Thursday, April 24, 2014

Governor, legislators pull trigger on gun restrictions

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer | 4/19/2013

A day before the U.S. Senate ducked a bill expanding federal background checks for gun sales, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed two sweeping gun measures, one of which has been called the nation’s “most pro-Second Amendment law.”

Two Kansas lawmakers representing Franklin County residents supported both the “Second Amendment Protection Act” and another bill allowing licensed concealed-carry holders to bring guns into more public buildings.

A day before the U.S. Senate ducked a bill expanding federal background checks for gun sales, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed two sweeping gun measures, one of which has been called the nation’s “most pro-Second Amendment law.”

Two Kansas lawmakers representing Franklin County residents supported both the “Second Amendment Protection Act” and another bill allowing licensed concealed-carry holders to bring guns into more public buildings.

The protection act, which is among the strictest of its kind in the United States, exempts all guns and firearm accessories that were made in Kansas and have not left the state from federal gun laws.

“I voted for it because I feel like it’s good legislation, considering what is happening at the national level,” State Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsvile, said Friday. “State sovereignty is super important to me, and before anything else, I would consider myself a statesman. So considering that, I think it’s important that we protect our Second Amendment rights, even at the state level.”

The law — SB 102 — also prevents any agents from enforcing federal regulations or laws on firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition manufactured in Kansas, provided such items remain within Kansas’ borders. Both legislative bodies effortlessly passed the legislation — the Kansas House voted 96-24, with the Senate voting 35-4 in favor.

A staunch proponent of the Second Amendment, Jones originally was a co-sponsor of the bill before it was amended, he said. The measure, he added, provides crucial protection to Kansans’ rights and directly responds to the potential of stricter gun control laws out of Congress.

“The Second Amendment Protection Act is a protection at the state level, and I think it’s really important — given what’s trying to come down from the federal level,” Jones said. “The original house bill got gutted and some liquor laws or something were put into it, so my name was no longer a co-sponsor on it, but originally it did. It’s something important.”

In addition to protecting Kansans’ Second Amendment rights, state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, said, the law also could prompt economic growth for the Sunflower State. Citing at least two prospective U.S. companies — one from Colorado and another from the East Coast — Tyson said the law will attract more firearm manufacturers to Kansas.

“Kansas is showing that we’re friendly to these types of manufacturers, and there are companies that are looking to leave states that aren’t friendly,” Tyson, who also voted in favor of the measure, said, adding that Franklin County is hoping to lure the Colorado-based company. “That would be our hope [to attract these businesses]. We are in competition with many other states, but laws like these demonstrate that we are receptive to them moving to Kansas. ...  Overall it was a good bill. If I recall correctly there were no opponents who testified against the bill.”

The second of Kansas’ most recent gun laws — HB 2052 — would eventually allow schools to arm teachers or other school employees with a concealed weapon. In addition, the legislation further relaxes restrictions against licensed concealed-carry permit holders from bringing weapons into public and municipal buildings, unless such facilities provide “adequate security measures.” The measure, however, excludes the State Capitol building and school districts from the definition of a municipality, state and municipal building.

The governing body or chief administrator of any public facility can obtain a four-year exemption from the measure to develop the adequate, alternative security measures required to ban concealed weapons. Universities and public medical care facilities also are exempt from the law for the next four years.

“It gives people the option to decide to be in a facility that allows concealed carry or put a plan in place for security,” Tyson said. “It’s not law-abiding citizens that are doing harm, it’s people that are breaking the law. ... This is so that people are able to protect themselves — it comes back to our freedoms.”

The law, which takes effect July 1, also would prevent a state agency from prohibiting a licensed employee from carrying a concealed handgun at his or her workplace, unless the building had already established adequate security measures.

Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, was not present for votes on either gun-related measure.

Brownback signed both gun bills Tuesday, helping to push the number of new Kansas laws this session to more than 110.

Take a look at the following list of legislation, signed within the past two weeks, along with brief explanations of the bills and the votes of local legislators Finch, Jones and Tyson.

