About the Author
Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director
Early Monday morning the Kansas Legislature closed shop and headed home. The session lasted a mere 73 days, tied for the 4th shortest in history. However, add that to the 110 day record session from 2015 and the two-year running total is three days more than expected.
The legislature closed out the year by voting on the state budget (Sub for SB 249) which transfers heavily from KDOT, delays payments to KPERS and makes another round of cuts to higher education. The approved budget gives the governor more authority to handle shortfalls with further cuts with the exception of K-12.
See also; http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article75256752.html
In total the budget provides for $480 million in cuts by the executive, transfer of $115 million from KDOT and delaying $100 million from KPERS. All of this came after the House failed to close the 2012 LLC loophole and the Senate decided against the issue in committee.
For the KBA’s part the legislature passed its Kansas General Corporate Code update (Senate Sub for HB 2112) mere hours before the budget debate began. The corporate code update would have been a casualty of a shorter veto session, however, the Judiciary Conference Committee found time when issues surrounding a health bill sprung up. Many thanks to Judiciary Conference Committee for getting this important piece of legislation across the finish line. Special thanks to Chairman King, Chairman Barker, Rep. Carmichael, Rep. Bruchman and Rep. Macheers. The bill now heads to the governor for approval.
Another bill approved during veto session was a conference committee report House Sub for SB 128. The base bill, SB 128 amends the process for filling district court judge vacancies expanding the number of nominees sent to the governor from no less than three to no more than five. In addition, when the local district judicial nominating commission stops accepting nominations, the bill requires the chairperson to make the name of each person whose nomination is accepted available to the public no less than 10 days prior to submitting to the governor.
Additionally, House sub for SB 128 included some portions of SB 197. SB 197 would amend and create law related to the roster of Kansas attorneys, selection of lawyer members of judicial district nominating commissions, and the applicability of the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) and Kansas Open Records Act (KORA).
The Judicial Branch had its budget worked on during veto session with the passage of House sub for SB 255. This bill creates new law while reviving previously repealed statutes related to Kansas court docket fees as a result of the Solomon court case. In essence, House sub for SB 255 returns the judicial budget to the position it held immediately prior to the Solomon ruling. This includes all docket fee authority, dispositive motion fees, and surcharge limits. Everything would be put back into place except for the non-severability clause and the provisions the Solomon case found unconstitutional.
The remaining judicial budget fixes (SB 440 and SB 454) introduced by Sen. Jeff King will be referred to the Kansas Judicial Council for further study or be reviewed in an interim committee. This determination will take place at a later date.
The official close of the session, also called Sine Die, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 1. This is purely ceremonial and no business is on the agenda. It also marks the opening of campaign contributions season. Look for those in your mailbox.
It should be noted that the Kansas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the school finance equity legislation passed earlier this spring. Should that law be found unconstitutional, the legislature may be called back for a special session. It really all depends on how the court rules.
In the meantime, please take a look at the Kansas Legislative website for a summary of bills that have passed and been signed into law.
Summary of Legislation:
Another summary is due in June.