ELLY GRIMM

   • Leader & Times

 

The month of May has been a busy one for the Kelly Administration, with a couple major bills signed last week.

Last Thursday saw Gov. Laura Kelly sign House Substitute for Senate Bill 419, bipartisan legislation that provides legal protections for those that seek or provide medical assistance to a person suffering a medical emergency related to drug use, according to a release from the State of Kansas

“It’s critical for all Kansans to be  empowered to seek or deliver medical assistance during an emergency,” Gov. Kelly noted in the State of Kansas release. “This bill is a lifeline for families and Kansans who are battling substance use disorders. It will save lives and provide the opportunity for recovery. Known as the Good Samaritan Law, this legislation will prevent those suffering a drug overdose and bystanders who seek the help of emergency services from being prosecuted for drug possession or use, providing another important tool in the fight to save Kansans from overdoses from fentanyl and controlled substances.”

Other state leaders also praised the bill’s signing.

“By extending immunity from prosecution to those seeking or providing aid related to controlled substances, we recognize the inherent value and dignity in every life, even amidst drug-related challenges,” Kansas State Representative Nick Hoheisel, District 97, noted in last Thursday’s State of Kansas release. “Whether it's teenagers experimenting with pills or older individuals battling addiction, each life is a precious gift deserving preservation. While advocating for stricter penalties for those involved in drug distribution, immediate action is imperative to keep those already struggling with addiction alive long enough to seek help. This legislation is not just about policy; it's about saving lives, including those of our friends, family, and loved ones.”

“The signing of Senate Bill 419 represents another common-sense policy that will save lives in Kansas. Friends and relatives will now be able to call for assistance in the event of an overdose without undue fear of arrest and prosecution,” Kansas State Representative Jason Probst, District 102, noted in last Thursday’s State of Kansas release. “This bill comes on the heels of the decriminalization of fentanyl testing strips – and combined these two policies work to protect vulnerable Kansans by keeping them alive long enough to get the help they need to healthily recover. This bill represents the sort of compassion and acceptance I’ve always known lives in the hearts of so many Kansans.”

Last June, Gov. Kelly had signed a law decriminalizing the use of fentanyl test strips to prevent overdose deaths in Kansas while increasing criminal penalties for manufacturing or distributing fentanyl.

“The number of stories we’ve heard over the last few years of health care workers being harassed and abused while doing their jobs is appalling and unacceptable,” Gov. Kelly noted in a June 2023 State of Kansas release. “This bill is a win for our state, showing that both sides of the aisle can come together to save lives and protect health care workers.”

“At a time when health care is facing a staffing crisis, we are pleased legislation that provides protections for health care workers has been signed into law,” Chad Austin, president and CEO, Kansas Hospital Association, noted in the June 2023 State of Kansas release. “There are now criminal penalties for assault and battery of a health care worker.”

Friday then saw Gov. Kelly sign  Senate Bill 500, which helps cut red tape for Kansans stuck in a cycle of increasing fines while trying to pay for the reinstatement of their drivers license, according to a release from the State of Kansas.

“This bill puts a stop to the cycle of hardship that Kansans face when their drivers license is suspended, and they are subsequently unable to pay off the debt that accumulates,” Gov. Kelly noted in a release  from the State of Kansas. “This piece of legislation brings necessary reform to our court system, so Kansans can obtain a restricted license, allowing them to get to their jobs as they work to pay off their traffic fines. Current law requires those who fail to comply with a traffic citation to pay their fees in full within 30 days. If they don’t, their license is suspended.”

Senate Bill 500 allows courts to restrict certain individuals’ licenses rather than suspend them so they can continue to be able to drive to school, work, and church as they make payments on the fees they owe. This bill will take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

State leaders praised the legislation.

“I am proud to have championed this transformative legislation that will remove barriers to help ensure Kansans are able to get to work, school, and home while paying off traffic fines,” Kansas State Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, District 29, noted in the State of Kansas release. “This bill will help those Kansans continue to take care of their responsibilities and contribute to their communities while they work their way through the legal system. Kansans who have failed to comply with a traffic citation will be able to petition the court to waive or reduce payment of their court costs. Additionally, fines to reinstate an individual’s license are capped at $100 to prevent further debt.”

“It was a pleasure to help bring Republican majorities together with our friends across the aisle to promote solutions for Kansans caught in a loop of mistakes and bad decisions,” Kansas State Senate Vice President Rick Wilborn, District 35, noted in the State of Kansas release. “I’m proud to give eligible drivers a new chance at responsible citizenship.”

“Senate Bill 500, for me, is more than just a great bill for Kansans. It’s more than just the right thing to do. It also serves as a reminder of Gail Finney’s powerful legacy in which my footsteps are entrenched, and that good work continues in her absence,” Kansas State Representative Ford Carr, District 84, noted in the State of Kansas release. “Thank you again, Gail Finney, for allowing me to be a part of your final chapter and lasting legacy.”

This bill builds on a law Gov. Kelly signed in 2021 that modified eligibility requirements for restricted driving privileges.

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