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The KBA Advocate is the weekly KBA legislative newsletter that contains up-to-date information on legislation that impacts your practice. It is only published when the legislature is in session and is sent to all KBA members electronically via the KBA Weekly.


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Top tags: Author: Joseph N. Molina III  2019 Session  2019-20  COVID-19  legislature  budget  2020 Legislative Session  election  Kansas Supreme Court  Brownback  Supreme Court  Court of Appeals  Judicial Branch  Medicaid expansion  school finance  Special Session  abortion  Emergency Management Act  Fall Legislative Conference  Gannon  Hard 50  merit selection  Sine Die  2016 Session  2017 session  2017-18  Alleyne  First Adjournment  judicial branch budget  judicial selection 

Quick Start

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Quick Start

As you are aware the Kansas Legislature returned Monday, Jan. 9. Traditionally the first week is rather uneventful. The primary goal of legislators and committees is to acquaint themselves with chamber rules, committee assignments and new staff members. However, this year committees began meeting and hearing proposals almost immediately. For instance, the House has already introduced a bill to repeal the LLC loophole. This proposal will be heard this Thursday, January 19, in House Tax. The bill is HB 2023 titled Determination of Kansas adjusted gross income, sunsetting certain modifications.

In addition, the Kansas Judicial Branch spent the week updating both judiciary committees on its operation, equipment, programs and budget. The Office of the Judicial Administrator has already requested raises in their initial budget proposal which the governor has passed through for legislators to consider. There has been some discussion on the amount of raises for nonjudicial staff but there appears to be significant hesitation to increase judicial pay. OJA reported that $12.6 million is needed to raise nonjudicial salaries to match surround states.

OJA has also introduced a bill to extend the surcharge fees. This is an extension and not an increase. The law needs to be renewed or it automatically sunsets on June 30. See HB 2041.

The Kansas Supreme Court held a swearing-in of all appellate judges being retained after the general election. This ceremony was very well attended. You can watch the ceremony here:

Chief Justice Nuss will also return to the House Chamber to give the State of the Judiciary speech. This marks the first time in four years the speech will take place in the Capital.

The other big news was Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State address. Those remarks are attached here: If you are interested, you can watch the speech here:

The Governor discussed a wide variety of topics including budget issues, higher education costs and poverty. He failed to mention water rights or any changes to judicial selection. Specifics on his budget proposal came on Wednesday when budget director Shawn Sullivan introduced the 2017 recession bill and 2018 budget to a joint meeting of legislators.

The highlights are to increase sin taxes (tobacco/alcohol), sweep funds from KDOT and liquidate certain investment funds. The plan would increase tobacco tax by $1.00 and double the alcohol tax to 16%. The plan also calls for freezing the income tax cut for the lowest bracket at 2.7%. Under the 2012 tax cut all rates would shift downward till they reached zero. 

The governor’s budget also looks to sweep nearly $600 million from KDOT over the next 30 months. This sweep would delay all new highway projects for two years, maintenance will continue as scheduled. It was recently reported that Kansas ranks 50th in new highway projects.

The most controversial issue would be selling off the tobacco settlement funds. Under Gov. Brownback’s plan the state would forego 30 years of tobacco payments in exchange for $530 million now. The state takes in around $60 million from this settlement each year. If my math is correct this would mean the state would trade $1.8 BILLION spread over three decades for $530 million this year.

Many are skeptical of this approach and its viability is in question.

“Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, the House budget chairman, called the 30-year commitment “way too long” and said the proposal would cause “a lot of angst” among lawmakers. “I really don’t think that’s going to gain any traction,” Waymaster said.”

Wichita Eagle

For more news of the budget proposal please see: - Wichita Eagle - Garden City Telegram - Kansas City Star - Topeka Capital Journal


The KBA is currently monitoring the following bills.

House Bills

HB 2001

Eliminating the reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies concerning civil asset seizures and forfeitures

HB 2014

Amending prosecutorial powers and penalties for election crimes

HB 2018

Requiring conviction before forfeiture of assets

HB 2019

Establishing the Foster Care Oversight Task Force

HB 2034

Amending the crime of aggravated battery concerning strangulation

HB 2035

Criminal post-trial motions for correction of sentence


Senate Bills

SB 1

Eliminating the reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies concerning civil asset seizures and forfeiture

SB 10

Lien filings against public officials; prohibitions; notice; criminal penalties.

