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Kansas Senate Passes Merit Selection Reform Measure

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On Wednesday, January 30, the Kansas Senate debated SCR 1601 and its trailer bill SB 8. SCR 1601 would eliminate the Supreme Court Nominating Commission and replace it with the federal model for selecting judges and justices in Kansas. Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) carried and supported SCR 1601 and SB 8. Several opponents of the measure attempted to amend SCR 1601. The most discussed issue was whether to have the election in the primary or general election; this issue would go to the voters during the August 2014 primary. Opponents of SCR 1601 wanted the election moved to the general election three months later in November. King and others argued that the primary was the first available election and that it should be set in August. Historically, primary elections have a much lower voter turnout. For instance, in the 2012 general election voter turnout was 66.8 percent as opposed to the primary turnout which was 23.2 percent. This trend was also seen in the 2010 elections where the general election turnout was 49.7 percent compared to 25.3 percent in the primary. Even after these statistics were discussed, the Senate voted down a proposed move 26-14. It should be noted that the House plan (HCR 5002) provides that the election will be held during the general election in November 2014.

Quick Take:

On January 31, 2013, Chief Justice Lawton Nuss released the State of the Judiciary report. This report highlighted the judicial branch’s ongoing budget issues, statewide e-filing program, and the Court’s 2014 budget request. You may view the entire report online at


Two other amendments were offered that clarified the explanatory statement that accompanies SCR 1601 and both of these amendments passed on a voice vote. SCR 1601 was placed on Emergency Final Action and passed 28-12. The following is a breakdown on how each senator voted on this issue.


On roll call, the vote was: Yeas, 28; Nays, 12; Present and Passing, 0; Absent or Not Voting, 0.


Yeas: Abrams, Apple, Arpke, Bowers, Bruce, Denning, Donovan, Fitzgerald, Holmes, Kerschen, King, Knox, LaTurner, Longbine, Love, Lynn, Masterson, Melcher, ODonnell, Olson, Ostmeyer, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Powell, Pyle, Smith, Tyson, Wagle.


Nays: Emler, Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Haley, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Kelly, McGinn, Pettey, V. Schmidt, Wolf.


If you would like to learn more about these proposals, you may find that information online at Next week the Supreme Court will be debating their one judge per county bill, along with Rep. Lance Kinzer’s one judge proposal. That hearing is set for 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 7. See Pages 27-28, Both of these bills (HB 2016 and HB 2113) would allow the Supreme Court to reassign judges. The main difference that is Kinzer’s bill (HB 2016) has a hard 600 case cap that would trigger reassignment. The Supreme Court proposal (HB 2113) would simply give the Supreme Court authority to reassign as they deemed necessary.


The Supreme Court has also introduced a bill that would allow for the creation of an E-Filing Technology Fund. This bill (HB 2117) allows the Supreme Court to set the fee for e-filing. This bill is similar to last year’s version, but it does not request a specific dollar amount. It simply requests authority to place an "additional fee” on various surcharge fees and assign those newly collected fee to the E-Filing Technology Fund.


Please find the following litigation proposals that may be of interest to you:

  • SB 73, Workers compensation: administrative duties of secretary of health and environment; citizenship status; administrative judge disqualification; limitation of actions; workplace health and safety program;
  • SB 89, Interest on judgments in civil actions;
  • SB 90, Amending private remedies under the Kansas consumer protection act; and
  • HB 2173, Civil procedure: Remote claims on commercial property; state construction registry

Judicial branch proposals include:

  • HB 2102, Commission on judicial performance, sunset in 2017;
  • HB 2113, Relating to judges; authority of supreme court; and
  • HB 2117, Relating to court fees and costs; judiciary technology fund

Oil and gas lawyers may be interested in this proposal:

  • HB 2138, Repealing statutes related to oil and gas

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