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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  legislature  budget  election  Brownback  Supreme Court  Judicial Branch  school finance  Court of Appeals  Fall Legislative Conference  Gannon  Hard 50  Kansas Supreme Court  Special Session  2016 Session  2017 session  2017-18  Alleyne  merit selection  SCR 1610  Senate  Sine Die  State of the Judiciary  2019 Golf Tournament  2020 legislative session  abortion  Caleb Stegall  conference 

Turnaround 2019

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Kansas Legislature blew past its bill introduction deadline last Friday by filing more than 150 bills in five days. Many of those bills will not make it past the next deadline—Turnaround—which is set for February 28th. This is the day that bills that have not been passed out of their House of Origin (the chamber in which the bill was introduced) can no longer be worked. There are several ways around this deadline, but the most popular is having the bill “blessed,” which is to refer it to an exempt committee. Exempt committees include House and Senate Fed and State, House Appropriations, and Senate Ways and Means. Still, the vast majority of bills won’t receive hearings, and some that do will never make it above the line for consideration. Those bills will have to wait until 2020.

That does not mean there isn’t enough work to go around. Both chambers tackled KPERS bills and the Senate even passed a tax bill before March. The Senate KPERs bill, SB 9, would pay off a loan worth $115 million. The House KPERs bill, HB 2197, would amortize KPERs payments, save the state in the short term but cost more than $7 billion in the long run. In a bit of political theatre, the House reject HB 2197 by a vote of 36-87. See; https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article226263235.html This was a large part of the Kelly agenda that now needs to be strategized.

The KBA was fortunate to get two bills out early. The Senate passed SB 20 35-5. This bill extends the surcharge fee indefinitely. This is a $9 million piece of the judicial branch budget. It heads to the House, where the KBA will continue its advocacy. The KBA was also able to get HB 2039 out of the House on a vote of 119-0. HB 2039 allows tribal court judgments to be recognized in Kansas District Court. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The KBA was also able to get its Revised LLC bill, HB 2105 out of committee on a voice vote. HB 2105 still need to pass out of the House to be safe from the deadline, and we are focusing our efforts toward that result.

KBA sections have been busy reviewing several pieces of legislation:

 

HB 2008

Exempting Kansas from daylight savings

AG

HB 2196

Creating a presumption of shared parenting time for temporary orders

Family

HB 2273

Establishing the wind generation permit and property protection act

TS/RP

SB 37

Requiring a duly ordained minister of religion or an employee of or volunteer for a religious organization to report certain abuses and neglect of children

Religion

SB 157

Creating a presumption of shared parenting time for temporary orders

Family

SB 177

Providing the court of appeals jurisdiction to review final orders of the state board of tax appeals.

Tax

 

We will update the Advocate if these bills are set for hearings.

However, the bills that gained the most news attention this past week deal with same-sex marriage.

HB 2320

Enacting the marriage and constitution restoration act

HB 2231

Creating the optional elevated marriage act

 

Rep. Randy Garber (R-Sabetha) sponsored both of those measures. He is joined by Rep. Owen Donohoe (R-Shawnee); Rep. David French (R-Lansing); Rep. Cheryl Helmer (R-Mulvane) Rep. Richard Highland (R-Wamego); Rep. Steve Huebert (R-Valley Center); Rep. Ken Rahjes (R-Agra) and Rep. Bill Rhiley (R-Wellington). Rep. Ken Rahjes (R-Agra) joins this group in sponsoring HB 2321.

See; https://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article226263490.html; See also; https://www.newsweek.com/kansas-bills-parody-same-sex-marriage-lgbtq-rights-drag-queen-story-time-gay-1331122?amp=1&__twitter_impression=true; and; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190214/vile-hateful-and-disrespectful-lgbtq-lobbyists-blast-attempt-to-undermine-legitimacy-of-kansas-same-sex-marriages.

