Student Loan Debt to Gain Young Residents

JupiterImages/Comstock Images(NEW YORK) -- In Niagara Falls, N.Y., a man shortly will attempt a daring feat -- and he isn't Nik Wallenda.  Seth Piccirillo, Niagara Falls' new director of community development, will attempt to lure young professionals to live in his city's beleaguered downtown, which for decades has been hemorrhaging residents -- young ones especially.

He'll do it, he says, by offering to help them pay down their college loans.  

Here and there around the U.S. -- from rural Kansas to Detroit -- communities concerned over shrinking, aging populations are attempting novel experiments to attract the young.  If they're not offering to pay off student loans, they're dangling other incentives aimed at budding professionals.

Niagara Falls' population 50 years ago teetered at 100,000. Then it began to fall and today it's half of what it was.  If by the time of the next census it's under 50,000, leaders fear the city will risk the loss of some forms of federal assistance.

"We've lost a lot of talent, a lot of brain power," admits Piccirillo. "For 50 years we've been asking ourselves: how do we keep our young people?"  

The city, he says, never really had a plan -- until now.  It's putting an initial $200,000 behind attracting young people from elsewhere by offering to pay their student loans.

The first applications should arrive in the next couple of months, says Piccirillo, but "the graduating class of 2013 will be our first real swing at it."

He says he got the idea by reading news headlines.

"College debt is at the forefront of so many stories you see now," he says.  "The New York Times just reported that student debt has topped $1 trillion; 94 percent of students now have some amount of debt."

Under Niagara Falls' plan, graduates who have earned a 2- or 4-year degree in the past two years can apply for up to $3,500 a year (for two years) towards repayment of their student loans.  The same deal would be offered to graduate students.  Graduates of Niagara University and Niagara County Community College will be targeted first, though the city hopes eventually to recruit graduates from other parts of the country.

To qualify, applicants will have to rent an apartment or buy a home within a designated downtown area.

In rural Kansas, a similar experiment is underway.  Fifty counties in the state have established Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZs) authorized to offer one or both of the following financial incentives to new full-time residents: Kansas income tax waivers for up to five years and/or student loan repayments up to $15,000.

To be eligible for loan repayments, applicants must hold an associate's, bachelor's or post-graduate degree; must have an outstanding student loan balance; and must establish residency in a ROZ county.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kansas Mega Millions Winner Claims Prize, Remains Anonymous

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The first of three Mega Millions lottery winners has claimed his or her winning share.

The Kansas winner will share the record-breaking $656 million jackpot with so-far-unidentified winners in Maryland and Illinois.

Kansas lottery officials Friday presented a jumbo check for an estimated $218 million to a cardboard poster figure with a smile-face head and the words "anonymous jackpot winner" printed on its chest.

Dennis Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Lotter, said that in the state of Kansas, winners can choose to remain anonymous.

"That person has chosen that option," Wilson said. He would not reveal the gender, age or any other details about the winner.

"They didn't actually discover they had the winning ticket until Monday," Wilson said. "They actually just checked the tickets of all the games they had purchased and found out they were the winner."

"They checked it over 10 times to make sure they were reading it right, to verify it, and they still had a hard time believing it," Wilson said.

The winner chose to take the cash option of $157 million instead of the yearly payments over 26 years which would have matched the $218 million on the check.

Wilson said the winner called ahead and then arrived at the Kansas Lottery office Friday at around 11:45 a.m. with an attorney and financial advisors.

When asked if the winners were frequent players, Wilson said, "They play quite often. They don't play a lot, but they play quite often."

"It proves real people really do win, and you could be next," he said with a laugh.

A representative from the store where the ticket was sold was presented with a $10,000 check.

The drawing for the world's largest jackpot was one week ago, on March 30. The winning numbers were 2-4-23-38-46 and Mega ball 23.

Over the past week, rumors have been rampant about the identities of the three winners.

A Maryland McDonald's employee and mother of seven, Mirlande Wilson, 37, has been dominating the rumor mill by claiming that she bought the ticket, but has yet to find it.

Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland lottery, told ABC News that there is "no indication" that the story is true.

Maryland's lottery director, Stephen Martino, called a news conference on Thursday to dispel rumors that the state's winner had already come forward. He said he feared that doctored images of winning tickets over social media and April Fools' Day tales had led the real winner to dispose of his or her ticket.

"The ticket has not been claimed," Martino said Thursday. "People need to look at their tickets."

Martino held the news conference after two people claimed to have won the bonanza, but had not shown their tickets to the state lottery office. The news conference, he said, was meant to "separate fact from fiction."

Everett said that winners usually call in to the lottery office or have a lawyer contact officials. She does not expect that someone will come walking through the door with a winning ticket. She expects it could take days or weeks for winners to come forward.

Maryland and Kansas allow winners to remain anonymous, but Illinois will identify the winner.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Bringing Super High-Speed Internet Network to Kansas City

ABC News(KANSAS CITY, Kan.) -- Kansas City, Kansas is ready to get into the fast lane -- the fast lane of the information super highway, that is.

Search engine giant Google announced Wednesday that the heartland city will be the site of its planned Internet network.

Simply put, it means that the folks in Kansas City will enjoy broadband access that's 100 times faster than what's currently available to just about everyone else in the U.S.  It should all happen by 2012.

Proposals for this super-speed broadband access were submitted by 1,100 cities but Google executives chose Kansas City for a variety of reasons, including opportunities to build efficiently and the effect it will have on the metro region.

The eventual plan is to make the high-speed Internet network available everywhere.  Google maintains it's ready to spend "hundreds of millions” to promote this goal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio