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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 Action

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2016

About the Author


Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg

Last week was a short week for legislators as they returned from First Adjournment break to begin the second half of the session.  Legislators began serious consideration of issues on Thursday with both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in action.

The bulk of the work came from the Senate Judiciary Committee as they heard four bills on Thursday which included:

SB 439

Grounds for impeachment of judges and justices

SB 467

Prohibiting certain lawyers from advertising in Kansas

Sub HB 2062

Uniform Commercial Code Article 9

 

SB 439 dealing with impeachment of justices and judges was the most contentious of issues.  Proponents of the bill included Sen. Greg Smith (Vice-Chair of Senate Judiciary) and Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John). I have attached their testimony.  The main crux of the debate was whether SB 439 expanded the grounds for impeachment.  Proponents argued that the bill merely defined the grounds for impeachment while opponents argued that the bill was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

Opponents of the bill included the KBA, Pedro Irigonegaray, Kansas Association for Justice (KSAJ), Kansas Association of Defense Council (KADC) and the Kansas District Judges Association. 

There appears to be enough support from the committee to recommend SB 439 favorably. The question now becomes whether the Senate as a whole wants to deal with another controversial issue.

SB 467 is an interesting bill dealing with non-Kansas licensed lawyers advertising in Kansas.  The bill was supported by Mark Hutton of the Hutton & Hutton LLC out of Wichita.  The main issue for Hutton was the protection of consumers who are unaware they maybe dealing with an attorney not licensed in Kansas. 

Opponents of SB 467 believe the bill violated the First Amendment and that proper remedies exist within the Kansas Supreme Court.

Senate Sub of HB 2062 is a carryover bill from last session.  This bill is highly technical and concerns electronic fund transfers governed by the UCC Article 9.  The KBA, along with the Kansas Bankers, introduced the bill and worked for its passage.  We are confident that the bill will be recommended favorably by the committee and pass the Senate.  At that point it will go to the governor’s desk for approval.

The House Judiciary heard only one bill this week but it was an important bill dealing with salary adjustments for judges and non-judicial staff.  Thirteen organizations testified in support of the bill, including the KBA.  The committee was very critical of raises for judges who currently make in excess of $100,000 (with an exception for magistrate judges) but were more likely to support non-judicial staff increases.

However, with the current fiscal outlook for the state ($53 million below expectation for February) it is highly unlikely that anything gets done this session.  On the positive side, the conversation has begun and interested parties can work toward a resolution once the financial issue is resolved.

HB 2704

Judicial Branch Salaries of judges and justices, appropriations for FY 17

 

The KBA’s Corporation Code update has finally been completed and is ready for hearing.  The bill is tentatively set for hearing on Thursday, March 17 at 3:30 p.m.  Bill Matthews and company will testify on behalf of the KBA.

HB 2713

Amending the Kansas General Corp Code

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Turnaround

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2016

About the Author


Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg

The Kansas Legislature looks to close out the first half of the session in grand style by working nearly 50 bills before the deadline hits. The legislature pushed up this pivotal deadline to bank days upon their return. Not being discussed is the Gannon equity decision, Medicare Expansion or closing the LLC loophole. But don’t be surprised if someone tried to work these into a debate on the floor through amendment.

Last week the KBA testified against another proposal to alter merit selection, HCR 5013. The hearing took place in House Judiciary with the Kansas chamber supporting the change. HCR 5013 would change the composition of the nominating commission to include four elected lawyers (per congressional district), five appointees from the governor and six legislators ( speaker appoints two, Senate president appoints two and the minority party appoints two).

The Kansas chamber supports altering the nominating commission over partisan elections because elections can be very expensive. Opposing HCR 5013 was Matt Keenan, Supreme Court Nominating Commission member, Lynn Johnson for Kansas Association for Justice (KSAJ), Nathan Leadstrom for Kansas Association of Defense Counsel (KADC), Natalie Haag for the KBA and Kathy Ostrowski for Kansans for Life. Kansans for Life strenuously opposed HCR 5013 because they feel the nominating commission is the worst selection process. They support the governor-appoint model, which failed 68-53 last week, or partisan elections which the Kansas chamber strongly opposes.