 

  

Finally, Shelby Lopez, Executive Director of the Kansas Bar Association, presented Rep. Blaine Finch (Left photo) with a plaque to commemorate his service as House Judiciary Chair. Ms. Lopez also presented Rep. Fred Patton (Right photo) with the KBA House Gavel as the current House Judiciary Chair. We appreciate their service to Kansas.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III 

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Four Weeks In—and Some Progress

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, February 11, 2019

The Kansas Legislature is in full swing now. The Senate is working tax bills, the House is looking at school finance appropriations and the Judiciary Committees of both chambers are pushing bills out to the floor.

State Issues

The most significant items this week were the passage of SB 9 and SB 22 by the Senate. SB 9 repays $115 million to KPERS, SB 22 is the windfall tax cut that is estimated to cost $191 million. These two pieces of legislation put a very large dent in the revenue surplus. See; https://www.pionline.com/article/20190207/ONLINE/190209857/kansas-senate-passes-bill-issuing-115-million-to-kpers;, See also; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190207/kansas-senate-adopts-190-million-windfall-income-tax-reduction-bill.

The House has already introduced its plan to deal with KPERs in HB 2197. That bill would amortize KPERs for 30 years, and save the state some money in the short term; long term numbers would run into the billions.

Gov. Kelly has stated publicly that this would be a return to a Brownback style tax policy. See; https://www.leavenworthtimes.com/opinion/20190207/true-blue-bill-would-destabilize-our-recovering-economy. The question now turns to the House and whether there is an appetite to pass the Senate work product, pass its own tax policy bill or just let it hang there for a bit. Will be interesting to see.

Court Issues

The Kansas Judicial Branch had a busy week as well. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss gave his 8th State of the Judiciary Speech. He focused on pay increases for judges and staff. Kansas ranks 51st in the nation for district court judge salaries. The state doesn’t rank much better for other judges and staff either. See; http://kscourts.org/Court-Administration/Compensation_Study/index.html

Chief Justice Nuss also pointed out some good things happening in Kansas courts, specifically some specialty courts. It was a well-attended speech with the Governor/ Lt. Gov, KSAG and several legislators in attendance. The entire speech can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Grk1-a-ju58?autoplay=1&rel=0

The Judicial Branch also got its surcharge extension bill out of Senate Judiciary. This bill is worth $9 million to the judiciary budget. It has been approved six times now. Sen. Vic Miller (D-Topeka) did amend the bill to remove the sunset so the courts do not have to ask for extensions every two years. SB 20 heads to the Senate floor as amended.

Rep. Russ Jennings (R-Lakin) has introduced a bill to return the selection of Kansas Court of Appeal judges to the Supreme Court nominating commission. HB 2192 would repeal the current governor appoint/senate confirm model. The KBA has a long-standing policy of supporting the merit selection process, even for the Kansas Court of Appeals. The KBA opposed the governor appoint/senate confirm model when it was introduced.

KBA Issues

The KBA had an eventful week under the dome. First, the Kansas House passed out HB 2039, concerning recognition of tribal court judgment,  without incident. The bill moves to the Senate for hearings. The KBA continues to support the measure. The House also approved HB 2038, automatic revocation of inheritance rights upon divorce. The KBA is closely tracking this bill’s progress.

Two KBA bills were given hearings this past week: HB 2072 dealing with arbitration in insurance contracts and HB 2105 updating the LLC Act. American Casualty and Property Insurance opposed HB 2072 because it would like to make arbitration mandatory in its insurance contracts

I am working with Chairman Patton to get both of these bills passed out of committee.

The KBA also attended a meeting via conference call on HB 2115/SB 56 concerning verification of billable hours by state contractors. These identical bills would require any company with a state contract over $100K to install software that would track their computer activity when working on the state contract. The conference call was attended by over a dozen organizations/associations who oppose these bills.

Finally, there are two family law bills that impact the KBA. The first is HB 2196 creating a presumption of shared parenting time in temporary orders. The KBA Family Law section opposed a similar bill in 2018 and is reviewing this bill now. The sponsors of the bill include: Rep. Jeff Pittman (D-Leavenworth); Rep. Francis Awerkamp (R-St. Marys); Rep. Emil Bergquist (R-Park City); Rep. Ronald Ellis (R-Meriden); Rep. John Eplee (R-Atchison); Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego); Rep. Don Hineman (R-Dighton); and Rep. John Resman (R-Olathe).

