TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The Kansas Senate has sent Gov. Sam Brownback a bill revising a state law allowing 50-year sentences in certain murder cases to fix a constitutional flaw.
The legislation requires juries rather than judges to decide if the facts of a case warrant a sentence of 50 years without parole.
Wednesday’s 40-0 Senate came one day after the House approved the measure 122-0.
Kansas legislators revised the so-called “Hard 50” law during a special session prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Virginia case. The high court ruled that giving judges the sole authority to determine whether to impose a mandatory minimum sentence was unconstitutional.
Kansas adopted the “Hard 50” in 1999, replacing a mandatory 40-year sentence that had been in place since 1990.
After today’s passage, Governor Sam Brownback released the following statement:
“I congratulate the legislature, and especially House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle, on thoughtfully addressing the issue of public safety and repairing Kansas’s “Hard 50” sentence.
The Legislature acted quickly, with resolve and narrow focus, to protect the safety of all Kansans and I appreciate their service. The broad bipartisan support for the “Hard 50” sentencing guidelines can be seen in the unanimous votes in both the House and Senate.
Kansas legislators demonstrated their commitment to all Kansans with their quick and decisive actions.
Several appointments were confirmed during this Special Session, including Jim Clark as Secretary of Administration, Josh Ney as Securities Commissioner and Caleb Stegall to the Court of Appeals. A total of 19 Kansans were approved to serve on boards and commissions. I appreciate the diligence of the review committees and Senate in confirming them, and I thank these Kansans for their willingness to serve their fellow citizens.
I join my fellow Kansans in thanking the Legislature for its commitment and service, and especially for the collaboration shown throughout this special session.”