SB 12

Amending the residency restrictions for person on transitional or conditional release under Ks sexually violent predator act

SB 13

Updating the code of civil procedure

These bills were introduced last week and they can be found on the KBA Legislative Bill Tracking webpage.

The KBA will introduce four proposals next week. The first is the Transfer on Death deed amendments, codifying Alternative Dispute Resolution in wills/trust, enactment of Benefit Corporations in Kansas and an update to the Uniform Arbitration Act. 

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Welcome Back!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Welcome Back!

On Monday, January 9, the Kansas Legislature opened its doors. The election season allows us to welcome 60 new faces to the Capitol; these new legislators will have an immediate impact on policy going forward. Conservatives continue to control the house but by a slim margin. There is an opportunity for Democrats and moderates to work together to lift some very heavy policy pieces. Look for early action to repeal the LLC loophole and discussion to expand Medicaid.

We will also see significant change in both judiciary committees this session. Sen. Rick Wilborn will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee and Rep. Blaine Finch has been tasked with the house committee. The house committee is stacked with 11 lawyer/legislators whereas the senate committee has on its roster Sen. David Haley, who is law-trained but non-practicing. The lack of lawyers in the Senate will create an interesting dynamic when both chambers debate technical legal issues and when they meet for conference committee.

These legislators face an uphill battle from day one. The state finds itself in a $340 million hole for this fiscal year which ends June 30. This budget hole only grows when discussing FY18. There was some good news in December as revenues surpassed estimates for the first time since July. The $6 million overage is helpful but a more robust figure is needed to make a dent in the shortage.

Legislators will also focus on crafting a new school finance formula. Schools are currently operating under a block grant formula which many want to change. How this is changed is yet to be seen, but some pundits believe the block grant approach could be used again. Several school districts, public policy outfits and interested parties have submitted their thoughts to the governor but as of the start of the session, no one has a good idea how to handle the situation.

Besides focusing on the state budget and school finance, the legislature will consider a significant increase to judicial branch personnel salaries. The Office of Judicial Administration put forth a proposal seeking $20 million in state general funds for pay raises for judges and staff. Currently, Kansas ranks 50 in judicial pay and 45 when accounting for inflation. It has been reported that judicial branch employees often hold two or three jobs to make ends meet. See: .

KBA Proposals

The KBA will introduce four proposals: two dealing with probate issues, one making changes to the uniform law concerning arbitration, and a new business association type called Benefit Corporations. Look for these bills and others that affect the practice of law in the KBA 2017 Bill Tracking Chart. The bill tracking chart will be released on Friday, Jan. 13, with bi-weekly updates thereafter.

For information on legislators, bills and committee assignments please look at starting on Jan. 16. You can also find information at . To get live updates during the session you can follow us on twitter @KansaBarLeg .

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18 

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KBA 2017 Legislative Priorities

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Friday the Kansas Bar Association met to discuss the 2017 legislative session. The KBA Board of Governors approved the following legislative priorities for 2017:

Full Funding of Judicial Branch

  • The KBA believes that only a fully funded court system guarantees access to justice for all Kansas citizens and businesses. Access to Justice is a cornerstone of our society. Safety, fairness and efficiency can only be achieved for all Kansans if the Judicial Branch is adequately funded by the legislature. 
  • Proper funding of the Judicial Branch guarantees each citizen his or her right to due process of law as expressly stated in the Fifth and 14th amendments, facilitates economic development, and protects state interests. These guarantees require open courts, access to an attorney, prompt scheduling of hearings and trials, and accurate and timely case processing.
  • The KBA supports efforts by the Judicial Branch to modernize its processes and develop efficiencies within its operations. Specifically, the addition of 20 new employees, seven new magistrate judges, and one additional district judge will ease the burden on overworked staff and better serve Kansas citizens.
  • The core function of the Kansas Judicial Branch is the timely delivery of justice to Kansas residents and businesses. A properly compensated staff is vital to this mission. As such, the KBA supports the Judicial Branch’s request to bring employee salaries to market level and to adjust judicial salaries to compete with neighboring states.

Working for Kansas Businesses

  • The KBA will introduce a bill creating a new business type called Benefit Corporations. A Benefit Corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia; its mission is to create a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. This proposal is an extension of the 2016 update of the Kansas General Corporate Code which was passed and signed into law in 2016.

