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Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Kansas Legislature returned last Monday, January 11 to begin its annual work. Traditionally, the first week is a rather uneventful time. The primary goal of legislators is to acquaint themselves with chamber rules, committee assignments and new staff members. However, this year committees began meeting and hearing proposals almost immediately.

For instance, House Appropriations and Senate Judiciary committees held hearings for SB 320 & HB 2449. These bills would strike the non-severability provision in the 2015 judicial budget. Both hearings lasted around 30 minutes with both bills passing favorably out of their respective committees. SB 320 was even placed on the consent calendar as an noncontroversial item. Judge Dan Creitz appeared on behalf of the Kansas District Judges’ Association in support of both bills. The Office of Judicial Administration was represented by chief fiscal officer Stephanie Bunten.

There were significantly more questions from the House Appropriations Committee as they discussed HB 2449. The committee was interested in whether the court was willing to participate in budget reduction should the economy falter. They also wanted to know how many days the court would be forced to close should a budget reduction of (a hypothetical) $2 million be imposed. While this was not the point of HB 2449, it does forewarn of the possibility that the judicial budget could be reduced to help with the overall state budget issues.

The hearing for SB 320 was shorter with only one question from Sen. King which dealt with timing. However, Sen. King did indicate that the provision in the judicial budget passed last session would be revisited in two weeks. This indicates the senator’s plans to amend the judicial budget beyond simply removing the non-severability provision. What amendments are proposed remains to be seen.

The other big news was Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State address. Those remarks are attached here. http://cjonline.com/news/2016-01-12/2016-state-state-speech-sam-brownback-complete-transcript

The governor focused on water rights, defunding Planned Parenthood, resettlement of refugees and Guantanamo prisoners, refusal to expand Medicaid, a property tax lid, and changes to the merit selection process.

On that point, the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled for a hearing on HCR 5013.This resolution would expand the nominating commission to 15, with four lawyers elected by congressional district, five appointed by the governor (one non-voting chair), and six by the legislature (two by the Speaker, two by the Senate president and one by the minority party in both chambers).The resolution would also elevate the Kansas Court of Appeals to a constitutional office. The KBA was scheduled to testify in opposition to this resolution. Other opponents included, Kansas Association of Justice, Kansas Association of Defense Counsel, Wichita Bar Association, Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas for Life, and a member of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, and Rep. John Carmichael. There were no proponents signed up to testify. As such, the hearing was cancelled.Chairman Barker did indicate it would be rescheduled for a later time.

The KBA is currently monitoring the following bills:

House Bills

Bill Description

HB 2449

Repealing the nonseverability clause

HB 2458

Repeal special sentencing rule for third time possession of a controlled substance.

HB 2459

Amending the criminal penalties for unlawfully tampering with electronic monitoring equipment

HB 2460

Linking person or nonperson underlying crime designations to violations of the Kansas offender registration act.

HB 2462

Increase theft loss value required for felony.

HB 2465

Clarifying standards for competency to stand trial.

HB 2466

Prohibiting the adoption of sanctuary ordinances and resolutions by municipalities

Senate Bills

BillDescription

SB 319

Civil procedure dealing with limited action; venue

SB 320

Repealing the nonseverability clause

SB 321

Probate Action – KSA 59-618a

SB 322

Application and fee to appropriate surface water that otherwise leaves the state

SB 325

Allowing prosecutor access to child in need of care records

SB 327

Allowing hearsay at preliminary hearings

These bills were introduced this week and have been forwarded to the KBA Section listed for comment. You can also find this information on the KBA legislative webpage.

This week looks to be equally as busy with several committees looking at K-12 issues, Senate Ways & Means getting an update on revenue estimates, a new concealed carry proposal (HB 2440), two bills dealing with sex crimes and a bill prohibiting sanctuary cities in Kansas (HB 2466).

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