Governor is sent bill toughening crime laws

? Legislation increasing penalties for criminals preying on children has been sent to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The measure, approved Thursday by the Senate on a 38-1 vote, also increases the statute of limitations for most crimes from two years to five years. The House endorsed the measure last week, 124-0.

Extending the statute of limitations will help prosecutors working on complex crimes like embezzling and public corruption, supporters said. The change brings Kansas law in line with the federal statute of limitations.

The bill also increases the sentence for indecent solicitation of a child and aggravated indecent solicitation of a child under 14 to make prison time a greater certainty.

Also, prosecutors can charge those possessing child pornography images with a crime for each image. Because of an ambiguity in the law, some are charged with one count of child pornography for each method used to store the images, even if thousands of images are involved.

“The enhancements created by this bill will go a long way in our fight to make Kansas safer for all citizens,” said Atty. Gen. Phill Kline.

Another bill sent to the governor Thursday expands the rape shield law to cover any court proceeding. Currently, the law applies only to jury trials.

The law prohibits evidence at trial of an alleged victim’s previous sexual conduct, unless the court decides it’s relevant.