Standing House chamber

Legislators in Kansas Push DUI Reform Bill

The Kansas legislature is pushing forward a new law aimed at allowing those convicted of a DUI the opportunity to have their records expunged in five years, as opposed to the current decade that they must currently wait. The original bill would have reduced that time to three years, but such a law would have fallen outside of current federal guidelines. Federal guidelines require that each state have no shorter than a five year “look back” period for considering prior drunk driving convictions as valid priors and for the convictions to remain on the record in general.

 

The Federal government cannot force States to follow this rule, but they do limit Federal Highway Fund expenditures to such laws being complied with by the states. The same principle applies to the 21 and over drinking age, and the 0.08% blood Alcohol Level limit in general, failure of the states to follow such guidelines makes them ineligible for Federal Highway Fund expenditures.

 
Still, a five year “look back” period would be five years shorter than most states, including California. According to Sacramento Criminal Attorney Michael Rehm, the most common “look back” period is ten years. The most recent change moved the “look back” period from seven to ten years. The courts have ruled that these changes in the laws shall be applied retroactively. This means that if you were convicted of a DUI when the law said the “look back” period was seven years, you are still bound by the ten year “look back” period. This construction of the law by courts has drawn scrutiny from defense attorney advocacy groups, as well as Constitutional scholars. However, this retroactive reading by the Courts would seem to benefit those convicted under the ten year “look back” period in Kansas, who now face only the five year period if the bill becomes a law.

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Two Illinois Democrats Vote For Keystone Pipeline

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According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, two House of Representatives Democrats from Illinois reached across the isle and joined every house Republican from Illinois in voting in favor of the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The two democrats were Cheri Bustos and Dan Lipinski. The Keystone Pipeline is the oil pipeline that will deliver oil from Hardisty, Alberta in Canada to oil refineries in Port Arthur and Houston, Texas. Much debate has focused around the economic boost that the Keystone oil pipeline will have. Bobby Rush, the Democratic House Member from Chicago stated that only around 35 full time jobs will be created, while at the same time, Peter Roskam, a Republican House member from Washington stated that 42, 000 American jobs would be created. That’s a big difference.

 
There is also debate in the environmental impact the Keystone Pipeline would have with Democrats emphasizing that the pipeline would be disastrous for the environment, while Republicans insist any damage would be nominal and well worth the economic boost that would come in return.

 
The measure passed the House 266-153 which is enough to pass the measure, but not enough to override the veto that President Obama has promised should the bill land on his desk. As stated in the Tribune: “This bill is dead on arrival if it ever reaches the president’s desk.” Bobby Rush. Mr. Rush, the House Democrat from Chicago has his claim to fame as the only person to ever defeat President Obama in an election, defeating the then State Senator in the 2000 primary for his House seat.