Posted By Joseph N. Molina III,
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
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Last Friday the Kansas Bar Association met to discuss the 2017 legislative session. The KBA Board of Governors approved the following legislative priorities for 2017:
Full Funding of Judicial Branch
- The KBA believes that only a fully funded court system guarantees access to justice for all Kansas citizens and businesses. Access to Justice is a cornerstone of our society. Safety, fairness and efficiency can only be achieved for all Kansans if the Judicial Branch is adequately funded by the legislature.
- Proper funding of the Judicial Branch guarantees each citizen his or her right to due process of law as expressly stated in the Fifth and 14th amendments, facilitates economic development, and protects state interests. These guarantees require open courts, access to an attorney, prompt scheduling of hearings and trials, and accurate and timely case processing.
- The KBA supports efforts by the Judicial Branch to modernize its processes and develop efficiencies within its operations. Specifically, the addition of 20 new employees, seven new magistrate judges, and one additional district judge will ease the burden on overworked staff and better serve Kansas citizens.
- The core function of the Kansas Judicial Branch is the timely delivery of justice to Kansas residents and businesses. A properly compensated staff is vital to this mission. As such, the KBA supports the Judicial Branch’s request to bring employee salaries to market level and to adjust judicial salaries to compete with neighboring states.
Working for Kansas Businesses
- The KBA will introduce a bill creating a new business type called Benefit Corporations. A Benefit Corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia; its mission is to create a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. This proposal is an extension of the 2016 update of the Kansas General Corporate Code which was passed and signed into law in 2016.
Arbitration Law Updates
- The KBA will introduce a proposal codifying enforcement of mediation/arbitration provision in trust instruments. This proposal is in line with prior revisions to the Uniform Trust Act.
- The KBA will also introduce a law aimed at updating the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1955. These revisions, named the Revised Arbitration Act of 2000, will address many procedural issues not discussed in the original act. It will allow a court to order provisional remedies, further protect due process rights of participants, avoid federal preemption issues, and allow expressed immunity for arbitrators.
The KBA will also actively review legislation throughout the 2017 session. The KBA will again provide a “Bill Tracking Chart” so members can easily review issues being discussed at the Capitol. The KBA will periodically request the assistance of KBA Sections and/or KBA Committees to vet new legislation and make recommendations based on those Sections/Committees’ expertise.