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Kan. 'Hard 50' changes likely in place by Sept. 19

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Changes in the Kansas law allowing convicted murderers to be sentenced to at least 50 years in prison are likely to take effect by Sept. 19.

A bill making the changes says they take effect upon being printed in the Kansas register, the state's official digest for legal notices, which is published each Thursday. Lawmakers approved the measure during this week's two-day special session.

Under the bill, juries will determine whether a defendant convicted of premeditated, first-degree murder gets the "Hard 50" sentence. Judges have handled the task, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June said juries must.

The Kansas House expects to deliver the bill Monday to Gov. Sam Brownback.

He has 10 days to act, but spokeswoman Eileen Hawley says he'll sign it as quickly as possible.