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:
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.