This past week was the Kansas Legislature’s "turnaround" week, which is the first deadline for legislation becoming law. During this time, nearly 100 bills were debated and closed over a three-day period in the House of Representatives. Bills passed out of the House now go to the Senate for consideration. Included in this legislative update are a few interesting bills that passed in the House.
For a more comprehensive list of 2018 legislation, please visit www.kslegislature.org.
Last fall, Dominique White was shot in the back and killed by the Topeka Police Department. The White family had to spend months and thousands of dollars fighting to view the body camera footage.
Under House Bill 2571, law enforcement agencies are required to release body camera video in deadly or excessive force investigations to families within 20 days.
The Kansas House voted unanimously to support the bill.
Kansas House Advances Major Reform of Civil Asset Forfeiture Law
The Kansas House gave first-round approval Wednesday to House Bill 2459 enacting the first major reforms of the state's civil asset forfeiture law in more than 20 years.
The Kansas Civil Asset Forfeiture Act, first enacted in 1994, enables prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to seize assets such as cash, vehicles or other property from individuals if they believe those assets were derived from criminal activity. Furthermore, courts can order that property to be forfeited, in some cases even if the defendant is never convicted of a crime.
The House voted to advance the bill on a unanimous voice vote, despite concerns by some that the reforms don't go far enough.
Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, who has pushed for reform legislation for the past four years, said many individuals would still have a difficult time challenging the seizure and forfeiture of their assets. "This puts a heavy weight on citizens because sometimes they don't have the resources to fight," she said during debate on the bill. Finney noted that several states are now reforming their civil asset forfeiture laws, including some that now require a criminal conviction as a prerequisite for ordering the forfeiture of property.
For more information about these important first reforms, please read the Lawrence-Journal World's reporting on the legislation.
In 2016, Kansas lowered penalties for marijuana by reducing the crime of being caught with marijuana a second time from a felony to a misdemeanor, but it didn’t include the term THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. The Kansas Sentencing Commission said that change overlooked state law that keeps harsher penalties on the books for getting caught with pot residue than for possession of marijuana.
House Bill 2566 corrects this discrepancy. It passed by the House 108 to 9 and is now being considered by the Kansas Senate.
In December of last year, the Wichita Police Department shot and killed 28-year-old Andrew Finch on his doorstep by mistake after an angry "gamer" called in a false police report from California. This false report practice is called "swatting." Swatters pretend to be someone else and call 9-1-1 with a dangerous emergency to draw a large police presence to that address.
House Bill 2581 clarifies the crime as making an unlawful request for emergency service assistance. If someone is hurt or killed because of swatting, the person who made the call would face a level 1 felony. The Kansas House of Representatives recently passed the bill unanimously.
Washington Days 2018 is Almost Here!
Kansas Democrats' Washington Days Weekend will be March 2nd and 3rd at the Downtown Ramada in Topeka.
The event luncheon will feature a Democratic gubernatorial candidate panel with the four leading candidates for the party's gubernatorial nomination: House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, former State Rep. and Kansas Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.
The Saturday evening banquet will feature South Bend Indiana Mayor/former DNC Chair candidate Pete Buttigieg.
For more information, the schedule and to purchase tickets for both events visit www.kansasdems.org.
Celebrating Black History
From "Celebrating Local Black History," by former Kansas State Senator Curtis McClinton, Sr.
“The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
"In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.
"President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to ‘seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.'
Curtis McClinton, Sr. was the first African-American elected to the Kansas Senate. He grew up in segregated Poteau, Oklahoma. At an early age, McClinton's father took him to political rallies and courtroom proceedings, sparking his passion for civic participation.
McClinton moved to Wichita in the early 40s, and, in 1943, he became the President of Wichita’s NAACP chapter. In 1956, McClinton was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives where he worked to pass a law ensuring equal treatment for all races in public places. In 1960, McClinton was elected to the Kansas Senate where he served two terms.
Senator Curtis McClinton, Sr. passed away at the age of 99 on June 27, 2012.
Stay In Touch
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions.
My office address is Room 451-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7649 or call the legislative hotline at (800) 432-3924 to leave a message for me.
For more information on specific legislation or listen to the legislative process online, you can also check out www.kslegislature.org.