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Merit Selection Reform Makes a Big Move

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Proponents of merit selection reform had a very good week as both the Senate and House judiciary committees passed their version of the Federal Model out of committee. Actually the Senate Judiciary Committee passed two bills, SCR 1601 and SB 8, which will aid in the elimination of the current judicial selection process. There were no real surprises in the Senate Judiciary Committee as passage of these bills were seen as a foregone conclusion but there was some technical fixes that were needed before the committee could move SB 8 out. The technical fix involved the naming of the new seven-member commission created in SB 8. As introduced the seven-member commission was called the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications. However, the Supreme Court already has a commission with that name looking into complaints levied against judges so the new commission needed a name change. The Senate Judiciary Committee settled on the Kansas Commission on Judicial Nominations.

Quick Take:

On Monday, January 28 the KBA hosted the first Lunch & Learn with Lawyer-Legislators at the Kansas Capitol. This event allowed lawyer-legislators to receive 1.0 hour of CLE credit without leaving the Capitol. Many thanks to the Capitol staff and to Sen. Jeff King for making this event a success. The KBA hopes to provide our hardworking and time depraved lawyer-legislators with additional opportunities to receive CLE credit during the session.

 

Things in the House Judiciary Committee were a little more dramatic as Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita) made a motion to pass out of committee the KBA’s 4-5-6 Plan instead of the Federal Model plan that was under consideration. The Ward amendment failed 10-12. Out of the 10-committee members voting in favor of the 4-5-6 Plan, five were Republicans. This is a good sign as we move into the votes on the House floor. However, the original federal model proposal, HCR 5002, was passed on a voice vote. There was a significant amendment to HCR 5002 that moved the election date from the August primary to the November general election. The Senate considered this amendment but failed to pass it.

 

Later this week the Senate will consider SCR 1601 and SB 8 in General Orders with Final Action probably the following day. The House will likely debate this issue next week but a timetable is not set yet. If you are interested in contacting your legislator to express your thoughts on merit selection reform you can locate your legislator using the link below: http://ksbar.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=341.

 

If you would lie to learn more about these proposals you can find that information here: http://ksbar.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=346.

 

Besides merit selection there will be two hearings next week dealing with probate issues. These bills, HB 2014, revoking an ex-spouses inheritance rights upon divorce, and HB 2015, domestic relations relating to marital property, will be heard on Thursday, January 31 at 3:30 p.m. in Rm. 346-S by the House Judiciary Committee.

 

You should also be interested in three bills dealing with the Supreme Court. The first is HB 2016, which would repeal the one judge per county requirement. This bill was introduced by Rep. Lance Kinzer and allows the Supreme Court to reassign a magistrate judge from a district with less than 600 non-traffic cases per year. The reassignment would come as judges retired. The Supreme Court has introduced their own one judge per county bill but it would simply give the chief justice the authority to reassign judges with no set timetable. This is very similar to what they introduced last year. The Supreme Court also introduced a bill that would allow them to create an e-filing fee fund.

 

Agriculture attorneys may find these bills interesting:

  • HB 2049, Kansas department of agriculture; increasing certain fees and eliminating sunsets on various program fees; and
  • SB 57, agriculture; powers and duties of the department of agriculture relating to animal health.

Attorneys with a criminal law practice should pay attention to the following bills:

  • SB 61, human trafficking;
  • SB 66, requiring the collection and publication of district attorney criminal and juvenile offender caseload data;
  • HB 2041, criminal history record information; definition; municipal court reporting; district court reporting;
  • HB 2043, aggravated battery; driving under the influence; and
  • HB 2093, amending the crime of ID theft.

Lawyers interested in elder law and/or health law should review the following:

  • HB 2068, Kansas death with dignity act.

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