Chief Justice Nuss took center stage this week as he addressed a joint session in the House chambers for the State of the Judiciary speech for the first time in five years. Nuss focused on the judicial branch’s many programs and efficiencies but the main point of the address was to advise the legislature of the need for salary adjustments for judges and staff.
The Kansas Senate passed a rescission bill late last night that avoid any late year cuts. There were at least three attempts to pass across the board cuts of 2.0 percent, 1.0 percent and 0.5 percent. None garnered more than 10 votes. In the end, the Kansas Senate passed a bill 27-13 that transferred $280 million from long term investments and delayed again payments to KPERS. The bill will head to conference committee with the House for further negotiations. It is expected that the State will end the year with a positive balance of $50 million.
The KBA will provide testimony on three bills next Monday in Senate Judiciary. They include HB 2125, Benefit Corporations, HB 2126 ADR/Mediation in trust instruments, and HB 2041 extending the judicial branch surcharge fee.
Each bill has already passed the House on near perfect votes, 123-1; 124-0 and 122-0 respectively.
The Senate Judicial Committee has been very active this past week, hearing 17 bills. That pace will continue as they have a full agenda through Wednesday. Thus, hearings will be truncated to accommodate the large number of conferees.
Bill Matthews will represent the KBA on HB 2125, Benefit Corporations, and I have the pleasure of explaining our trust bill and the surcharge extension bill.
House Judiciary has a full set of hearings this week as well. On Monday, they heard a newly introduced bill creating an unconscionable act or practice under the Kansas consumer protection act for people who engage in the unauthorized practice of law. The KBA will monitor is proposal and share testimony from the hearing when available.