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Special Session Opens Today

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Kansas Legislature reconvened at 8 a.m. today to finalize last week’s "Hard 50” proposal. Committees on both sides of the aisle will work this week to fix the sentencing structure for the most heinous of crimes. The Kansas Legislature is responding to a U.S. Supreme Court case that found certain sentencing guidelines to be unconstitutional when imposed by a judge and not a jury. The full opinion can be found online at http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2013s/documents/us_supreme_court_decision_alleyne_v_us.pdf/ and a report from the Special Committee on Judiciary can be found at http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/2013CommRpts/spc-judiciary-cr.pdf.

 

The plan will be for the House to debate and pass the "Hard 50” proposal first, then sending it over to the Senate Wednesday or Thursday before a final Senate vote. The bill should be on the governor’s desk shortly thereafter.

 

It is also important to remember that legislators cannot receive or solicit any campaign contributions while they are in session. Be mindful of that little hiccup in the fundraising rules.

Quick take:

 

Judicial funding will play a role this week as the Kansas Supreme Court requests additional funds for this fiscal year in anticipation the 14th Court of Appeals judge position is confirmed. The Supreme Court will need money to complete renovations, hire staff, and pay other bills not in the original budget. A supplemental funds request has already been sent over to the Legislature for their consideration.

 

In addition, I reported in my "Legislative Wrap–Up” article (found in the KBA July/August Journal) that the Supreme Court "should be able to avoid furloughs during the two-year budget cycle” by using unencumbered funds. While still a possibility it remains unclear if the Court will be able to avoid furloughs in the 2015 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2014. This July/August article was referencing the 2013/2014 fiscal years. As such the Kansas Supreme Court will be working vigorously to secure funds to keep courthouses open but the 2015 outlook appears uncertain at this moment.  

Besides the "Hard 50” legislative fix, the Kansas Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for Caleb Stegall, who was nominated to take the 14th Court of Appeals position last month. The Stegall confirmation has been at the top of most newspaper in the last week or so. The following articles have been published concerning the Stegall nomination.

With a significant Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee and in the Kansas Senate as a whole, Stegall’s confirmation seems secure. We can anticipate opponents to discuss the method of Stegall’s nomination, the lack of transparency in the selection process (Brownback refuses to release names of applicants) and the executive branches redaction of names from a KORA request submitted by the Kansas League of Women Voters and other issues dealing with the process of selecting a Kansas appellate judge. However, in the end, the votes are there for an easy confirmation of Caleb Stegall.

Tags:  Caleb Stegall  Court of Appeals  Hard 50  legislature  Special Session  Supreme Court 

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