Kansas Smoking Age to Increase

Kansas law soon will require individuals to be age 21 or older to buy cigarettes.

Gov. Laura Kelly announced Tuesday she has signed bipartisan legislation raising the minimum age for buying, possessing or consuming tobacco products in the state from 18 to 21. The Senate passed House Bill 2269 on a vote of 28-11 in late March, after the House passed the bill 68-53 in early March.

Kansas joins more than 30 other states with similar age restrictions on tobacco. The bill takes effect July 1.

Smokers between the ages of 18-20 make up about 4.74% of adult smokers statewide. The bill’s fiscal note estimates 4 million fewer packs of cigarettes will be sold in Kansas.

Kansas could preserve $1.2 million in federal funding for tobacco enforcement and lose an estimated $7.6 million in state sales tax and cigarette stamp revenue in the first year of the law’s enactment, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

Kelly also announced Tuesday she had signed four other bills into law.

House Bill 2288 includes Kansas in an interstate compact for  clinical counselors, allowing practicing counselors from other participating states to work in the state. The legislation is meant to increase the state’s licensed professional counselor workforce.

“This bill proves that on so many issues facing our state, the best legislation comes from compromise and collaboration, finding commonsense, middle-of-the-road solutions,” Kelly said in a news release.

The bill passed the House 121-0 and the Senate 36-4.

Senate Bill 120 gives the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment authority to implement regulations for a yearly certification program geared toward replacement of water distribution systems. Under the legislation,  municipalities would also be given a ten-year extension on loan repayment, with participating local governments given 30 years to repay loans from the  Kansas Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund.

The bill passed the House 114-9 and the Senate 37-3.

House Bill 2121 extends the suspension of statutory speedy trial rights for criminal cases, moving the deadline from May 1, 2023, to March 1, 2o24. Kelly suspended the speedy trial law via executive order in 2021 in response to the massive backlog of criminal cases that built up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With attorneys still struggling to finish backlogged cases, defendents’ right to a speedy trial in all criminal cases will be sidelined until next year. The law also specifies that the time between March 19, 2020, and March 1, 2024, can’t be assessed against the state for any reason.

The bill passed the House 112-9 and the Senate 32-8.

House Bill 2240 requires district court clerks to notify  parents, guardians and court-appointed special advocates when a child is placed in a residential treatment program.

The bill passed the House 122-0 and the Senate 40-0.

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Story by Rachel Mipro via Kansas Reflector 

Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash