A legislative committee is recommending a bill to amend the state's so-called Hard 50 sentencing law. The changes would allow juries to decide if convicted murderers deserve 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Under the old system, judges would decide if a crime warranted the harsher sentence of 50 years without parole. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently said judges can't make those decisions.
The bill would also apply some changes retroactively to past crimes. Some attorneys told the committee that it would be unconstitutional to do that.
A legislative committee is expected to meet Monday to begin work on modifying the state's so-called Hard 50 sentencing law.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling raised questions about whether the law could stand as-is. The Kansas law allows judges to sentence convicted murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. The committee is headed by Representative Lance Kinzer, a Republican from Olathe. Kinzer says the committee will hold a public hearing on a fix proposed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
The head of the League of Women Voters of Kansas is hoping that seeing the governor's schedule could reveal the names of candidates for an open court seat. The league has filed an open records request for the calendars of Gov. Sam Brownback and some of his staff.
Gov. Sam Brownback has selected his office's top attorney, Caleb Stegall, as the nominee for an open seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals. Brownback calls him the most qualified candidate for the job.
“His depth of knowledge across the broad spectrum of legal topics continues to impress me and others around this building. I’ve never known an attorney who can provide such excellent counsel on so many topics," said Brownback.
But the top Democrat in the House, Paul Davis from Lawrence, says the selection means that Brownback picked a friend for the job.
The drought that has been gripping parts of Kansas appears to be easing.
Just a few months ago, about 97 percent of Kansas was considered to be experiencing drought conditions. Now, much of central and eastern Kansas is back to normal. That's according to Mary Knapp, with Kansas State University, who called the turnaround "exceptional."
“In central and southeastern Kansas we’ve actually gone from drought to deluge. We’ve got a number of locations that have seen incredible amounts of rain in the last three weeks,” Knapp said.
For many people, horseshoes is a game you might occasionally play during a summer picnic. But for Topeka, horseshoes could mean big business in a couple years. It's been named as the host city for the 2015 World Horseshoe Pitching Championship.