Arbitration Law Updates

  • The KBA will introduce a proposal codifying enforcement of mediation/arbitration provision in trust instruments. This proposal is in line with prior revisions to the Uniform Trust Act.
  • The KBA will also introduce a law aimed at updating the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1955. These revisions, named the Revised Arbitration Act of 2000, will address many procedural issues not discussed in the original act. It will allow a court to order provisional remedies, further protect due process rights of participants, avoid federal preemption issues, and allow expressed immunity for arbitrators. 

The KBA will also actively review legislation throughout the 2017 session. The KBA will again provide a “Bill Tracking Chart” so members can easily review issues being discussed at the Capitol. The KBA will periodically request the assistance of KBA Sections and/or KBA Committees to vet new legislation and make recommendations based on those Sections/Committees’ expertise.

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18 

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2017 Kansas Legislative Leaders

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 5, legislators elected a new crop of representatives to lead them into the 2017 session. The Kansas House decided on Rep. Ron Ryckman as the new speaker. He defeated Rep. Russ Jennings in a conservative vs. moderate battle 57-28. This is significant for several reasons: First, Ryckman will now have the power over committee assignments and what bills come to the floor for debate/vote; second, his victory is tempered by the loss of a conservative majority in the House. Those 28 moderate votes could be combined with the now 40 Democrat votes to establish a working majority.  Ryckman has already signaled a willingness to listen to these groups. See:

Democrats surprised almost everyone when they decided to replace Rep. Tom Burroughs with Rep. Jim Ward as Minority leader. Most believed Burroughs would continue as Minority Leader after the successful election of 13 new Democrats to the House. However, this was still not enough as Ward was elected by two-votes 21-19.

The rest of the leadership races shaped up as shown:

Speaker of the House

Ron Ryckman – Olathe

House Majority Leader

Don Hineman – Dighton

Assistant House Majority Leader

Tom Phillips – Manhattan

Speaker Pro Tem

Scott Schwab – Overland Park

House Minority Leader

Jim Ward – Wichita

Assistant House Minority Leader

Stan Frownfelter – Kansas City


The Senate was not nearly as exciting as House elections; however, there were a few rule votes that got heated. But in the end not much has changed in the Kansas Senate. Sen. Susan Wagle has maintained her position as Senate President. Wagle was able to fend off a conservative challenge from Sen. Ty Masterson on a 23-7 vote. Democrats will continue to be lead by Sen. Anthony Hensley, returning unchallenged as Senate Minority Leader.

Senate Leadership consists of the following:

Senate President

Susan Wagle – Wichita

Senate Vice President

Jeff Longbine – Emporia

Senate Majority Leader

Jim Denning – Overland Park

Assistant Senate Majority Leader

Vicki Schmidt – Topeka

Senate Minority Leader

Anthony Hensely – Topeka

Assistant Senate Minority Leader

Laura Kelly – Topeka


For more coverage of the leadership elections please visit:

Kansas Public Radio -

The Associated Press -

Wichita Eagle -

Topeka Capital-Journal -

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Lawyer and Law-Trained Legislators 2017 Kansas Legislature

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lawyer and Law-Trained Legislators
2017 Kansas Legislature


Senator David Haley
Senate District No. 4
D-Kansas City

Senator Haley is the managing partner of Village East, a redevelopment company in Kansas City, Kansas. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1994-2000 and elected to the Kansas Senate in 2000. He was reelected in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Senator Haley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare. He is also a member of other joint committees. Senator Haley received his J.D. from Howard University.


Rep. John Barker
House District No. 70

Representative Barker is a farmer, retired District Court Judge, and U.S. Army veteran. Rep. Barker served 25 years as a judge for the Eighth Judicial District covering Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties. Rep. Barker has been recognized for his work with Kansas youth - championing initiatives to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, working with local school districts to reduce truancy rates, and working with juvenile offender programs. Rep. Barker and his wife of 30 years, live in Dickinson County where they raised their two children.

Rep. Steve Becker
House District No. 104

Representative Becker is a retired District Court Judge for Reno County. Rep. Becker was appointed in June 1981 and retired in January 2007. Prior to his appointment, Rep. Becker practiced in Hutchinson, KS. Rep. Becker graduated from Washburn Law School in 1975.

