The Kansas Legislature adjourned for the year on Friday, May 30 as they embraced Sine Die. This officially kicked off the 2014 election season as candidates are now allowed to receive campaign contributions. There are a number of interesting races this season, including the race for Kansas governor (Brownback vs. Davis), secretary of state (Kobach vs. Schodorf vs. Morgan), 1st District House (Huelskamp vs. Sherow), and 2nd District House (Jenkins vs. Wakefield).
But those are just the headliners. Imbedded in the August primaries are several races that will challenge conservative incumbents. For instance, Rep. Craig McPherson (R-Olathe) is being challenged by Overland Park attorney Stacey Schlimmer for District 8, Rep. Amanda Grosserode (R-Lenexa) is up against Overland Park lawyer Jameia Haines in District 16, and Fred Patton, a Topeka attorney, is challenging Rep. Josh Powell (R-Topeka) for District 50.
Bigger news on the House side is Rep. Kinzer’s decision to retire. This will make for some interesting internal republican politics as representatives maneuver themselves into position for the open chairmanship. The current vice chair is Rep. Rob Bruchman (R-Overland Park). His most likely competition is Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee). The dark horse in the race would have to be Rep. Jan Pauls (R-Hutchinson), who switched parties last week. Pauls is currently the longest serving representative in the House and now former minority chair of the Judiciary Committee. This only becomes an issue if Rubin and Pauls win their elections.
The interim season will also see the appointment of a new Kansas Supreme Court Justice. Justice Nancy Moritz will ascend to the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal this summer, which will open up a position on the Supreme Court. The nine-person Supreme Court Nominating Commission will recommend three qualified candidates to the governor, who will then appoint an attorney to fill the vacancy. The commission has five lawyers (Anne Burke, chair; Dave Rebein; Natalie Haag; Matthew Keenan; and Jay Fowler. The four non-lawyers include Felita Kahrs, Robert Hayworth, and Gary Mason, as well as a person from Manhattan.)
This process will differ greatly from the process used to appoint Judge Caleb Stegall to the Kansas Court of Appeals last summer. Interested parties should pay attention for another push to change the Supreme Court process to mirror the Court of Appeals process. How far this actually gets will depend on conservative gains in the House this November.
Finally, the Kansas Legislative Research Department compiled all bills that were passed into law this session into handy summary documents. These summaries are broken into three separate PDF documents. These are very handy reference items that can be found here:
If you would like to view the bills tracked by the KBA in 2014 you can view our Bill Tracking Page at www.ksbar.org.