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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  Gannon  Hard 50  Kansas Supreme Court  Special Session  2016 Session  2017 session  2017-18  Alleyne  Fall Legislative Conference  Senate  Sine Die  State of the Judiciary  2019 Golf Tournament  Caleb Stegall  conference  election day  First Adjournment  HCR 5005  House of Representatives 

Judicial Branch Budget Issues – First Adjournment

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Updated: Monday, April 3, 2017

There are only five days left until First Adjournment, which means committee meetings are over and most work will take place on the floor of either chamber or in conference committees involving members of both chambers.

The judicial branch budget continues to be unresolved. As it currently stands, none of the judicial branch budget requests have been passed. HB 2041, the judicial surcharge extension, has been referred to the judicial conference committee, and the senate still has HB 2279, DUI reinstatement fees, below the line for debate. The senate passed over HB 2279 yesterday due to a new $25 fee added to the bill. If the DUI reinstatement bill is not passed, the judicial branch is looking at a $950,000 shortfall.

Most pressing is the uncertain judicial branch salary increase issue. To date, both chambers have discussed raising salaries for judicial branch employees, but there remains a concern about increasing judges’ salaries.

For their part, senators passed SB 189 last Thursday. This bill gives all state employees a two percent raise. House appropriations included a raise for judicial branch employees totaling $6 million and added approximately $840,000 in new positions related to juvenile justice.

Muddying the water is the recent revenue shortfall for March. The state was down $12 million for the month, although it is still up around $48 million for the year. Many legislators have expressed a desire to wait until the veto session before revisiting the judicial branch enhancement issue and then only if more funds become available. With the downturn in revenue for March, an April miracle seems unlikely.

The court has sent out a “Call to Action” on the judicial branch budget. Should you wish to participate, you can locate your legislators using the following links:

House of Representatives - http://www.ksbar.org/page/ks_house_map_1718

Kansas Senate - http://www.ksbar.org/page/ks_senate_map_1718

The key points to make are as follows:

Senate members

  1. Thank them for including judges and Judicial Branch employees in the two percent across-the-board salary increase.
  2. Request that they continue to hold that position, including Judicial Branch employees and judges salaries, as they negotiate in conference.
  3. Reiterate the need for judicial branch raises; and
  4. Request that they revisit the Judicial Branch request the Veto Session.

House Appropriations Committee members

  1. Thank them for including Judicial Branch employees in the $6 million salary increase and the approximately $840,000 in new positions.
  2. Thank them for their action during this time of economic challenge.
  3. Request that they continue to hold that position as they go into conference.

You can find additional information on Judicial Branch salary by visiting the following link - http://www.kscourts.org/Court-Administration/Compensation_Study/index.html

 

Bills mentioned in this article include:

HB 2279  DUI Reinstatement Fee Extension

HB 2041  Judicial Branch Surcharge Fee

SB 189    Appropriations for FY17, FY18 & FY19

 

New Stories concerning March Revenue numbers:

KWCH.com-http://www.kwch.com/content/news/Kansas-revenue-down-116-million-for-March-417974293.html

 

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Push to First Adjournment

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Last week, Senate judiciary heard and worked the KBA proposal concerning ADR in Trust instruments. The bill is uncontroversial and was passed out favorably on Wednesday, March 20. The committee also heard HB 2041 which extends the judicial surcharge fee through FY19. That bill was also passed out of committee on Wednesday but the committee decided to add another judicial funding bill focused on DUI reinstatement fees. That bill, HB 2279, is worth $950K to the court, and if the bill is not approved, the court will face a shortfall for the next 2 fiscal years. Both pieces of legislation should go to the Senate floor before the next deadline.

The Senate judiciary committee also heard HB 2125 concerning benefit corporations. Unfortunately, the committee decided not to work the bill, so it remains in committee. To pass the bill this session, it will need to navigate the conference committee process. This is a viable option that is amenable to both chairs. If you recall, the KBA used the same process last session to pass the General Corporate Code update.