House bills

• HB 2009 — allows a driver facing driver’s license suspension for failing to comply fully with a traffic citation to submit a written request to the Kansas Division of Vehicles for restricted driving privileges. [Finch, N; Jones N; Tyson Y]

• HB 2011 (Senate substitute) — authorizes higher educational institution license plates for motorcycles that are available for passenger vehicles and small trucks. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2012 — extends certain Kansas Open Records Act exceptions, which had been set to expire July 1, 2013, for five more years and provides that an exception no longer would be subject to review and expiration if the Legislature twice has reviewed and continued the exception or reviews and continues the exception during the 2013 legislative session or thereafter. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2017 (Senate substitute) — amends provisions of the Kansas Code of Criminal Procedure concerning appeals of municipal court and district magistrate judgments, search warrants and reporting of pornographic materials seized or documented as evidence. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2025 — renames the Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services as the Robert G. (Bob) Bethell Joint Committee, increases committee membership and expands the committee’s scope, including oversight of KanCare. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2033 — uniforms state law for knives, including prohibiting local governments from regulating them and allowing carrying specific types of pocket knives and switchblade knives. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2043 (Senate substitute) — clarifies that the Kansas attorney general represents the state in “any and all” actions in the Kansas Supreme Court, Kansas Court of Appeals and in all federal courts in which the state is interested or a party. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2052 (Senate substitute) — enacts new law and amends existing law concerning firearms, criminal law and the Personal and Family Protection Act (concealed carry of handguns). [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2069 — prohibits cities, counties, and local government units from using ordinances, resolutions or law to require private employers to provide leave, benefits and higher compensation. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2078 — enacts new law and amends existing requirements for licensing bodies and licensure for military service members, and amends prior law regarding military experience for the licensing of practical nurses and emergency medical technicians. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2083 — revises the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act by shifting the costs associated with public employee elections and fact-finding or mediation from the Kansas Department of Labor to the parties involved. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2093 — amends the law concerning crimes and criminal procedure, on topics including DNA testing, felony murder, computer crimes and identity theft and identity fraud. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2106 — removes the prohibition that an insurer may not change the terms and conditions of a portable electronics insurance policy more than once in any six-month period. The new law also deletes references within the statute that refer to the removed language. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• HB 2105 (Senate substitute) — revises provisions of employment security laws pertaining to contributions paid by employers, eligibility for unemployment benefits and the administration of the unemployment system by the Kansas Department of Labor. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• HB 2107 — creates the Electronic Notice and Document Act; amends a provision in the Insurance Code requiring notification to policyholders of adverse underwriting decisions and refunds, increases the maximum lifetime benefit for individuals in the State High Risk Pool, amends existing law regarding dividends for mutual insurance companies organized to provide health care provider liability insurance, and enacts the Mandate Lite Health Benefit Plan Act. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2109 — creates the Children’s Internet Protection Act, requiring technology protection measures be implemented and enforced at both the school district and public library levels. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2128 — provides that a public agency is not required to disclose records of a utility concerning information about cyber security threats, attacks or general attempts to attack utility operations. [Finch, Y Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2135 — clarifies any and all housing developments and related improvements located on U.S. military installations and used exclusively or primarily by military personnel and their families are exempt from property taxation, retroactive to tax year 2006. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2139 — abolishes the Canceled Warrants Payment Fund and transfers all balances accrued from unpaid canceled warrants to the State General Fund and deletes the five-year limitation for taxpayers to claim funds from a canceled State check. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2144 — repeals outdated laws concerning juvenile offenders, including the repeal of a statute concerning jurisdiction and placement of juvenile offenders with the Kansas Department for Children and Families or the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority, and a statute concerning records of certain juvenile offenders in the possession of law enforcement and municipal courts. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2150 (Senate substitute) — revises the size and responsibilities for the Kansas Employment First Oversight Commission. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2160 — extends for two years a provider assessment on licensed beds in skilled nursing care facilities and makes technical changes to update agency references to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• HB 2164 — reforms state grand jury law. [Finch, N; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2167 (Senate substitute) — adds administrative procedures to the Kansas Fireworks Act. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2170 — makes numerous changes to sentencing, post-release supervision and probation statutes, including allowing low-risk defendants who have paid all restitution and met all terms of probation to be eligible for discharge from court supervision. