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The KBA Advocate is the weekly KBA legislative newsletter that contains up-to-date information on legislation that impacts your practice. It is only published when the legislature is in session and is sent to all KBA members electronically via the KBA Weekly.

 

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Turnaround Week

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Turnaround Week

For many committees, last week was the final time they would meet prior to the Feb 23 Turnaround deadline. For the rest of this week, both chambers will be on the floor trying to pass bills before the deadline. If a bill is not passed by its House of Origin prior to the deadline, it is done for the session, unless it is from an “exempt” committee. 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; therefore, all legislation from either judiciary committee must be passed out prior to the deadline to be considered this session.

HB 2178

Concerning income taxation, relating to determination of Kansas adjusted gross income, rates and itemized deductions

The basics of the proposed tax plan is that retroactive to January 1, 2017, Kansas reverts back to a three-bracket tax system and halts the income tax reduction schedule. The tax plan debate made a lot of headlines this week, mostly because the House passed it without any questions or debate. The House passed the tax plan 76-48; this is not a veto-proof margin. The Senate passed this tax bill 22-18. It’s important to remember that a veto proof margin would be 27 in the Senate. Securing five more votes in the Senate will be a heavy lift. The governor’s veto threat has real teeth now, although he could allow the legislation to become law without his signature. What happens now is anyone’s guess. Brownback has commented that he may very well veto this tax plan.

HB 2154

Expanding Medicaid

On Monday, all the action was in House Health and Human Services where the committee tried to pass out a Medicaid expansion bill. The vote was always going to be close, and on the first attempt to table the bill, fell equal at 11-11. However, after an amendment on residency requirements, opponents again tried to table the bill—this time with a date certain. The motion called for tabling the bill till Veto Session or April 3rd. That motion passed. However, House Health and Human Services Committee is not an exempt body which means HB 2154 would need to be blessed to survive the turnaround deadline. Since that has not happened, it would seem that Medicaid Expansion is done for the year. There is a bill on the Senate side, but that measure has no traction now.

See, http://cjonline.com/news/state-government/2017-02-20/house-committee-kills-medicaid-expansion-proposal

See also; http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/feb/20/house-panel-tables-medicaid-expansion-bill/

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

This KBA proposal was passed out of the House Committee of the Whole on a 124-0 vote. It is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

HB 2127

Transfer on Death Deed

HB 2127 has not been worked by House Judiciary committee. If it is not blessed it will be dead for the session. As previously stated, the chair of House Judiciary had serious concerns about the bill.

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

Larry Rute also testified for the KBA on HB 2186 revising the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000. Again, the committee was receptive to our arguments for needed revisions. This bill should be worked next week by the House Committee of the Whole.

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

HB 2125 was recommended favorably by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13 and passed general orders on Feb. 20th. Final Action on this bill is set for Feb. 21st.

HB 2279

Disposition of Driver’s License reinstatement fees and the judicial branch nonjudicial salary adjustments fund

HB 2279 was heard yesterday in House Appropriations. Under current law the Judicial Branch receives 33% of reinstatement fees. If HB 2279 is not passed, this fee will sunset, and the Judicial branch will be out around $950K. These funds are already in the FY18 & FY19 Judicial Budget request. Should the bill not be passed, the courts face a significant budget cut.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

HB 2041 was passed by the House Committee of the Whole, 122-0 and has already been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The KBA continues to support this legislation.

HB 2365

Judicial branch budget FY18 & FY19

SB 190

Making appropriations for the FY18 and FY19 judicial branch

These two bills are the judicial branch stand-alone budgets for the next two fiscal years. The judicial budget has already been folded into the Mega-Appropriations bill, but should it be stripped out, the Judicial Branch can fall back on these two measures. 

SB 10

Lien filings against public officials; prohibitions; notice; criminal penalties.

The KBA worked with the Kansas Land Title Association and the Kansas Attorney General’s office on SB 10. The original language of the bill contained a provision criminalizing the filing of certain liens filed on public officials. The KBA negotiated with KLTA and the KSAG on a compromise amendment that satisfied all parties. However, when the amendment was added to the bill, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook expanded the protection against such liens from “public officials” only, to the “public” in general. The KBA finds this significant change unacceptable. As such, the KBA Title Standard Committee opposes the bill. The KLTA and the KBA will submit a letter to Senators opposing the amended language.

HB 2101

Abolishing common law marriage

The House Judiciary Committee did not work HB 2101, and it has not been referred to a non-exempt committee. Therefore, it is unlikely this bill will progress any further this year.