The second is the HB 2164, repeal of the Adoption Protection Act. The Adoption Protection Act was amended into a bill the KBA supported last session and passed via conference committee.

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Battle of Priorities

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, February 4, 2019

The Kansas Legislature made several significant moves the last week of January. First, Gov. Kelly announced her Medicaid Expansion bill. The bill officially introduced by Rep. Wolfe Moore (D- Kansas City) will cost around $15 million. It is the same bill that the House debated a year ago. See; https://governor.kansas.gov/governor-kelly-releases-medicaid-expansion-bill/; See also; https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-gov-kelly-goes-medicaid-expansion-plan-almost-worked#stream/0

Not to be outdone, Senate President Susan Wagle looks to quickly pass out of committee a tax cut bill aimed at the federal tax windfall. That bill, SB 22, if approved, will allow Kansas residents to take advantage of the increased federal standard deduction while being able to itemize on their state taxes. See; http://www.hutchnews.com/news/20190129/sen-susan-wagle-plans-swift-action-on-kansas-tax-reform-test-of-veto-power; See also; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190131/kansas-corporations-line-up-for-majority-of-senate-panels-191-million-in-tax-breaks?nocache=1

The cost of the bill runs around $200 million in year one. It would put Gov. Kelly’s budget agenda in jeopardy by eating up some of the revenue she would need to fund expansion, school finance and DCF increases. If all those things passed along with SB 22, the state would be in the red by 2020. See; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190131/sen-anthony-hensley-senate-president-susan-wagle-should-take-own-advice-not-squander-surplus

Also in play is SB 9 that transfers $115 million from the state general fund to pay for KPERS. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended this transfer on January 30th. This would be another blow to the Kelly agenda since the governor wants to amortize KPERS, save this money now and put it towards other programs.

Last week, the KBA testified on three bills and set hearings for two more. The KBA supported HB 2020 dealing with attorney registration; SB 20 extending the surcharge docket fee and HB 2039, Tribal Judgments.

The KBA once again supported extending the surcharge docket fee. There was little opposition to SB 20, and it should move smoothly through the House. On a broader judicial salary note—The National Conference of State Courts released its judicial salary report last week. Kansas now ranks dead last for district court judge pay. Here is a link to that report. https://www.ncsc.org/salarytracker

HB 2039 is a judicial council bill, and it to faced little opposition. However, a friendly amendment was added by Rep. Ralph that made it quite clear this bill would not alter the sovereign rights of tribal nations. Rep. Carmichael also wanted the record to reflect that HB 2039 had nothing to do with Sharia Law.

This week is a busy one for the KBA:

Monday, February 4th—House Judiciary; Hearings on HB 2072, amending the uniform arbitration act; HB 2105, updating the LLC act. The KBA introduced both bills and plan to testify.

Tuesday, February 5th—Senate Judiciary; Hearing on SB 55, uniform partition of heir’s property act. The KBA will also host the WBA legislative reception from 5-7 pm at the Gernon Law Center, 1200 SW Harrison, in Topeka.

Wednesday, February 6th—Slam Dunk CLE in Manhattan at 10:20; Kansas Supreme Court State of the Judiciary speech at 12:30. The KBA is sponsoring the reception after the speech.

Thursday, February 7th—KBF Board meeting at the KBA offices. Court Appreciation dinner 6-9pm at Topeka Country Club.

Friday, February 8th—KBA Board meeting at the KBA offices

Saturday, February 9th—Title Standard Committee meeting in Wichita. Discuss SB 55, HB 2038, automatic revocation upon divorce, Contract for deeds proposal.

Things are really picking up at the Capitol; it’s a good place to visit. Come visit and look around. Something interesting happens every day.

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III 

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Slow Burn

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, January 28, 2019

Kansas Legislators entered the second week of the session still in a bit of a honeymoon phase. Bills have been rolling out slower than previous years, fewer hearings have been set. Some attribute this to a feeling-out stage with the new administration, while others believe the mass roll-out of bills will hit next week.

