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New Year, new laws
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New laws went into effect Wednesday across the nation. For example, Kansas was one of eight states where new or higher registration fees for electric vehicles went into effect, according to CNBC.

“For the first time, a majority of U.S. states will impose special fees on gas-free cars, SUVs and trucks — a significant milestone as the trend toward green technology intersects with the mounting need to pay for upgrades and repairs to the nation’s infrastructure.” The charge in Kansas will be $100.

Although the new year started on Wednesday, new laws in Kansas often take effect on July 1. For example, in 2019, the Kansas Legislature amended the minimum number of safety drills that are conducted in schools each year — lowering it from 16 to at least four fire drills, two tornado drills and three crisis drills. “Crisis drills” were added in 2018 to prepare students for threats such as active shooters.

One new law Kansans won’t see in 2020 is something like Colorado’s new “red flag” law, which went into effect Jan. 1. The Colorado law will allow family, household members or law enforcement to petition a court to have guns removed from the possession of people deemed a threat to themselves or others. In Kansas and Oklahoma, political writer John Hanna with the Associated Press reports that Republicans are proposing measures aimed at blocking future “red flag” laws. The proposals “would prevent local city and county governments from enacting such laws. They would even go so far as to make it a felony for someone to help enforce such an order,” Hanna reported.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the state’s leading anti-abortion group, Kansans for Life, plans this year to pursue an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to reverse a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the constitution guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion.

Other reports indicate 2020 legislation may expand mental health and substance abuse services for criminal offenders.

The Kansas Legislature returns to work on Monday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. Here’s wishing our lawmakers a happy new year filled with common sense and reason. A good New Year’s resolution for the rest of us would be to keep informed about what’s going on in Topeka. Sign up for your representative’s or senator’s newsletter, or attend one of the coffees or other public events where our legislators are scheduled to answer questions.