H.B. 2820 adds a new presumption in the severance of parental rights law that a person is an unfit parent if that person has been convicted of capital murder, murder in the first or second degree, or voluntary manslaughter. A judge may disregard any such person's recommendations in regard to placement of the child or children.
The bill also makes a number of other amendments to the Code for Care of Children and an adoption statute, as follows.
Supporters of H.B. 2820 in the House Committee included: the legislator who requested the bill, which is partially modeled after "Lizzies Law" from Massachusetts; the Executive Director of Best Interests of the Child, Inc.; and a representative from the Kansas National Organization for Women who also spoke on behalf of a father of a daughter who was murdered by her husband.
The Senate Committee deleted the House version of H.B. 2820 and amended instead the severance of parental rights statute to add parents who commit murder to the current presumptions of unfitness to insure due process requirements are met.
The Senate Committee also added into H.B. 2820 provisions of S.B. 683, which would amend the Kansas Code for the Care of Children to conform Kansas law with the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
The fiscal note for S.B. 683 indicates the courts could experience a fiscal impact if there is an increase in child in need of care filings. SRS indicates that passage of the bill would have no fiscal effect. However, it indicates that if the bill does not pass, the state would no longer be in conformance with federal law and would not be eligible to receive $25.0 million in federal funds.
The Senate Committee of the Whole amended provisions of S.B. 616 dealing with dispositional alternatives of children following voluntary relinquishment of parental rights.
The original H.B. 2820 would have required automatic termination of parental rights by operation of law without any hearing for those persons convicted or adjudicated of capital murder, or murder in the first degree, when the victim was the other parent of the child. Parental rights may be terminated for those convicted or adjudicated of murder in the second degree or voluntary manslaughter when the victim is the other parent.
In the above situations, the court will disregard the guilty person's or adjudicated juvenile's wishes or opinions about the placement of the child.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.