Snow was the big story for the first week in February; the Capitol was closed last Tuesday and Wednesday, along with most of Kansas. This caused a backlog of some very interesting and important bills. The Senate and House Judiciary committees worked through the glut of bills with only a few being pushed!
Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) ran four of his bills based off the Blue Ribbon Commission Report. However, the snow caused him to break them up and the last hearing on SB 289 didn’t take place until Friday morning. Support for these proposals was strong with the Kansas District Judges Association coming out in full force for the docket fee increase bill, SB 313. King had a budget staffer update the committee on the projected amount of money that SB 313 would raise. It is estimated that the new increases will generate between $4.5-$6 million. To hit this mark, filing fees will have to remain steady and the number of summary judgment motions (which is hard to track) will have to mirror the numbers in those counties that do keep track. The remaining bills that got hearings included:
For more insight, please see:
The KBA testified against SB 311, the non-economic cap bill. This bill increases the cap on non-economic damages but allows evidence of collateral source and changes expert witness testimony rules to follow the federal model.
The KBA also testified in support of HB 2444
, a spendthrift trust bill. This bill allowed a creditor to reach assets in a trust in the trust did not set an ascertainable standard for distribution, such as health, education, or maintenance expenses.
Looking at upcoming bills, the KBA will be testifying against two apology bills in the House Judiciary. We have seen these bills in the past but this is a second or actually third bite at the apple. These bills are as follows:
The KBA will also be ready to testify on a bill out of the Kansas Judicial Council. Several years back the Judicial Council did a reorganization of all the domestic laws by combining three chapters into one. HB 2568 is a continuation of the project. The KBA supported the initial reorganization and all of the clean-up efforts introduced by the Family Law Advisory Council. Ron Nelson and the KBA Family Law Section has recommended continued support. The bill can be found here:
Finally, there are several bills that should be brought to your attention. They include four family law bills, two elder law bills, and a bill dealing with competency.
- SB 352, Requiring fingerprinting and background checks for real estate appraiser licenses
- SB 354, Mistreatment of an elder person or dependent adult
- SB 355, Kansas Power of Attorney Act
- HB 2566, Requiring court fee for forensic audio and video examination services
- HB 2568, Domestic relations; Kansas family law code; child support guidelines
- HB 2577, Allowing parents to remain anonymous when surrendering an infant under the newborn protection act
- HB 2579, Establishing the community defense act
- HB 2583, Judicial lobbyists prohibited
- HB 2584, Amending procedures relating to a defendant's competency to stand trial
- HB 2586, Office of the ombudsman concerning child abuse; established
- HB 2588, Child in need of care; juvenile offenders; permanent custodians
This does not include the conceptual bills introduced late this week. The first, HB 2583, which would prohibit state funds being used to hire a lobbyist for the Judicial Branch. The language does include funding going to district judges as well. However, I am not sure they could keep the KDJA out since they pay for their representation out of their own pocket. The other bill was conceptual in nature and it would eliminate "incompatibility” as a reason to seek a divorce. Rep. Keith Esau introduced this bill, although he stated that he did not write it. He would not divulge who drafted the language.
The next deadline is Friday, February 14, which closes the door on introduction of new bills. See http://www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/senate_deadlines_calendar.pdf.