On Monday, House judiciary heard HB 2397, dealing with the Unauthorized Practice of Law. It passed out of committee on Thursday. The bill was amended to include further clarification that court employees and court-approved individuals (think CASA and domestic abuse advocates) were exempt for this law. The committee then used a procedure called bundling to add the UPL bill (HB 2397) to a senate bill dealing with the lack of lawyers in the Senate (SB 50). Thus, the provisions for the UPL bill are now embedded into SB 50. If you are interested in tracking this bill as it moves through the process, the bill to watch is House substitute for SB 50.

The judicial branch funding issue has gotten considerably more complicated this week as Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) added pay increases for classified and non-classified state employees. The idea was to give non-classified employees and correction officers a two percent increase but give all classified employees a six percent raise. Non-classified and corrections employees received raises last session, so this helps bring everyone up. However, it is not entirely clear whether certain judicial staff would see these enhancements because they may not be part of the classified state employee workforce.

Yesterday, Rep. Bill Sutton made a motion in House appropriations that would add $6 million for nonjudicial salary increases and $840 K to help fund personnel to implement the juvenile justice act. This is a reduction from the $22 million the General Government Budget sub-committee recommended. Interestingly, Rep. Sutton is chair of the General Government Budget, and by this motion, overruled his own committee. It is important to at least get some form of employee raises into the mega-budget to avoid serious pay-go issues on the House side.

Rep. Sutton did agree to discuss further enhancements during Omnibus, but absent any new revenue, this would be unlikely. If the money isn’t added in committee then a floor amendment would be needed to add the funding. However, pay-go rules dictate that any funding added on the floor must be accompanied by an equal or greater cut. Thus, it is harder to add money on the floor than in committee.

Both chambers will be on the floor next week working bills leading up to the second house deadline, Thursday, March 30th (the deadline for consideration of a bill by the second chamber—the opposite chamber from the one in which it originated). Drop Dead Day or First Adjournment is Friday, April 7th.

Bills discussed in the article

 

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State of the Judiciary Address

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chief Justice Nuss took center stage this week as he addressed a joint session in the House chambers for the State of the Judiciary speech for the first time in five years. Nuss focused on the judicial branch’s many programs and efficiencies but the main point of the address was to advise the legislature of the need for salary adjustments for judges and staff.

The Kansas Senate passed a rescission bill late last night that avoid any late year cuts. There were at least three attempts to pass across the board cuts of 2.0 percent, 1.0 percent and 0.5 percent. None garnered more than 10 votes. In the end, the Kansas Senate passed a bill 27-13 that transferred $280 million from long term investments and delayed again payments to KPERS. The bill will head to conference committee with the House for further negotiations. It is expected that the State will end the year with a positive balance of $50 million.

The KBA will provide testimony on three bills next Monday in Senate Judiciary. They include HB 2125, Benefit Corporations, HB 2126 ADR/Mediation in trust instruments, and HB 2041 extending the judicial branch surcharge fee.

Each bill has already passed the House on near perfect votes, 123-1; 124-0 and 122-0 respectively.

The Senate Judicial Committee has been very active this past week, hearing 17 bills. That pace will continue as they have a full agenda through Wednesday. Thus, hearings will be truncated to accommodate the large number of conferees.

Bill Matthews will represent the KBA on HB 2125, Benefit Corporations, and I have the pleasure of explaining our trust bill and the surcharge extension bill.

House Judiciary has a full set of hearings this week as well. On Monday, they heard a newly introduced bill creating an unconscionable act or practice under the Kansas consumer protection act for people who engage in the unauthorized practice of law. The KBA will monitor is proposal and share testimony from the hearing when available.

The State of the Judiciary Address

The speech can be read here:
http://www.kscourts.org/Court-Administration/State-of-Judiciary/State-of-Judiciary-2017.pdf

Articles on rescission bill:

Tags:  HB 2125  HB 2126  HB 2397  State of the Judiciary 

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Governor Leaving?

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017

Last week there were two huge events, both focusing on Governor Brownback. The first was the Senate’s quick and decisive action to kill Gov. Brownback’s tax plan. The bill would have raised around $200 million dollars, well short of the amount needed to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Both republicans and democrats agreed that the bill wasn’t enough and the governor needed to come to the table with a better plan. The vote to kill the bill was 37-1.

