Kelly signs bills promoting development incentive transparency, combating domestic violence

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Gov. Laura Kelly has signed legislation that makes state economic development incentives more transparent, combats domestic violence and stops judges from lowering prison sentences because a child victim was viewed as an “aggressor.”

Kelly signed one bill that requires the state to audit its development incentive programs every three years and reveal information about who receives them.

Passed unanimously in both chambers, the bill requires the Commerce Department to create a database revealing who receives the incentives and the amount distributed across the state.

Information in the database would include:

  • Qualifications for each incentive program, including criteria specific to a business receiving the incentive. The criteria must include any requirements regarding the number of jobs created or the amount of the initial or annual capital improvements.
  • Descriptions for each economic development program.
  • The cost of each program and the return on investment.
  • Total incentives received by recipients in each county.
  • Total incentives distributed by each economic development program.

The bill comes two years after a Pew Charitable Trusts study criticized Kansas for lacking a plan to regularly evaluate tax incentives.

Kelly also signed another bill that stops judges from lowering prison sentences for adult sex offenders because a child victim was viewed as  an “aggressor” who contributed to the crime.

The bill, backed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt, came after The Kansas City Star reported how a Leavenworth County judge thought a pair of teen girls were aggressors in a sexual encounter on the internet with a 67-year-old man.

The judge used that as a basis for lowering the sentence of the man, who was convicted of soliciting a teen girl on Facebook.

“Judges must interpret and apply the law with common sense and an understanding of the real world, especially in child sex crime cases,” Kelly said in a statement.

“I was deeply troubled when a Kansas judge viewed a child victim as an aggressor when an adult commits a sex crime,” she said.

That same bill also includes a provision requiring authorities to inform domestic abuse victims that a person arrested in a case can be released in a short amount of time.

The bill, including both measures, passed the House unanimously and the Senate on a 37-3 vote.

Also, Kelly signed a bill extending the judicial branch surcharge the Legislature reauthorized in 2017 to fund nonjudicial personnel for six years, through June 30, 2025. It had been set to expire this June.

The bill also establishes a law providing that district courts shall extend full faith and credit to orders, judgments, and other judicial acts of tribal courts of any federally recognized Indian tribe.

The recognition is extended only to judgments in tribal courts that grant full faith and credit to judgments of state courts.

The bill passed 35-5 in the Senate and 120-3 in the House.