Kansas Legislature Opens Special Session

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas legislators have opened their special session to address a proposed change to the state's ``Hard 50'' prison sentence in response to a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The House and Senate leaders banged the gavel Tuesday shortly after 8 a.m. to read the resolution by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback formally calling the special session.

House members planned to consider the ``Hard 50'' measure by Tuesday evening. It would modify how defendants are sentenced to a mandatory 50 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in a ruling in a Virginia case that juries must determine whether a mandatory minimum sentence is warranted in criminal cases. Current Kansas law lets judges make that determination but the proposed bill would give that task to juries.