There was some big news last week: Gov. Kelly rolled out her Council on Education, created via Executive Order. See: https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190124/gov-laura-kelly-issues-order-authorizing-education-advisory-council

This advisory council will study how best to invest in Kansas education system. There are no legislators on this council.

Not to be outdone, Senate President Susan Wagle created a new tax committee that will consider windfall legislation based on the federal tax cut. President Wagle named herself as chairperson. See: http://www.gctelegram.com/news/20190123/wagle-takes-charge-of-tax-windfall-panel

Sen. Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City) introduced SB 37 – requiring a duly ordained minister of religion or an employee of or volunteer for a religious organization to report certain abuse and neglect of children. Sen. Holland has a constituent who is a victim of abuse and brought this bill on their behalf. See: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/state-government/2019/jan/23/sen-holland-introduces-bill-to-make-church-clergy-mandatory-reporters-of-suspected-sex-crimes/

The KBA introduced two bills this week; Revised LLC Update and the uniform arbitration act contract for insurance fix. The LLC bill is being finalized by the revisor’s office, but the arbitration bill has hit the website. It is: HB 2072 – Amending the uniform arbitration act of 2000 to address validity of an agreement to arbitrate in a contract of insurance

The LLC bill was crafted by Bill Matthews, Bill Quick, Prof. Webb Hecker and Prof. Virginia Harper-Ho. These members worked closely with the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, as well as other interested parties, on this proposed legislation and they will represent the KBA for the LLC hearing. Larry Rute and Robert Sullivan will testify for the arbitration bill. We appreciate these individuals and their efforts on behalf of the KBA.

The KBA provided testimony on HB 2039—Tribal Judgments this week. Also supporting the bill was the Kansas Judicial Council. The hearing was held open until Monday to allow any tribal elders an opportunity to testify.

Next week the KBA will testify on HB 2020 - Changing the supreme court clerk's information requirements for licensed attorneys and changing procedures related to the supreme court nominating commission and the judicial district nominating commissions. This bill would repeal changes made ito attorney registration in 2016. The KBA supported this proposal in 2017.

The KBA will also testify on SB 20 – Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee; the KBA has supported this bill since its inception.

Tags:  2019 session  2019-20  Author: Joseph N. Molina III 

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The Kelly Budget

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Kansas Legislature has just wrapped up its first week of session. The big story this week was the State of the State address by Gov. Kelly, followed by the release of her budget.

Gov. Kelly laid out her priorities, which include: full funding for K12, expansion of Medicaid, engaging on rural Kansas issues, and rebuilding DCF and Kansas foster care system. You can view the State of the State address here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op6gwtuGDqU

Her budget echoed those priorities in a bit more detail. The first big change in the budget is the move back to a one-year budget cycle. Under the last administration budgets were set for two years and recalculated in the out year. However, Kelly kept K12 funding on a two-year cycle.

The Kelly budget calls for an additional $364 Million for K12 to be phased in. This amount should satisfy the court order and end the cycle of litigation on this topic. Kelly also added $14 million in 2020 and $20 million in 2021 for Medicaid expansion. Many believe this is not the true amount to cover the expansion. The Kelly budget also pays off the PMIB loan while re-amortizing KPERS.

You can read the entire budget presentation here - https://budget.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/Directors_Overview_FY2020-1-17-2019.pdf

The governor also recommends almost $22 million more for the Judicial Branch Budget in 2020. The breakdown is as follows: $300k for administration salaries; $1.5 million for Appellate Salaries and $18.3 million for district court salaries. These recommendations can be found on pages 197-210 on the linked site. See: https://budget.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/FY2020_GBR_Vol2-1-17-2019.pdf This amount is the total OJA has requested for salary adjustments.

OJA has introduced two bills, SB 20 the surcharge extension bill which the KBA supported in the past, and SB 19 dealing with pre-sentencing reports. The pre-sentencing report bill simply adds community correction centers to the list of entities with the ability to see pre-sentencing reports.

