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Wichita to host Special Olympics North America softball tournament -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Via Christi to offer 2 events to help people enroll for insurance -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Sedgwick County withdraws from National Association of Counties -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Kansas House panel holds hearing on marriage -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

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Second police officer to appeal firing to City Council -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

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Drop, Cover, Hold On -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Bill would let home-schooled students play on public school sports teams -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

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Kansas Senate set to pass 'constitutional carry' of concealed guns, no permit required -1/22/2015, 12:07 PM

Kansas Senate committee hears from medical marijuana supporters -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

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Meetings to discuss goals of education -1/22/2015, 11:02 AM

Wichita City Council could vote on marijuana issue Tuesday -1/22/2015, 11:02 AM

Salina woman's bank card fraudulently used -1/16/2015, 4:59 PM

Retiring judge marks end to an era -1/16/2015, 4:05 PM

Man accused of beating, shocking woman -1/16/2015, 4:05 PM

Wichita City Council votes 5-2 to move ahead with library plans -1/13/2015, 2:50 PM

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Misdialed 911 calls from cellphones waste taxpayers' money -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

Mahindra to launch Midwest distribution center in Lyons -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

County commission votes Shadwick chairman -1/13/2015, 2:44 PM

Dr. Donna Sweet earns award from American College of Physicians -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

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No-till farming focus of winter conference in Salina -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Negative publicity costly to county -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Hutch man pleads guilty to assault on officer -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Final person sentenced in connection with beating of Salina woman -1/7/2015, 10:59 AM

City Council to consider higher storm water utility fees -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Change for the better -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Sylvia home deemed total loss after fire -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

New commissioners respond to county issues -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Man arrested in connection with alleged rape -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

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Cold front plunges much of Kansas into deep freeze -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Access TV looking to increase quality -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Voting for grants will end on Christmas Day -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Santa Claus welcome year-round at Hutch home -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Marquette tyke gets big wish; family destined for Disney World -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Kan. death has spurred work on virus -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Hospice rep goes to bat for nonprofit -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Cirque du Soleil coming to Wichita -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

V-Plan transmission line now in service -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Plains pupils: Pluto's a planet -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Hutch United Way campaign slips further from goal -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Hutch inmate charged with sexual assault -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Colorado teenager injured in 1-vehicle wreck on I-70 -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Salina Journal hires attorney to pursue names of county commission candidates -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Hays resident to sign copies of his book in Salina -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Grandview Plaza shows another clean audit -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Eighth-grader earns educational opportunity -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

koch121514 -12/15/2014, 9:56 AM

Cattle rustlers hit several counties -12/14/2014, 6:13 PM

Michael McDonald brings soulful sounds of Christmas to Stiefel Theatre -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

McCarville enjoyed Kan. Supreme Court work -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

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Max Heim selected interim president of Colby Community College -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

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Abilene's Garfield Elementary has potential -12/5/2014, 5:54 PM

Man arrested for shoplifting at Salina Walmart -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Former school counselor sentenced for rape of 13-year-old boy -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

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Kansas highway projects to proceed as state grapples with budget -12/4/2014, 2:00 PM

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Sedgwick County trying to renegotiate IRS building deal -12/4/2014, 1:59 PM

Wichita police find 75-year-old woman -12/4/2014, 1:50 PM

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Defendant in Fairmount Park attack now charged with capital murder -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

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Foster dad pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in baby's death in hot car -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

WSU to dedicate upgraded lab to study electrical power -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Wilbur Middle School employee placed on leave after arrest -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Wichita investors announce plan for southeast Kansas casino -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

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Kan. AG posts proposed bill to fix 'Hard 50' law

Published on -8/20/2013, 10:12 AM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Monday released the language he wants legislators to consider when addressing the Kansas "Hard 50" law during next month's special session, limiting the amount of "new" concepts to be considered.

The Republican said that he completed a draft of the bill to consider during the special session, which starts Sept. 3, with the consultation of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association.

The "Hard 50" law allows convicted murderers to be sentenced to at least 50 years in prison with no chance of parole. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June questioned the constitutionality of such sentences.

"We have to the extent possible incorporated language from other sections of existing statute in order to minimize the injection of 'new' concepts or language into this special session," Schmidt wrote in a letter to legislators and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, must determine whether the facts in a criminal case warrant a mandatory minimum sentence. In Kansas, judges have considered whether aggravating factors in cases of premeditated, first-degree murder warrant the "Hard 50" rather than life in prison with parole eligibility in 25 years.

Under Schmidt's proposed legislation, a jury would hear evidence presented by prosecuting attorneys stating factors why a defendant should be sentenced to a minimum of 50 years in prison. Defense attorneys would then argue why a lesser sentence should be applied, and jurors would weigh the factors before making a decision.

That's nearly identical to the process that jurors use for deciding if a defendant who has been convicted of capital murder should receive the death penalty or be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Schmidt said the measure was drafted so that it would cover those cases where crimes were committed after the legislation is signed into law, as well as those previously committed.

The attorney general has identified about two dozen murder cases that could be affected by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but defense attorneys have noted that even if the convicted offenders don't receive the "Hard 50," they'll still spend years behind bars -- with no immediate danger of their release.

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