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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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Judicial Budget Lows

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, February 12, 2018

 

Week 5 saw the second State of the State Address—the first for Gov. Colyer. The address focused on three main areas: transparency, jobs and education. The Governor has already signed an executive order making the first 100 pages of a KORA request free of charge. He will also require annual sexual harassment training for state employees.

 

Colyer also want to focus on keeping schools open, accountability for new money used and stopping the endless lawsuits. He hinted at a constitutional amendment, but his speech did not provide any other details. Colyer also suggested a constitutional amendment dealing with pro-life laws but again no specifics were given. For more information please see; https://go.ksbar.org/2sqGaFI; See also; https://go.ksbar.org/2EXmsUy

For our purposes, Week 5 was focused on the Judicial Budget—specifically, raises for staff and judges. Last Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee debated the Judicial Branch request to add $19.6 million to the judicial budget for judicial raises ($7.5 million); nonjudicial raises ($10.3 million), seven new judges/staff ($772K); 20 unfunded positions ($875K) and judicial suite renovations ($200K).

Several members of the appropriations committee challenged the facts the court used to arrive at these numbers. The concerns were wide-ranging and included inaccurate figures to a poor wage survey to using non-neighbor states for comparison (IOWA). 

Others were concerned that the total increase would be 18% above the current SGF for the Judicial Branch. The strongest opponents to the recommendations were Rep. Hoffman (R-Coldwater); Rep. Williams (R-Augusta) and Rep. Claeys (R-Salina).

Several members felt that an increase of over 21% for judges was out of line, and they would rather focus on nonjudicial staff. Rep. Claeys felt it more appropriate to fund correction officer raises due to the safety issues they are facing.

Overall, the recommendation was not well received, and it appears that the committee has very little appetite for any raise for judges.

In the end, Rep. Hoffman made a motion to strike the entire judicial budget enhancements from the recommendation. They did discuss bringing the issue up again. Chairman Waymaster would like more information from the courts concerning the amount of the raises and how they arrived at those numbers.

Next week the Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee will hear the judicial branch enhancement requests. The KBA will again be submitting testimony in support. You can view the judicial branch budget enhancement request on the KBA website.

 

There are two stand-alone bills dealing with judicial salaries still out there, one in each chamber:

HB 2689      Making appropriations for FY 2019 for the judicial branch; salary increases for justices, judges and nonjudicial employees.

SB 388        Making appropriations for FY 2019 for the judicial branch; salary increases for justices, judges and nonjudicial employees.         

                    Neither are set for hearing, but they both will survive the Turnaround Deadline since they are in exempt committees.

 

Here are a few other bills being monitored by the KBA that could affect the judicial branch:

HB 2560      Kansas Cybersecurity Act

                    HB 2560 enacts the Kansas Cybersecurity Act which would impact judicial branch employees. OJA is working with the committee to exempt the Judicial Branch. I will continue to monitor its progress.

 

HB 2645      Changing district magistrate judge position assignments in the 4th judicial district

HB 2645       would change the residence for the primary district magistrate judge in the 4th district from Osage to Coffey county. The 4th District has two magistrates assigned with one being housed in Osage County and the other rotating between Coffey, Anderson and Franklin. No hearing date set.

 

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 is also done for magistrate judges. We continue to monitor this issue.

 

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. The only difference is that this bill allows the Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles to run the program instead of the courts. No hearing is scheduled at this time.

 

While this week’s focus was on the judicial branch’s proposal, other bills were introduced that need careful consideration; they include:

 

Family Law

HB 2524      Allowing petitions for a protection from abuse order to include a request for transfer of rights to a wireless telephone number

HB 2529      Creating a presumption of child's equal time with parents during court determinations of legal custody, residency or parenting time

HB 2630      Adding protecting children from witnessing abuse to the list of factors the court considers when determining custody, residency or parenting time

HB 2687      Creating the Adoption Protection Act

SB 390        Creating the Extreme Risk Protective Order Act

SB 401        Creating the Adoption Protection Act

 

Real Property

HB 2452      Limiting the duration of certain conservation easements

HB 2727      Requiring contracts for the sale of real estate to provide notice of mineral, oil and gas interests.