There is no time table for the committee to work HCR 5013.

The House Judiciary Committee did pass out of committee HB 2652 which increases the number of judicial district nominees to no less than three to no more than five. The committee did place HB 2652 into House Sub for SB 128. So moving forward the bill to watch for this proposal is House sub for SB 128.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed out the Supreme Court authority over the judicial branch bill (SB 440) and the docket fee bill (SB 454). The issue is Sen. Forrest Knox made an amendment to add SB 439 language into SB 440. SB 439 is the impeachment of judges and justices bill which did not get a hearing and was not discussed at any point this session. Sen. Mitch Holmes attempted to add this language last year on the Senate floor, but it was found to be non-germane. This year they bypassed that issue by placing it into a bill in committee.

The Senate Judiciary also passed out two family law bills of interest to family law practitioners. The first is SB 393, which makes domestic violence a primary factor in determining child custody and parenting time. The second was the CARE pilot program for foster care families, SB 410.

Finally, the KBA testified on three other bills this week. They include the following:

Bill Description Section Status

HB 2642

Planning and zoning; platted lots subdivided; notice and public hearing

Real Estate

Neutral

HB 2649

Kansas Energy Efficiency Act

Title Standard

Oppose

SB 425

Conservation easements

Real Property

Oppose

With the turnaround deadline moved up nearly a week, it seems unlikely that these bills will survive the deadline. However, there may still be time to have the bills “blessed” by referring them to an exempt committee. Should that happen, please look for updates in The Advocate.

One interesting bill did pop up late last week as SB 467, which deals with attorney advertisement, was introduced into Senate Way and Means Committee. This bill prohibits a non-Kansas attorney from soliciting Kansas residents. A similar idea was floated a few years ago, but it failed to gain traction.

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Nearing Mid-Session

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Kansas Legislature will reach its halfway point of the 2016 session on Saturday, February 27th 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.

This deadline has created a sense of urgency throughout the Kansas Legislature as they continue to take action on bills passed out of various committees this week. Non-exempt committees that meet in the afternoon have until February 26 to get bills out, while morning committees will have until the 27th, after which both chambers will be on the floor debating bills. Even numbered years are considered the out year for legislation as House members will all be up for elections this November. As such, legislation that does not pass this session must be reintroduced next year.

Thus far the session and most of the state has been focused on the budget. January revenues were nearly $7 million below estimates. Coupled with the previous month's deficit, it will be difficult for the Legislature to avoid another round of mid-year budget cuts for this 2016 fiscal year. If things don't improve, and recent history suggests it won’t, the legislature will be dealing with an even larger deficit for 2017 than the $175 million shortfall currently projected.

Adding to the pressure was last week’s Gannon decision that found the school block grant law unequitable. The Kanas Supreme Court stayed the ruling till June 30, 2016 (end of FY16) so the legislature can fix this issue. If the issue is not resolved schools will be closed starting July 1, 2016.

Judicial Budget

In December of 2015 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled on the Solomon case and found provisions in the judicial branch budget for FY 14 (HB 2338) & FY 15(HB 2005) unconstitutional. Those provisions included the requirement that district judges elect their chief judge and that chief judges have greater control of the budget given to them by the Office of Judicial Administration.

Sen. King has introduced two bills dealing with this issue. The first is SB 440 that appears to clarify the role the Supreme Court plays in the judicial branch. The other bill, SB 454 deals with docket fees and gives authority to Supreme Court to set rates. A hearing on SB 440 was set for Monday, February 15th in Senate judiciary committee.

Bill Description

SB 440

Supreme court’s authority of the judicial branch

SB 454

Docket fees

HB 2687

Supreme Court authority over judicial branch

Merit Selection

Two weeks ago changes to the merit selection method, specifically HCR 5005 were voted on by the Kansas House. The KBA working very closely with KSAJ, KADC, KDJA, KS School Board Association, several lawyer legislators and individual KBA members to defeat the proposal 68-54. Constitutional amendments require a 2/3 vote or 84 votes to be approved.