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but there is talk of reintroducing the bill the governor vetoed earlier, with minor changes such as removing the retroactive provision. Again, the issue is raising enough money to close the funding gap while garnering enough support to withstand a veto. A tricky proposition in the Kansas Senate.

A senate subcommittee also killed the governor’s proposal to consolidate certain boards in state government. These mergers have normally passed both chambers, think KDOT/Turnpike but even the simplest of consolidations are no longer guaranteed. For instance, the governor proposed merging the board of cosmetology and barbering earlier this year. This week the Senate Ways and Means subcommittee decided against that approach and kept the funding for both boards independent.

The second big event of the week was the unconfirmed report that Gov. Brownback will be appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations for food and agriculture.

The Governor has not confirmed or denied the possible job offer, but many see this as a possible way out, given his waning influence in the Capitol. Thus far, the legislature has successfully pushed back on many of the governor’s ideas, causing a significant policy shift in the Capitol. Should Gov. Brownback leave, additional options for passing a tax plan may be available.

The KBA continues to monitor legislative activity. The house judiciary committee began working on senate-introduced bills this week with some minor technical bills receiving hearings. The house judiciary agenda for next week looks very similar.

The senate judiciary committee will be churning through 17 bills next week and looking at a similar number for the week starting on March 20. KBA bills, except for HB 2186, will most likely be heard during the March 20 week. We are working to confirm that information.

Finally, the Kansas Supreme Court is accepting comments of a proposed change to Rule 122, dealing with E-filing. The deadline to submit comments is close of business this Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Comments can be submitted via email.

Kansas Supreme Court Press Release for Rule 122 - Supreme Court accepting comment on modified Rule 122 affecting electronic document filing

Proposed rule change for Rule 122 - ProposedAmendedRule122.pdf

Additional links in this article:

See; Kansas senate debates scuttles Brownback tax plan

See; http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article137265678.html

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Second Half

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 7, 2017

School finance lawsuit dominates Legislative return

Last Thursday the Kansas Supreme Court delivered its ruling on the Gannon school finance case. The Court found that the current block grant funding formula is unconstitutional and gave the legislature until June 30 to pass a suitable replacement. See; Opinion #113,267

The June 30 deadline comes from the original block grant legislation in which the law allowed a two-year “time-out” so legislators could craft a better option. As of this writing, no funding formula has been proposed.

To catch up on all the school funding news please see: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article136365778.html - KC Star; Kansas SupCt. issue school funding adequacy - LJWorld.com; Kansas school funding formula plans vie-legislative approval – cjonline.com

During the Monday morning House Appropriations Committee, we heard from Dale Dennis. He informed the committee that the state would need another $372 million to get back to FY09 funding levels. Dennis also stated that support staff for teachers are down and special education teachers are also down. Dennis provided anecdotal evidence when he stated that 5th grade classes in Emporia average 28 students. Garden City is short 38 elementary teachers, Kansas City down almost 100.

This funding issue will persist throughout the remainder of the session. However, legislators must still craft a tax plan, a budget, and consider Medicaid expansion and teacher due process. Over the break, several legislators held town hall meetings or coffee meet-ups around the state. The response from constituents ran the gamut. See; Kansans urge lawmakers push amid fights over taxes schools - cjonline.com

KBA proposals still in process are:

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

This KBA proposal was passed out of the House Committee of the Whole on a 124-0 vote. It is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

This KBA proposal was subject to an amendment from Rep. Stogsdill (D-Prairie Village) who offered to include a provision dealing with teacher’s due process rights. The amendment was germane to the underlying bill because HB 2186 amended arbitration statutes, and teacher due process rights would be subject to these new laws. After more than two hours of debate the amended bill passed 68-57.

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

HB 2125 has been approved by the House on a 124-1 vote. The sole NO vote was cast by Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita).

