TOPEKA (KSNT)— The Kansas Senate voted 30-9 to override the veto of a bill that creates the crimes of human smuggling and aggravated human smuggling. The bill now becomes law.

The House voted 85-39 to override Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of House Bill 2350 Wednesday.

“This is a way that we can stand here and ensure those folks that argue that members of our community are not exploited for financial gain,” said Rep. Stephen Owens, a Republican from Hesston, who carried the bill in the House.

The bill defines the crime of human smuggling as intentionally transporting, harboring, or concealing an individual into or within Kansas when the person:

  • Knows, or should have known, that the individual is entering into or remaining in the United States illegally;
  • Benefits financially or receives anything of value; and
  • Knows, or should have known, that the individual being smuggled is likely to be exploited for the financial gain of another.
  • The bill makes the crime of human smuggling a severity level 5 person felony.

During hearings in March, a representative of BIDS testified as an opponent on the bill, expressing concerns related to the bill’s impact on Kansas courts and due process rights of vulnerable populations as well as potential legal challenges associated with the bill.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed the bill Monday, releasing the following veto message:

“House Bill 2350 is the product of a rushed process. I agree immigration issues need to be addressed, but this bill will have unintended consequences, from decimating our agriculture workforce to allowing the state to encroach into Kansans’ personal lives. 

You just have to look at basic examples: If a good Samaritan gives his or her fellow Kansan a ride to work and receives gas money in exchange – or if a paramedic, while on duty, transports someone to the emergency room – they could be subject to level-five felonies. That overcriminalization is unnecessary and shows that lawmakers haven’t considered the full impact of this bill. 

Kansans deserve considered, comprehensive legislation when it comes to immigration – not bills with sweeping language that would hurt law-abiding Kansas citizens and open the state up to expensive lawsuits. 

Therefore, under Article 2, Section 14(a) of the Constitution, I hereby veto House Bill 2350.” 

Gov. Laura Kelly, (D) Kansas