About the Author
Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director
The Kansas Legislature concluded the regular session last Thursday and emptied the Capitol. First Adjournment marks the end of the normal stuff. The deadline was moved up nearly a week to “bank” those extra days for the Veto Session. Once again, the legislature has pushed off budget issues ‘til after the April Consensus Revenue Estimates come back in late April. However, the numbers for March will be out this Friday, and many suspect a lot of red.
In the past, the last day of the regular session has been a hurried affair where a few odds and ends made some noise, but nothing very spectacular. However, the end of this regular session did not go quietly as Rep. Tom Burroughs got into a heated exchange on the House floor while debating the school finance equity fix. Rep. Burroughs did apologize for his lack of decorum, but the room was still a little charged. The bill still passed out on a motion to concur 93-31 as moderates joined with leadership to end the regular session.
See: http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article67978492.html – Wichita Eagle;
http://cjonline.com/news/2016-03-24/legislature-passes-school-finance-equity-plan-slammed-topeka-schools – Topeka Capital Journal;
http://bit.ly/1REM3SC – Garden City Telegram
As for judiciary bills, the House and Senate met three times last week to begin the process of bundling like-minded bills in conference. The big issues include a potential combination of the judicial fee bill, House sub for SB 255 and SB 440 allowing the Supreme Court more authority over the judicial branch. The Senate feels strongly that SB 440 should be added to comply with the Solomon decision and rebuild the wall of separation of powers between the branches. The House feels that their answer to the Solomon decision, putting things back the way there were—except for the non-severability clause and other unconstitutional provisions—is the easiest fix. This is one of handful of issues the Judicial Conference Committee needs to resolve.
The other big court issue deals with House Sub for SB 128 increasing the number of district court nominees from no less than three to no more than five. Here the Senate wants to add SB 197 which allows the Secretary of State to run the elections for members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. It also allows the governor more oversight of that commission. The KBA opposed this bill last session.
For those who thought the end of the regular session might mean a reprieve from discussions of retention elections, I give you the latest opinion column from the Wichita Eagle, http://www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article68699967.html. Also keep in mind that SB 439, impeaching judges and justices, is in conference committee. The KBA will closely monitor its progress.
The Judiciary Conference Committee will also bundle three bills dealing with open records. The committee plans to add SB 98, SB 415 (including a controversial gaming component that caused a bit of dust up in the House) and SB 361 into Sub for SB 22. The committee also plans to create a children and minors bundle.
The KBA continues its work with members from the House to find a way forward for HB 2713. The Kansas House has a very strong position for passing HB 2713, corporate code update.
The Veto Session begins on April 27. Both chambers have several important conference committee reports to negotiate, especially the property tax lid. The judiciary conference committee will meet on April 27 to continue its negotiations.
For those looking for bills passed and already signed into law, the Kansas Legislative Research Department put out its first Legislative Summary this week. http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Publications/SummaryofLegislation/PreliminarySummaries/2016-preliminary-summary.pdf