There are several proposals to change merit selection including partisan elections and a change to the make-up of the nominating commission members. HCR 5013 has been scheduled for hearing next Tuesday at 3:30pm in House Judiciary. The KBA will continue to oppose these measures and work with interested parties to defeat these measures.

A new bill expanding the number of nominees from no less than three to no more than five has also been introduced. This bill is set for a hearing in House judiciary on Wednesday, February 17th.

Bill Description

HB 2652

Increasing the number of district court judge nominees sent to the governor by district judicial nominating commissions

KBA Proposals

The KBA introduced three bills this session. They include the following:

Bill Description

HB 2651

Transfer on death deeds, lapsing or vesting of ownership in grantee beneficiary

Revising the Kansas General Corporation Code

HB 2109 clarifies the transfer of ownership in property when the grantor issues a transfer of death deed naming two or more beneficiaries. The bill is designed as an anti-lapse provision allowing the property to vest in the beneficiary’s surviving heirs should the beneficiary die prior to the record owner grantor. This is the fourth version of the proposal and it is very likely that House Judiciary Chairman John Barker will assign this issue to Kansas Judicial Council for an interim study.

The KBA proposed updates to the entire Kansas General Corporation Code. Since October 2014, a special committee of the KBA’s Corporate, Banking, and Business Law Section composed of practitioners and academics (described below) has been considering comprehensive updates to the Kansas General Corporation Code. The committee’s primary focus has been to consider innovations adopted in Delaware and propose corresponding changes made to the DGCL since the last comprehensive KGCC update in the 2000 Legislature. This not only allows Kansas businesses and the Kansas legal community to take advantage of the best body of corporate law, but also to leverage the rich and vast body of judicial precedent based on those statutes. We also sought to identify and correct deficiencies in the present law.

The committee is also composed of Bill Matthews (Chair), a corporation attorney in Wichita, Bob Alderson, a corporate practitioner in Topeka; Webb Hecker, a corporate law professor at KU in Lawrence; Virginia Harper Ho, a corporate law professor at KU in Lawrence; Joseph Jarvis, a corporate practitioner in Lawrence; Garrett Roe, an attorney on the staff of the Secretary of State; Bill Quick, a corporate practitioner in Kansas City; and Bill Wood, a corporate practitioner in Wichita.

Another interesting bill was SB 17 that expands the Kansas Judicial Council by including the chairs of the Senate/House Corrections Committees. This is an uncontroversial bill however; Rep Craig McPherson was able to pass an amendment that allows the governor to appoint 4 lawyers to the committee. At present the Chief Justice appoints four judges and four attorneys to the committee and two legislators (House/Senate judiciary chairs) are members. Should this bill as amended pass the chief justice would appoint 4 judges, the governor would appoint 4 lawyers and the legislator would be represented by 4 members. Efforts to add the ranking minority party committee members were defeated as being political.

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Merit Selection Vote Fails

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Monday, February 8, 2016

The dominating issue this week was changes to the merit selection method, specifically HCR 5005.  The KBA worked very closely with KSAJ, KADC, KDJA, Kansas School Board Association, several lawyer-legislators and individual KBA members to defeat the proposal 68-54. Constitutional amendments require a 2/3 vote or 84 votes to be approved. I would like to highlight the efforts of Rep. Blaine Finch and Rep. John Carmichael.

The following lawyer-legislators voted AGAINST HCR 5005:

  • Rep. Steven Becker
  • Rep. John Carmichael
  • Rep. Blaine Finch
  • Rep. Boog Highberger
  • Rep. Fred Patton
  • Rep. Jim Ward

The following lawyer-legislators voted IN FAVOR HCR 5005:

  • Rep. John Barker
  • Rep. Rob Bruchman
  • Rep. Erin Davis
  • Rep. Lane Hemsely
  • Rep. Mark Kahrs
  • Rep. Charles Macheers
  • Rep. Craig McPherson
  • Rep. Jan Pauls
  • Rep. John Rubin
  • Rep. James Todd (carried bill).

