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KS House Unanimously Passes Hard 50 Bill

Schmidt-2500Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt speaking to a House committee before the vote. Schmidt proposed the bill that House members passed. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)The Kansas House has unanimously passed a proposed fix for the state’s Hard 50 sentencing law. The law allows judges to sentence certain convicted murderers to at least 50 years in prison before the possibility for parole. The House's proposed revision would change the process so that juries also play a part in doling out Hard 50 sentences. Representative Lance Kinzer, a Republican from Olathe, said the fix will help preserve the intent of legislators who originally passed the bill.

A recent U.S. Supreme court case raised questions about the constitutionality of the state’s old Hard 50 law. During the debate, Representative Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, attempted to attach an amendment aimed at fixing a problem with many voter registration forms. A law requires people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide citizenship documents. Ward’s amendment would have allowed them to instead sign a legal document saying they are a citizen.

Ward’s amendment was rejected on the grounds that it wasn’t connected to the original topic of the bill. The Kansas Senate will take up the Hard 50 bill later today (WED).

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