Crime & Courts

Bill will raise fines for traffic violations

TOPEKA — Kansans could pay $15 more if they violate traffic laws under a bill approved Thursday by the state House.

Senate Substitute for House Bill No. 2226 would bump up fines for dozens of infractions ranging from moving violations such as speeding and improper turns, to equipment violations such as defective mufflers and unauthorized lights on church buses.

About two-thirds of the money would go to the state general fund. The remaining money would be divided between corrections and law-enforcement programs as follows:

* 10.94 percent to the crime victims compensation fund.

* 7.65 percent to the Department of Corrections alcoholism and intoxication programs fund.

* 2.75 percent to the community alcoholism and intoxication programs fund.

* 2.91 percent to the criminal justice information system.

* 2.28 percent each to emergency medical services, traffic records enhancement and the trauma fund.

* 0.16 percent to the boating fee fund.

* 0.11 percent to child advocacy centers.

Rep. Pat Colloton, R-Leawood, who carried the bill on the House floor Thursday, said she thinks the provision restoring some money for drug and alcohol treatment for released prisoners is the most significant aspect of the bill.

Those services had reduced offenses by one-third among released inmates who went through the program, cutting the prison population by 500 through 2008, Colloton said.

"When they come out (of prison), if they don't have a program, they will commit the kind of minor, but persistent, crimes drug abusers commit," Colloton said.

But money for the program was chopped in 2009 because of the state's budget crisis, "so what are we doing in Appropriations (Committee) this year? We're opening another prison," Colloton said.

Another significant aspect of the bill is that it would pay for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to replace its dedicated phone lines to local law enforcement agencies throughout the state, Colloton said.

AT&T is planning to discontinue the existing lines and the KBI needs to upgrade to the newer and faster infrastructure, Colloton said.

The lines are used to share crime records and suspect information statewide. They also act as a major communication conduit between local agencies and the KBI, she said.

She said it is especially important to small counties that can't afford substantial detective staffing and rely on KBI for investigations.

The bill now goes to the governor for a signature or veto.