HB 2245

Attorney licensure and information, supreme court nominating commission, judicial nominating commission

The KBA was allowed a hearing on HB 2245 that repeals many provision on the 2016 law making attorney registration information open to the public. The KBA presented testimony and was represented by Nathan Eberline. Other supporters of HB 2245 were Wyandotte District Attorney Mark Dupree, Deb Hughes, Jay Hall, Callie Denton from Kansas Trial Lawyers Assn. and Marty Snyder. Stan Hazlett and Doug Shima provided background information. Opponents included Kansans for Life, the House GOP and the Kansas Rifle Association.

For those who are interested, the KBA has updated its website with current testimony on bills of interest. That website is https://www.ksbar.org/page/bill_tracking_1718

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Senate Gridlock

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Senate

The Kansas Senate was all teed-up to debate two budget-centric bills last Thursday. One bill would raise some tax revenue; the other would cut K12 funding. However, Senate leadership decided to shelve the proposals. Many believe the K12 cuts put a damper on the total vote. Further muddying the water is the possible veto by the Governor. This makes a simple majority vote problematic. Many think a veto-proof majority would be needed to avoid the bill getting shoot down. The issue then is finding 27 votes among factions who differ drastically on how to balance the budget.

With no budget bills to debate, Senate leadership has decided to halt all other bills until some agreement can be reached. This means all bills currently sitting before the Senate will stay there. The turnaround deadline is 8 days away, so some bills will be killed for lack of action.

This gridlock has not slowed Senate committee hearings much at all. For instance, Senate Judiciary plans on working the entire week, something they have not done all session. Judiciary plans to hear 12 bills and work an unknown number on Friday. The Senate Fed/State committee will hear two immigration bills on Wednesday, Feb. 15th. Immigration issues have been on the minds of many in the Capitol these last few weeks, and now we get to hear what actions, if any, they plan to support. The KBA is monitoring these bills very closely.

SB 157

Kansas Highway Patrol, Immigration agreement

SB 158

Prohibiting sanctuary policies by cities, counties and state agencies

 

House

On the House side, things are moving along nicely. The full House voted to approve HB 2041 extending the judicial branch surcharge fund. This bill merely extends the sunset date. The KBA advocated against removing the sunset because this surcharge fee was first proposed as a temporary stop gap measure.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

 

House Judiciary has an equally busy schedule as they plan to hear ten bills this week. The KBA is deeply involved with HB 2245 which repeals large sections of a law put in place in 2016 requiring the Kansas Secretary of State to certify the list of lawyers eligible to vote in nominating commission elections. The KBA believes this law is overly burdensome and duplicative while allowing the possible release of personal information to the general public. The KBA is also concerned that eligible lawyers could be denied their right to vote in nominating commission elections. KBA will live-tweet the hearing and provide the testimony on our website.

HB 2245

Attorney licensure and information, supreme court nominating commission, judicial nominating commission

 

Also, please find an updated bill tracking chart on the KBA website and new information regarding HB 2101 repealing common law marriages. The testimony from this hearing is now available on our website.

HB 2101

Abolishing common law marriage

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The Pace Quickens

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Kansas Legislature will reach its halfway point of the 2017 session in two weeks. This means that certain non-exempt bills must advance out of their house of introduction, or be considered dead for the remainder of the session. However, several exempt committees continue to work through legislative initiatives.  Exempt committees include House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs and House Taxation. House and Senate Judiciary Committees are not exempt committees, and all legislation must be passed out prior to the deadline to be considered.

This deadline creates a sense of urgency throughout the legislature as they continue to take action on bills passed out of various committees this week. Thus far, the Kansas Senate has made the most progress on pressing budgetary issues. The Senate Tax Committee chaired by Sen. Caryn Tyson plans to move a tax bill out as early as today. That plan calls for $288 million in new revenue in FY18 and $370 million in FY19. The hearing found far more opponents to raising taxes than proponents. Per the norm, opponents seek massive funding cuts to balance the books. That sentiment was echoed by Gov. Brownback who put out a press release tying this bill to Senate President Susan Wagle, who called it harmful to teachers, police officers and nurses. This bill may even be debated on the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.

Judicial Budget

On the judicial branch front, I can report that HB 2041 extending the judicial branch surcharge fund was recommended favorably for passage by the House Judiciary Committee. This bill merely extends the sunset date. The KBA advocated against removing the sunset because this surcharge fee was first proposed as a temporary stop gap measure. The KBA reiterated its position that judicial funding should be a state general fund appropriation. HB 2041 now heads to the House floor for debate by the entire chamber.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

The House General Government Budget committee also recommended the judicial branch budget be passed favorably. The Senate Ways & Means Committee also reviewed the judicial branch recommendations and decided to place the judicial branch budget into the entire state budget. This is different than past years where the judicial branch budget was a stand-alone item.

