The Kansas Legislature returns next week after a three-week hiatus to begin wrapping up the 2014 legislative session. Veto Session officially starts the afternoon of April 30.
Legislators will return from an acrimonious spring break where they faced off with some unhappy constituents. The unease is spin off from the school finance vote, which included a policy piece stripping tenure from K-12 teachers. See http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/apr/20/area-legislators-getting-earful-school-finance/.
Gov. Brownback signed the school finance bill, Senate Sub. for HB 2506, this past Monday. How much this will affect elections in the fall will be the big question.
The governor has already signed into law Senate Sub. for HB 2338 (Judicial Budget bill). The KBA, Kansas Association of Justice, Kansas Defense Council Association and Kansans for Fair Courts (KFFC) all requested the governor veto this bill. KFFC even started a petition that can be found at http://changekansas.org/action/petition/stop-holding-the-kansas-courts-hostage.
The main issue is the combination of fiscal and policy pieces that de-unify the judicial branch. Here is a bullet point of the provisions within the bill:
- Appropriates $2 million additional from the state general fund (SGF) for FY 2015
- Increase existing docket fees and create statutory filing fees for appeals to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court
- Allows chief judge in a judicial district to elect to be responsible for submitting a budget for the judicial district to the chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court
- District court judges in each judicial district would elect a district judge to serve as chief judge
- Requires the chief justice to provide notification of a vacancy in the office of district court judge or district magistrate court judge to the chairperson of the district judicial nominating commission not later than 120 days following the date of the vacancy.
- Delete requirement for the payment of longevity to Judicial Branch non-judicial staff
For more insight into this issue, please see http://www.kansas.com/2014/04/11/3397424/eagle-editorial-funding-bill-erodes.html.
The Kansas Bar Association statement can be found online at http://www.ksbar.org/?calltoaction.
With the major issue off the table, Veto Session should have few dramatics. Look for conference committees to finalize the Court of Tax Appeals bill, PEAK and property evaluation of machinery and equipment.
The Kansas legislative website has a wonderful summary of bills that have passed and been signed into law. Here are links to these summaries: