Governor Kelly Signs Bipartisan Bill
Reforming Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

— Governor Laura Kelly today signed Senate Bill 458, reforming the Kansas Standard Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Act. The bill establishes new guidelines for asset forfeiture, improving due process for property owners, increasing governmental accountability, and not unduly interfering with federal assistance to local law enforcement in asset forfeiture.

“This bill represents a significant step forward in ensuring fairness and accountability in asset forfeiture proceedings,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “These reforms will protect the rights of property owners and promote greater transparency in law enforcement practices.”

For many Kansans whose property has been seized, the cost of recovering it is often greater than its value. Senate Bill 458 introduces key reforms to the process of Kansans recovering property they have had seized, including permitting courts to award attorney fees to certain claimants who get an order returning their property.

“Anyone who learns about civil asset forfeiture immediately agrees it’s a problem. Unfortunately, for years, we could never agree on what the solution should be,” said Kansas State Representative Dan Osman, District 48. “This year, I worked with judges, lawyers, law enforcement, legislators, and advocates from across the state to create a bill that comprehensively reforms this systemic issue. I’m thrilled we could get unanimous bipartisan and bicameral approval to eliminate this injustice.”

Additionally, Senate Bill 458 requires additional steps to initiate the civil asset seizure process and requires clear and convincing evidence in order to move forward with seizure. The bill also imposes limitations on requests by state and local law enforcement for federal adoption of seizures, ensuring these requests are made only under specific circumstances related to joint investigations or serious public safety concerns.

In addition to Senate Bill 458, Governor Kelly also signed the following bills:

Senate Bill 19: Establishes the Educational Master’s for Enhanced Readiness and Global Excellence (EMERGE) program, which will cover tuition and fees for eligible members of the Kansas national guard to pursue certain graduate degrees. The bill also requires school districts to establish requirements for cardiac emergency response plans, including the placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDS) in school buildings.

House Substitute for Senate Bill 143: Updates the Elevator Safety Act to implement common sense regulations for elevators.

Senate Bill 292: Updates the Kansas Code of Military Justice (KCMJ) to align with changes to the United States Code of Military Justice under Title 10 and modernizes other state statutes related to the operations of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.

House Substitute for Senate Bill 349: Continues certain exceptions to the disclosure of records under the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) related to fingerprinting and criminal history record checks under the Industrial Hemp Act, carriers of alcoholic liquors under the Kansas Liquor Control Act, and concerning information in the Scrap Metal Theft Reduction Act database.