The proposal garnered significant media attention as seen by the following news stories:

The KBA would like to thank each of the legislators who voted to uphold the current merit selection process, and protect the integrity of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. They are:

Rep. Alcala Rep. Ewy Rep. Jennings Rep. Sawyer
Rep. Alford Rep. Finch Rep. Kelly Rep. Schroeder
Rep. Ballard Rep. Finney Rep. Kuether Rep. Scott
Rep. Becker Rep. Francis Rep. Lewis Rep. Sloan
Rep. Bollier Rep. Frownfelter Rep. Lusk Rep. Swanson
Rep. Burroughs Rep. Gallagher Rep. Lusker Rep. Thompson
Rep Carlin Rep. Helgerson Rep. Moxley Rep. Tietze
Rep. Carmichael Rep. Henderson Rep. Ousley Rep. Trimmer
Rep. Clark Rep. Hibbard Rep. Fred Patton Rep. Victors
Rep. Clayton Rep. Highberger Rep. Phillips Rep. Ward
Rep. Concannon Rep. Hill Rep. Proehl Rep. Whipple
Rep. Curtis Rep. Hineman Rep. Rooker Rep. Wilson
Rep. Dierks Rep. Houston Rep. Ruiz Rep. Winn
Rep. Doll Rep. Wolfe Moore

 

There remain several proposals to change merit selection including partisan elections and a change to the makeup of the nominating commission members (HCR 5013). The KBA will continue to oppose these measures, and work with interested parties to defeat these proposals.

In other news, the KBA provided an expert immigration lawyer to provide neutral testimony on HB 2466, dealing with sanctuary cities in Kansas.  The KBA did not take a position. Michael Sharma-Crawford testified that he was successful in suing Seward County on an unconstitutional detaining, and that HB 2466 would provide immigration lawyers with more opportunities to file actions against municipalities. HB 2466 had significant opposition, but is supported by Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach.  There is no time table for the committee to work this bill.

Another interesting bill was SB 17 which expands the Kansas Judicial Council by including the chairs of the Senate and House corrections committees.  This is an uncontroversial bill however; Rep Craig McPherson was able to pass an amendment that allows the governor to appoint four lawyers to the committee. At present, the chief justice appoints four judges and four attorneys to the committee, and two legislators (House/Senate judiciary chairs) are members. Should this bill pass as amended, the chief justice would appoint four judges, the governor would appoint four lawyers, and the legislator would be represented by four members. Efforts to add the ranking minority party committee members were defeated as being political.

Next week the KBA will be working on two judicial council probate bills (SB 319 venue for small claims and SB 321 protective filings for divorce), and finalizing the Kansas General Corporate Code update.

The KBA is monitoring several more bills:

House bills

Bill Description

HB 2579

Authorizing the use of correction orders and civil penalties for health care facilities that violate health care provider insurance statutes.

HB 2585

Establishing the foster care oversight task force

HB 2587

Prohibiting adoption of sanctuary policies

HB 2592

Amending the burglary to exclude premises that are at the time open to the public

HB 2593

Allowing certain felonies to be videotaped

 

Senate bills

Bill Description

SB 393

Consideration of domestic abuse in determining the issue of custody, residency and parenting time of a child

SB 394

Enacting the supporting family act, relating to temporary care of children

SB 410

Establishing the CARE family pilot program for foster care

These three family laws bills are being reviewed by the KBA Family Law Section.  SB 410 is a reincarnation of a bill proposed by Sen. Forrest Knox that creates a more qualified foster parent should certain qualifications be met.

Tags:  2015-16  HCR 5005 

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Call to Action: Vote NO on HCR 5005

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Call to Action: Vote NO on HCR 5005

To Kansas Bar Association Members:

The Kansas House will discuss changes to merit selection today and tomorrow in caucus. The discussion will be how Kansas Supreme Court Justices are selected. There are a number of proposals before them, but the push would be to approve HCR 5005. This would eliminate the Supreme Court nominating commission, and replace it with a process allowing the governor power to nominate any person for appointment, subject only to senate approval.