Rep. John Carmichael
House District 92

Representative Carmichael represents the 92nd District in Wichita. He earned is Political Science degree from University of Kansas in 1979, his Administration of Justice degree from Wichita State University in 1980 and his law degree from KU School of Law in 1982. Rep. Carmichael is Of Counsel with the law firm of Conlee, Schmidt and Emerson, LLP in Wichita. Rep. Carmichael has been a member of the Wichita Bar Association and the Kansas Bar Association for over 30 years. Rep. Carmichael will serve as ranking minority member on the House Judiciary, as a member on Elections and Energy/Environment and local gov. committees this session.

Rep. Erin Davis
House district No. 15
R- Olathe

Erin Davis represents the 15th House District in Olathe, Kansas. She was reelected in 2016. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas Law School. She is a member of the Rokusek Law Office, LLP in Lenexa, KS specializing in family law, including divorce, custody, Child in Need of Care parent’s attorney and Guardian ad Litem, juvenile offender and adult criminal work.

Rep. Blaine Finch
House District No. 59

Representative Finch is majority owner and President of Green, Finch& Covington, Chtd. His practice covers a broad spectrum of legal issues including municipal law, real estate, contracts, corporate law and estate planning. He also teaches at Ottawa University as an adjunct faculty member in the fields of History, Political Science and Pre-Law. Finch is a former city commissioner and Mayor of the City of Ottawa. Rep-Elect Finch graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ottawa University with degrees in History, Political Science and Psychology. Finch is a member of the Kansas Bar Association and a member and past president of the Franklin County Bar Association. He attended Washburn University School of Law.

Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger
House District No. 46

Representative Highberger graduated from University of Kansas Law School in 1992. His areas of private practice have included wills, estates, contracts, family law, federal communications law, and general civil practice. Highberger served on the Lawrence City Commission from 2003 to 2009 and was Mayor in 2005/2006. He has been an active member of the Lawrence community, and currently serves on the Douglas County Food Policy Council, the City of Lawrence’s Public Incentives Review Committee (PIRC) and Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), and the boards of directors of Independence, Inc., the Community Mercantile Education Foundation (CMEF), and the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA).

Rep.-Elect Tim Hodge
House District No. 72

R-North Newton

Representative-elect Hodge is member of the Adrian & Pankratz law firm in Newton Kansas. Hodge has developed his practice in diverse areas such as tax law, real estate, business law, secured transactions, and Medicaid Planning. He has served as an adjunct professor of business law at Tabor College. During law school, he clerked for the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals and the Kansas National Education Association. Before law school, Mr. Hodge served as a teacher and a coach at Peabody High School. He and his wife reside in North Newton with their three children. His wife is a teacher in the Newton School District. Hodge graduate Magana cum laude from Tabor College in 1999 and received is JD from Washburn Law School in 2003. Hodge also attended the Oxford Honours Program in 1998. He is a KBA member since 2004.

Rep.-Elect Susan Humphries
House District No. 99

Representative-elect Humphries joined the Kansas Bar in 2014, after graduating from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law earlier that year. During law school Humphries had clinical experience in Mediation and at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. Humphries practices at Shultz Law Office, P.A., in Wichita, with a focus on adoption and general law. Humphries is the coordinator for Wichita Christian Legal Aid, which offers free legal aid at three non-profits. Humphries married Cary after graduating from TCU, and they proceeded to live in (and enjoy!) five states and two foreign countries. They moved to Kansas for the first time in 1981, and have considered it their married home ever since. They have four adult children (two are married), and one grandson. Humphries will serve as Representative for the 99th district, which includes Andover and east Wichita.

Rep.-Elect Leonard Mastroni
House District No. 117
R-La Crosse

Representative-elect Mastroni is currently a Rush County Commissioner, serving in that capacity since 2011. Prior to his service as a county commissioner he was a District Magistrate Judge where he served on the KDMJA Legislative committee for 12 years. Mastroni also served a chairman of the KDMJA Legislative committee and its educational committee. Mastroni attended Fort Hays University where he received his BA in political science. Mastroni also attended University of Nevada at Reno where he graduated from the national judicial college.

Rep.-Elect Vic Miller
House District No. 58

Representative-Elect Vic Miller is returning to the Kansas House. He previously served for three-terms. Miller also served as Shawnee County Commissioner (15 yrs.) Topeka City Councilman (8 yrs.), once acting as Topeka Deputy Mayor. Miller also served as Topeka Municipal Judge and Kansas Property Valuation Director. Miller has spent his legal career as a sole practitioner. Miller graduated from Emporia State and Washburn University School of Law.