The judicial branch has been able to reduce past requests for staffing due to efficiencies put in place. This year’s budget bill only added 20 new FTE whereas in years past the request was for 80. E-Filing has helped with this reduction. The budget request also seeks eight new judges with accompanying staff, and funds to remodel the judicial center so all judges can be housed on the upper floors. The plan is to have the clerk’s office move permanently to the first floor to aid in security and public access. We will continue to monitor the progress of the budget and report accordingly. With state funding at a premium, these requests may be axed during the debate, but adding the judicial funding package to the mega-appropriations bill is a step in the right direction.

KBA Proposals

Thus far this session the KBA has testified on seven bills, four of which were introduced by the KBA. Two are bills the KBA supports, and one is a bill the KBA is negotiating to amend.

Last week the KBA received hearings on all four of its bills.

Tim O’Sullivan testified for the KBA on HB 2126 & HB 2127. Both bills deal with trust issues. There is some concern that our proposal clarifying transfer on death deed (HB 2127) is too complicated so the committee may attempt to streamline the process.

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

HB 2127

Transfer on Death Deed

Larry Rute testified for the KBA on HB 2186 revising the uniform arbitration act of 2000. Many thanks to him for his efforts along with Prof. Jim Concannon for the ULC.

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

Finally, House Judiciary heard from Bill Matthews and Prof. Webb Hecker on the benefit corporation proposal, HB 2125. They were joined by Bryan Welch CEO of B the Change Media in Lawrence. Matthews and Hecker provided foundational information for our proposal along with specific enhancements needed to enact Benefit Corporation statutes into current law. Welch provided the practical application of the law as it concerned his benefit corporation.

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

Bill Tracking Chart

This bill is supported by Rep. Boog Highberger and Rep. John Wilson.  We worked with both legislators on this bill.

For a list of all other bills being monitored by the KBA please visit: www.ksbar.org/page/bill_tracking. You will be able to link to bill language, hearing schedules and read testimony on certain bills of interest.

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Guns and Budgets

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The legislature has picked up a bit of steam this last week as they begin to hear more controversial bills. Thus far, the most controversial bill to be heard was SB 53 which permanently extended the exemption for concealed carry on university campuses. The hearing was contentious, and the chair admonished the audience several times. This hearing comes after a student at KSU accidentally shot himself on school grounds. See, K-State Student Accidentally Shot Wounded Dorm Criminal Charges Possible (cjonline.com) . Bringing additional coverage to the hearing was Rep. Willie Dove (R-Bonner Springs) See, Kansas Rep. Dove Leaves Loaded Handgun in Committee Meeting Room (cjonline.com)

To say the meeting was well attended doesn’t really do it justice.

Last Wednesday, the Judicial Branch budget was heard before the House General Government Budget Committee. The judicial budget includes pay increases totaling $20.8 million in FY18 and $20.9 million in FY19. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss led the charge by explaining the need for pay increases. CJ Nuss pointed out that all the efficiencies gained through e-filing and other cost saving measures were eroded away by new employee training costs and. In the past, the Judicial Branch kept open 80-110 full time positions but due to greater efficiency within the court system those open full time positions have been paired to 20. Unfortunately, those cost savings could not be fully realized due to extremely high employee turnover. For instance, in the Tenth Judicial District, 37 employees left for better paying jobs last year. The KBA was one of more than a dozen organizations to support the budget as submitted. The Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the judicial budget on yesterday. You can review the testimony here: JBB_GGB_20170125.pdf

The Judicial Branch bill, HB 2041 , to extend the surcharge fund also had a hearing on yesterday. This bill extends the surcharge for another two-year period. The surcharge is responsible for around 6% of the judicial budget. The KBA supports this bill.

The KBA has been monitoring several bills in House Judiciary include SB 10 prohibiting the filing of liens on certain public officials. This rather benign bill has a new section that reads - New Sec. 2 (a) It shall be unlawful for a person to present to a recorder of record for filing in any public record any lien or claim against the real or personal property of a public official, when such person knows or reasonable should know that such lien or claim is false, or contains any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations.

This language criminalizes filing of certain liens. Members from the Kansas Land Title Association, many of whom are also members of the KBA Title Standards Committee, expressed concerns. The KBA is working with the KTLA and the KS Attorney General’s Office on new language

Four KBA proposals will have hearings next week. They include:

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

HB 2127

Transfer on Death Deed

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

 

The KBA will be represented by experts in these specific fields who have been intimately involved in the drafting of these proposals.

Finally, please find an updated bill tracking chart.

