Kansas lawmakers debating several bills as session deadline nears

Capitol Bureau

Kansas lawmakers only have six days left in the session. On Friday, lawmakers in both chambers were on the floor most of the day debating on how to spend your tax dollars.  

One bill, which could receive the final green light from lawmakers next week, would lower the age at which a person can carry a concealed weapon in the state. 

The Federal and State of Affairs conference committee agreed on the details of a final bill Friday morning. 

The bill would change the age a person can carry concealed weapons from 21 to 18. It also requires people between the age of 18 and 21 to get a gun permit. 

However, some lawmakers said lowering the age to 18 was not a good idea. 

“Quite frankly, when you’re 18 years of age I don’t think you have the maturity, if you will, to be carrying a deadly weapon,” said State Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita. 

The bill also requires Kansas to recognize the concealed carry permits of other states, one reason supporters say lowering the age is needed. 

“The real problem was other states have different ages, so we tried to bring ours in line with theirs so they would continue to recognize the Kansas conceal carry,” explained State Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene. 

Lawmakers on the Judiciary conference committee also found agreement on a bill creating compensation for people wrongfully convicted of a crime. 

Under the bill, a person wrongfully convicted would receive $65,000 for each year they spent behind bars. The bill also includes money for continuing education and health benefits. 

“Some people would say, ‘would you sacrifice a year of your life for $65,000 or $80,000?’ I won’t do it for $200,000, but that isn’t the point. We have to have a starting point and that’s how we came to the number,” explained State Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson. 

However, Senator David Haley said he was disappointed a provision to hold those responsible for the wrongful conviction accountable was taken out of the final bill. 

“The prosecutor who taints the evidence or who just says they need a conviction despite the fact they know the person may not be the one who is guilty. Why should they get off the hook from paying something to it out of pocket,” said Haley, D-Kansas City. 

The Kansas Senate voted down a bill which could have brought dog racing back to the state.

Under the bill, racetracks with slot machines would have to pay about 22 percent of their earnings back to the state, which is the same amount state-run casinos pay to the state. 

Under current state law, racetracks pay about 40 percent of earnings back to the state.

The bill failed on a 17-20 vote. 

The legislative session ends on May 4th. 

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