The Kansas Legislative Session ended Friday, May 4th. The last big issue facing the Kansas House was a large tax cut passed earlier by the Kansas Senate 21-19. That bill failed on a 59-59 vote. With little else holding them in Topeka both chambers adjourned. This leaves a bit of an opening for Gov. Coyler should he decide to veto any bills. Those potential vetoes would go unchallenged since the legislature has no formal way of overriding them know. So we will have to wait and see if the governor uses that power.
There was some good news during veto session. For instance, both chambers passed a budget last week that contains raises for judges and nonjudicial staff. That bill, House Sub for SB 109, passed the House 98-23 and the Senate 26-14. The legislature agreed to 5% for nonjudicial staff and 2% for judges.
See; State Finance Council. Add $27.7 million, including $14.9 million from the State General Fund, to provide salary adjustments equivalent to two steps on the Statewide Pay Matrix for employees who did not receive a salary adjustment as part of the 2017 Salary Initiatives, one step for employees who received approximately one step on the statewide pay matrix in FY 2018, two steps for uniformed corrections officers, two steps for non-judge employees within the Kansas Judicial Branch, and a 2.0 percent salary adjustment for judges and justices. This adjustment excludes Kansas State legislators, Board of Regents and Regents Institutions, Kansas Highway Patrol officers, employees of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation included in the Recruitment and Retention Plan, and teachers and licensed personnel and employees and the Kansas State School for the Deaf and the Kansas State School for the Blind.
2018 house Sub for SB 109 Bill Explainer, PG 5.
Also, HCR 5029, Constitutional amendment concerning school finance was not voted on during the veto session. Since the K12 bill and the cleanup bill passed last week, there was not much appetite to debate that issue. However, should the Supreme Court strike down the recently passed school finance bill, this may reappear in a special session.
Both chambers have also passed two KBA-introduced bills dealing with arbitration. Last session, the KBA introduced the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000 and ADR in trust instrument proposals. Both passed the House in 2017 but stalled in the Senate because of teacher due process concerns. During Veto Session an opportunity presented itself to decouple the teacher due process concern from our arbitration bills and create a clean bundled bill. That bill, HB 2571, passed both chambers unanimously and is headed to the Governor. Rep. Blaine Finch was instrumental in this effort.
There was also a little controversial news!
The House and Senate passed HB 2481 concerning the adoption protection act. The bill aims to codify current practices of allowing adoption agencies and foster care placement agencies to refuse service to certain individuals due to a sincerely held religious belief. The vote in both chambers was relatively close, 24-16 in the Senate, 63-58 in the House. This measure failed during the regular session 58-64 in the House. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk who has already indicated he plans to sign it. This was one of the more controversial bills this session.
See also; http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article210442154.html
All eyes will now shift across 10th street to the Kansas Supreme Court to see how they receive the newly crafted school finance law. Many believe the amount added to K12 will not be enough but there is hope that the new money is focused enough on classrooms and kids who need the most help that it just might pass constitutional muster. But those are just guesses at this point. More answers will be provided when the Court takes up the issue on May 22nd. Until then everyone will be getting some much needed rest.