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New laws mean new changes in Kansans’ lives

Kansas will no longer require permits for concealed-carry. (March 5, 2015)
Kansas will no longer require permits for concealed-carry. (March 5, 2015) File photo

Editor’s note: The total cigarette tax per pack has been corrected from previous versions of the story.

Starting Wednesday, Kansans will pay 50 cents more for a pack of smokes but can carry a concealed gun for free.

You can bring your own bottle of booze to art lessons and use Uber to get a ride home afterward to avoid any drunken driving complications.

You can legally bet on one-day fantasy sports leagues, but you’ll have to identify your moose if you move it off the ranch.

Those are just a few of the new laws taking effect in Kansas as the state passes the traditional July 1 enaction date.

State legislators struggled in trying to balance the budget and pass a tax plan to fund it during their record-setting stay in Topeka this year.

They didn’t quite succeed – the budget relies on $50 million worth of cuts still to be made by the governor.

But the extra 24 lawmaking days left plenty of time for other laws to get through the process.

In 114 days, the Legislature passed 105 bills. Gov. Sam Brownback signed 103 into law, vetoed one and still has one before him.

Following are some of the new laws.

Guns

Kansas now becomes the fifth state to allow residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Under previous law, a permit and required safety training would have cost about $230 or so. Now it’s free. The state will still offer the formal permit for those who have a need to carry in other states that honor Kansas permits.

Drinking

The new law says you can bring your own bottle to any business that will let you. This was originally designed to allow BYOB classes at art studios but was expanded to include all businesses. Another new law bans the sale of powdered alcohol but loosens regulations on drinking on public property and handing out samples of alcoholic beverages.

Cigarettes

If you’re a smoker, you’ll help fund the state budget shortfall to the tune of an extra 50 cents a pack. That brings the tax to $1.29.

Human trafficking

This new law allows victims of human trafficking to bring civil lawsuits against traffickers. Under previous law, traffickers could be put in jail, but their victims couldn’t recover damages for their pain and suffering.

Cervids

Some Kansas lawmakers learned a new word this year. Cervids are any member of the deer/elk/moose family, and raising them is big business in some parts of the state. This year’s law says that if you transfer a cervid on or off a ranch, you have to identify the animal to the state. Cervids that go straight to the slaughterhouse are exempted from the requirement. Under previous law, domesticated cervids had to be identified with a tag, tattoo or ear notch.

Elections

Kansans won’t be voting for city councils and school boards in the spring anymore. The new law moves those elections to August and November of odd-numbered years.

Election fraud

The Legislature and governor granted authority to Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his successors to prosecute allegations of voting fraud.

DUI

This law establishes harsher sentences for drunken and drugged drivers who crash and cause disabling injuries. It’s called “Mija’s Law” after Mija Stockman, a McPherson teacher who suffered disabling injuries in a 2013 crash. Another law makes it harder to expunge a DUI conviction or breathalyzer refusal from a person’s criminal record.

Restraints

A new law bans restraint and seclusion of students unless the student presents an immediate danger of harming himself or others.

Transparency

The law empowers the state attorney general to take action enforcing local government open-meetings and open-records laws.

Fantasy sports

This allows Kansans to bet on daily fantasy league contests without running afoul of gambling laws.

Charity raffles

The law legalizes the widespread – but until now technically illegal – practice of selling chance tickets for prizes to raise money for nonprofit groups.

Public employment

The law begins the process to phase out most civil service jobs by allowing agency heads to decide whether to hire workers as classified employees with traditional civil-service protection or unclassified workers who can be hired and fired at will.

▪ Veterans parking – The law allows disabled veterans to park, without charge, in publicly-owned parking facilities.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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