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18  budget  guns 

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Legislators Grapple with KanCare Findings and Tax Policy

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017

Legislators Grapple with KanCare Findings and Tax Policy

Week two started off quietly but ended with a five-hour hearing on the LLC loophole. Thirty or so individuals representing all manner of interest groups testified last Thursday and continued Friday. It was contentious at times, with many arguing over a fiscal note that seems to downplay the impact closing the loophole would have on the budget. A smaller amount generated from closing the loophole would be a win for the governor because legislators would have to strongly consider his one-time payments to balance the budget. See:

The budget continues to the biggest piece of the puzzle.

The other big news is that the federal government found the KanCare program to be “substantially” out of compliance with federal law. This is sure to dominate the news cycle and cause more issues with the budget as efforts were made to change the KanCare payment structure to help alleviate budget issues. See: http://cjonline.com/news/state-government/2017-01-18/kancare-extension-denied-after-scathing-review-finds-noncompliance.

Legislators were very upset at the governor’s office for withholding this information, and many felt “blindsided”. See: http://cjonline.com/news/state-government/2017-01-19/lawmakers-furious-feel-blindsided-brownback-administration-over. Where we go from here on KanCare is impossible to predict, but everyone will be paying closer attention now.

In judiciary committee, the Kansas Attorney General provided testimony on SB 10 which criminalizes the filing of liens on public officials. The bill would make it “unlawful for any person to present to a recorder of record for filing in any public record any lien or claim against the real or personal property of a public official, when such person knows or reasonably should know that such lien or claim is false or contains any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation”.

This will create an issue for real estate attorneys and title insurance practitioners who frequently file liens on homes. The language will need to be modified before passage to address these concerns. The KBA is actively engaged on this issue, and we are working with the Kansas Land Title Association and the Kansas Realtors to make amendments.

In House Judiciary, a bill repealing common law marriage was introduced on the behalf of Charles Harris. This is a hotly contested issue, and the KBA is monitoring it closely.

The KBA also introduced four bills last Thursday. The first bill deals with mediation and arbitration provisions in trust instruments. That bill has an RS# of 17rs196. The second bill amends the transfer of death deed statute. That bill has an RS# of 17rs199. The third bill deals creating a new business entity type called Benefit Corporations. That bill has an RS# of 17rs170. Finally, the fourth bill amends the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1955. That bill has an RS# of 17rs438.

The KBA Bill Tracking Chart is online and updated bi-weekly. 

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Quick Start

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Quick Start

As you are aware the Kansas Legislature returned Monday, Jan. 9. Traditionally the first week is rather uneventful. The primary goal of legislators and committees 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, the House has already introduced a bill to repeal the LLC loophole. This proposal will be heard this Thursday, January 19, in House Tax. The bill is HB 2023 titled Determination of Kansas adjusted gross income, sunsetting certain modifications.

In addition, the Kansas Judicial Branch spent the week updating both judiciary committees on its operation, equipment, programs and budget. The Office of the Judicial Administrator has already requested raises in their initial budget proposal which the governor has passed through for legislators to consider. There has been some discussion on the amount of raises for nonjudicial staff but there appears to be significant hesitation to increase judicial pay. OJA reported that $12.6 million is needed to raise nonjudicial salaries to match surround states.

OJA has also introduced a bill to extend the surcharge fees. This is an extension and not an increase. The law needs to be renewed or it automatically sunsets on June 30. See HB 2041.

The Kansas Supreme Court held a swearing-in of all appellate judges being retained after the general election. This ceremony was very well attended. You can watch the ceremony here: https://www.youtu.be/QGMCdsy20Oo.

Chief Justice Nuss will also return to the House Chamber to give the State of the Judiciary speech. This marks the first time in four years the speech will take place in the Capital.

The other big news was Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State address. Those remarks are attached here: https://governor.kansas.gov/2017-state-of-the-state/. If you are interested, you can watch the speech here: https://governor.kansas.gov/

The Governor discussed a wide variety of topics including budget issues, higher education costs and poverty. He failed to mention water rights or any changes to judicial selection. Specifics on his budget proposal came on Wednesday when budget director Shawn Sullivan introduced the 2017 recession bill and 2018 budget to a joint meeting of legislators.

The highlights are to increase sin taxes (tobacco/alcohol), sweep funds from KDOT and liquidate certain investment funds. The plan would increase tobacco tax by $1.00 and double the alcohol tax to 16%. The plan also calls for freezing the income tax cut for the lowest bracket at 2.7%. Under the 2012 tax cut all rates would shift downward till they reached zero. 