SB 329        Enacting the uniform partition of heirs property act

 

Litigation

SB 266        Amending the collateral source definition for crime victim’s compensation fund

SB 277        Extending recognition to tribal court judgments pursuant to supreme court rules

SB 296        Allowing evidence of failure to use a safety belt to be admissible in any action for certain purposes

SB 409        Creating procedures for limiting contact with jurors

 

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Regime Change - Kansas

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Friday, February 2, 2018

The last day in January ended up being the last day of the Brownback Administration. Gov. Brownback officially resigned at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31st. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer then took the oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Nuss. Secretary of State Kris Kobach—who normally does the swearing-in—did not attend. Gov. Colyer wants to set a different tone going forward, what that means remains to be seen. Gov. Colyer is the 47th Governor of the State of Kansas.

See; http://bit.ly/2nrEhni ; see also; http://tigermedianet.com/?p=36346 and http://bit.ly/2GDcisA .

Interesting fact: Only two Kansas Governors have served two full terms: John Carlin and Bill Graves.

Last week the KBA testified on two bills:

SB 309  | Providing for the disposition of judicial branch docket fees in FY 2020 and FY 2021
The KBA also testified on SB 309. Under current law, the first $3.1 million of any remaining docket fee revenue is credited to the Electronic Filing and Management Fund (EFMF) through FY 2019. Beginning in FY 2020, the amount will be reduced to $1.0 million. SB 309 would extend the $3.1 million credit through FY 2021. Beginning in FY 2022, and every fiscal year after, the bill would increase the $1.0 million credit to $1.5 million.

The court had requested an extension of this docket fee distribution on two previous occasions. Both times, the request was made to give the courts the revenue required to complete the E-Filing process. This time, the request has been made to make it possible for the court to complete the case management program.

SB 309 was recommended favorably by Senate Judiciary and is headed to the full Senate.

 

The KBA continues to monitor two family law bills that had hearings last week. They are:

Next Week the KBA will monitor the following hearings:

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Under New Management

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, January 29, 2018

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 50-49 (VP Pence broke tie) to confirm Gov. Sam Brownback as the U.S. Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Brownback will officially resign as governor on Wednesday, January 31st, handing over the executive branch to Lt. Gov. Jeff Coyler.

See: http://bit.ly/2DRHkyE; See also: http://nyti.ms/2rCNOfS; and http://bit.ly/2BteZJr.

This has been in the works for several months now and allows for a certain level of stability in the Capitol. The big question is how the new governor will handle the biggest issue on the session: K12 funding. While serving as the Lt. Gov., Colyer hinted at possible solutions, but he failed to provide any specific details (See: http://bit.ly/2EaYzIE). Legislative leaders have taken a different approach by challenging Kansas Board of Education Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis who is the pre-eminent figure on K12 funding. The allegations include misallocation of transportation funds totaling $405 million over several decades. See: http://bit.ly/2ngovKT; See also: http://bit.ly/2FjlxN9.

Senate President Wagle and Speaker Ryckman sent a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education outlining the audit’s findings and asking that Dennis be placed on administrative leave pending a forensic audit. The legislators also met with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to discuss other options.

The public reaction to this letter has been swift. All the major teaching associations and school groups issued a letter in support of Dennis. Many legislators have publicly supported Dennis and joined the “Team Dale” movement. For its part, the Kansas Board of Education met in executive session last week to discuss this issue.

The audit findings are curious, but some believe that scapegoating Dennis is a way to undermine the K12 funding formula currently in place. This could open the door for an argument that the Kansas Supreme Court made its ruling on erroneous facts. We will see how far this strategy goes.

Last week, Kansas also got a new U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas when Steve McCallister was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. McCallister was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month.

This Week...

The KBA will be testifying on two bills. They include:

 

Legislative Bill Tracking Chart

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Settling In!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, January 22, 2018

In the second week of the legislative session things appear to be settling down. This week was anchored by the State of the Judiciary Address given by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. The crux of the 40-minute speech was the issue of salaries for judicial branch employees and judges. Chief Justice Nuss pointed out that Kansas ranks 50th in employee pay even after last session’s 2.5 percent increase. The Judicial Branch experiences employee turnover at five times the national average. Every staff position within the judicial branch has a starting wage below market value. Nuss pointed out that when Wal-Mart phases in their new starting wage of $11 per hour, it will be nearly the same as a starting wage for certain court positions. The court is losing employees to Wal-Mart, Target etc., due to salaries. You can read about the salary issue here: http://bit.ly/2FVoLaR

You can read the entire speech here: http://bit.ly/2DqzrAE

In the Senate Judiciary Committee, hearings were held on SB 199 dealing with appeal bonds. This bill creates a small business category for appeal bonds by defining a small business as having 50 or fewer employees and no more than $50 million in annual revenue. The bill also retroactively applies to any appeal that has not been resolved filed prior to the effective date of the bill. KTLA opposed the bill while the KS Association of Defense Counsel supported it. This bill was originally introduced by the Kansas Chamber.

