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Minutes for SB74 - Committee on Transportation

Short Title

People with certain disabilities; motor vehicle registration information and notation on state-issued identification cards.

Minutes Content for Fri, Feb 17, 2017

Chairperson Petersen opened the hearing on this bill that was continued from Wednesday, February 15. Scott Wells gave an overview stating this bill contains the provisions of what is known as Joey's Law and would allow a resident who submits satisfactory proof to the Director of Vehicles that such person needs assistance with cognition, including persons with autism spectrum disorder, to request that such information be included as part of the vehicle registration.  They would also be issued a decal to be placed on the license plate of the vehicle and would be able to obtain a driver's license or a state-issued identification card that would have a notation of the impairment on the card.

Ed Klumpp, representing the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Kansas Sheriffs Association, and Kansas Peace Officers Association, continued his presentation. In talking to counterparts, Mr. Klumpp came across the idea for the placard. Mr. Klumpp had a suggested amendment attached to his testimony that would provide a placard for persons with autism that could be moved to any vehicle the person was driving.  The person would also have a notation on his/her driver's license.  He added the real answer is officer training to deal with people with disabilities.  There are 7,500 law enforcement officers in Kansas and it takes awhile to get them trained and kept up-to-date.  He stood for questions.

Senator Hawk noted this bill talks to more than autism and the ability to cognitively process the situation.  There could be variations of mental illness or disability on processing cognitively depending on whether the person was taking medications or not. Senator Hawk is later proposing an amendment to limit it to autism.  Mr. Klumpp said he agrees that the broader the bill becomes, officers would not know with which persons they are dealing.  He suggested starting out small and seeing if there is participation, and then expand it later.  For hearing and speech impaired, there already is information for those individuals on their driver's licenses.  He noted officers have to be able to de-escalate the situation.  Chairperson Petersen noted Mr. Klumpp's amendment focuses on persons with cognitive issues, and Mr. Klumpp said that is correct.

Senator Fitzgerald asked if Kansas has a license tag for the speech and hearing impairment.  Mr. Klumpp said no, but he got that idea for a placard from the state of Virginia.  Mr. Klumpp said he used the statute for disability placards and modified it to fit this scenario.  This did not include speech and hearing impaired. Persons who qualify for a disability placard also are issued and must carry an ID card indicating eligibility for the placard.

Chairperson Petersen closed the hearing on the bill, and then asked that the bill be worked.

Senator Hawk offered an amendment to the bill.  Mr. Wells distributed the amendment (Attachment 1).  Senator Hawk's amendment would replace a Christian Science practitioner with a person licensed by the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board among those who could submit a statement the person needs assistance with cognition.  He suggested people submitting this proof should be licensed at least at the clinical level in Kansas to diagnose and treat autism. 

Senator Hawk moved, Senator Pettey seconded, to adopt this amendment adding the word, "clinically" before "licensed."  The motion carried.

Senator Hawk had an amendment (Attachment 2) to keep the bill specific to those with  autism spectrum disorder. Chairperson Petersen noted we should look at the amendment by Mr. Klumpp first. 

Senator Petty moved, seconded by Senator Doll, to adopt the amendment recommended by Mr. Klumpp.  The motion carried.

Senator Pettey said she likes the fact the bill would be applicable to someone who needs assistance with cognition but is concerned about limiting it to autism, for future reference.  Mr. Wells clarified that the Klumpp amendment replaces Section 1 with a section authorizing a placard, and leaves sections 2 and 3 in the bill which cover the the driver's license and state ID.

Chairperson Petersen said Senator Billinger had an amendment and copies were distributed (Attachment 3).  This amendment makes it optional to request a decal for a license plate because of the cost.  Mr. Wells explained this amended the old version of section 1 to request a decal or a placard or both.  With the amendment just approved, the decal is no longer an option and the placard is.  Chairperson Petersen asked if this amendment were adopted, would there be a way a person could request a license plate or option of a decal?  Yes, Mr. Wells indicated he could come up with language to include the option of a decal.

Senator Hawk was not in favor of the decal indicating, it could result in targeting.  A family could have three vehicles.  Joey was not in his vehicle.  As a start, it is much better to go with the placard on the dash and not the decal on the license plate. Senator Pettey agreed, and the placard could move from vehicle to vehicle. 

Chairperson Petersen moved this amendment, seconded by Senator Tyson.

Senator Fitzgerald said in view of fact Senator Billinger is not here for his explanation, the amendment is not necessary given the amendment already added.

Senator Tyson withdrew her second. 

Chairperson Petersen noted that Senator Billinger can work with Revenue on this bill and Senator Billinger will carry this bill on the floor to explain it and could offer an amendment there if he found it necessary.

Senator Hawk said it becomes very difficult to identify the cognition.  Training for police officers only for autism spectrum disorders would accomplish Joey's Law.  Chairperson Petersen asked staff if "would autism spectrum disorders," should "and" be added after would. 

Senator Hawk moved, seconded by Senator Hardy, for this amendment to make the bill specifically for those autism spectrum disorder.

Concern was expressed about:

  • Other disorders that need assistance for cognition that law enforcement might encounter such as:  post-traumatic stress disorder with symptoms of broader disorders, diabetic conditions, taking medications or not taking medications, and other conditions described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
  • As science evolves, the definition of autism might change.
  • The situation presented deals with a person who is autistic and who has passed a driver's license test.

Senator Hawk withdrew his amendment.  There were no further amendments.

Chairperson Petersen returned the Committee to the bill as amended.  Senator Billinger returned to the meeting.   He noted this bill is a tool for law enforcement to know there is someone with a cognitive impairment.  The Chairperson said the Committee did amend the bill, and Senator Billinger would be carrying the bill and would have the opportunity to amend Substitute Bill for SB74.

Senator Petty moved, seconded by Senator Doll,to pass the bill as amended into  Substitute Bill for SB74. The motion carried.