Rep. Fred Patton
House District No. 50

Representative Patton graduated from the University of Kansas Law School before joining the legal research staff at the Shawnee County District Court. Currently, Patton owns and operates Patton Law Offices, LLC in North Topeka with a varied practice area including banking, business/corporate, construction, estate planning, general civil, probate, and real estate. Patton is very active in the community having leadership roles in over 15 local groups.

Rep.-Elect Bradley Ralph
House District No. 119
R-Dodge City

Representative-elect Ralph is currently the City Attorney for Dodge City, Kansas. Prior to this position he was in private practice with the firm of Williams, Malone & Ralph for 25 years. His private practice focused on representation of insurance companies, healthcare providers, schools, and municipalities. Ralph has been active in his community in leadership positions with his church and the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas. He has also served the legal profession on several professional committees, including the Professional Ethics Committee. He is a graduate of St. Mary of the Plains College and Washburn University School of Law. Ralph and his wife Shannon have three adult children.

Rep. Jim Ward
House District No. 86

Representative Ward is the owner of the Law offices of James Ward of Wichita. He was appointed to the Kansas Senate to fill a vacancy in 1992. He was later elected to the Kansas House in 2002 and reelected every two years through 2012. Representative Ward serves as the Assistant House Minority Leader and is a member of the House Committees on Calendar and Printing, Health and Human Services, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary and Legislative Budget, as well as several joint committees. He received his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law.

Rep.-Elect John Wheeler
House District No. 123
R-Garden City

Representative-elect Wheeler is the former Finney County Attorney, first elected in 1993. He was elected to the House in 2016 to his first term. He is a graduate of Fort Hays State College (1969) with a degree in political science and pre-law. He graduated from Washburn School of Law in 1976. Prior to being elected as Finney County Attorney, Rep. Wheeler was in private practice with Calihan, Green, Calihan and Loyd, Associate, 1976-1979, then Soldner & Wheeler, Partner, 1979-1987, and finally with John P. Wheeler, Attorney at Law, Solo Practitioner, 1988-1992. Rep. Wheeler is a proud member of Harry H. Renick American Legion Post #9, Past Commander; Garden City Salvation Army Advisory Board; Garden City Noon Lions Club; and the Finney County Historical Society.

2017 Kansas Legislature

Kansas Senate:

  • 31 Republicans
  • 9 Democrats

Kansas House of Representatives:

  • 85 Republicans
  • 40 Democrats

Additional Information

The official state website for the Kansas Legislature

From that site, you can find information on the House and Senate members and contact information, calendars, bill introductions, committee activity, minutes of committees, committee memberships and virtually anything related to the Kansas Legislature.

Governor Sam Brownback

The website for Governor Sam Brownback and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer is:

Attorney General Derek Schmidt

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Election 2016

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director


With all the votes tallied Kansas will find itself in a familiar position come 2017. While both chambers remain Republican-heavy, they have moved to the center which will help with those big-ticket items sure to eat up legislative days next session. The final count looks like 85 republicans will coexist with 40 Democrats. Democrats improved their position by 12 seats. Equally important are the big wins by moderate republicans in the primary and general elections. Several big-name incumbents losing last night were Rep. Marc Rhoades, Rep. Amanda Grosserode, Rep. Chuck Smith, and Rep. Sue Boldra. Rep.-Elect Eber Phelps defeated Sue Boldra, reclaiming his seat and the title of only democrat in Western Kansas.

Several lawyer/legislators were defeated: Rep. Jan Pauls, Rep. Lane Hemsley and Rep. James Todd failed to retain their seats, and Senate candidate and lawyer Bill Hutton lost to Sen. Fitzgerald by 500 votes. If my math is correct and I didn’t miss anyone, there 14 lawyer/legislators remain in the legislature. The most surprising result is the Republicans have no licensed attorney to chair Senate Judiciary Committee.

The statewide seats all remained in Republican hands as U.S. Sen. Moran, U.S. Rep. Pompeo, U.S. Rep. Jenkins, U.S. Rep. Yoder and Representative-Elect Marshall all won going away. These Kansans will work closely with the President-Elect Trump who won a close election last night against former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In huge news, all Kansas appellate court judges/justices were retained. The margin for Kansas Supreme Court Justices ran from a high of 71% (Stegall) to 55% (Nuss). While the ten point spread for Chief Justice Nuss was slim, it still outperformed the retention election results from two years ago where Justice Johnson and Justice Rosen received 52.7% and 52.6% respectively.

