The KS Legislature returned from the short Turnaround break on Wednesday, March 6th. The short week was stacked with big bills and Capitol visits. The KS House decided to debate SB 22, tax cut bill, on Thursday, March 7th. This was a bit of a surprise as the House jumped into the controversial issue after a very sluggish first half of the session. SB 22 included an income tax decrease which allows the itemization of deductions. It also includes an internet sales tax portion and a food sales tax cut. Some are concerned that the fiscal note is foggy, and the total amount of the tax cut is unknown. The House passes the bill 76-43. Many believe that Gov. Kelly will veto this bill. See; https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-house-presses-tax-relief-edges-closer-showdown-governor#stream/0; See also; https://realprosperityks.com/tax-migration-is-not-real-a-twitter-thread/
The KBA testified on two hearings this week. The KBA opposed SB 157, presumptive shared parenting time on temporary orders and supported SB 20, extending the docket fee surcharge fee.
SB 157 had 23 proponents and 7 opponents. The proponents included mostly father’s who had difficulties during their child custody hearings and were given less than 50% custody of their children. The proponents were organized by the National Parents Organization and the Kansas Family Preservation Coalition. Opponents included Hon. Keven O’Grady, Hon. Merlin Wheeler, Dr. Bud Dale, Sara Rust-Martin from the Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Prof. Linda Elrod, and Charlie Harris. The KBA was represented by Ron Nelson.
The Senate Judiciary Committee took over an hour for this hearing but declined to ask a single question of either side. It should also be noted that several sponsors of SB 157 are in Senate leadership including Senate President Susan Wagle and Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine. There is a total of 17 sponsors of SB 157 which include Senators from both parties. We will continue to monitor this bill. See; https://www.wibw.com/content/news/Proposed-bill-would-impose-presumption-granting-parents-temporary-joint-custody-506838491.html
The KBA then testified on SB 20. Originally this bill extended the docket fee surcharge for two more years. However, the Senate removed the sunset provision making the surcharge fee permanent. While the KBA supports the surcharge, it has always been our position that it should be temporary. As such we asked the House Judiciary Committee to re-insert the two-year sunset provision.
Finally, the KBA will hold its KBA Day at the Capitol next Tuesday, March 12th. This year our volunteers will meet with 34 freshman legislators to discuss the need for judicial branch pay increases. Our volunteers include Appellate judges, District Court judges, Magistrate judges, clerks and several KBA lawyer members. We will begin our day at the KBA offices with a welcome from our president Sarah Warner and then a short presentation from Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. Our first meeting begins promptly at 10:00 and continue thru 2:30pm. We will have lunch at the Capitol in RM 142-S at noon.
These legislator meetings come at an opportune time since the judicial branch budget will be discussed in committee this week. We look forward to productive meetings with our legislators.