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• HB 2183 (Senate substitute) — enacts and amends several provisions in state law related to the Department of Health and Environment including creating the Office of Laboratory Services Operating Fund, which is a fee fund for the Kansas Department of Health and Environmental Laboratories Bureau (KHEL) of KDHE. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• HB 2200 — establishes the Office of Information Technology Services, headed by the executive chief information technology officer, an appointee of the governor, and eliminates the Kansas Division of Information Systems and Communications (DISC) and the position of director of that agency. All responsibilities of the agency are transferred to the Office of Information Technology Services. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2201 — creates the Telecommunications Study Committee, further deregulates telecommunications in Kansas, makes changes to distributions from the Kansas Universal Service Fund and allows the Kansas Board of Regents to charge fees for services provided by the KAN-ED program. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• HB 2203 — enacts Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. It provides that the government shall not substantially burden a person’s civil right to healthylivingfrco.org' target='_blank'>exercise religion and protects religious liberty and prohibits encroachments upon this liberty — unless the government clearly and convincingly demonstrates that the burden serves a compelling governmental interest. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2207 (Senate substitute) — amends provisions of the law dealing with the regulation of confined animal feeding facilities by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, including requiring any such facilities with an animal unit capacity of 300 or more must register with the KDHE secretary and pay a fee of $25. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2212 — allows veterans’ service organizations to apply both monetary and non-monetary support (called a “match”) to continue to qualify for and receive service grants under the Veterans Claims Assistance Program. The VCAP advisory board will make recommendations on match funding levels. Such recommendations will be considered by the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2217 — creates the crime of female genital mutilation, a severity level 3, person felony. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2221 — establishes the Equal Access Act for professional employees’ organizations and modifies the Professional Negotiations Act. [Finch, N; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2228 — reduces the employer’s contribution rate to 0.85 percent from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015, in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and institutes a moratorium on all payments by KPERS participating employers from April 1 to June 30, 2013, to make the statutory change approved by the 2012 Legislature in enacted House substitute for SB 294 (the 2012 appropriations bill). [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2234 — makes the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) secretary the director of operations of the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA). The law, which takes effect July 1, is expected to produce consistency and savings in the operation of Kansas highways. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2253 — prohibits certain abortions related to the gender of the unborn child, revises the general and late-term abortion statutes, and declares that the life of each human being begins at fertilization. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2278 — enhances the penalty for theft or burglary of a firearm, including making theft of a firearm valued at less than $25,000 a severity level 9 crime. [Finch, N; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2294 — amends the Kansas Uniform Securities Act by updating references to the Federal Securities Act of 1933 that are no longer accurate and by updating other federal references in the statutes with appropriate section numbers and headings. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2302 — allows the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to require fingerprinting and state and national criminal history record checks for any person offered employment in and any employee of the Office of Laboratory Services who will have access to a secured biological laboratory. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2322 — amends state law and clarifies references or designations in law to reflect a name change of the Kansas Division of Health of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to the Kansas Division of Public Health. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2326 — exempts Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Internet Protocol enabled service (IP-enabled service), or both from the jurisdiction, regulation, or supervision of the state or any political subdivision. VoIP shall be subject to the requirements of the Kansas Universal Service Fund and the requirements of the Kansas 911 Act. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2339 — amends the Insurance Code, including to permit the combination sale of life insurance coverage with certain health insurance products and to update the law applying to continuation coverage for firefighters’ surviving spouses and dependent children. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2349 — requires the Legislative Division of Post Audit to conduct three school district efficiency audits each fiscal year. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2353 — adds a synthetic cannabinoid, commonly known as UR-144, to the list of schedule I controlled substances. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2363 — addresses a number of water-related issues, including establishing limited transfer permits and granting land-based sand and gravel pits and aggregate mining operations utilizing washwater ponds term permits. [Finch, N/A; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• HB 2368 — amends state law to reflect a name change from the Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council to the Governor’s Behavioral Health Services Planning Council; replaces the term “mental health” with “behavioral health”; adds nine members and adjusts the membership and prescribes the requirements for appointment. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