The House Judiciary Committee also held hearings this week with SB 181 being heard on Thursday. SB 181 would authorize a district court judge to enter into amnesty programs for traffic fines. These fines are a dedicated revenue stream for the judicial branch, and the amnesty program would cost the court some money. The bill was supported by Judge Phil Journey and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau. Both believe that this type of penalty to be a tax on the poor.

Two groups opposed the bill: Kansas District Judges Association and the Kansas Association of District Court Clerks & Administrators. Both groups stated this would create extra work for clerks which would require at least four full-time employees. For its part, OJA created an ad hoc committee to study municipal court fines and fees and draft a report with recommendations. This committee is chaired by Municipal Court Judge (City of Salina) Brenda Stoss. The committee did not make any recommendations.

 

Both judiciary committees have full schedules this week as a host of family law bills, criminal bills and administrative measures are discussed and/or set for hearing. Look for the House Judiciary Committee to discuss civil asset forfeiture late next week while the Senate Judiciary Committee spends Monday discussing Human Trafficking.

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Rocky Start

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Kansas Legislature returned last Monday, Jan. 8, 2017. While the first week is usually uneventful, this year things got off to a rocky start.

First, a report came out that Rep. Steve Alford (R-Ulysses) made racially charged comments during a townhall discussion in Western Kansas. See: http://bit.ly/2qKhYgC; See also: http://bit.ly/2CJvIK4.

There is actual video footage of the exchange up on YouTube now. See; http://bit.ly/2CSpw6G. Rep. Alford resigned both of his committee chairmanships and issued a formal apology.

Second, Missouri Governor Eric Greiten admitted to an affair before he was elected. The report goes on to allege that Greiten attempted to use personal sensitive photos to blackmail his mistress. See: http://bit.ly/2CPoIeP; See also: http://bit.ly/2mkYn1g. There are Missouri legislators calling on Greiten to resign.

Third, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback gave the annual State of the State address on Tuesday evening.  Many thought Lt. Gov. Jeff Coyler would be giving the speech since Brownback was in line for a U.S. Senate-confirmed Ambassadorship. The US Senate vote never came, so Gov. Brownback was obligated to give the speech. He focused on K12 spending and recommended adding $600 million over five years to school funding. He also stated he wanted to add 150 school counselors a year for 5 years as well.He stated that this could be done with no new taxes.

You can watch the State of the State address here: http://bit.ly/2ExDabE

 
 

Republican leadership responded quickly to the $600 million proposal and the governor’s budget, and it was not kind. Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) is quoted as saying “I’m not sure what the logic is behind this” proposal. Rep. J.R. Claeys went even further tweeting “The governor has waved the white flag of surrender from the dome, and tossed every ally he had left under the bus... Then put the bus in reverse... Then lit fire to the bus.” Senate President Susan Wagle also made comments criticizing the governor’s plans. See: https://twitter.com/APjdhanna.

For more news of the budget proposal please see:

This will be a hard sell for many conservatives. How they plan on approaching the governor’s recommendation and the court’s deadline remains to be seen, but this is not a good start.

Fourth, there is a growing concern about transparency in the Capitol regarding bill introductions. In the past, it was not uncommon for a bill to be introduced without a known sponsor (which means if you were not in the room when the bill was requested, you would never know who requested it.) On some occasions, conceptual bill would be introduced without a sponsor, making it hard to track the origin of any one proposal.

This year many committees are altering rules to allow more transparency into the bill introduction process. This is true for House Judiciary and House Federal and State Law Committees. This will be helpful going forward, but it is not without controversy. For instance, last Wednesday, two democrats objected to the introduction of a bill citing transparency concerns because they did not know what exactly was in the bill.  This was the first time I ever witnessed an objection to merely introducing a proposal. The committee debated the objection and voted on the objection, ruling to allow the bill to be introduced. This is a highly unusual process for bill introductions. However, it happened again on Wednesday when a legislator objected to the introduction on a budget proposal from the Governor’s Office in a different committee. It will be interesting to see if this pattern holds, and we see more objections to bills being introduced.

