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Gov. Sam Brownback has signed legislation to keep Kansas' courts open, while abortion rights advocates have rallied and Democrats are endorsing public safety proposals

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TOPEKA, Kansas — Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation Monday to keep Kansas' courts open, while abortion rights advocates rallied at the Statehouse and Democratic legislators endorsed public safety proposals.

The abortion rights rally focused on a proposal to repeal the state's ban on so-called telemedicine abortions.

Democratic legislators voiced their support during a news conference for three measures, including one to help the Kansas Highway Patrol hire more troopers.

Here is a look at legislative developments Monday.


JUDICIAL FUNDING PRESERVED

The legislation Brownback signed is a response to a legal dispute involving the court system's budget and the Kansas Supreme Court's administrative power.

The measure will take effect Thursday and will repeal a 2015 law threatening the court system's budget.

That law said the judiciary's budget through June 2017 would be nullified if the courts struck down a 2014 law.

The 2014 law stripped the Kansas Supreme Court of its power to appoint chief judges in the state's 31 judicial districts and gave it to local judges instead. The high court invalidated the 2014 law in December.

GOP lawmakers who supported both laws have said they never intended to close the courts.

Brownback said in a statement, "any questions about Judicial branch funding availability are resolved."


ABORTION RIGHTS LOBBYING

Representatives from Planned Parenthood, and two other abortion rights groups, Trust Women and United for Reproductive & Gender Equity, are lobbying in favor of a bill to allow women to undergo abortions induced by medication without requiring a physician to be physically present.

Both chambers of the Legislature have strong anti-abortion majorities. Abortion opponents have said the ban on telemedicine abortion protects women's health by making sure there is a doctor present to treat potential complications.

But Erendira Jimenez, an URGE student leader from Wichita State University who grew up in western Kansas, said the current ban against telemedicine abortions has especially disadvantaged rural women.

The abortion rights rally came after hundreds of abortion opponents gathered at the Statehouse last month on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion across the nation.


PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURES

One of the public safety measures endorsed by Democratic legislators would impose a new, $2 vehicle registration fee to allow the Kansas Highway Patrol to hire 75 additional troopers. Thirty-five of the state's 105 counties have no assigned trooper, and the patrol has about 80 fewer troopers than it did a decade ago.

The new fee would raise about $5.4 million a year.

A second bill endorsed by Democrats would require a minimum number of staff members at state agencies and facilities, while a third would prohibit selling or transferring firearms to anyone on the terrorist watch or no-fly list.

Senate Minority Leader Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said the proposals would "immediately make Kansas families safer in their homes, on their roads and in their communities."


MORE KANSAS BUSINESSES

The number of businesses in Kansas grew by 5 percent last year, Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office reported.

Kobach's office said Kansas had about 179,000 businesses at the end of 2015. That's about 8,600 more than at the end of 2014.

His office noted a record of nearly 17,300 businesses formed in Kansas last year.

The report also showed that a growing number of businesses also dissolved, withdrew or forfeited their right to remain active in Kansas. More than 15,600 did so last year, up slightly from 2014.


Online:

Kansas Legislature: http://www.kslegislature.org .

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