Prof. Stephen Ware and Kansas AG Derek Schmidt have been invited to the House Judiciary Committee to discuss merit selection, and the Carr brother’s death penalty case respectively.

This is a direct attack on the independence of the Kansas judicial system, and a significant blow to the separation of power. The merit selection proposal requires a Constitutional majority, or two-thirds of the vote to be approved.

To avoid such an outcome, the KBA requests you contact your Kansas House of Representative member and urge them to vote NO on any changes to the current merit selection system for Kansas Supreme Court Justices. 

They should vote NO for the following reasons:

  • The current merit selection method places independent and qualified judges on the bench
  • HCR 5005 calls for Senate confirmation of appointees which will result in political bickering
  • Recent polling indicates that Kansans like the current method
  • Kansans deserve a process free of politics, and an independent court system maintaining separation of powers as outlined by the Kansas   Constitution

Find your legislators and view a sample email and talking points by following these links.
Call to Action Sample Email or Talking Points, if you would rather call.

Let your legislators know you believe in the Kansas tradition of merit selection, and the excellence and independence it has created in our appellate courts.

Kansas Bar Association | 1200 SW Harrison St., Topeka, KS 66612-1806
Ph: (785) 234-5696 | Fax: (785) 234-3813 | Email: info@ksbar.org

Tags:  Call to Action  HCR 5005 

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Legislature Picks Up Speed

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Last week, legislative committees stabilized and began to focus on the many issues at hand.  The third week is the set-up for the remainder of the session as Republicans use Kansas Day to create momentum for issues they plan to work on during the remainder of the session.

One topic they will not face is the non-severability repeal issue, or HB 2449, as the Senate passed the bill out 39-1. Sen. Molly Baumgartner was the single no-vote as she had concerns about child support guidelines. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

Two issues that will generate public discussion this week are immigration and merit selection.  Both of these issues were scheduled to be front-and-center next Wednesday, when HCR 5013, expanding the Supreme Court nominating commission, and HB 2466, prohibiting sanctuary cities, were up for hearing. However, late last week HCR 5013 was pulled from the calendar and replaced with an informational hearing provided by Prof. Stephen Ware who is a staunch supporter of changing merit selection.

However, the push to change merit selection has picked up pace.  Several emails have already begun to surface calling for Kansas justices to not be retained this coming November.  For instance, the Kansas House Republicans put out this email last week. The Governor’s Office put out an email attacking the Kansas Court of Appeals on its abortion ruling.

It also appears that a potential floor vote on HCR 5005, governor–appoint model could take place as early as this week. The KBA opposes HCR 5005, so please look for a "Call-to-Acton” email so you can contact your legislator to voice your opinion on HCR 5005.

The immigration issue, specifically HB 2466, is still set for hearing next week. The KBA Immigration Section will be providing neutral testimony to the committee.

Besides these big items the KBA is reviewing a number of family law proposals,

Bill Description

HB 2556

Grandparents as caregivers act, age requirements, foster care

HB 2562

Parentage, retroactive child support guidelines

... criminal proposals, most significantly amendments to the juvenile justice code,

Bill Description

SB 367

Amending juvenile justice system

... and a few court procedure/notice bills.

Bill Description

SB 327

Allowing hearsay at preliminary hearings

SB 331

Kansas firearms industry nondiscrimination act

SB 337

Requiring notice to the AG before any Kansas Court determines a law is invalid or unconstitutional

HB 2545

Release of arrest warrant and search warrant information

HB 2553

Increasing municipal court assessments and directing to the commission on peace officers' standards and training.

KBA sections are reviewing these proposals, and will make a recommendation should the proposal warrant KBA involvement.

The KBA did introduce two bills this week. The first is the Transfer on Death deed amendments and the other is the Kansas General Corporate Code update.  Once the Reviser’s Office completes the bill drafts, the KBA will ask for a hearing on both proposals.

Finally, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss will deliver the State of the Judiciary speech this Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. The speech can be watched live at www.kscourts.org.

