Politics & Government

Cop sex and garbage trucks: A look at 7 new Kansas laws

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From protections for Good Samaritans, to stopping law enforcement officers from having sex during traffic stops, to traffic rule changes — a host of new laws go into effect in Kansas this weekend.

July 1 is the traditional start date for new laws in the state, and this year brings plenty.

The new laws are a result of the Legislature's session this spring, which lasted 91 days. According to legislative researchers, 10.3 percent of the bills introduced became law.

Here are a few highlights:

Good Samaritans

Good Samaritans who break windows to get a child or pet out of a hot car will be protected from lawsuits going forward.

Kansas joins 18 other states in providing legal immunity to people who believe a person or pet is in imminent danger.

The extreme summer heat can prove deadly to children and animals who are left in vehicles, which can rapidly heat up within minutes. In the United States, about 37 children die on average each year from being trapped inside hot cars.

In one high-profile case in Wichita, a foster parent was sentenced to prison after the 2014 death of his 10-month-old foster daughter after she was left in a hot car for 2½ hours.

On July 1, a new Kansas law will go into effect that will legally protect Good Samaritans who break a window to rescue a person or animal. Amber Rollins, director of KidsAndCars.org, demonstrates how to safely break a window using a device.

Police can't have sex

Law enforcement officers will now be prohibited from having sex during traffic stops or while an officer is detaining someone.

Before this law, Kansas was one of 33 states where consensual sex between police and people in their custody wasn’t illegal.

The new law stems in part from the case of Lamonte McIntyre, a Kansas City, Kan., man released last year after spending 23 years in prison for a double murder he didn't commit.

The investigation in that case led to multiple affidavits alleging that the detective who made the arrest, Roger Golubski, had a long history of coercing sex from women in Kansas City's black community by threatening to arrest them or their relatives if they didn't comply.

Penalties for swatting

People who engage in “swatting” will now face stronger penalties in Kansas.

Making a false emergency call that alleges violent criminal activity or immediate threats to a person’s life is now a felony. If the response to the false call results in physical harm or death, the crime becomes a more severe felony.

Using software or electronic devices to conceal the source of a false call is also a felony.

The Legislature changed the law after Wichita police killed Andrew Finch in December. Tyler Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles, has been charged with manslaughter in Finch’s death. He is accused of making a bogus call, reporting a made-up murder and hostage situation that prompted police to respond to Finch’s home.

Finch’s family pushed for the legislation after his death.

The Wichita Police Department released videos during a press conference on April 12, 2018. District Attorney Marc Bennett said the Wichita police officer who fired the shot that killed Andrew Finch after a swatting call will not face charges.

Slow down for garbage trucks

Drivers must now slow down when passing garbage trucks collecting trash, under a new law that also requires drivers to move into an adjacent lane if one is available.

The new law also allows golf carts to be driven on the street at night if equipped with the same lights required for motorcycles. The golf carts must also have an emblem that notes they are slow-moving vehicles.

The law will continue to prohibit golf carts on highways and on any street with a speed limit over 30 miles per hour.

Adoption change

A new law ensures faith-based adoption agencies can turn away gay and lesbian couples based on religious beliefs. The Kansas Department for Children and Families cannot block any foster or adoption agency from participating in its programs solely because it refuses to adopt or place children with LGBT individuals.

Opponents call the Kansas legislation discriminatory. Supporters say the bill doesn’t give adoption or foster care agencies any extra rights but that the law is aimed at allowing as many agencies as possible to operate in Kansas.

The adoption law is among several that states across the nation have passed or are considering.

Executive lobbying

Lobbyists attempting to influence the executive and judicial branches of government will now have to disclose their efforts.

Previously, only legislative lobbyists had to register and report how much they spend on gifts for officials.

The change will provide greater insight into efforts to influence the governor, who has the power to sign or veto legislation. It will also provide additional information on attempts to influence state agencies on contracts or regulations.

Questions arose last fall over the process used to select a contractor to rebuild a state prison in Lansing. The company ultimately selected, CoreCivic, had hired then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s former chief of staff and campaign manager as a lobbyist in the process.

Reporting abuse and neglect

Emergency medical services workers will now be required to report suspected abuse and neglect of adults. The EMS workers in addition are required specifically to report possible abuse and neglect of residents of nursing homes and other medical facilities.

Contributing: Dion Lefler of The Eagle and Matt Campbell of the Kansas City Star

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