Lawmakers consider two bills involving shared custody and swatting

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas lawmakers are considering bills that will change the states stance on shared custody and the other will impose harsher penalties in swatting cases.

50/50 Custody

Proponents stood up and gave testimony in favor of the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee to bring the state more in line with 50/50 parenting after a divorce.

"For a year, I tried to fight to get into a courtroom to be able to explain my and be able to see my again. For a year, I watched my kids fade from my life," said one father Paul Swaneson.

Members of the National Parents Organization said clear and convincing evidence should be the standard in all custody cases before judges, and say nearly equal time with parents is in the best interest for children.

But opponents say they cannot support the bill because of the way it's written.

"It also changes 157 years of Kansas law where we've given our judges the tools to make an informed decision that's best for the children, rather than just a rubber stamp, one size fits all, in every case," explained Wichita lawyer, Charles Harris.

The bill was not voted on, and is still in committee.

Swatting

A bipartisan bill was introduced in the House Judiciary that will address the growing and deadly trend of swatting.

"This is something where you've got someone who clearly has an ax to grind and is acting outside the law, and there's really no consequence for his actions," said Republican bill sponsor, Rep. John Whitmer, of Wichita.

The bill is in response to a swatting incident that led to the shooting death of Andrew Finch in Wichita earlier this month. It was the first deadly swatting incident in the nation.

"If someone should die as a result of a false calls for emergency assistance, the penalty will now be between 10 and 40 years," said the Democratic sponsor of the bill, John Carmichael, of Wichita.

Both say they know of several lawmakers who will back the bill.

"We had to have some kind of consequence for the actions. It's asinine that someone would make this kind of call and think he could get away with it, or worse, it would be a slap on the wrist for making a false police report," Whitmer explained.

Both representatives Whitmer and Carmichael say they hope this legislation will be a model for other states.