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Judicial Budget, Death Penalty and More

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The second week of the legislative session saw as much activity as the first, even though it was a day shorter. A host of new bills were introduced by the Kansas House, mostly by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. These bills range from concealed carry to session days to immigration law, all of which look to be election year fodder. However, the Kansas House did take significant steps when they passed HB 2449, repealing the non-severability clause from the 2015 judicial branch budget. The vote was taken last week and HB 2449 was approved 119-0. HB 2449 now heads to the Kansas Senate where they have an identical bill (SB 320). How they proceed and what type of debate takes shape remains to be seen, but the hope is for a quick and unencumbered resolution. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear an update on the Solomon case on Thursday, January 28, but as of today no hearing is set for HB 2449.

There were also a few rulings released this week that will have an impact on the legislature. The big news was the ruling by the United States Supreme Court to overturn the Kansas Supreme Court on the death penalty case. That case, Kansas v. Carr, created quite a bit of discussion under the dome. Many legislators praised the ruling as long overdue justice, and criticized the Kansas court for being anti-public safety. Several legislators thought this was further evidence of the need to change the merit selection system. On a related note—HCR 5013 which would alter the Supreme Court nominating commission –has not been rescheduled. Read the Wichita Eagle report.

The other cases included the Kansas Supreme Court voiding a Wichita ordinance lessening the penalties for marijuana, and the Kansas Court of Appeals keeping an abortion law on hold.

Next week, the KBA will be monitoring several bills including SB 96 dealing with disclosure of unanticipated medical outcomes, and HB 2466, prohibiting sanctuary resolutions by Kansas municipalities. The immigration issue is a hot topic, and the House Fed/State committee will hear at least two other immigration bills this session.

The KBA will also be monitoring the following bills:

Bill Description

HB 2472

Clarifying jurisdiction of Board of Tax Appeals

HB 2487

Legislative subsistence allowance; repealing provisions increasing the allowance to match the federal employee per diem expenses and setting the allowance at $129 per day.

HB 2501

Clarifying the definition of crime committed with an electronic device.

HB 2502

Amending court procedures in motion to attack sentence regarding time limitations and findings of manifest injustice.

HB 2504

School District Realignment

HB 2506

False statements against candidates for state office

HB 2513

Limiting the days of session

SB 331

Kansas firearms industry nondiscrimination act

SB 334

Requiring notice to the AG before any Kansas Court determines a law is invalid or unconstitutional


The KBA will be introducing two proposals this week. The first is the transfer on death deed amendments, and the other the Kansas General Corporate Code update. Both bills will be introduced into House Judiciary Committee.

For more information please see www.ksbar.org or follow the KBA on Twitter @KansasBarLeg.

Tags:  2016 Session  Kansas v. Carr  marijuana 

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Quick Start

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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2016 Legislature Session Opens

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Legislators returned on Monday to a budget shortfall, poor revenue numbers, a foster care controversy and four new House members. Rep. Ben Scott (D-Topeka); Rep. Henry Helgerson (D-Eastbourogh); Rep. Ken Rahjes (R-Agra); and Rep. Chuck Weber (R-Wichita) all took their seats after being appointed during the off season. Some housekeeping was in order as Republicans needed to replace Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady as caucus chair. Rep. Dan Hawkins (Wichita) defeated Rep. J.R. Claeys (Salina) to gain the post.

The formalities out of the way, legislators can now focus on the State of the State address Tuesday at 5:30 pm. The SOS was moved up to avoid a conflict with the State of the Union address set for later this evening. Here legislators will learn of the path the governor is proposing to close the budget shortfall. Many are anticipating the governor staying the course by keeping the LLC income tax loophole open this session. Rep. Mark Hutton (R-Wichita) might have other ideas since he introduced HB 2444 that would close the non-wage income tax exemption and lower the sales tax on food. No hearing is set for this bill but it does send a message that all options are on the table. Legislators will also get a report from the government efficiency audit this week which should allow them to make cuts to help lessen the budget problem.

