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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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