Kansas implements new laws out of 101 bills

Changes effective July 1 touch on energy, crime, education and business statutes.


State News

July 1, 2024 - 2:54 PM

Gov. Laura Kelly, shown participating in the ceremonial signing of a bill reforming worker compensation law in Kansas, put her signature to 100 bills approved by the Legislature during the regular session and one more bill adopted during the special session implemented July 1. Photo by Rachel Mipro/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Kansans woke to a new statutory landscape Monday after contents of 101 bills approved by the Legislature and, mostly, signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly officially take effect.

With turning of the calendar at 12:01 a.m. July 1, incarcerated juveniles in Kansas could be granted work release. Microbreweries would be able to self-distribute beer and hard cider. Public universities must adhere to restrictions on diversity, equity and inclusion policy. Coercing a female to get an abortion could be a crime. Companies delivering pornography online must confirm customers are of legal age.

Motorists could choose from a half-dozen new options for distinctive license plates. Public utilities would be forbidden from relying on eminent domain to locate solar farms. Leaving the scene of an accident would become a more serious offense. The state unemployment insurance and worker compensation programs would change. The law authorizing issuance of bonds to lure the Kansas City Chiefs or Kansas City Royals to Kansas would be in play. Overhaul of the state’s civil asset forfeiture law also would be final.

Even cosmetic changes occur, including renaming the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office to the Kansas Office of Veterans Services. Adoption of House Bill 2760 by the Kansas Legislature and signing of the bill by Kelly won’t alter the agency’s office locations or contact numbers.

“While the agency’s name is changing, its mission and core functions remain steadfast,” Kelly said. “The name change removes confusion with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and better aligns with the agency’s purpose.”

Kelly vetoed a long list of bills and provisions in budget bills, but the Legislature imposed its will at times with veto overrides.

Education front

The Republican-led Legislature and the Democratic governor agreed to adoption of House Bill 2105 banning public universities from requiring students, faculty or other employees to disclose views on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. GOP legislators complained DEI policies were interferring with university admissions and hiring decisions, so they delivered a law forbidding pledges of allegiance to DEI.

In K-12 public schools, Kansas statute was altered to allow districts to maintain emergency medication kits that included epinephrine for allergic reactions and albuterol for breathing problems. The bill amended liability protections for any person who rendered emergency care at a school-sponsored event or on school property. It provide a level of immunity from liability for a pharmacist, physician or a mid-level practitioner who distributed or prescribed emergency medications to a school.

Senate Bill 195, approved unanimously by the House and Senate, authorized the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund to establish a nonprofit organization to raise money for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Book gifting program. The program mails free, age-appropriate books each month to the home of Kansas children until their fifth birthday.

Under House Bill 2703, all children in foster care custody of the Kansas Department for Children and Families would be added to the list of students eligible to receive at-risk programs and services in the public school system. Another new law mandated DCF release certain information related to a child fatality when criminal charges were filed alleging a person caused the death.

The crime log

The enactment of House Bill 2144 created the new Kansas crime of encouraging a person to attempt suicide or kill themselves. A person charged with the felony would have to know the person was suicidal and the oral, written or visual communication must be shown to have substantially influenced the individual.

Legislators were advised during the session the state law could invite challenges on First Amendment grounds because the statute could be viewed as criminalizing speech.

The suicide statute was developed at behest of Jennifer Dennis, who discovered too late her son logged onto an internet chat site to obtain instructions on how to die by suicide. Her son, William, obtained sodium nitrite, drove to a Lenexa model, consumed the substance with water and died.

May 18, 2021
April 19, 2021
December 11, 2020
May 17, 2019