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Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Kansas Legislature reached its halfway point of the 2018 session on February 23rd with the passage of the House of Origin deadline, marking the date in which all non-exempt legislation must advance out of its house of introduction, or is considered dead for the remainder of the session.  However, several exempt committees continue to work through legislative initials.  These exempt committees include House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs and House Taxation.  The House and Senate Judiciary Committees are not exempt committees and all legislation must be passed out prior to the deadline to be considered.

Thus far the session and most of the state has been focused on the K12 funding.  State revenue has begun to climb out of the previous year’s poor returns but even these better than expected numbers are not enough to cover the cost of school.  Many in the Capitol strongly oppose raising taxes to pay for K12 and they are looking at some sort of cut. There has been very little direction given from the new governor, so legislators are taking the lead. What proposes spring forth are yet to be determined.

Judicial Budget

The judicial branch was able to discuss their enhancement request with both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee.  The request includes; add $19.6 million to the judicial budget for judicial raises ($7.5 million); nonjudicial raises ($10.3 million), 7 new judges/staff ($772K); 20 unfunded positions ($875K) and judicial suite renovations ($200K).  The issue is a controversial one that will require addition attention going forward.  

Raises for judicial staff are also proposed in standalone bills. Those bills include:

The judicial branch was able to get is docket fee extension thru the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month.  The measure passed the KS Senate 39-0.  It now goes to the House with a likely referral to House Judiciary. 

HB 2560 enacts the Kansas Cybersecurity Act which will impact judicial Branch employees. This measure was stricken from the calendar.  It was not referred to an exempt committee before the deadline, so it is likely done for the year.


HB 2645|Making appropriations for FY 2019 for the judicial branch; salary increases for justices, judges and nonjudicial employees.
HB 2645 changes where the primary district magistrate judge will reside in the 4th district from Osage to Coffey county. This bill has not been moved forward in the legislative process.


SB 395

Setting a maximum final average salary amount for purposes of computing retirement benefits for certain members of KPERS, KP&F and the retirement system for judges.

SB 395 appears to cap a judge’s final average salary for KPERS purposes at $99,636.00.  This bill did not pass out of committee and did not make it to the Senate Floor.


SB 411

Allowing certain persons with suspended driving privileges to enter into amnesty agreements with the division of vehicles.

SB 411 is an issue previously introduced by Judge Phil Journey regarding the Traffic Fee Amnesty Program.  This bill was not given a hearing or referred to an exempt committee.

Family Law Bills

SB 257

Creating a presumption of child's equal time with parents during court determinations of legal custody, residency or parenting time

The KBA Family Law Section opposed SB 257. This bill was not passed out of committee or referred to an exempt committee.


HB 2529

Creating a presumption of child's equal time with parents during court determinations of legal custody, residency or parenting time

Charles Harris appeared on behalf of the KBA to oppose HB 2529 which is the identical bill filled in the Senate (SB 257). This bill was not passed out of committee or referred to an exempt committee.


HB 2481

Updating the KS Adoption and relinquishment act

HB 2481 is an update to adoption law introduced by the Kansas Judicial Council. This bill passed the KS House 117-0.  It has been referred to Senate Judiciary Committee.


HB 2524

Allowing petitions for a protection from abuse order to include a request for transfer of rights to a wireless telephone number

HB 2524 would make it easier to separate cell phone account in domestic abuse situations.  This bill was passed 117-0 in the KS House. Ron Nelson worked closely with the sponsor of the bill on several amendments to this bill.


HB 2520

Retroactive child support guidelines

The KBA Family Law Section recommends the KBA oppose HB 2520 because it places limits on retroactive child support orders, limits the courts decision-making process and is not in the best interest of the child. This bill was not passed out of committee nor referred to an exempt committee.


HB 2687

Creating the Adoption Protection Act

SB 401

Creating the Adoption Protection Act

This bill allows any child placement agency to refuse to make a placement that violates the agencies sincerely held religious beliefs.  The KBA Family Law Section strongly opposes these two identical bills. No hearings have been set but these bills are exempt from the Turnaround Deadline having been introduced into exempt committees.


HB 2630

Adding protecting children from witnessing abuse to the list of factors the court considers when determining custody, residency or parenting time

This bill was rejected by the Kansas Judicial Council Family Law Advisory Committee in 2016. The KBA Family Law Section strongly opposes this bill because it would enact the so called “protective parent defense” which would discount the “friendly parent” factor included in the child custody factors. The friendly parent factor has long been in the cross-hairs of some asserting that it encourages abusive and manipulative parents to the detriment of a parent (the abused parent) who is protecting the child by various actions that otherwise would be considered as “alienating.” 

This bill did not pass the Kansas House.

Real Property Bills

HB 2506

Rehabilitation of abandoned property by cities

This bill would allow cities, as well as certain organizations as authorized by current law, to take temporary possession of abandoned property for purposes of rehabilitating the property. The bill would also make many definitional and other changes to laws dealing with rehabilitation of abandoned property. The Title Standard Committee reviewed but declined to make a formal recommendation. The Kansas House passed this bill 90-32 last week.


HB 2727

Requiring contracts for the sale of real estate to provide notice of mineral, oil and gas interests.

This bill is in response to Adamson vs. Drill Baby Drill LLC.  The bill would require additional notice be given to potential homeowners when a mineral lease is separate from the surface rights. The bill was not debated by the House committee of the Whole.


SB 329

Enacting the uniform partition of heirs property act

This bill would enact the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. The bill would assist in the partition of property, which is owned as tenants in common and some portion was inherited, or the co-tenants are relatives. The KBA Title Standard Committee recommends the KBA oppose this bill. This bill did not pass out of the House.


Litigation Bills

HB 2461

Awarding costs and attorney fees to plaintiffs prevailing in unpaid wage claims

This bill was not passed by the House prior to the deadline.


HB 2550

Removing caps on damages in wrongful death actions except those against certain healthcare provider

This bill was referred to House Appropriations and is now exempt from the Turnaround Deadline.


HB 2579

Providing compensation for a person who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned

I believe these three bills were introduced by Rep. Tim Hodge (D-Newton) to claw back provisions lost during previous legislatures.  This bill was passed 116-1.


SB 266

Amending the collateral source definition for crime victim’s compensation fund

SB 266 was introduced by the Ks Attorney General’s office Crime Victim’s Compensation Board.  The bill broadly defines what collateral source means when dealing with the crime victim’s compensation board.  As testified the bill would amend the definition of “collateral source” to include “any other source” received by or readily available to the victim or claimant before the Board would discuss compensation for the victim.  This bill was passed 38-0 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.


SB 277

Extending recognition to tribal court judgments pursuant to supreme court rules

This bill was sponsored by the Kansas judicial Council to codify a civil law practice into law.  Make judicial district are already recognizing these types of judgments via court rule.  This bill simply puts into law what has already become practice.  No action was taken on this bill.


SB 296

Allowing evidence of failure to use a safety belt to be admissible in any action for certain purposes

This bill was introduced by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.  The bill was supported by GM and several defense lawyers, including KADC.  The Kansas Trial Lawyers Association opposed. This bill passed 25-15.


SB 199

Appeal bonds

This bill was a carryover from 2017 and it was introduced by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. The bill was aimed at pending litigation and attempted to make certain aspects of appeal bond requirements retroactive.  The bill also lowered the bond amount if a defendant could show it was a small business as defined by the new bill.  The retroactive provisions were removed from the bill in committee.  This bill passed the Senate on Wednesday, February 14th on a 32-7 vote. Referred to House judiciary.

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