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20 Weeks Until the 2020 Session

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, August 27, 2019
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The 2020 Session is approaching quickly. Summer break has ended, and Kansas lawmakers are attending Interim Committees. These committees will focus on a variety of issues such as criminal justice reform, retail electrical rates, and KanCare Oversight. However, bigger issues are on the horizon.

The legislature will look at several proposals in 2020 that may end up on the election ballot.

Merit Selection will be debated in 2020 ,with its opponents hoping to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. There is currently a proposal in the Kansas Senate, SCR 1610, that would change Article 3 from a merit selection process to a governor appoint/senate confirm model. This is the process used for the Kansas Court of Appeals—the same process used this past session by Gov. Kelly that has renewed the debate on judicial selection. While SCR 1610 is on the table, it may not end up being the proposal championed by opponents of merit selection. The Kansas Legislature will hold interim committee meetings this fall to get the ball rolling. The KBA has a long-standing policy supporting merit selection for Kansas Appellate Courts.

Also, look for a debate on abortion in 2020.  The Kansas Supreme Court ruled this past April that the Kansas Constitution protects a women’s right to an abortion. In a 6-1 ruling the court held that the constitution protects all Kansans’ natural right to personal autonomy. This ruling has re-invigorated anti-abortion groups who would like to see this outcome changed at the polls through a constitutional amendment. See; https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/26/politics/kansas-supreme-court-abortion-ruling/index.html; See also; https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article229693509.html

We may also see a debate on whether the legislature may impose limits on the amount of money a person can receive for non-economic injuries. This debate is also spurred by a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in the past year. The ruling, Hilburn v. Enerpipe Ltd, dealt with a car accident. The Court found that the state’s non-economic damages cap of $325,000 violated the plaintiff’s right to have a jury determine compensation owed the injured. See; https://www.kansascity.com/news/state/kansas/article231561483.html

Supporters of a statutory cap would also like to see the constitution changed to allow the legislature to limit the amounts recovered for non-economic injury.

These are very large issues to tackle in an election year. They are wide ranging, with a multitude of interested parties—sometimes overlapping interest groups—that will require significant study over a relatively short period of time. How many amendments make it to the ballot remains to be seen, but it it sets the stage for an interesting 90 days in 2020.

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Tags:  2020 Legislative Session  abortion  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  Hilburn v. Enerpipe  merit selection  noneconomic damages  noneconomic injury cap  SCR 1610 

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Robert R. Hiller Jr says...
Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2019
well done, Joe....as always
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