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Kansas Senate leader has plan to toughen 'Hard 50'

Published on -12/5/2013, 3:53 PM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce says he'll push next year to strengthen the state's "Hard 50" sentencing law for convicted murderers.

The proposal outlined Thursday by the Hutchinson Republican comes only months after a special legislative session to fix a flaw in the law.

It allows people convicted of premeditated, first-degree murder to be sentenced to at least 50 years in prison.

Legislators had to fix the law because it had said judges decided whether the circumstances of a crime warranted the "Hard 50" sentence rather than at least 25 years in prison. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court said juries must decide such issues.

Bruce said he wants the "Hard 50" to be the presumed sentence, with judges deciding whether to lessen it in some cases.

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