The raw numbers saw Justice Stegall, Judge Gardner and Judge Bruns outpace the historical margins with positive votes of more than 715,000. The remaining justices and judges hovered around 600,000 positive votes. Nevertheless, they retained their positions.

The most interesting retention data point came from Sedgwick County where voters decided to retain all judges/justices with the lowest margin being 54% / 46% for Justice Biles. This jurisdiction voted against retaining Justice Rosen and Justice Johnson in 2014.

For complete unofficial election results please visit –

Tags:  election 

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Today, Nov. 8, is Election Day. Polls are Open Till 7 p.m.

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, November 8, 2016

To locate your polling place please visit -

Please get out and vote – remember to finish the ballot.

Tags:  election  election day 

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Remember Retention

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director


The countdown to Election Day has begun! With six weeks to go until Election Day, it’s time to make sure you are prepared to vote! If you have not registered to vote in the general election the deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 18. To register for the general election, a link to the Kansas Voter Registration Instruction can be found here-

Advance voting will begin on October 19. To vote in person please contact your local county election office to find out when and where –

This election is an important one for our state as it allows each citizen the opportunity to choose a new president, a new State representative, State senator, and to decide if 11 appellate court judges/justices should retain their position--the outcome is in your hands.

The KBA would like to encourage Kansans to vote in this very important retention election as it is the greatest confirmation a judge or justice will receive. Biographies can be found on court websites, accessible through

To learn more about the judges’/justices’ performance please visit – to review a survey sponsored by Kansas civic organizations.

The Kansas Constitution requires Kansas Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeal Judges to be placed on the general election ballot every six years (4 yrs. for the COA); so voters can determine whether these judges/justices should remain on their courts for another term. This year, five Supreme Court Justices and six Court of Appeal Judges will be on the ballot.

The Judges and Justices:

Kansas Supreme Court Justices

  • Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
  • Justice Marla J. Luckert
  • Justice Carol A. Beier
  • Justice Dan Biles
  • Justice Caleb Stegall

Kansas Court of Appeal Judges

  • Judge Steve Leben
  • Judge G. Joseph Pierron
  • Judge David E. Bruns
  • Judge G. Gordon Atcheson
  • Judge Karen Arnold-Burger
  • Judge Kathryn A. Gardner

Retention elections are a vital component to the merit selection process for selecting appellate court justices. However, they are different than partisan elections because, unlike partisan elections, judges are not running against opponents or each other. Merit retention elections are nonpartisan were the judges/justice appear on the ballot without reference to any political party, (e.g. Democrat or Republican).

Tell your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues that information on the retention election can be found at

If you would like a non-partisan KBA official to speak to your group about the elections contact:

Meg Wickham
Director of Member and Communication Services
Direct: (785) 861-8817

Tags:  judicial branch  judicial retention 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Kansas Retention Elections

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 12, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director


  1. Why am I being asked to vote on judges?

    The Kansas Constitution requires Kansas Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeal judges to be placed on the ballot every six years (4 yrs. for the COA) so voters can determine whether they should remain on their courts for term. These are called “retention” elections. This year, five Supreme Court justices and six court of appeal judges will be on the ballot.
  2. What do “Yes” and “No” votes mean?

    A “Yes” vote means you want the judge or justice to remain on the court for another six-year term. A “No” vote means you want the judge or justice removed from the court. The majority of voters in the November general election decides.
  3. Do Supreme Court justices have opponents?

    No. Your vote determines whether each justice should remain on the court. They are not running against opponents or each other. Merit retention elections are nonpartisan. In nonpartisan elections, candidates appear on the ballot without reference to any political party, (e.g. Democrat or Republican).
  4. How do Supreme Court justices get on the court?

    For the Supreme Court, the governor appoints justices from lists submitted by Kansas Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens candidates and make recommendations based on the candidate’s merits – legal writing, temperament, references and experience. Newly appointed judges appear on the next statewide ballot. If the voters retain them, they then go on the ballot again every six years.
  5. Which courts are subject to merit retention elections?

    The Kansas Supreme Court, Kansas Court of Appeals and a little more than half of all district court judges are subject to merit retention elections.
  6. Can judges who commit unethical acts be removed from office?