The Kansas Judicial Council introduced HB 2038 which automictically revokes beneficiary designations upon divorce. They also proposed HB 2039 which gives full faith and credit to Native American judgments.

The Kansas Judicial Council has also released its December reports on four studies. Those studies include:

Bill introductions are moving at a decent pace for week 1. You can see which bills have been introduced by visiting www.kslegislature.org or by viewing the KBA Bill Tracking Chart at www.ksbar.org

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Kelly Takes Over as Kansas Governor

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Yesterday, a little after 11am, surrounded by supporters, Laura Kelly was sworn in as the 48th governor for the great state of Kansas. Kelly was sworn in by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss beneath three banners reading Equality, Education & Opportunity. Her first speech as Governor hit on those three points. See: Laura-kelly-inaugural-we-must-forge-new-chapter-in-our-story (cjonline.com); See also: Make Kansas boring again: Gov. Laura Kelly’s inaugural address was delightfully dull (kansascity.com)

The remainder of the morning activates went very much as anticipated. Freshman legislators were sworn in at 2pm, again by Chief Justice Nuss, and they were done a little after 3:30. This gave plenty of time for pictures, a few handshakes and then getting prepared for the Inaugural ball. There was a sighting of Rep. Sharice Davids in the Capitol holding court with a group of Kansas Young Democrats. As session opening days go this was a combination of historic and routine.

The Inaugural Ball was what one would expect. It was very well attended with over 2000 party goers. The room was filled with both state and federal elected officers, lobbyist, supporters and contributors. Party leaders made toasts welcoming the new governor, cracked a couple of jokes and visited with colleges they haven’t seen since the session closed in 2018. A good time was had by all attending. But now the work begins, the spotlight shifts from celebration to accomplishments. No one expects a long honeymoon for Gov. Kelly since we must deal with several big issues. See: Kansas-legislature-poised-for-heated-budget-debate-cold-reality-of-partisanship (cjonline.com)

The House has already filed 31 bills. Those bills can be found at the Kansas Legislative website: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/bills/. There is a bill exempting Kansas from Daylight Savings time (HB 2008); a bill restricting state officials from lobbying (HB 2010); a bill removing the Kansas Secretary of State from lawyer registration (HB 2020) and a bill dealing with term limits for Insurance Commissioner and Secretary of State (HB 2021). There are also 7 bills aimed at worker comp issues. This is a lot for Day 1.

The Senate was much more subdued in their opening filings. The Senate filed less than half the bills the House opened with. Those 15 Senate bills run the gamut of issues. There are bills on tax, bills on healthcare, bills on elections and even a bill on firearm background checks (SB 8).

When any of these bills receive hearings is up to committee chairs. A number of those committees will meet for the first time today. The goal is to make introductions, get staff settled and pass committee rules. Only then can we official introduce bills into those committees. It’s a bit of a process but we will be headed down the track full speed before we know it.

If you need any information please visit www.kslegislature.org or www.ksbar.org/legislative for KBA specific info.

Tags:  2019 session  2019-20  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  inauguration 

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Welcome Back! Let's have a Ball!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Next Monday, January 14th, the Kansas Legislature opens its doors for the 2019 Legislative Session. We will welcome more than 30 new faces to the Capitol. The most significant change is that of Governor-Elect Laura Kelly. She and her Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers will be sworn in on Monday.

We will also see new faces on the judiciary committees of both chambers. The Senate’s new Vice-Chair is Eric Rucker (R-Topeka) and a new Minority Chair is Vic Miller (D-Topeka). Both replace Kansas Senators who ascended to higher office. On the House side, Rep. Fred Patton (R-Topeka) takes over as chair for Rep. Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) as Finch takes on the Speaker Pro Tem position. Vice Chair Brad Ralph (R-Dodge City) and Minority Chair John Carmichael round out the committee’s leadership spots.

As these new legislators get comfortable with their positions, they will have to deal with some rather old issues. Several legislators will want to discuss a new school finance formula. See; https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article222907550.html. This would seem unusual since the legislature only needs to pass a funding bill dealing with inflation to close the matter. Time will tell if this is just a distraction or if leaders truly want to reopen that issue for discussion.

