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Veto Session 2020 Preview

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, May 18, 2020
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The Kansas Legislature is gearing up for the May 21st Veto Session. The one-day veto session has manufactured a sense of urgency among key committees and forced them back into action to prepare for the session. The goal is to have bills in a position to be voted on when session reconvenes. For that to happen, committees need to vet proposals and build new bills using the shells of discarded ones from the regular session. See; https://kasb.org/legislature-to-reconvene-on-final-day-of-session-may-21/

 

Thus far, House Commerce, Tax, and Judiciary committees have met to work up COVID-19 related items. Judiciary held a 2-hour plus information hearing last Wednesday on immunity for COVID claims. You can watch the entire hearing here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3ZhwJRwvbg. The testimony was added to our KBA Legislative page.

 

On Monday the Senate Judiciary convened to discuss the same issue with the same conferees. That hearing was held in-person in the Old Supreme Courtroom. The KBA will provide information for this hearing, as we did for the House hearing. See; http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/committees/ctte_s_jud_1/documents/agenda/weekly/20200524.pdf 

 

In addition to COVID-19 related items, the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up HB 2447 dealing with the use of audio-visual technology in courtrooms and HB 2713 concerning remote notaries. Both items were near the end of the legislative process when the “stay at home” order forced everything to close. The KBA has supported these items since they were introduced and will continue to support them during the Senate hearing.

 

There will need to be one amendment to HB 271 to ensure that remote notaries performed during the emergency declaration are deemed valid. Both items should pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The sole complication is timing and whether there is enough time to get both bills passed out of the Senate.

 

Time is a critical issue for legislators during this one-day session. The list of possible legislation is long and includes complex issues that normally require years to pass. The effort to amend the emergency management act should require an interim study. But legislative leaders are intent on pushing it through in one day. COVID liability is another issue that should be discussed in an interiman idea proposed by Rep. Pam Curtis (D-Wyandotte)but there is a real possibility that a proposal will be moved out of both chambers and sent to the governor. See; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20200512/kansas-coronavirus-update-senate-house-step-into-web-of-covid-19-tax-liability-and-budget-issues

 

The largest and most time-consuming issue may be the extension of the emergency order. The State Finance Council extended Gov. Kelly’s order thru May 26th. This group decided against a full 30-day extension, arguing that the legislature should have a say in determining whether the order should be continued. To further extend the emergency declaration, the legislature would need to craft a new bill and pasit in one day. Should they fail, previous executive orders would be unenforceable, and Kansas could lose out on federal dollars. See; https://www2.ljworld.com/news/state-government/2020/may/13/kansas-state-finance-council-extends-state-of-emergency-declaration-through-may-26/

 

This week is shaping up to be a grueling one. Both sides have dug in on several issues with the final outcome still in limbo. The one constant is that the governor is in a strong position since she holds a veto stamp with no opportunity for the legislature to override it. This may force opposing sides to negotiate and compromise, resulting in a product that neither is satisfied with, but which allows the state to move forward. Such is the practical outcome of legislation crafted in a rush. 

 

You can watch real-time updates of the veto session by following @KansasBarLeg. 

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Tags:  audio-visual in courtroom  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  COVID-19  emergency management act  extension of emergency order  House judiciary committee meeting  remote notaries  Senate judiciary committee meeting  veto session 2020 

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