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Minutes for HB2629 - Committee on Transportation

Short Title

Removing mandatory jail time for a habitual violator convicted of driving while the driver's license of the person is canceled, suspended or revoked.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 17, 2022

Staff briefed the Committee on the contents of this bill (Attachment 1) and answered questions.

Chairman Proehl recognized Bobby Lyghtle, Jr. as the first proponent to speak.(Attachment 2)  Mr. Lyghtle said people like him are trying to get to work and take care of their families and homes but get caught in a punitive cycle that is nearly impossible to escape and ultimately makes things worse. He urged the Committee to remove the mandatory jail-time punishment for driving while suspended.

The Chairman recognized Wendi Stark as the next proponent. (Attachment 3)  According to Ms. Stark the League's support of this bill stems from the enhancement of judicial discretion afforded by removing the mandatory sentencing for "habitual violators" convicted of driving while their license is suspended. She said if HB2629 moves forward judges will still have the discretion to order jail time if they deem it to be in the best interest of the community.

Chairman Proehl recognized Jim Howell (Attachment 4) He said he has become increasingly aware that there are an enormous number of Kansans who currently have their driver's license suspended.  He said most of these suspensions are consequences of poverty and a system that strips a driver's license as a punishment.

Dr. Walt Chappell was recognized as the next proponent. (Attachment 5)  Dr. Chappell said there are over 200,000 Kansans of all races who have had their driver's license suspended because they did not have enough money to pay $200 or more for the original traffic fine and court costs within 30 days as required by Kansas statutes. He said passing HB2629 is a step in the right direction.

The Chairman recognized Ty Wheeler who gave testimony for Marilyn Harp. (Attachment 6)  According to testimony not attending a scheduled court appearance or paying a fine or fee assessed by the courts results in many persons in Kansas automatically getting their drivers' license suspended.  Driving without a valid license results in further fines and reinstatement fees.  He said there are a number of reasons that keep people from showing up to court or not paying a fine. The most common reason being that they are poor, can't take off work, can't afford a fine.  Often the person with the suspended license still has to drive to work, take their children to school and the doctor, go to the store and other necessary trips of everyday life.

The Chairman drew the Committee's attention to Written Testimony submitted in support of HB2629:

Tramaine J. "TJ" Ingram, KS State Conference of NAACP branches (Attachment 7)

Sheila Officer, Chair, Racial Profiling Citizens Advisory Board of Wichita (Attachment 8)

Bonita Gooch, The Community Voice (Attachment 9)

Lawanda Deshazer, Community Advocate, Wichita Racial Profiling Advisory Board (Attachment 10) 

 

There were no other proponents so the Chairman called for Opponents to HB2629.

The first opponent to speak was Ed Klumpp. (Attachment 11)  According to Mr. Klumpp the basis of their opposition is the risk these violators pose to traffic safety on our roads and highways. Habitual violators had to have been convicted at least three or more times of the eight  serious traffic offenses listed in subsection (a) of KSA 8-285  (he attached a copy of to his testimony.)  Those violations include vehicular homicide, DUI, driving while suspended, leaving the scene of an accident, and others.

The Chairman drew the Committee's attention to the Written Testimony in opposition to HB2629 from Col. Herman Jones, Kansas Highway Patrol. (Attachment 12)

There were no other opponents or neutrals so the Chairman closed the hearing on HB2629.

 

Announcements - There is no meeting scheduled at this time.

 

There being no further business before the Committee the meeting was adjourned.