Fred in the News

Kansas license suspension reforms stumble in Legislature
29 May 2021 at 3:39pm

Kansas Supreme Court staff stepped in this spring to oppose legislation meant to address issues surrounding drivers license suspensions for unpaid traffic fines, an issue pushed by activists for racial justice and the poor nationwide. House Judiciary Committee Chair Fred Patton, a Topeka Republican, said his committee heard testimony last year on a bill to end suspensions for failure to pay traffic tickets, but he didn’t put it to a committee vote. Patton is concerned that ending debt-based license suspensions would mean no punishment for those who violate traffic laws.

Kansas governor vetoes GOP COVID relief plan for businesses
21 May 2021 at 3:34pm

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed a Republican proposal to set aside hundreds of millions of Kansas' federal coronavirus relief dollars to compensate small businesses that faced restrictions earlier in the pandemic. Kelly said in her veto message that the measure was “well intentioned” but violated a federal coronavirus relief law enacted in March.  “Certainly, we all want to get money into businesses' hands that were closed and harmed,” said Kansas House Judiciary Chair Fred Patton, a Topeka Republican. “On the other side, we want to protect the state. We don't want to have hu...

NIL compensation bill for NCAA athletes uncertain after transgender athlete b...
14 May 2021 at 3:28pm

A bill coveted by the University of Kansas, Kansas State and other universities allowing student-athletes to receive limited compensation is facing significant uncertainty in Topeka, prompting concern that recruiting efforts will be negatively affected.  "(Universities) are concerned about recruiting and they're concerned about athletes coming to Kansas if other states are willing to compensate them for name, image and likeness," said Rep. Fred Patton, R-Topeka, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "That's why the House thought it was important to get that legislation passed."

Vaccine passports, other virus issues split Kansas lawmakers
7 May 2021 at 3:12pm

Both Democrats and some Republicans worried that a proposed ban on vaccine passports being circulated by GOP conservatives was too broad, applying to private businesses as well as state and local government agencies. House Judiciary Chair Fred Patton, of Topeka, argued that the budget provisions on vaccine passports and contact tracing address lawmakers' concerns. "I think we're finished with the vaccine passports and contact tracing," Patton said.

Kansas House Committee passes revised marijuana bill, could see House vote th...
4 May 2021 at 3:07pm

The Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee Tuesday morning passed out a revised Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act. It now goes to the House for a vote, which could happen this week. Marijuana legislation has never made it to the full House before, but not all lawmakers seem opposed to the idea. “I’m not open at this point to full-scale marijuana anywhere and everywhere, but if we can figure out how people need it for medical needs, then I’m open to hearing what those issues are and how we can help with that,” Rep. Fred Patton (R) said.

Kansas lawmakers returning to Topeka Monday for veto-override, finalize budget
3 May 2021 at 3:00pm

Kansas lawmakers are heading back to the Capitol City Monday to start wrapping up the legislative session. This includes finalizing the state budget and attempting to override a number of bills vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly. In order to override a veto, bills need to get two-thirds majorities. This means 84 out of 125 in the House and 27 out of 40 in the Senate. Rep. Fred Patton said this is going to be difficult task for Republican leadership during this final stretch of the session. “There is not a single bill that got vetoed that had enough votes initially to override a veto, people would...

Plan approved for clearing COVID-19 backlog in Kansas courts
29 Mar 2021 at 1:48pm

Kansas legislators on Monday approved a measure that would give judges and prosecutors a little more than two years to clear a backlog of criminal cases that built up during the coronavirus pandemic. The state House voted 114-7 to pass a plan for clearing an estimated backlog of 5,000 criminal cases. The measure goes next to Gov. Laura Kelly because the Senate approved it last week. “It’s just not feasible, given the backlog that we have, that we’re going to get caught up quicker,” said House Judiciary Committee Chair Fred Patton, a Topeka Republican. “People who committed heinous crimes,...

Lawmakers take up backlog of court cases caused by pandemic
29 Mar 2021 at 1:45pm

Kansas legislators are working to give prosecutors and courts time to clear a backlog of several thousand criminal cases that built up during the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate approved, 32-7, a bill Wednesday night that would suspend until May 1, 2023, a law aimed at protecting defendants’ constitutional right to a speedy trial. House Judiciary Committee Chair Fred Patton, a Topeka Republican, said he’s inclined to ask the House next week to approve the Senate’s version of the speedy trial bill and send it to Gov. Laura Kelly.