Senate bills

• SB 1 — reduces the frequency of financial management practice audits of the State Treasurer’s Office and the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) from every year to every two years. In addition, the new law requires a transition audit within two weeks of a new state treasurer taking office. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 16 — creates the Kansas Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (Kansas RICO Act) and amends the criminal street gangs definitions statute. [Finch, Y; Jones N; Tyson Y]

• SB 23 — makes a number of changes related to school finance and reporting, continuing the statewide 20-mill levy for K-12 school finance and modifying reporting requirements in the Kansas Uniform Financial Accounting and Reporting Act. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 27 — makes more U.S. military veterans eligible for the state’s Military Service Scholarship Program by expanding the definition of “qualified student.” [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 56 — transfers the responsibility of recognizing official county fair associations from the Kansas Department of Agriculture to the board of county commissioners of the county where the association is located. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 57 (House substitute) — creates new law regarding penalties and testing for chronic wasting disease and amends laws regarding the National Poultry Improvement Plan and possessing domesticated deer. [Finch, Y; Jones N; Tyson Y]

• SB 74 — prohibits the Kansas Department of Corrections from having a home building program that would compete with manufactured or modular homes constructed privately. The new law allows the corrections agency to continue to provide buildings up to 1,000 square feet to state agencies. [Finch, N; Jones Y; Tyson N]

• SB 81 — makes several changes to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA), including exempting home addresses or home ownership records from searchable websites of officers, judges and prosecuting attorneys, at their request. The new law prohibits a public agency from disclosing the name, home address, email address, phone numbers, or other contact information for any person licensed to carry concealed handguns, any person who has enrolled in or completed weapons training for concealed carry licensure, or any person who has applied for a concealed carry license. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 83 (House substitute) — amends state tax policy, including clarifying state tax policies enacted 2012 and reduces property tax assessment on watercraft from 30 percent to 11.5 percent beginning in tax year 2014. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 88 — increases the Children’s Advocacy Center Fund fee paid by defendants convicted of certain crimes involving child victims from $100 to $400. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 96 — allows a county with multiple vehicle registration facilities to charge a fee for each vehicle registration or renewal in an amount not to exceed $5. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 102 — establishes the Second Amendment Protection Act. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 111 — designates the first Wednesday of February as “Native American Legislative Day at the Capitol” and changes the title of “American Indian Day” to “Native American Day,” which continues to be recognized on the fourth Saturday of September. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 120 — establishes a central registration of farmers markets through the Kansas Farmers Market Promotion Act. The voluntary registration will be used to encourage and promote farmers markets across Kansas and assist the Kansas Department of Agriculture in promoting Kansas agriculture by more efficiently connecting producers with consumers. [Finch, Y; Jones N; Tyson Y]

• SB 122 — makes it illegal to disclose the name of a voter who has cast a provisional or regular ballot, except as ordered by a court in an election contest. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 124 — amends the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 128 — extends the sunset of the Postsecondary Technical Education Authority by three years, to June 30, 2017, and clarifies students taking part in the Career Technical Education (CTE) Incentive Program must complete their certificates before high school graduation or by Dec. 31 immediately following graduation for a school district or community/technical college to receive an incentive award. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 129 — removes the residential mortgage interest rate floating cap and provides a rate that could not exceed 15.0 percent per annum, unless otherwise specifically authorized by law. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 136 — allows a veteran to have “VETERAN” printed on the front of a state-issued driver’s license or non-driver identification card. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 142 — prohibits civil actions for a claim of “wrongful life” or “wrongful birth” and prohibits recovery of damages in any civil action for any physical condition of a minor that existed at birth if such damages arise out of a claim that a person’s action or omission contributed to the minor’s mother not obtaining an abortion. The new law also amends the wrongful death statute to include “unborn child” within the definition of “person” for purposes of the statute, which would allow a wrongful death action for the death of an unborn child caused by the wrongful act or omission of another. “Unborn child” is defined as a living individual organism of the species homo sapiens, in utero, at any stage of gestation from fertilization to birth. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 149 — authorizes drug screening of applicants or recipients of cash assistance programs or employment security benefits whenever there is a reasonable suspicion the person is using a controlled substance and provides persons who test positive access to substance abuse treatment program and a job skills program. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 164 — allows the Kansas Department of Revenue to contract out motor vehicle services such as issuing certificates of title, driver’s licenses and division-issued identification cards as well as collecting personal property taxes. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 168 — amends law relating to the protection of farmland and agricultural activities from certain nuisance actions. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

• SB 187 — amends workers compensation laws including replaces the Workers Compensation Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Nominating and Review Committee and the Workers Compensation Board Nominating Committee with a new entity named the Workers Compensation and Employment Security Boards Nominating Committee. [Finch, Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

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