SB 10

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

The KBA worked with the Kansas Land Title Association and the Kansas Attorney General’s office on SB 10. The original language of the bill contained a provision criminalizing the filing of certain liens on public officials. The KBA negotiated with KLTA and the KSAG on a compromise amendment that satisfied all parties. However, when the amendment was added to the bill, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook expanded the protection against such liens from “public officials” only, to the “public” in general. The KBA finds this significant change unacceptable. As such, the KBA Title Standard Committee opposes the bill. The KLTA and the KBA sent a letter to senators opposing the amended bill. Prior to debate, SB 10 was referred to an exempt committee and remains alive for the remainder of the 2017 session.

JUDICIAL BRANCH BUDGET

HB 2279

Disposition of Driver’s License reinstatement fees and the judicial branch nonjudicial salary adjustments fund

HB 2279 was heard in house appropriations, an exempt committee, which means this measure is unaffected by the turnaround deadline. Under current law the judicial branch receives 33% of reinstatement fees. If HB 2279 is not passed, these fees will be diverted to other groups and the judicial branch will be out around $950K. These funds are already in the FY18 & FY19 judicial budget request. If the bill does not pass, the courts face a significant budget cut.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

HB 2041 was passed by the House Committee of the Whole, 122-0 and has already been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The KBA continues to support this legislation.

HB 2365

Judicial branch budget FY18 & FY19

SB 190

Making appropriations for the FY18 and FY19 judicial branch

These two bills are the judicial branch’s stand-alone budgets for the next two fiscal years. The judicial budget has already been folded into the mega-appropriations bill, but should it be stripped out, the judicial branch can fall back on these two measures.

The second half of the legislative session begins on March 6. Legislators will work until First Adjournment scheduled for April 7. Legislators will then recess until Veto Session which begins on May 1. House and senate Leadership projected the 2017 session to last 100 days with the 2018 session lasting only 80 days, averaging out to 90 days per session. However, many anticipate the 2017 session will run much longer. As a reference point, May 14, will be the 90 day of the session.

One highlight of the 2017 session is the ability to access some hearings via the internet. A good link to use is Upcoming Events. This link provides the time and date of the committee meeting along with a very easy access port to hear, and in some cases, see the committee in action.

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Halfway Home!

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Kansas Legislature has reached the turnaround deadline, a major milestone in the legislative session. Turnaround is the date upon which each piece of legislation must pass out of its house of origin (the chamber in which the legislation was first introduced). If the legislation fails to gain approval from its house of origin, it is dead for the remainder of the session and must wait till 2018 before it can be proposed again.

As with every rule, there are exceptions, and the turnaround deadline is not immune. For example, legislation not approved by its house of origin may survive if it was “blessed” by being referred to an exempt committee. Exempt committees include: House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs and House Taxation. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees are not exempt committees.

As expected, a significant number of proposals fell by the wayside last week, allowing legislators to focus on the second act of the session which begins March 6.

HB 2178

Concerning income taxation, relating to determination of Kansas adjusted gross income, rates and itemized deductions

The basics of the proposed tax plan are that retroactive to January 1, 2017, Kansas would revert back to a three-bracket tax system and halt the income tax reduction schedule. The tax plan debate generated a lot of headlines, mostly because the house passed it without question or debate. The house approved the tax plan 76-48, which was not a veto-proof margin. The senate then passed the bill 22-18. As you probably are aware, Gov. Brownback vetoed the legislation, forcing both chambers to attempt a veto override. The Kansas House was able to gain the necessary votes to override the veto on a 85-40 count. The vote tally can be found here: Sub HB2178.

The senate was not able to round up the 27 votes needed to override the governor’s veto, falling three votes short on a 24-16 vote. The senate roll can be found here: Sub HB2178

Although the override failed, the big news is the ability of moderate Republicans and Democrats to coalesce around an important statewide issue. The numbers prove that conservative leadership does not hold favor over either chamber. To move forward, leadership will need to be willing to compromise.

HB 2154

Expanding Medicaid

Another significant vote was the move to amend Medicaid Expansion into a germane bill in the house. This is important because early last week House Health and Human Services committee voted to table the issue. However, house democrats were able to add the provision into a related bill being debated. After several hours of debate, sometimes heated, moderates and democrats joined forces to pass the amendment on an 81-44 vote.

