New Kansas law doubles crime victim funding, requires release of information in child deaths

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

The Kansas Statehouse in Topeka is pictured on Dec. 20, 2023.

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly and Attorney General Kris Kobach celebrated doubling the maximum weekly compensation to Kansas crime victims and granting to members of the state board responsible for reviewing aid applications greater latitude to make awards based on the goal of avoiding profound injustice.

The legislation endorsed by Kobach and signed into law by Kelly would raise the authorized level of statewide funding provided crime victims to $500,000 annually from the current level of $300,000 each year. The bill approved by the Legislature on unanimous votes capped maximum individual payouts at $25,000.

Kelly said House Bill 2781 enabled the Crime Victims Assistance Fund to raise individual awards to $800 per week and would make it more likely survivors of crime had access to services needed to overcome trauma. The awards for victims of human trafficking would range from $350 to $800 per week.

“Thanks to this bill, survivors of crime will be better supported to receive the care they need to achieve stability and independence,” the governor said.

The state review board would be authorized to reduce or withdraw financial assistance if the victim or claimant wasn’t fully cooperative with law enforcement agencies.

Awards would be made if criminal conduct resulting in injury or death was reported to a law enforcement officer within 72 hours after the incident occurred, the victim obtained a forensic medical examination within seven days of the offense or when the state board found good reason for a person to fail to meet those time constraints.

In terms of some sexually violent crimes, applications would be considered valid if filed within two years of reporting the incident to law enforcement. Victims could be granted awards based on claims filed up to 10 years after a crime was committed in instances in which DNA testing revealed the profile of a suspect.

“We have an obligation to assist victims as they recover,” Kobach said. “This new law doesn’t erase their trauma, but being able to provide more and better financial assistance to crime victims helps restore a piece of their lives.”

Michelle McCormick, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said the attorney general, Legislature and governor collectively recognized Kansans victimized by violent crime deserved more extensive support while navigating circumstances of recovery.

“Victims of crime were struggling against an outdated law that, in some areas, hadn’t been revised since the ’90s,” said Rep. Dan Osman, D-Overland Park. “We tackled that problem holistically, with a trauma-informed approach that puts victims and survivors first.”

Meanwhile, Kelly said Friday she signed House Bill 2628 to require the Kansas Department for Children and Families to release information on child fatalities when criminal charges were filed and the minor was involved with the state’s child welfare system.

She likewise signed House Bill 2703 to mandate public school students in the custody of DCF to be identified as academically at-risk to make certain they were eligible for special education programs and services.

Kelly also signed House Bill 2453 to allow Kansas to take part in a dentist and dental hygienist compact with other states to create additional employment opportunities in Kansas. She signed a bill allowing Kansas to participate in an interstate compact for social workers in an attempt to widen access to mental health care and to simplify the licensing processes.

— Tim Carpenter reports for Kansas Reflector.


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