The governor’s budget also looks to sweep nearly $600 million from KDOT over the next 30 months. This sweep would delay all new highway projects for two years, maintenance will continue as scheduled. It was recently reported that Kansas ranks 50th in new highway projects.

The most controversial issue would be selling off the tobacco settlement funds. Under Gov. Brownback’s plan the state would forego 30 years of tobacco payments in exchange for $530 million now. The state takes in around $60 million from this settlement each year. If my math is correct this would mean the state would trade $1.8 BILLION spread over three decades for $530 million this year.

Many are skeptical of this approach and its viability is in question.

“Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, the House budget chairman, called the 30-year commitment “way too long” and said the proposal would cause “a lot of angst” among lawmakers. “I really don’t think that’s going to gain any traction,” Waymaster said.”

Wichita Eagle

For more news of the budget proposal please see:

http://bit.ly/2j8hE6c - Wichita Eagle

http://bit.ly/2iofvCv - Garden City Telegram

http://bit.ly/2jjddmf - Kansas City Star

http://bit.ly/2jIcPBB - Topeka Capital Journal

        

The KBA is currently monitoring the following bills.

House Bills

HB 2001

Eliminating the reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies concerning civil asset seizures and forfeitures

HB 2014

Amending prosecutorial powers and penalties for election crimes

HB 2018

Requiring conviction before forfeiture of assets

HB 2019

Establishing the Foster Care Oversight Task Force

HB 2034

Amending the crime of aggravated battery concerning strangulation

HB 2035

Criminal post-trial motions for correction of sentence

 

Senate Bills

SB 1

Eliminating the reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies concerning civil asset seizures and forfeiture

SB 10

Lien filings against public officials; prohibitions; notice; criminal penalties.

SB 12

Amending the residency restrictions for person on transitional or conditional release under Ks sexually violent predator act

SB 13

Updating the code of civil procedure


These bills were introduced last week and they can be found on the KBA Legislative Bill Tracking webpage.

The KBA will introduce four proposals next week. The first is the Transfer on Death deed amendments, codifying Alternative Dispute Resolution in wills/trust, enactment of Benefit Corporations in Kansas and an update to the Uniform Arbitration Act. 

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Welcome Back!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Welcome Back!

On Monday, January 9, the Kansas Legislature opened its doors. The election season allows us to welcome 60 new faces to the Capitol; these new legislators will have an immediate impact on policy going forward. Conservatives continue to control the house but by a slim margin. There is an opportunity for Democrats and moderates to work together to lift some very heavy policy pieces. Look for early action to repeal the LLC loophole and discussion to expand Medicaid.

We will also see significant change in both judiciary committees this session. Sen. Rick Wilborn will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee and Rep. Blaine Finch has been tasked with the house committee. The house committee is stacked with 11 lawyer/legislators whereas the senate committee has on its roster Sen. David Haley, who is law-trained but non-practicing. The lack of lawyers in the Senate will create an interesting dynamic when both chambers debate technical legal issues and when they meet for conference committee.

These legislators face an uphill battle from day one. The state finds itself in a $340 million hole for this fiscal year which ends June 30. This budget hole only grows when discussing FY18. There was some good news in December as revenues surpassed estimates for the first time since July. The $6 million overage is helpful but a more robust figure is needed to make a dent in the shortage.

Legislators will also focus on crafting a new school finance formula. Schools are currently operating under a block grant formula which many want to change. How this is changed is yet to be seen, but some pundits believe the block grant approach could be used again. Several school districts, public policy outfits and interested parties have submitted their thoughts to the governor but as of the start of the session, no one has a good idea how to handle the situation.

Besides focusing on the state budget and school finance, the legislature will consider a significant increase to judicial branch personnel salaries. The Office of Judicial Administration put forth a proposal seeking $20 million in state general funds for pay raises for judges and staff. Currently, Kansas ranks 50 in judicial pay and 45 when accounting for inflation. It has been reported that judicial branch employees often hold two or three jobs to make ends meet. See: http://kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/News-Releases.asp#111816 .

KBA Proposals

The KBA will introduce four proposals: two dealing with probate issues, one making changes to the uniform law concerning arbitration, and a new business association type called Benefit Corporations. Look for these bills and others that affect the practice of law in the KBA 2017 Bill Tracking Chart. The bill tracking chart will be released on Friday, Jan. 13, with bi-weekly updates thereafter.

For information on legislators, bills and committee assignments please look at www.ksbar.org starting on Jan. 16. You can also find information at www.kslegisalture.org . To get live updates during the session you can follow us on twitter @KansaBarLeg .