Conservatives who oppose Medicaid expansion will have to rely on the senate to kill the bill or on the governor to veto the measure.

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

This KBA proposal passed the house Committee of the Whole unanimously on a 124-0 vote. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

Larry Rute also testified for the KBA on HB 2186 revising the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000. This bill was debated by the House COW and amended when Rep. Stogsdill (D-Prairie Village) offered to include a provision dealing with teachers’ due process rights. The amendment was determined to be germane to the underlying bill because HB 2186 amended arbitration statutes, and teachers’ due process rights would be subject to these new laws. After more than 2 hours of debate the amended measure passed 68-57.

See; House advances bill restoring teacher tenure

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

HB 2125 has been approved by the KS House on a 124-1 vote. The sole NO vote was cast by Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita).

HB 2279

Disposition of Driver’s License reinstatement fees and the judicial branch nonjudicial salary adjustments fund

HB 2279 was heard yesterday in House Appropriations. Under current law, the Judicial Branch receives 33% of reinstatement fees. If HB 2279 is not passed, this fee will sunset, and the Judicial branch will be out around $950,000. These funds have been assumed in the FY18 & FY19 Judicial Budget request. Should the bill not pass, the courts face a significant budget cut.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

HB 2041 was passed by the House Committee of the Whole, 122-0 and has already been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The KBA continues to support this legislation.

HB 2365

Judicial branch budget FY18 & FY19

SB 190

Making appropriations for the FY18 and FY19 judicial branch

These two bills are the judicial branch stand-alone budgets for the next two fiscal years. The judicial budget has already been folded into the Mega-Appropriations bill, but should it be stripped out, the Judicial Branch can fall back on these two measures.

SB 10

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

The KBA worked with the Kansas Land Title Association and the Kansas Attorney General’s office on SB 10. The original language of the bill contained a provision criminalizing the filing of certain liens filed on public officials. The KBA negotiated with KLTA and the KSAG on a compromise amendment that satisfied all parties. However, when the amendment was added to the bill, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook expanded the protection against such liens from “public officials” only, to the “public” in general. The KBA finds this substantive change unacceptable. As such, the KBA Title Standard Committee opposes the bill. The KLTA and the KBA sent a letter to Senators opposing the amended bill. Prior to debate, SB 10 was referred to an exempt committee.

HB 2101

Abolishing common law marriage

This bill failed to survive the turnaround deadline.

HB 2245

Attorney licensure and information, supreme court nominating commission, judicial nominating commission

This bill also failed to survive the Turnaround deadline.

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Turnaround Week

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

For many committees, last week was the final time they would meet prior to the Feb 23 Turnaround deadline. For the rest of this week, both chambers will be on the floor trying to pass bills before the deadline. If a bill is not passed by its House of Origin prior to the deadline, it is done for the session, unless it is from an “exempt” committee. Exempt committees include: House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs and House Taxation. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees are not exempt committees; therefore, all legislation from either judiciary committee must be passed out prior to the deadline to be considered this session.

HB 2178

Concerning income taxation, relating to determination of Kansas adjusted gross income, rates and itemized deductions

The basics of the proposed tax plan is that retroactive to January 1, 2017, Kansas reverts back to a three-bracket tax system and halts the income tax reduction schedule. The tax plan debate made a lot of headlines this week, mostly because the House passed it without any questions or debate. The House passed the tax plan 76-48; this is not a veto-proof margin. The Senate passed this tax bill 22-18. It’s important to remember that a veto proof margin would be 27 in the Senate. Securing five more votes in the Senate will be a heavy lift. The governor’s veto threat has real teeth now, although he could allow the legislation to become law without his signature. What happens now is anyone’s guess. Brownback has commented that he may very well veto this tax plan.

HB 2154

Expanding Medicaid

On Monday, all the action was in House Health and Human Services where the committee tried to pass out a Medicaid expansion bill. The vote was always going to be close, and on the first attempt to table the bill, fell equal at 11-11. However, after an amendment on residency requirements, opponents again tried to table the bill—this time with a date certain. The motion called for tabling the bill till Veto Session or April 3rd. That motion passed. However, House Health and Human Services Committee is not an exempt body which means HB 2154 would need to be blessed to survive the turnaround deadline. Since that has not happened, it would seem that Medicaid Expansion is done for the year. There is a bill on the Senate side, but that measure has no traction now.

