State talking points

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Kansas House moves to stop late night sessions, bill bundling

Kansas House members are moving to ban post-midnight sessions of their chamber and make it harder for lawmakers to bundle multiple bills into pieces of legislature, according to the Little Apple Post.

The measure, which got first-round approval on Tuesday would prevent the chamber from being in session between midnight and 8 p.m. unless two-thirds of the members allow it.

The House also gave first round approval to rules that would prevent negotiators from the two chambers from combining two or more bills into a single measure.

Final action on both rules will take place on today. The Senate must also approve the set of rules as well.

Kansas measure would boost penalties for burglaries

The state Senate is considering a bill that would increase penalties for home burglaries, according to the Junction City Post.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said the measure was required as burglary victims were frustrated that perpetrators often got off with probation.

The Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee held a hearing on Tuesday about the measure. The bill would make a potential prison sentence for any home burglary six months longer for a first time offender for a maximum of 19 months.

According to Thompson, while it is unknown how the measure would impact prison populations in the state, a proposed amendment would aim to make up for the issue. The amendment would downgrade offenses such as shoplifting to misdemeanors and reduce penalties for repeat offenders of those crimes.

Marijuana issue to feature on April ballot in Wichita

Following a petition which received thousands of signatures, Wichita voters will get the opportunity to ease penalties on first-time marijuana offenders, according to the Little Apple Post.

Current marijuana laws in Kansas make it illegal to possess any amount of marijuana, even small amounts. First-time offenders are charged with a class-A misdemeanor punishable with up to a $2,500 fine, a year in jail or both.

The proposal makes a first-time marijuana offense a criminal infraction with a $50 fine and a summons or citations rather than an arrest. If convicted, it can be expunged after 12 months if the offender stays out of legal trouble. The proposal would only impact offenders 21 years old or older carrying 32 grams or less of marijuana.

Pat Roberts introduces bi-partisian bill to protect rural hospitals

Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a bill to protect critical access hospitals and their patients by eliminating a new “condition of payment” rule from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to the Junction City Post.

The rule, which currently requires physicians in rural CAHs to predict and and limit a patient’s stay to within 96 hours. Roberts said the the rule compels doctors to predict the unknown and damages the doctor-patient relationship.

The main issue of contention would be whether the hospital would be reimbursed if the patient’s condition changes and cannot be discharged within the 96 hours.

The bill is being backed by prominent Democratic and Republican senators including Jon Tester (D-Montana), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississipi).

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