    Yes. This can happen after an investigation by the Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications. The KSJQ ( is an independent agency created to investigate alleged misconduct by Kansas judges and justices. Through this system, judges have been removed from office.
  7. Can Kansas Supreme Court justices state their views on issues that may come before them?

    No, Judicial Cannon #4 of the Kansas Code of Judicial Conduct forbids judges and justices from saying how they will decide future cases. Judges and justices must remain impartial and decide cases without regard to their personal views or beliefs. (See,
  8. Can I read the opinions of the judges and justices in cases they decided?

    Yes. Case opinions can be found on the Cases & Opinions page of the websites for the Kansas Judicial Branch,
  9. Can I watch videos of the justices and appeals court judges at work?

    Yes. Court arguments are webcast live and archived on the court websites.
  10. How can I learn more about judges’ and justices’ backgrounds?

    Biographies are on court websites, accessible through
  11. How did Kansas decide to use the merit retention election system?

    In the 1956, Kansas experienced a highly controversial appointment of Gov. Fred Hall to the Kansas Supreme Court in what has been called the “triple play”. In that, incumbent Governor Fred Hall was defeated in the 1956 Republican primary by Warren Shaw, who lost in the general election to George Docking. Then Chief Justice Smith resigned from the Supreme Court due to ill health on December 31, Hall quickly resigned as governor on January 3, 1957, and Lieutenant Governor McCuish became governor for the next eleven days. McCuish immediately appointed Hall to the newly vacated Supreme Court seat. While perfectly legal, this sequence of actions was considered by many to be highly unethical. In response to the "triple play," the 1957 Kansas legislature passed a resolution for a constitutional amendment concerning the way judges are appointed, creating the merit selection process. The amendment was passed in the 1958 general election.
  12. Where can I find results from prior merit retention elections?

    Past retention election results can be found on the Kansas Secretary of State’s website.
  13. Which judges and justices are up for retention election this year?

    The following individuals are up for nonpartisan retention election this November:

    Kansas Supreme Court Justices

    • Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss;
    • Justice Marla J. Luckert;
    • Justice Carol A. Beier;
    • Justice Dan Biles; and;
    • Justice Caleb Stegall.

    Kansas Court of Appeal Judges

    • Judge Steve Leben;
    • Judge G. Joseph Pierron;
    • Judge David E. Burns;
    • Judge G. Gordon Atcheson;
    • Judge Karen Arnold-Burger;
    • Judge Kathryn A. Gardner
  14. Does the state put out any information on the justices, who are up for retention, performances?

    No, the state of Kansas previously held surveys administered by the Kansas Judicial performance commission. Due to budget issues and the high cost of these surveys, the commission was dissolved in 2012. A group of civic organizations have taken over this role and their results can be found at

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Supreme Court Accepting Comments on New Rules

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

About the Author

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director


The Kansas Supreme Court is now accepting comments on new rules 11.01, 147 and 148.  These rules are required to be amended as a result of changes to KSA 2016 Supp. 75-764.  These changes concern notice to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office or prosecuting attorney when there is a challenge to the validity of a Kansas law on grounds that the law violates the state constitution, federal constitution, or federal law.

Ag Schmidt stated that, “the problem this bill seeks to address is not the outcome of those disputes – it is the process that allowed the disputes to be decided before the attorney general’s office was told they were underway.”

Attorney General Derek Schmidt proposed the new law after two instances where a law was found unconstitutional, and the attorney general did not have an opportunity to be heard. Ag Schmidt stated that, “the problem this bill seeks to address is not the outcome of those disputes – it is the process that allowed the disputes to be decided before the attorney general’s office was told they were underway.”  Senate Bill 334 is a belt-and-suspenders measure aimed at plugging the procedural gaps that allowed these two cases to fall through the cracks. It is intended to reaffirm and clarify the public policy that when the validity of a state statute is being tested in court, the attorney general, as the state’s chief legal officer, is to receive notice of the dispute and have the timely opportunity to appear in relation to the statute’s validity. It also provides an after-the-fact mechanism so that if the notice requirements are violated, an order invalidating a state statute may be set aside once the attorney general learns of the matter. See;

As such, the Kansas Supreme Court will accept comments on this issue. It is important to recognize that the above cited rules will take effect on September 6, 2016 but the court will review comments and input to determine if the rules should be further amended.  You can view the rule here:

The court will receive comments until 5 p.m. Sunday, October 2, 2016.

Tags:  Kansas Supreme Court  New Rules  Rules 

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