News Briefs

Kansas governor signs juvenile justice measure, medical student assistance bills

By: - May 12, 2023 3:33 pm

Gov. Laura Kelly announced the signing of a medical school financial assistance bill in her latest round of bill signings. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law a juvenile justice reform measure and a bill that provides funding for medical school students — as long as these students don’t perform abortions. 

Kelly announced the signing of House Bill 2060 Friday. The bipartisan legislation, passed 32-3 in the Senate and 83-39 in the House, expands financial aid programs through the University of Kansas School of Medicine in an attempt to attract and retain more medical professionals statewide. 

“Primary care physicians and psychiatric professionals are needed across the state,” Kelly said. “This provides an opportunity for recent graduates to go into the field of medicine to meet the needs of Kansans while receiving relief from student loan debt incurred to become a medical professional.”   

The program provides tuition and a stipend to students who agree to practice primary care medicine or psychiatry in areas of need in the state. The bill includes obstetrics and gynecology training in the list of medical residency programs that are qualified for loan assistance, as long as the OBGYN resident doesn’t perform or attempt to perform abortions, or work in a clinic that performs abortions while completing their service requirements.

Exceptions to the abortion provision will be allowed in medical emergencies or in rape cases. Medical residents or students who violate the rule would have to pay back financial assistance and accumulated interest. 

The plan also authorizes the Kansas Board of Regents to award scholarships to state undergraduate students enrolled in or admitted to osteopathic medicine programs. 

Kelly also announced the signing of a juvenile justice reform bill Friday, following months of complaints from foster care officials and advocates who have said the current system isn’t working. One activist compared the Kansas juvenile justice system to a festering wound. 

House Bill 2021, passed 22-16 in the Senate and 119-1 in the House, extends the amount of time spent on certain juvenile offense cases, requires the creation of juvenile justice data systems, encourages increased spending on intervention programs and allows detention for probation violations. 

Under the bill, the Kansas Department for Children and Families would have to adopt a standardized risk and needs assessment for children with behavioral problems by October of 2023. The bill also requires DCF to work with other departments to place children into programs based on their needs, among other provisions. 

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.