TOPEKA, Kan.

New law says rulings can’t be based on foreign codes

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely.

The new law, taking effect July 1, doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.

“This bill should provide protection for Kansas citizens from the application of foreign laws,” said Stephen Gele, spokesman for the American Public Policy Alliance, a Michigan group promoting model legislation similar to the new Kansas law.

“The bill does not read, in any way, to be discriminatory against any religion,” Gele said.

But supporters have worried specifically about Shariah law being applied in Kansas court cases, and the alliance says on its website that it wants to protect Americans’ freedoms from “infiltration” by foreign laws and legal doctrines, “especially Islamic Shariah Law.”

DENVER

Farm tied to cantaloupe listeria files for bankruptcy

A Colorado farm that was traced to a listeria outbreak in cantaloupe last year has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Jensen Farms declined to comment on its filing Friday. Its attorney Jim Markus told The Denver Post the filing should free up millions of dollars in insurance and other funds that could be distributed to victims.

The outbreak was blamed for 32 deaths. It infected 146 people in 28 states. Federal investigators have said old, hard-to-clean equipment at Jensen Farms and pools of dirty water on the floor probably were to blame.

Court documents show the farm had $2.1 million in assets, $2.5 million in liabilities, and $1.6 million in payments outstanding.

BILLINGS, Mont.

Advocates want bison named ‘national mammal’

Lawmakers want to elevate the Plains bison to a status similar to that of the iconic bald eagle with legislation to declare the burly beasts America’s “national mammal.”

Bison advocates launched a “vote bison” public relations campaign Friday to coincide with the bill.

The National Bison Legacy Act introduced in the Senate is backed by lawmakers from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

The largely symbolic measure would provide no added protections for the estimated 20,000 wild bison in North America. And the bald eagle would still hold a somewhat loftier role as the national emblem, as declared by the Second Continental Congress in 1782.

But supporters said the bison legacy bill would afford overdue recognition to a species that has sweeping cultural and ecological significance. Bison — North America’s largest land animal — already appear on two state flags and the official seal of the U.S. Department of Interior.

“The North American bison is an enduring symbol of America, its people and a way of life,” said Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, a chief sponsor of the bill.

— From news service reports