See, http://cjonline.com/news/state-government/2017-02-20/house-committee-kills-medicaid-expansion-proposal

See also; http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/feb/20/house-panel-tables-medicaid-expansion-bill/

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

This KBA proposal was passed out of the House Committee of the Whole on a 124-0 vote. It is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

HB 2127

Transfer on Death Deed

HB 2127 has not been worked by House Judiciary committee. If it is not blessed it will be dead for the session. As previously stated, the chair of House Judiciary had serious concerns about the bill.

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

Larry Rute also testified for the KBA on HB 2186 revising the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000. Again, the committee was receptive to our arguments for needed revisions. This bill should be worked next week by the House Committee of the Whole.

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

HB 2125 was recommended favorably by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13 and passed general orders on Feb. 20th. Final Action on this bill is set for Feb. 21st.

HB 2279

Disposition of Driver’s License reinstatement fees and the judicial branch nonjudicial salary adjustments fund

HB 2279 was heard yesterday in House Appropriations. Under current law the Judicial Branch receives 33% of reinstatement fees. If HB 2279 is not passed, this fee will sunset, and the Judicial branch will be out around $950K. These funds are already in the FY18 & FY19 Judicial Budget request. Should the bill not be passed, the courts face a significant budget cut.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

HB 2041 was passed by the House Committee of the Whole, 122-0 and has already been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The KBA continues to support this legislation.

HB 2365

Judicial branch budget FY18 & FY19

SB 190

Making appropriations for the FY18 and FY19 judicial branch

These two bills are the judicial branch stand-alone budgets for the next two fiscal years. The judicial budget has already been folded into the Mega-Appropriations bill, but should it be stripped out, the Judicial Branch can fall back on these two measures. 

SB 10

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

The KBA worked with the Kansas Land Title Association and the Kansas Attorney General’s office on SB 10. The original language of the bill contained a provision criminalizing the filing of certain liens filed on public officials. The KBA negotiated with KLTA and the KSAG on a compromise amendment that satisfied all parties. However, when the amendment was added to the bill, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook expanded the protection against such liens from “public officials” only, to the “public” in general. The KBA finds this significant change unacceptable. As such, the KBA Title Standard Committee opposes the bill. The KLTA and the KBA will submit a letter to Senators opposing the amended language.

HB 2101

Abolishing common law marriage

The House Judiciary Committee did not work HB 2101, and it has not been referred to a non-exempt committee. Therefore, it is unlikely this bill will progress any further this year.

HB 2245

Attorney licensure and information, supreme court nominating commission, judicial nominating commission

The KBA was allowed a hearing on HB 2245 that repeals many provision on the 2016 law making attorney registration information open to the public. The KBA presented testimony and was represented by Nathan Eberline. Other supporters of HB 2245 were Wyandotte District Attorney Mark Dupree, Deb Hughes, Jay Hall, Callie Denton from Kansas Trial Lawyers Assn. and Marty Snyder. Stan Hazlett and Doug Shima provided background information. Opponents included Kansans for Life, the House GOP and the Kansas Rifle Association.

For those who are interested, the KBA has updated its website with current testimony on bills of interest. That website is https://www.ksbar.org/page/bill_tracking_1718

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Senate Gridlock

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Senate

The Kansas Senate was all teed-up to debate two budget-centric bills last Thursday. One bill would raise some tax revenue; the other would cut K12 funding. However, Senate leadership decided to shelve the proposals. Many believe the K12 cuts put a damper on the total vote. Further muddying the water is the possible veto by the Governor. This makes a simple majority vote problematic. Many think a veto-proof majority would be needed to avoid the bill getting shoot down. The issue then is finding 27 votes among factions who differ drastically on how to balance the budget.

With no budget bills to debate, Senate leadership has decided to halt all other bills until some agreement can be reached. This means all bills currently sitting before the Senate will stay there. The turnaround deadline is 8 days away, so some bills will be killed for lack of action.

