In a flurry of votes in the Kansas Legislature Monday, the House passed a bill to outlaw the posting of nude photos and videos of someone online without that person’s consent.
And House lawmakers turned down a proposal to a call a convention of the states to place limits on the federal government. The vote on the resolution was 77-47 in favor of a convention, but it needed 84 votes to pass.
The first proposal’s target is “revenge porn,” sexual material posted about former spouses or others as a means of harassment.
“One of the problems with technology is that you have this ever-evolving way people can be abused in relationships,” said Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican who helped shepherd the bill. “This is a new way to abuse people.”
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Such material can be used not only for harassment but for blackmail, she said, and the law needs to keep up with technology, Clayton said.
Kansas would be the 27th state to make revenge porn illegal, Clayton said. Under the bill, which passed the House 113-11, a violation could be prosecuted under the state’s breach of privacy and blackmail laws.
The convention proposal has been an effort by conservatives nationwide. The resolution spells out that delegates to the convention would propose constitutional amendments that place limits on the federal government.
So far, the same resolution has been passed by five states. It says the government has created a “crushing national debt” and has “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates.”
Rep. Jan Pauls, a Hutchinson Republican, said the convention would give small states like Kansas a bigger voice. At a convention of the states, each state delegation gets one vote.
Rep. Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican, said that such conventions, spelled out in Article 5 of the Constitution, were expected to be called regularly but that Congress had failed in its job to approve them.
During House debate last week, Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican, urged a vote for the convention this way: “If you think this government is bloated, increasingly inefficient and increasingly corrupt, vote yes,” he said.
But Rep. Ed Trimmer, a Winfield Democrat, and others worried the convention could get out of hand.
“I think there’s too much opportunity for mischief, especially if 50 people are going to make decisions,” Trimmer said.
In other action Monday, the House:
▪ Approved a bill that would give chiropractors the authority to sign waivers that allow student athletes to return to a sport after suffering concussions and head injuries. Now, such waivers can be signed only by medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy.
Rep. Blake Carpenter, a Derby Republican, said chiropractors are allowed to perform physicals for student athletes and can treat them for concussion symptoms.
“The only thing they cannot do is sign off on the waiver that allows them to play,” he said.
Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican and retired physician, voiced opposition to the bill, noting the serious and long-term effects of head injuries.
“Your child,” she said. “What do you want that’s best for your child?”
Several lawmakers said the bill is a benefit to rural areas, where it can require a long drive to reach a doctor to sign a waiver.
▪ At first approved and then turned down a proposal to develop an ethnic studies curriculum for Kansas public schools.
The measure, added to an education bill, would have directed the Kansas State Board of Education to develop a curriculum related to African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Ethnic studies classes would be optional for local districts.
“I have two African-American grandchildren,” said Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican who is white. Although they don’t live in Kansas, he said, “I would want them to have the opportunity to learn all about their ethnic heritage.”
But Rep. Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican and a moderate, told lawmakers that the proposal usurped the authority of the Board of Education, an elected body responsible for curriculum.
After his comment, the vote flipped from approval to disapproval. Some lawmakers conjectured that the objection gave cover to conservative Republican legislators who wanted to vote against the ethnic studies provision anyway.
Rep. Melissa Rooker, a Fairway Republican and a moderate, said she favored the ethnic studies component and other parts of the bill but agreed that curriculum was a matter for the Board of Education.
“It’s not something the Legislature should interfere with,” she said.
▪ Approved a proposed amendment to the Kansas constitution that would establish a right to hunt, fish and trap. If also approved by the Senate, it would be offered to voters in November.
“It says Kansas is committed to assuring the rights of sportsmen,” said Rep. Adam Lusker, a Frontenac Democrat.
Bryan Lowry, firstname.lastname@example.org, contributed to this report.