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October 6, 2012

Selected attorney general opinions on Kansas law

A selection of attorney general’s opinions that were based on Kansas law as it existed when the opinions were issued:

A selection of attorney general’s opinions that were based on Kansas law as it existed when the opinions were issued:

Jan. 28, 1974, Vern Miller:

Question: Must all pickup trucks be equipped with two stop lamps and electric turn signals?

Answer: No. “Passenger cars and trucks … manufactured or assembled prior to January 1, 1953, need not have more than one stop lamp … and such vehicles need not be equipped with electric turn signals."

Sept. 21, 1976, Curt Schneider:

Question: Is a truck that is hauling material to a highway construction site exempt from the law that requires that loads be secured? (The question arose after a rock flew out of the bed of a truck in Barber County and broke a woman’s windshield.)

Answer: “The vehicles are subject to the requirements of the statute. The exception applies only during actual spreading operations.”

Jan. 12, 1981, Bob Stephan:

Question: If a school disciplines a “misbehaving” child by banning the child from a school bus, does the school district have to pay for alternative transportation?

“As long as a child is not suspended or expelled from school and is entitled to have transportation provided … school authorities may not refuse to provide or furnish transportation.”

May 18, 1987, Bob Stephan:

Question: Can a Kansas police officer pursue a traffic violator into another state and make an arrest for a crime committed in Kansas? Such arrests typically occur if a driver is intoxicated or is named in an outstanding arrest warrant.

Answer: Kansas and its adjoining states have “fresh pursuit laws” that allow officers to write tickets in adjoining states. “In order for a Kansas law enforcement official to make a lawful stop and arrest in Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Missouri, the individual pursued must be suspected of having committed a felony in Kansas.” Misdemeanor and felony arrests are allowed in Colorado.

March 25, 1991, Bob Stephan:

Question: When a state law says no liquor retailer’s license shall be issued for a premises that is within 200 feet of a school or church, does that mean from property line to property line, building to building, or a combination of the two?

Answer: A “church” is defined by state law as a “building … used exclusively as a place for religious worship.” No such definition exists for “school,” but students clearly congregate at times on school grounds outside a school building.

“We conclude that the 200 foot requirement … should be computed in a straight line … to the nearest property line of a neighboring school. In the case of a church, this line should be computed in a straight line from the actual church building.”

June 22, 1992: Bob Stephan:

Question: Does the “caller ID” service offered by telephone companies violate state search and seizure laws?

Answer: “Such devices are generally prohibited without a court order. However, as caller ID service is provided only at the customer’s request … a caller ID service would not violate Kansas law.”

March 25, 1996, Carla Stoval:

Question: Is gambling over the Internet at virtual casinos located outside Kansas legal if the computer from which the bet is made is located within this state?

Answer: “If a bet is placed or a lottery entered into via a computer located in the state of Kansas, then the crime is committed partly within this state, and participants in the crime may be prosecuted in this state.”

May 23, 2005, Phill Kline:

Question: In a joint-custody situation, may either parent authorize therapy for a child without the knowledge or consent of the other parent?

Answer: “Either parent may authorize therapy for a child or children without the knowledge and/or consent of the other parent, absent any court order directing otherwise.”

March 16, 2006, Phil Kline:

Question: Can a law enforcement agency close public records that contain a law enforcement officer’s address, home phone number, family member information or photograph?

Answer: Yes. “Unless there is a showing that the employee in question has somehow consented to the release or waived a claim of privacy, or there is a showing that the general public interest is served by releasing such information.”

March 29, 2010, Steve Six:

Question: Does a law that requires dog and cat breeders to have “reliable electric power” in their kennels apply to breeders who are Old Order Amish whose religion precludes them from using electricity?

Answer: “The Kansas Animal Health Department can enforce a regulation that requires animal breeders to have electricity in their kennels regardless whether this requirement conflicts with a breeder’s religious practice.” The ruling noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from complying with valid laws.

Oct. 31, 2011, Derek Schmidt:

Question: Is a person using an electronic cigarette inside a public building “smoking” within the meaning of the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act?

Answer: “The Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act does not apply to e-cigarettes because the Act fails to define “cigarette,” and based upon the ordinary and common definition of the word, an e-cigarette would not be considered a “cigarette” subject to the Act.

March 30, 2012, Derek Schmidt:

Question: Is a person disqualified from running for sheriff if he or she has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and has completed a diversion program.

Answer: Because diversion does not result in a conviction, “the person is not disqualified … from being a candidate for or holding the office of sheriff.”

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