This gridlock has not slowed Senate committee hearings much at all. For instance, Senate Judiciary plans on working the entire week, something they have not done all session. Judiciary plans to hear 12 bills and work an unknown number on Friday. The Senate Fed/State committee will hear two immigration bills on Wednesday, Feb. 15th. Immigration issues have been on the minds of many in the Capitol these last few weeks, and now we get to hear what actions, if any, they plan to support. The KBA is monitoring these bills very closely.

SB 157

Kansas Highway Patrol, Immigration agreement

SB 158

Prohibiting sanctuary policies by cities, counties and state agencies

 

House

On the House side, things are moving along nicely. The full House voted to approve HB 2041 extending the judicial branch surcharge fund. This bill merely extends the sunset date. The KBA advocated against removing the sunset because this surcharge fee was first proposed as a temporary stop gap measure.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

 

House Judiciary has an equally busy schedule as they plan to hear ten bills this week. The KBA is deeply involved with HB 2245 which repeals large sections of a law put in place in 2016 requiring the Kansas Secretary of State to certify the list of lawyers eligible to vote in nominating commission elections. The KBA believes this law is overly burdensome and duplicative while allowing the possible release of personal information to the general public. The KBA is also concerned that eligible lawyers could be denied their right to vote in nominating commission elections. KBA will live-tweet the hearing and provide the testimony on our website.

HB 2245

Attorney licensure and information, supreme court nominating commission, judicial nominating commission

 

Also, please find an updated bill tracking chart on the KBA website and new information regarding HB 2101 repealing common law marriages. The testimony from this hearing is now available on our website.

HB 2101

Abolishing common law marriage

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The Pace Quickens

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Kansas Legislature will reach its halfway point of the 2017 session in two weeks. This means that certain non-exempt bills must advance out of their house of introduction, or be considered dead for the remainder of the session. However, several exempt committees continue to work through legislative initiatives.  Exempt committees include House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs and House Taxation. House and Senate Judiciary Committees are not exempt committees, and all legislation must be passed out prior to the deadline to be considered.

This deadline creates a sense of urgency throughout the legislature as they continue to take action on bills passed out of various committees this week. Thus far, the Kansas Senate has made the most progress on pressing budgetary issues. The Senate Tax Committee chaired by Sen. Caryn Tyson plans to move a tax bill out as early as today. That plan calls for $288 million in new revenue in FY18 and $370 million in FY19. The hearing found far more opponents to raising taxes than proponents. Per the norm, opponents seek massive funding cuts to balance the books. That sentiment was echoed by Gov. Brownback who put out a press release tying this bill to Senate President Susan Wagle, who called it harmful to teachers, police officers and nurses. This bill may even be debated on the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.

Judicial Budget

On the judicial branch front, I can report that HB 2041 extending the judicial branch surcharge fund was recommended favorably for passage by the House Judiciary Committee. This bill merely extends the sunset date. The KBA advocated against removing the sunset because this surcharge fee was first proposed as a temporary stop gap measure. The KBA reiterated its position that judicial funding should be a state general fund appropriation. HB 2041 now heads to the House floor for debate by the entire chamber.

HB 2041

Extending the judicial branch surcharge fee, courts costs and fees

The House General Government Budget committee also recommended the judicial branch budget be passed favorably. The Senate Ways & Means Committee also reviewed the judicial branch recommendations and decided to place the judicial branch budget into the entire state budget. This is different than past years where the judicial branch budget was a stand-alone item.

The judicial branch has been able to reduce past requests for staffing due to efficiencies put in place. This year’s budget bill only added 20 new FTE whereas in years past the request was for 80. E-Filing has helped with this reduction. The budget request also seeks eight new judges with accompanying staff, and funds to remodel the judicial center so all judges can be housed on the upper floors. The plan is to have the clerk’s office move permanently to the first floor to aid in security and public access. We will continue to monitor the progress of the budget and report accordingly. With state funding at a premium, these requests may be axed during the debate, but adding the judicial funding package to the mega-appropriations bill is a step in the right direction.

