This past week was not the best for the new administration’s nominees. As we are all aware, Gov. Kelly’s nomination for the Kansas Court of Appeals position was named, rebuked and withdrawn within 48 hours. The main issue was social media content that Senators found to be offensive and partisan. Gov. Kelly was not aware of these remarks prior to her appointment of Judge Jeffry Jack, but once they came to light, she withdrew his nomination.
See also; https://www.kmuw.org/post/governor-kelly-withdraws-nominee-kansas-court-seat-over-past-tweets;
Kansas Senators are using this issue to push for changes in the merit selection process. Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) introduced a constitutional amendment on Wednesday to replace the current selection process with the governor appoint/senate confirm model.
The amendment has not been drafted yet and no hearings are scheduled. To pass, the constitutional amendment would need to obtain 84 votes in the House and 27 votes in the Senate. Currently, the Kansas House has an 84/41 republican/democrat split.
In addition, Sen. Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha) introduced a resolution calling for the immediate resignation of Judge Jack. While this resolution, SR 1731, has no legal effect, it applies pressure on the judge. The Kansas Senate cannot force Judge Jack to resign, but they are taking every advantage of this issue. SR 1731 has 14 co-sponsors, including the Senate President.
The Kansas House has remained quiet on the Jack issue, but that has not stopped them from introducing legislation that would affect the Kansas Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene) introduced a bill that would mandate the Kansas Supreme Court issue opinions no later than one year after hearing oral arguments. This bill may have separation of powers issues, similar to the Solomon case a few years back, which the courts found unconstitutional.
Gov. Kelly’s nomination for the Department of Commerce is also on difficult footing after the Senate Commerce Committee voted 6-5 to reject his appointment.
See also; https://www.iolaregister.com/news-local-news/panel-rejects-toland-nomination.
Once again, social media posts were the nexus for concern. Some believe this is a political hit job to stymie any future aspirations Mr. Toland might envision. The Toland nomination still goes to the full senate for a vote.
Last week the KBA had two hearings on bills it sponsored. The Senate took up HB 2105, LLC Update and HB 2039, recognizing tribal court judgements. Both bills were well received and passed out of committee. The House Judiciary Committee amended SB 20 dealing with the docket fee surcharge extension to include a two-year sunset provision. This provision was removed by the Senate but reinserted at the request of the KBA. All three issues head to the floor for debate this week.
The Kansas Senate passed out SB 157, presumptive shared parenting time for temporary orders. The KBA opposed this bill. This bill has large bi-partisan support as evidenced by Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City) making the motion to pass the bill out of committee. The bill was amended to add definitions for physical custody and parenting time provisions. The bill goes to the full Senate for debate.
This week the Kansas Legislature will spend most of its time on the floor passing out bills before the March 27th Second House of Origins deadline, after which they will be working in conference committee until First Adjournment on April 5th. Thus far, the legislature has sent only two bills to the governor’s desk, one of which she may veto. However, both chambers have debated more than 50 bills this week already. I expect a flood of bills to head to the governor’s desk.