Fifth—committee hearings start next week. We will see hearings on SB 181, dealing with fines and fees; SB 199, dealing with appeal bonds; and a few carryover bills from 2017. The KBA continues to track legislation of interest to its members and you can find it here: https://www.ksbar.org/bill_tracking

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Quick Start

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Updated: Monday, January 8, 2018

The Kansas Legislature returned Monday, January 8, 2018. 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 is already considering K12 spending initiatives while the Senate grapples with other K12 issues.

There are also two pre-filed bills aimed at gun laws. One, HB 2442, introduced by Rep. Vic Miller (D-Topeka), would prohibit “bump stock” attachments for semiautomatic firearms such as the one used in the Las Vegas mass shooting this past summer. The other, HB 2243, introduced by Rep. Boog Highberger (D-Lawrence), would create a new crime of abandoning a firearm.

The Office of Judicial Administration also introduced a pre-filed bill, SB 261, which transfers the duty of property appraisals from a judicial administrator to the director of property valuation.

It is also important to remember that 2018 session is an outbound year which means that bills introduced during the 2017 session carry over and can still be granted hearings and passed through the normal legislative process.                                                                                                                                                                                   

The KBA will continue to monitor the following bills: 

House

·       HB 2126  ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments
·       HB 2127  Transfer on Death Deed
 ·       HB 2186  Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

Senate

·       SB 157  Kansas Highway Patrol, Immigration agreement
·       SB 158  Prohibiting sanctuary policies by cities, counties and state agencies

To stay informed on the 2018 Legislative Session, you can visit www.kslegislature.org
There you can find bills, meeting times/dates, committee rosters and ways to contact your legislator. You can also find a helpful session planner.

At the KBA website – www.ksbar.org – you can find the 2018 Bill Tracking Chart, legislative testimony and an interactive legislative map.

Look for weekly KBA Advocate every Tuesday. This blog will summarize the previous legislative week. Also, please follow us at @KansasBarLeg for live twitter reactions to the 2018 session.

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10th Annual Kansas Bar Association Fall Legislative Conference

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10th Annual Kansas Bar Association
Fall Legislative Conference

Friday, November 3, 2017

Kansas Law Center
1200 SW Harrison Street 
Topeka, Kansas  66612

Special Guests

Prof. Burdett A. Loomis – The University of Kansas
Prof. Michael Smith Ph.D. – Emporia State University
Bryan Lowry, Lead Political Reporter – Kansas City Star

Schedule of Events

2p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
1 free-hour of CLE presented by
Penny Moylan – Office of the Disciplinary Administrator
“The Pitfalls of Practicing out of a Lincoln Town Car”

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Legislative Conference

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Cocktail Reception

Special thanks and appreciation to our Reception Hosts:

Alderson, Alderson, Weiler, Conklin, Burghart & Crow, LLC
John Peterson & Bill Brady/Capitol Strategies ♦ Kansas Bankers Association
Sneed Law Firm, LLC ♦ Whitney B. Damron, P.A.
E. "Tuck" Duncan/Kansas Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association
Foulston Siefkin LLP

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You're Invited to the KBA Roadshow

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 18, 2017

KBA Roadshow to SW Bar
Greetings!
 
You're invited to the upcoming Kansas Bar Association CLE in Liberal and Dodge City . These programs consist of a FREE two-hour CLE which includes a legislative update and an hour of ETHICS, with lunch provided by the KBA.

KBA membership is NOT required.
Dates and Locations
Click "Register Today" button below to register for either CLE program
September 27th
Seward County Community College ,
Rm SW 229C
1801 N Kansas Ave,
Liberal, KS 67901

11 am - Registration/Lunch
September 28th
Rebein Law Offices,
810 W Frontview St., Ste 1
Dodge City, KS 67801


11 am - Registration/Lunch
Registration deadline is September 25th to help us with a proper lunch count.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Questions?
Contact
Joseph Molina
Legislative Services Director
Direct: (785) 861-8836
Main: (785) 234-5696
CLE logo white
Kansas Bar Association
1200 SW Harrison St.
Topeka, KS 66612
 

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KBA Roadshow Heads to Western Kansas!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2017


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KBA Lawyer to Legislator CLE

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, July 3, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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