KBA Proposals

Thus far this session the KBA has testified on seven bills, four of which were introduced by the KBA. Two are bills the KBA supports, and one is a bill the KBA is negotiating to amend.

Last week the KBA received hearings on all four of its bills.

Tim O’Sullivan testified for the KBA on HB 2126 & HB 2127. Both bills deal with trust issues. There is some concern that our proposal clarifying transfer on death deed (HB 2127) is too complicated so the committee may attempt to streamline the process.

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

HB 2127

Transfer on Death Deed

Larry Rute testified for the KBA on HB 2186 revising the uniform arbitration act of 2000. Many thanks to him for his efforts along with Prof. Jim Concannon for the ULC.

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

Finally, House Judiciary heard from Bill Matthews and Prof. Webb Hecker on the benefit corporation proposal, HB 2125. They were joined by Bryan Welch CEO of B the Change Media in Lawrence. Matthews and Hecker provided foundational information for our proposal along with specific enhancements needed to enact Benefit Corporation statutes into current law. Welch provided the practical application of the law as it concerned his benefit corporation.

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

Bill Tracking Chart

This bill is supported by Rep. Boog Highberger and Rep. John Wilson.  We worked with both legislators on this bill.

For a list of all other bills being monitored by the KBA please visit: www.ksbar.org/page/bill_tracking. You will be able to link to bill language, hearing schedules and read testimony on certain bills of interest.

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Guns and Budgets

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The legislature has picked up a bit of steam this last week as they begin to hear more controversial bills. Thus far, the most controversial bill to be heard was SB 53 which permanently extended the exemption for concealed carry on university campuses. The hearing was contentious, and the chair admonished the audience several times. This hearing comes after a student at KSU accidentally shot himself on school grounds. See, K-State Student Accidentally Shot Wounded Dorm Criminal Charges Possible (cjonline.com) . Bringing additional coverage to the hearing was Rep. Willie Dove (R-Bonner Springs) See, Kansas Rep. Dove Leaves Loaded Handgun in Committee Meeting Room (cjonline.com)

To say the meeting was well attended doesn’t really do it justice.

Last Wednesday, the Judicial Branch budget was heard before the House General Government Budget Committee. The judicial budget includes pay increases totaling $20.8 million in FY18 and $20.9 million in FY19. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss led the charge by explaining the need for pay increases. CJ Nuss pointed out that all the efficiencies gained through e-filing and other cost saving measures were eroded away by new employee training costs and. In the past, the Judicial Branch kept open 80-110 full time positions but due to greater efficiency within the court system those open full time positions have been paired to 20. Unfortunately, those cost savings could not be fully realized due to extremely high employee turnover. For instance, in the Tenth Judicial District, 37 employees left for better paying jobs last year. The KBA was one of more than a dozen organizations to support the budget as submitted. The Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the judicial budget on yesterday. You can review the testimony here: JBB_GGB_20170125.pdf

The Judicial Branch bill, HB 2041 , to extend the surcharge fund also had a hearing on yesterday. This bill extends the surcharge for another two-year period. The surcharge is responsible for around 6% of the judicial budget. The KBA supports this bill.

The KBA has been monitoring several bills in House Judiciary include SB 10 prohibiting the filing of liens on certain public officials. This rather benign bill has a new section that reads - New Sec. 2 (a) It shall be unlawful for a person to present to a recorder of record for filing in any public record any lien or claim against the real or personal property of a public official, when such person knows or reasonable should know that such lien or claim is false, or contains any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations.

This language criminalizes filing of certain liens. Members from the Kansas Land Title Association, many of whom are also members of the KBA Title Standards Committee, expressed concerns. The KBA is working with the KTLA and the KS Attorney General’s Office on new language

Four KBA proposals will have hearings next week. They include:

HB 2125

Benefit corporations

HB 2126

ADR & Meditation in Trust instruments

HB 2127

Transfer on Death Deed

HB 2186

Enacting the uniform arbitration act of 2000

 

The KBA will be represented by experts in these specific fields who have been intimately involved in the drafting of these proposals.

Finally, please find an updated bill tracking chart.

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18  budget  guns 

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