Politics & Government

House OKs one-hand hunting knives

TOPEKA — A bill legalizing pocketknives that can be opened with one hand won final approval in the state House on Thursday.

The law still would ban switchblades — spring-loaded knives that open at the press of a button — but allow spring-assisted knives that can be opened one-handed by a stud attached to the blade.

Lawmakers who supported the bill said the knives are already widely available and used for hunting, fishing and farm and construction work, unlike switchblades, which are more associated with stabbings and street mayhem.

The bill was prompted by requests from knifemakers who wanted assurances that their products would not be construed as deadly weapons in Kansas.

The knife provision is part of a larger bill described by supporters as a "cleanup" of the state concealed-carry law.

Key changes relating to guns include:

* Prohibiting government agencies and private employers and business owners from banning concealed weapons in their parking lots and garages.

* Changing the rules to deny concealed-carry licenses to ex-convicts. Language originally written into the state law was deleted in favor of language used in federal law. Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, who carried the bill on the floor, said the federal requirements to get a permit are stricter than what was in the original bill.

* Requiring more prominent signage to notify permit-holders when guns are banned from a building.

The bill now goes to the governor to sign or veto.

Work on DUI proposal stalls in Senate

TOPEKA — The Kansas House and Senate are at odds on requiring first-time drunken-driving offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles for a year.

The impasse threatened legislation designed to prevent budget problems for the state Department of Corrections.

A 2009 state law scheduled to take effect this July strengthens the penalties for driving under the influence. Lawmakers now worry that state prisons will be overwhelmed with new inmates, and they want to delay the law's implementation for a year.

During a debate in March on that bill, the House attached the ignition interlock proposal.

But the Senate rejected the House version Thursday. Senators said the requirement will raise costs for cities and counties, which handle first-time offenders.