The Kansas Supreme Court has made quite the news splash over the last five days. First off, the Supreme Court reversed a Kansas Department of Health and Environment decision granting the Holcomb power plant a license to build the coal-fired plant in southwest Kansas. The Court stated that KDHE needed to revisit federal clean air regulations and review the permit with those standards in mind. The case is Sierra Club v. Robert Moser, Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment. See http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2013/20131004/105493.pdf; see also Kansas high court reverses Holcomb plant permit, http://m.cjonline.com/news/2013-10-04/kansas-high-court-reverses-holcomb-coal-plant-permit.
Many feel that this decision is another example of the Kansas Supreme Court being out of step with the public and legislative policy. Some have speculated that this will lead to a harder push to change how Supreme Court justices are selected.
The Supreme Court also heard oral arguments in the school finance case this morning. That case, Gannon v. State of Kansas, will decide if the legislature failed to provide for a suitable education for K-12 students. This case has been a major issue going back seven to eight years. It can be stated that the push to alter how judges are selected in Kansas began with the first school finance case (Montoy v. Kansas) and that push will only intensify should the Court rule in favor of the plaintiff and order additional funding.
Finally, the Kansas Supreme Court created a new committee to discuss and make recommendations for the judicial branch budget. The committee, chaired by Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, was organized to deal with a multimillion-dollar Judicial Branch funding shortfall. This committee will revisit recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission and develop both long-term and short-term strategies. The committee will prioritize funding reductions that may include furloughs. See http://www.kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/news-releases.asp#100713
As it currently stands, funding for the Supreme Court is under water from the proposed FY 2015 budget. In the FY 2015 budget the Supreme Court asks for 11 new judges and 30 new clerks to deal with high case districts. It also asks for funding to renovate the Supreme Court to deal with security and staffing issues.