Gov.-Elect Kelly will also need to deal with DCF and KDADS staffing, oversight and funding issues. Kelly started down this path when she appointed Laura Howard as interim secretary for both agencies. Howard will replace Gina Meier-Hummel. See; http://www2.ljworld.com/news/state-government/2019/jan/03/kelly-appoints-ku-director-as-interim-leader-for-2-social-services-agencies/

While the new administration continues to transition into its leadership roles, they will take a break to celebrate. Gov.-Elect Kelly will host an inaugural ball on Monday, January 14th at the Kansas Expo Center. For more information, please visit - https://www.kellyrogersinauguration.com/.

Finally, the KBA will be gearing up to work on several technical proposals in 2019. The KBA will seek legislative approval to update the Kansas Revised Limited Liability Company Act; this proposal has been in the works for nearly a year. The KBA will also support extending the surcharge docket fee to help the courts become more efficient. The extension will allow the court to begin implementing E-Courts statewide. The KBA will deal with a variety of family law issues as well as attorney registration issues.

For information on legislators, bills and committee assignments please visit www.ksbar.org starting on Jan. 14th. You can also find information at www.kslegisalture.org. To receive live updates during the session, you can follow us on twitter @KansasBarLeg

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Kansas Senate 2019

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, December 17, 2018

The 2018 election season was anticipated to be a quiet one for the Kansas Senate. Only Sen. Richard Hilderbrand (R-Galena) faced a general election since he was appointed to finish out the term formerly held by now Kansas State Treasure Jake LaTurner (R-Pittsburg). The remaining 39 Senators had two more years before facing reelection.

However, the quiet season got a lot more complicated when three Kansas Senators won general election races for statewide office. Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) will take over the Governor’s office with her running mate Sen. Lynn Rogers (D-Wichita) when the new session starts.  Sen. Vicki Schmidt will take the helm at the Kansas Insurance Commissioner’s Office next January as well. The Senate also replaced Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth) who announced his retirement after unsuccessfully campaigning for the 2nd District Congressional Seat.

All four of these Senators have now been officially replaced. Gov.-Elect Laura Kelly’s seat will be occupied by Rep. Vic Miller (D-Topeka).  See; https://www.ksnt.com/news/local-news/vic-miller-to-replace-governor-elect-kelly-in-kansas-senate/1628223909

LT. Gov.-Elect Rogers was succeeded by Mary Ware. See; https://www.kwch.com/content/news/Democrats-pick-Mary-Ware-to-replace-Lt-Gov-elect-Lynn-Rogers-in-Senate-501713701.html

Sen. Vicki Schmidt will be replaced by Eric Rucker who currently works in the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office.  See; https://www.wibw.com/content/news/Kobachs-top-deputy-Eric-Rucker-to-fill-Schmidts-senate-seat-502832582.html

These nominations will go to Gov. Colyer for the official appointment.

Earlier this fall Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth) was replaced by Kevin Braun (R- Kansas City). See; https://www.leavenworthtimes.com/news/20181019/braun-selected-for-appointment-to-senate.

The changes above will also affect leadership positions in the Kansas Senate as Laura Kelly was the Senate Assistant Minority Leader and Vick Schmidt was the Senate Assistant Majority Leader. Both positions will need to be filled.

Finally, of particular note, Sen. Barbara Bollier has officially changed her party designation from republican to democrat. This brings the Senate composition to 31-9 Republican advantage. See; https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/kansas-lawmaker-switches-parties-over-gop-s-absurd-lgbtq-platform-n947746

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New Legislative Leaders in 2019

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Voters in November elected 125 members to the Kansas House; now those 125 legislators have elected their leadership for the 2019 session. Republicans hold an 85-40 majority and control the House. The Republicans elected the following:

          Speaker of the House - Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. (R-Olathe);

          Majority Leader – Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) defeated Rep. Don Hineman (R- Dighton); and;

          Speaker Pro Tem – Rep. Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa), replaces Scott Schwab who ascends to KS Secretary of State.

