TOPEKA — The House and Senate agreed to send Gov. Jeff Colyer legislation on Thursday creating a state law forbidding people from possessing a firearm if convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse in the past five years or subject to court-issued restraining orders for harassment or stalking of an intimate partner.
"We have no law in the state of Kansas to cover this. Someone who is caught in that situation, the case has to be filed in federal court," said Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican and chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.
Original contents of House Bill 2145 also forbid possession of a firearm by a fugitive from justice or an immigrant unlawfully in the U.S. The Senate agreed with those provisions but amended the bill to alter criminal use of a weapon to say possession of a "throwing star" was unlawful only if a person had intent to harm.
The Senate adjusted the bill to say Kansas statute exempted from state prosecution anyone possessing a firearm sound suppressor exclusively manufactured, sold and possessed in Kansas. In the past, two Kansas men were prosecuted in federal court for selling and owning a suppressor despite following the Kansas statute.
House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat running for governor, said he had worked as a prosecutor and handled domestic violence cases.
"Sad cases," Ward said. "Today, let's stand up for domestic violence and prevent guns from being used in this way."
Barker and Ward convinced the House, on a vote of 113-6, to accept the Senate's amendments on throwing stars and suppressors and move the bill to Colyer's desk.
Meanwhile, the House refused to accept a bundled bill crafted by Senate and House negotiators to name highways for members of the Kansas Highway Patrol killed in the line of duty. Under Senate Bill 375, former Kansas Gov. John Carlin also would have a section of Interstate 70 named in his honor, but only after he had died.
Rep. Shannon Francis, R-Liberal, objected to the portion of the bill related to tributes for Carlin. The GOP-led House voted 75-42 to send the legislation back to negotiators, with a message to strip out language tied to the former Democratic governor.
The House also rejected a Senate-passed agreement to modify state liquor laws. The concoction in House Bill 2470 lowered the starting time for bars and restaurants serving liquor to 6 a.m., rather than 9 a.m., to cater to night-shift employees or individuals gathering at odd hours to watch international sporting events. The time change was criticized because businesses serving alcoholic beverages would be open while children were making their way to school.
It also set a maximum limit of 0.5 percent alcohol in candy marketed to adults, a benchmark proposed by the House. The Senate stepped away from its position of a 1 percent maximum.
Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, said the lower threshold would undermine production of candy by a Kansas City, Kan., company that injects amounts of alcohol in excess of 0.5 percent. Apparently, he said, the limit wouldn't influence candy production at a company in Barker's hometown of Abilene.
"I know at times in this chamber we talk about being business friendly and with providing business certainty," Jennings said. "We are about to regulate them in a way that will materially affect their business."
He made a motion, endorsed by the full House, to reject the compromise bill and ask negotiators in the Senate and House to try again.
"We can't do everything for everyone," said Barker, who opposed Jennings' motion. "I worry. Kids will eat chocolates no matter where they're at and what they contain."