Kansas lawmakers passed dozens of new laws in the last legislative session. Here are 11 that might affect you.
One new law is intended to relieve the physician shortage in rural communities by allowing doctors from bordering states to practice in Kansas with minimal red tape. Colorado approved similar legislation this year.
HB 2615 will make it easier for out-of-state doctors to become licensed in Kansas by joining an interstate medical licensure compact.
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The same law will also make it easier for nurse-midwives to deliver babies without the supervision of a physician. The law includes a provision explicitly banning midwives from performing abortions, something they were already not allowed to do.
It is now illegal to stalk or harass people using a drone.
SB 319 expands the definition of harassment in the state’s Protection from Stalking Act to include flying an aerial drone “over or near any dwelling, occupied vehicle, or other place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from uninvited intrusion or surveillance.”
The legislation is a response to an ongoing dispute in Olathe in which a man is accused of using his drone to repeatedly harass his neighbors.
SB 128 makes a series of reforms that supporters say will bring transparency and accountability to the judicial selection process.
The Supreme Court Nominating commission, the nine-member panel that chooses which candidates to recommend to the governor when there’s a vacancy on the state’s high court, will now be subject to the Kansas Open Records and Kansas Open Meetings Acts.
The governor will also have to disclose the names of applicants when there’s a vacancy on the Court of Appeals. Gov. Sam Brownback has repeatedly refused to do this when asked in the past.
HB 2462 will slightly reduce the penalties for marijuana possession, a move that supporters say will free up space in correctional facilities.
The maximum sentence for a first-time offense for marijuana possession will be cut in half, from one year to six months in jail. The penalty for a second offense, previously was treated as a felony, would be a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
Private e-mails from public officials that pertain to public business will become subject to the Kansas Open Records Act – eliminating a loophole that allowed government officials to avoid scrutiny.
The reforms in SB 22, which supporters say will increase government transparency, were spurred by The Eagle’s discovery last year that Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director had used a private e-mail address to send a pair of lobbyists with ties to the governor a copy of the state’s budget weeks before it was unveiled to lawmakers.
Religion on campus
Campus religious groups at public universities will be able to restrict their membership to people who adhere to the tenets of the faith.
Supporters say SB 175 gives necessary protections to religious groups on campus, ensuring that the people leading faith groups practice that faith. Opponents say the law allows for discrimination on publicly funded college campuses. The legislation arises partially out of a controversy in California where a Christian campus group temporarily lost official recognition in the California State University system because of its refusal to adhere to an “all comers” policy.
People who post nude photos or videos online of another person without his or her consent could face criminal prosecution under HB 2501, passed unanimously by the Legislature in May. The legislation seeks to deter the online phenomenon known as “revenge porn,” in which people post sexual material of ex-spouses, ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends online.
A person convicted of breach of privacy under the law would face presumptive probation for a first offense, but a person convicted of felony blackmail could face up to six years in prison.
HB 2456 will prohibit people under 18 from using tanning beds at tanning facilities, a measure strongly backed by the American Cancer Society. The Kansas Board of Cosmetology can impose fines of $250 per violation on businesses that allow minors to use their tanning beds.
It will be easier to get a license to ride for a three-wheeled motorcycle, known as a “trike,” under HB 2522. Motorcycle enthusiasts say this will be great news for aging bikers who can no longer physically balance on a two-wheeled motorcycle. Before this law, a “trike” rider still had to show proficiency on a two-wheeler to get a license. This will allow riders to test on “trikes” only.
Vehicle registration fees
Registering your car will become $3.25 more expensive in July. The increase is to go toward hiring and retaining more Kansas Highway Patrol officers and to help fund the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson.
The total cost of registering a vehicle that weighs 4,500 pounds or less will rise to $38.25. A portion of that total, which would have gone toward highway projects, will now go to school funding as part of the school finance fix passed by lawmakers last week.
SB 402 shortens welfare recipients’ lifetime limit for being on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from 36 months to 24 months, a change that supporters say will spur people to reenter the workforce. Critics say the change will make it harder for low-income families to pay for basic necessities, such as rent, food and clothing.
The law will also enact step therapy for Kansas Medicaid patients. That’s a system, common in private insurance plans, where patients must try less expensive treatment options before being approved for costlier drugs.