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Kan. House Unanimously Passes Hard 50 Bill

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. Rep. Lance Kinzer, a Republican from Olathe, said the fix will help preserve the intent of legislators who originally passed the bill.

"That those who commit the most heinous murders are in fact incarcerated for no less than 50 years prior to opportunity for parole,” said Kinzer.

A recent U.S. Supreme court case raised questions about the constitutionality of the state's old Hard 50 law. During the debate, Rep. 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.

“There are elections coming up in October and November that people –who are eligible, who are citizens, who should be allowed to participate- they won’t be allowed to participate,” said Ward.

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 Wednesday.

As the Kansas News Service managing editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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