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18 

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KBA 2017 Legislative Priorities

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Friday the Kansas Bar Association met to discuss the 2017 legislative session. The KBA Board of Governors approved the following legislative priorities for 2017:

Full Funding of Judicial Branch

  • The KBA believes that only a fully funded court system guarantees access to justice for all Kansas citizens and businesses. Access to Justice is a cornerstone of our society. Safety, fairness and efficiency can only be achieved for all Kansans if the Judicial Branch is adequately funded by the legislature. 
  • Proper funding of the Judicial Branch guarantees each citizen his or her right to due process of law as expressly stated in the Fifth and 14th amendments, facilitates economic development, and protects state interests. These guarantees require open courts, access to an attorney, prompt scheduling of hearings and trials, and accurate and timely case processing.
  • The KBA supports efforts by the Judicial Branch to modernize its processes and develop efficiencies within its operations. Specifically, the addition of 20 new employees, seven new magistrate judges, and one additional district judge will ease the burden on overworked staff and better serve Kansas citizens.
  • The core function of the Kansas Judicial Branch is the timely delivery of justice to Kansas residents and businesses. A properly compensated staff is vital to this mission. As such, the KBA supports the Judicial Branch’s request to bring employee salaries to market level and to adjust judicial salaries to compete with neighboring states.

Working for Kansas Businesses

  • The KBA will introduce a bill creating a new business type called Benefit Corporations. A Benefit Corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia; its mission is to create a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. This proposal is an extension of the 2016 update of the Kansas General Corporate Code which was passed and signed into law in 2016.

Arbitration Law Updates

  • The KBA will introduce a proposal codifying enforcement of mediation/arbitration provision in trust instruments. This proposal is in line with prior revisions to the Uniform Trust Act.
  • The KBA will also introduce a law aimed at updating the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1955. These revisions, named the Revised Arbitration Act of 2000, will address many procedural issues not discussed in the original act. It will allow a court to order provisional remedies, further protect due process rights of participants, avoid federal preemption issues, and allow expressed immunity for arbitrators. 

The KBA will also actively review legislation throughout the 2017 session. The KBA will again provide a “Bill Tracking Chart” so members can easily review issues being discussed at the Capitol. The KBA will periodically request the assistance of KBA Sections and/or KBA Committees to vet new legislation and make recommendations based on those Sections/Committees’ expertise.

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18 

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2017 Kansas Legislative Leaders

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 5, legislators elected a new crop of representatives to lead them into the 2017 session. The Kansas House decided on Rep. Ron Ryckman as the new speaker. He defeated Rep. Russ Jennings in a conservative vs. moderate battle 57-28. This is significant for several reasons: First, Ryckman will now have the power over committee assignments and what bills come to the floor for debate/vote; second, his victory is tempered by the loss of a conservative majority in the House. Those 28 moderate votes could be combined with the now 40 Democrat votes to establish a working majority.  Ryckman has already signaled a willingness to listen to these groups. See: http://kcur.org/post/whos-who-kansas-legislature-selects-new-leadership#stream/0

Democrats surprised almost everyone when they decided to replace Rep. Tom Burroughs with Rep. Jim Ward as Minority leader. Most believed Burroughs would continue as Minority Leader after the successful election of 13 new Democrats to the House. However, this was still not enough as Ward was elected by two-votes 21-19.

The rest of the leadership races shaped up as shown:

Speaker of the House

Ron Ryckman – Olathe

House Majority Leader

Don Hineman – Dighton

Assistant House Majority Leader

Tom Phillips – Manhattan

Speaker Pro Tem

Scott Schwab – Overland Park

House Minority Leader

Jim Ward – Wichita

Assistant House Minority Leader

Stan Frownfelter – Kansas City

 

The Senate was not nearly as exciting as House elections; however, there were a few rule votes that got heated. But in the end not much has changed in the Kansas Senate. Sen. Susan Wagle has maintained her position as Senate President. Wagle was able to fend off a conservative challenge from Sen. Ty Masterson on a 23-7 vote. Democrats will continue to be lead by Sen. Anthony Hensley, returning unchallenged as Senate Minority Leader.

