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Conference Committees Begin

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Last week the Kansas Legislature worked through a number of bills before breaking for an early weekend. The Senate churned through 20 or so bills, including their version of the state budget. The Senate version does not include any K-12 funding (block grant bill signed into law by the governor) or the Judicial Branch budget. The House has yet to debate their version of the state budget.

The House did pass out a controversial abortion ban and a constitutional carry proposals aimed at allowing anyone over the age of 21 to conceal carry without a permit.

This week legislators will begin working in conference committees. The Judicial Conference Committee meet today to provide an overview of bills in conference, bills that are conferenceable and bill stricken from the calendar.

Generally, for a bill to be in conference it must pass both chambers but be amended by at least one of the chambers. This creates two different versions of the same bill requiring both chambers to reconcile the differences in conference. For a bill to be conferenceable it merely must have passed one chamber.

Thus far the Judiciary Conference Committee has three bills in conference and they anticipate four more being added this week. As such, only seven bills will be in conference. Further restricting how many bills can be passed by the conference committee is the 4 bill bundling rule passed this year. No bill in conference can have more than four additional bills added to it.

In addition, the conference committee is limited by the topic of the bills bundled. Only bills with similar topics/headings can be bundled together. These are often broad categories, bill on courts or criminal procedure but this session there are a number of bills so specific that they are difficult to bundle with other more general topics.

As such, we can anticipate there being less bill bundling this session. Of note will be a court bundled bill, a DUI bundled bill and a sexually violent predator bundled bills. Of most interest to the KBA is the court bundled bill, which will include SB 59 (magistrate judge jurisdiction), HB 2112 (county law libraries), SB 183 (debts owed to courts) and SB 184 (court fees restitution and dormancy).

The following bills are unlikely to be discussed the remainder of the session:

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