Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2005

Spate of new laws takes effect Friday

June 30, 2005

Friday brings the beginning of July, and with it comes a slew of new laws for the state of Kansas.

Some are only minor revisions to old laws, but others are new regulations that will create an immediate impact on people in the Lansing area.

Nine military and veterans' initiatives will surely affect the Fort Leavenworth community. One of the new laws - regulating annexation of land into cities - was inspired by Herman Visocsky of Lansing.

Mike Howell, a Lansing resident and senior vice commander of Lansing Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the new laws pertaining to veterans would benefit Kansas.

"I think they're all good," he said. "One thing they needed to stop doing was taking money from veterans to fund other programs."

The new laws will indeed put money back into military and veterans' projects.

One piece of legislation will help fund state veterans memorials and history projects. Another will create military provisions specific to military borrowers that include not garnisheeing any wages or salary for service in the armed forces.

And a benefits and provisions act will provide up to $150,000 in extra possible benefits for the beneficiaries of a Kansas National Guard member who dies while on federal active duty.

Howell seemed most pleased with the state's decision to add war medals, such as the Purple Heart, to license plates.

"I think that's super," he said. "It shows a little more veteran's pride. I would like to see them go even further with it where Vietnam veterans can get a plate. There's nothing wrong with displaying something like that."

The annexation law, which Visocsky inspired after he was involved in an annexation dispute with the city of Lansing last April, will force cities to consider 16 different factors when annexing land unilaterally. If the city then approves annexation a court must determine if the annexation is reasonable.

"The old annexation law favored the city," Visocsky said. "I figured regardless of what happened in my case the law needed to be changed."

Though Visocsky was happy about the new law he said he now has his sites set on changing a bigger law, concerning eminent domain for private development.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses, for private economic development.

"I'm trying to change the law on the state level," he said. "If the city thinks a wealthy business can generate more dollars for the city on your land the city can force you to leave, and only give you market value for your property. It's the start of socialism."

Kansans that want to purchase a drug containing pseudoephedrine - Sudafed for example - to tame their allergies should be prepared to take a trip to the pharmacy counter, show identification and sign their name.

And they can forget about buying Sudafed or any similar over-the-counter drugs at a convenience store or grocery store where there is no pharmacy.

The controls are contained in the Sheriff Matt Samuels Chemical Control Act, which is aimed at tightening the sale of ingredients used to make methamphetamine. The act is named for the Greenwood County sheriff slain while serving a warrant on a suspected meth lab.

Other new laws of interest include:

¢ A constitutional amendment outlawed gay marriage by stating that all marriages other than those between one man and one woman shall be null and void.

¢ Health legislation will require each school district to allow self-administration of medication for students in kindergarten through grade 12.

¢ A law inspired by Herman Visocsky's unsuccessful battle against annexation by the city of Lansing increases the factors that come under review when a city expands its boundaries. It requires district courts, when an annexation is challenged, to determine whether the annexation is reasonable and the service plan adequate.

¢ A childhood obesity act directs the State Board of Education to make nutritional foods and beverages available to public school students during the school day.

¢ Small employers who contribute to their employees' health benefit plans will be able to claim a refundable tax credit for contributions made after Dec. 31, 2004.

¢ The Kansas Health Policy Authority will be charged with improving the health of Kansans and developing and maintaining a coordinated health policy.

¢ The penalty for writing worthless checks is increased by raising the threshold amount for a felony offense from $500 to $1,000.

¢ Rape shield protection will expand to cover the crime of unlawful voluntary sexual relations.

¢ Those convicted of a sexually violent crime no longer will have prison time count toward the 10 years they're required to register as a sexual offender.

¢ A racial profiling act makes it unlawful for a law enforcement officer to rely on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or religious dress as the sole factor in subjecting individuals to routine investigatory activities.

¢ Businesses that enter partnership with a school district to employ teachers during times when schools are not regularly in session will receive an income tax credit for the tax years of 2005-2007.

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