Senate Leadership consists of the following:

Senate President

Susan Wagle – Wichita

Senate Vice President

Jeff Longbine – Emporia

Senate Majority Leader

Jim Denning – Overland Park

Assistant Senate Majority Leader

Vicki Schmidt – Topeka

Senate Minority Leader

Anthony Hensely – Topeka

Assistant Senate Minority Leader

Laura Kelly – Topeka

 

For more coverage of the leadership elections please visit:

Kansas Public Radio - http://kansaspublicradio.org/kpr-news/leadership-kansas-legislature-shifts-center-politically

The Associated Press - http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article118930088.html

Wichita Eagle - http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article118942703.html

Topeka Capital-Journal - http://cjonline.com/news/2016-12-05/brownback-meets-new-gop-democratic-legislative-leaders

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Lawyer and Law-Trained Legislators 2017 Kansas Legislature

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lawyer and Law-Trained Legislators
2017 Kansas Legislature

KANSAS SENATOR

Senator David Haley
Senate District No. 4
D-Kansas City

Senator Haley is the managing partner of Village East, a redevelopment company in Kansas City, Kansas. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1994-2000 and elected to the Kansas Senate in 2000. He was reelected in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Senator Haley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare. He is also a member of other joint committees. Senator Haley received his J.D. from Howard University.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/sen_haley_david_1/


KANSAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Rep. John Barker
House District No. 70
R-Abilene

Representative Barker is a farmer, retired District Court Judge, and U.S. Army veteran. Rep. Barker served 25 years as a judge for the Eighth Judicial District covering Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties. Rep. Barker has been recognized for his work with Kansas youth - championing initiatives to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, working with local school districts to reduce truancy rates, and working with juvenile offender programs. Rep. Barker and his wife of 30 years, live in Dickinson County where they raised their two children.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_barker_john_1/


Rep. Steve Becker
House District No. 104
R-Buhler

Representative Becker is a retired District Court Judge for Reno County. Rep. Becker was appointed in June 1981 and retired in January 2007. Prior to his appointment, Rep. Becker practiced in Hutchinson, KS. Rep. Becker graduated from Washburn Law School in 1975.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_becker_steven_1/


Rep. John Carmichael
House District 92
D-Wichita

Representative Carmichael represents the 92nd District in Wichita. He earned is Political Science degree from University of Kansas in 1979, his Administration of Justice degree from Wichita State University in 1980 and his law degree from KU School of Law in 1982. Rep. Carmichael is Of Counsel with the law firm of Conlee, Schmidt and Emerson, LLP in Wichita. Rep. Carmichael has been a member of the Wichita Bar Association and the Kansas Bar Association for over 30 years. Rep. Carmichael will serve as ranking minority member on the House Judiciary, as a member on Elections and Energy/Environment and local gov. committees this session.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_carmichael_john_1/


Rep. Erin Davis
House district No. 15
R- Olathe

Erin Davis represents the 15th House District in Olathe, Kansas. She was reelected in 2016. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas Law School. She is a member of the Rokusek Law Office, LLP in Lenexa, KS specializing in family law, including divorce, custody, Child in Need of Care parent’s attorney and Guardian ad Litem, juvenile offender and adult criminal work.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_davis_erin_1/


Rep. Blaine Finch
House District No. 59
R-Ottawa

Representative Finch is majority owner and President of Green, Finch& Covington, Chtd. His practice covers a broad spectrum of legal issues including municipal law, real estate, contracts, corporate law and estate planning. He also teaches at Ottawa University as an adjunct faculty member in the fields of History, Political Science and Pre-Law. Finch is a former city commissioner and Mayor of the City of Ottawa. Rep-Elect Finch graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ottawa University with degrees in History, Political Science and Psychology. Finch is a member of the Kansas Bar Association and a member and past president of the Franklin County Bar Association. He attended Washburn University School of Law.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_finch_blaine_1/


Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger
House District No. 46
D-Lawrence

Representative Highberger graduated from University of Kansas Law School in 1992. His areas of private practice have included wills, estates, contracts, family law, federal communications law, and general civil practice. Highberger served on the Lawrence City Commission from 2003 to 2009 and was Mayor in 2005/2006. He has been an active member of the Lawrence community, and currently serves on the Douglas County Food Policy Council, the City of Lawrence’s Public Incentives Review Committee (PIRC) and Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), and the boards of directors of Independence, Inc., the Community Mercantile Education Foundation (CMEF), and the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA).

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_highberger_dennis_1/


Rep.-Elect Tim Hodge
House District No. 72

R-North Newton

Representative-elect Hodge is member of the Adrian & Pankratz law firm in Newton Kansas. Hodge has developed his practice in diverse areas such as tax law, real estate, business law, secured transactions, and Medicaid Planning. He has served as an adjunct professor of business law at Tabor College. During law school, he clerked for the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals and the Kansas National Education Association. Before law school, Mr. Hodge served as a teacher and a coach at Peabody High School. He and his wife reside in North Newton with their three children. His wife is a teacher in the Newton School District. Hodge graduate Magana cum laude from Tabor College in 1999 and received is JD from Washburn Law School in 2003. Hodge also attended the Oxford Honours Program in 1998. He is a KBA member since 2004.