The 40 Democrats elected new caucus leaders. They altered course from 2018 by electing:

          Minority Leader - Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Wichita), who defeated former minority leader Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita);

          Assistant Minority Leader – Rep. Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City), who defeated
                                                       Rep. Stan Frownfelter (D-Kansas City) who had sought another 2-year term.

The Kansas Senate only had one election this past November in which Sen. Richard Hilderbrand (R-Galena) won the right to complete the final two years of his appointed senate term. However, due to the retirement of Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth), and the ascension of Gov-Elect Laura Kelly (D-Topeka), Lt. Gov-Elect Lynn Rogers (D-Wichita), and Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R-Topeka) to the office of Kansas Insurance Commissioner, the Kansas Senate will seat four new members. Those members will be led by the following:

           Senate President – Susan Wagle (R-Wichita)

           Majority Leader – Jim Denning (R-Overland Park)

           Assistant Majority Leader – Jeff Longbine (R-Emporia)

           Senate Minority Leader – Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka)

With leaders now in place and the Vicki Schmidt’s vacant seat Senate seat being decided this Friday, December 14th, both chambers will begin assigning committee chairs and members. Expect some big changes in both chambers as the Republican majority designs a strategy to deal with a Democrat as governor. The 2019 Kansas Legislative Session convenes in 35 days!

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11th Annual KBA Fall Legislative Conference was a Great Success

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, November 20, 2018

On Monday, Nov. 19th, the KBA held its 11th Annual Fall Legislative Conference. Our Special Guest Speaker this year was Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. CJ Nuss discussed the incredible work the Kansas Judicial Branch has undertaken this past year, including its work toward a more efficient court system and implementation of the E-Courts project. He also discussed the need for pay increases for judicial branch staff and judges. Nuss reported that even after the two percent pay increase for judges last year, Kansas now ranks dead last in the nation for district court judge pay. Judicial branch staff pay also remain below market. Nuss asked for assistance in discussing these issues with the legislature. Nuss invited legislators to tour courthouses and meet with judges so they could better explain the nature of the court system’s functions. Pay increases for judicial staff and judges continues to be a significant issue for the judicial branch. CJ Nuss hopes this can be addressed this coming legislative session.

The Fall Conference was also excited that Prof. Burdett Loomis from KU and Brad Cooper from the Sunflower State Journal were able to join us to discuss the general elections results. The panel discussion focused on Governor-Elect Laura Kelly’s possible priorities in 2019. The panel believed that Kelly will take a measured approach on the big issues, including school finance, expanding Medicaid and reforming DCF. Kelly will also deal with tax policy issues ranging from cutting food sale tax to returning the federal tax windfall to Kansas taxpayers, the latter of which almost passed in 2018 session. The panel understands there is much work to be done, but believe Kelly—who has established a reputation for being a thoughtful and well-prepared legislator—will likely look to study the issues first rather than making rash decisions, so her agenda may take longer to implement.

The KBA was also fortunate to have Danielle Hall, deputy disciplinary administrator, provide an Ethics CLE to our conference attendees. Her program on technology competence is a must-see.

The KBA was very pleased to have several lawyer/legislators attend along with one Kansas Senator: Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger (D-Lawrence); Rep. Susan Humphries (R-Wichita); Rep. Vic Miller (D-Topeka); Rep. Fred Patton (R-Topeka) and Sen. Dinah Sykes (R-Lenexa). We appreciate these lawmakers’ time and interest in our KBA events.

Finally, we need to thank our sponsors. This group has generously supported the KBA Fall Conference since its inception. We could not provide these programs without them. We thank you.

Our sponsors include:

 Alderson, Alderson, Conklin, Burghart, Crow & Slinkard, LLC

John C.  Peterson, Bill Brady & Sean Miller/Capitol Strategies  Kansas Bankers Association

Sneed Law Firm, LLC  Whitney B. Damron, P.A.

R. E. "Tuck" Duncan/Kansas Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association

Foulston Siefkin LLP

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  Fall Legislative Conference  report 

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