On the judiciary front, a hearing is set for HCR 5013 which would change the way we select justices in Kansas by expanding the nominating commission to 15, four elected by lawyers in Kansas, five appointed by the governor and six appointed by the legislator. Of the six legislative appointees, two will be made by the speaker, two by the Senate president and two by the minority party of each chamber. This is the third proposal to change how we pick justices in Kansas to be heard. The other two are HCR 5004 and HCR 5005: one would allow selection using a governor appoint model while the other would simple be direct partisan election.

Quick Take:

As far as committee meetings are concerned the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m., in room 346-S. Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) continues as Senate Judiciary chair with Sen. Greg Smith (R-Overland Park) as vice-chair. The House Judiciary Committee will meet in the 112-N at 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Leadership for this committee remains the same with a chairman, Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene), a vice-chair Rep. Charles Macheers (R-Shawnee) and Rep. John Carmichael will sit as ranking minority leader. We do welcome Rep. Blake Carpenter (R-Derby) to the committee as he replaces former Rep. Couture-Lovelady. For other committee meeting times and locations, please access www.kslegislature.org/li

Another interesting bill is the LGBT protection bill, HB 2323. This bill, introduced by Rep. John Carmichael (D-Wichita) will be heard on Thursday this week. Controversy arose last session when Gov. Brownback eliminated protections from gender discrimination/sexual orientation in state employment. These protections were first put in place by Gov. Sebelius.

Finally, on Monday a committee met to discuss issues with foster care placement. Concerns were made about moving foster children out of their communities, foster parents profiting financially from these placements, and the ability of same sex couple to continue as foster parents. No recommendations were made, but this appears to be an issue worth monitoring.

The KBA will be live tweeting the State of the State address. To follow along please see KSBarLeg on Twitter. You can also find legislative information on the KBA website at www.ksbar.org.

 

Tags:  2016 Session 

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Welcome Back!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Next Monday, Jan. 11, the Kansas Legislature will open its doors. We will welcome a number of new faces to the Capitol due to off-season retirements and/or resignations. The biggest change is the resignation of Rep. Steve Brunk (R-Wichita) who chaired the House Fed. and State committee. In his place, Speaker Merrick appointed Rep. Jan Pauls (R-Hutchinson) to head the House Fed/State Committee. House Fed. and State will deal with LGBT, abortion and concealed carry issues.

Continuity reigns in both chamber’s judiciary committees. Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene) and Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) both return as chairpersons. Both chambers will deal with a wide range of legal issues from judicial budget, court operations and technical legal matters. Look for a number of family law proposals to be debated.

However, the major issue continues to be the state budget. Legislators will reconvene facing another budget deficit. This time the red number is closer to $197 million. The governor has already transferred monies or cut some programs to ease the pain of legislators making those difficult choices but there could be a big move to reinstate income taxes on business. The Governor has already claimed he does not support that proposal and that no new taxes or further cuts will be required to meet all of the state’s fiscal responsibilities. How that lofty goal is accomplished remains to be seen and the blueprint for a balanced budget is sure to be included in next week’s state of the state address.

Besides focusing on the state budget the legislature may move quickly to shore up the judicial branch budget. As many of you are already aware the Kansas Supreme Court has struck down attempts by the legislature to statutorily mandate local control in judicial districts. The Kansas Supreme Court found these legislative attempts to be a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. As such, a portion of the judicial branch budget is now ineffective. This would not be as significant an issue but for a non-severability clause requiring the entire judicial budget be void should any part of the budget be found unconstitutional. It is this provision that may force quick action by the legislature to maintain a court budget. How that proceeds is of interest to many but no concrete proposals are available at this time.

There are a number of other major issues that could turn the 2016 legislative session on its head, see school block grants, Medicaid expansion, tax policy, but it is not beyond reason to see a truncated session due to elections in the fall. As such, it is very possible that no big issues are voted on besides the budget.

For information on legislators, bills and committee assignments please take a look at www.ksbar.org starting on Jan. 11. You can also find information at www.kslegislature.org. To get live updates during the session you can follow us on twitter @KansasBarLeg.

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