Rep.-Elect Susan Humphries
House District No. 99
R-Wichita

Representative-elect Humphries joined the Kansas Bar in 2014, after graduating from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law earlier that year. During law school Humphries had clinical experience in Mediation and at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. Humphries practices at Shultz Law Office, P.A., in Wichita, with a focus on adoption and general law. Humphries is the coordinator for Wichita Christian Legal Aid, which offers free legal aid at three non-profits. Humphries married Cary after graduating from TCU, and they proceeded to live in (and enjoy!) five states and two foreign countries. They moved to Kansas for the first time in 1981, and have considered it their married home ever since. They have four adult children (two are married), and one grandson. Humphries will serve as Representative for the 99th district, which includes Andover and east Wichita.


Rep.-Elect Leonard Mastroni
House District No. 117
R-La Crosse

Representative-elect Mastroni is currently a Rush County Commissioner, serving in that capacity since 2011. Prior to his service as a county commissioner he was a District Magistrate Judge where he served on the KDMJA Legislative committee for 12 years. Mastroni also served a chairman of the KDMJA Legislative committee and its educational committee. Mastroni attended Fort Hays University where he received his BA in political science. Mastroni also attended University of Nevada at Reno where he graduated from the national judicial college.


Rep.-Elect Vic Miller
House District No. 58
D-Topeka

Representative-Elect Vic Miller is returning to the Kansas House. He previously served for three-terms. Miller also served as Shawnee County Commissioner (15 yrs.) Topeka City Councilman (8 yrs.), once acting as Topeka Deputy Mayor. Miller also served as Topeka Municipal Judge and Kansas Property Valuation Director. Miller has spent his legal career as a sole practitioner. Miller graduated from Emporia State and Washburn University School of Law.


Rep. Fred Patton
House District No. 50
R-Topeka

Representative Patton graduated from the University of Kansas Law School before joining the legal research staff at the Shawnee County District Court. Currently, Patton owns and operates Patton Law Offices, LLC in North Topeka with a varied practice area including banking, business/corporate, construction, estate planning, general civil, probate, and real estate. Patton is very active in the community having leadership roles in over 15 local groups.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_patton_fred_1/


Rep.-Elect Bradley Ralph
House District No. 119
R-Dodge City

Representative-elect Ralph is currently the City Attorney for Dodge City, Kansas. Prior to this position he was in private practice with the firm of Williams, Malone & Ralph for 25 years. His private practice focused on representation of insurance companies, healthcare providers, schools, and municipalities. Ralph has been active in his community in leadership positions with his church and the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas. He has also served the legal profession on several professional committees, including the Professional Ethics Committee. He is a graduate of St. Mary of the Plains College and Washburn University School of Law. Ralph and his wife Shannon have three adult children.


Rep. Jim Ward
House District No. 86
D-Wichita

Representative Ward is the owner of the Law offices of James Ward of Wichita. He was appointed to the Kansas Senate to fill a vacancy in 1992. He was later elected to the Kansas House in 2002 and reelected every two years through 2012. Representative Ward serves as the Assistant House Minority Leader and is a member of the House Committees on Calendar and Printing, Health and Human Services, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary and Legislative Budget, as well as several joint committees. He received his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_ward_jim_1/


Rep.-Elect John Wheeler
House District No. 123
R-Garden City

Representative-elect Wheeler is the former Finney County Attorney, first elected in 1993. He was elected to the House in 2016 to his first term. He is a graduate of Fort Hays State College (1969) with a degree in political science and pre-law. He graduated from Washburn School of Law in 1976. Prior to being elected as Finney County Attorney, Rep. Wheeler was in private practice with Calihan, Green, Calihan and Loyd, Associate, 1976-1979, then Soldner & Wheeler, Partner, 1979-1987, and finally with John P. Wheeler, Attorney at Law, Solo Practitioner, 1988-1992. Rep. Wheeler is a proud member of Harry H. Renick American Legion Post #9, Past Commander; Garden City Salvation Army Advisory Board; Garden City Noon Lions Club; and the Finney County Historical Society.


2017 Kansas Legislature

Kansas Senate:

  • 31 Republicans
  • 9 Democrats

Kansas House of Representatives:

  • 85 Republicans
  • 40 Democrats

Additional Information

The official state website for the Kansas Legislature

www.kslegislature.org

From that site, you can find information on the House and Senate members and contact information, calendars, bill introductions, committee activity, minutes of committees, committee memberships and virtually anything related to the Kansas Legislature.

Governor Sam Brownback

The website for Governor Sam Brownback and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer is:

http://www.kansas.gov/

Attorney General Derek Schmidt

http://ag.ks.gov

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