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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 

Kansas Capitol Open for Business -- So Far

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Kansas Legislature has been working feverishly in order to get out of town by this week. Rumor has it that the legislature will break a bit early to avoid a forced shutdown due to the COVID-19 spread. But this is just a rumor, and while many events and public spaces are closing or being postponed, the Capitol is open for business.

Gov. Laura Kelly has issued an Emergency Declaration. See; Chief Justice Marla Luckert has also issued an order outlining the judicial branch’s response to COVID-19. To read the order:

The Chief Justice and the legislature are currently working on language that would allow the courts to close. This is a direct response to the COVID-19 issue. A bill is being drafted as we speak, but the contents are vague at this time. There were talks of speedy trial issues and jury cases being postponed but no reviewable language at present. When that language is available, I will email this group.

Other than COVID-19, the big news last week was the appointment of K.J. Wall to the Kansas Supreme Court. Wall is a KU Law grad, a K-State alum and a former Deputy General Counsel for the Kansas Supreme Court. Wall worked in Colorado and Minnesota before rerunning to Kansas. The Kansas Supreme Court is now fully staffed with seven justices. See;

The big legislative item for the KBA was SB 157, presumptive shared parenting. The KBA coordinated opposition testimony from seven speakers and more than a dozen lawyers. The KBA was represented by Ron Nelson, a family law expert from Johnson County. Judge Keven O’Grady, Charles Harris, Prof. Linda Elrod, Sara Rust-Martin, and Dr. Bud Dale also spoke in opposition to SB 157. The bill has not been “worked” just yet, and its passage is in doubt. See;

The KBA also testified on HB 2713, uniform notarial act. This bill will update the Kansas Notarial Act first passed in 1984.

The House Judiciary passed out HB 2401 as amended. HB 2401 deals with quorum requirements for co-ops. The KBA provided neutral testimony on the issue and requested a sunset on the bill. The committee agreed and amended the bill to include a 3-year sunset. The sunset will allow all interested parties to work on a more robust Co-Op Corporate Act. The bill heads to the floor.

Finally, the KBA provided supportive testimony for the Kansas Judicial Budget to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. This support was also leveraged through a joint letter sent to committee members on Monday.  At present the House has placed the full request of $18.3 million into its budget, but Senate Ways & Means Committee has only recommended a 2.5 percent pay raise. How this shakes out may wait until veto session.

The Kansas Legislature continues to make progress on several fronts this session, but the spread of COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. Hand washing and use of hand sanitizers are now the norm, but social distancing is difficult in this setting. The issue is now being monitored on a day-to-day basis, with KDHE providing multiple updates per day.

The goal appears to be to have each chamber finalize respective versions of the budget, draft an acceptable transportation plan, then break. The original schedule called for a short break between March 25th and March 30th with First Adjournment coming on Friday April 3rd. It is difficult to determine if we will stick to the schedule given the current health issues at play. We are in a unique situation dealing with rapidly changing circumstances. Patience will be required.


Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  COVID-19  First Adjournment  K.J. Wall  Kansas Judicial budget  Kansas Supreme Court  presumptive shared parenting  quorum requirements for co-ops  uniform notarial act 

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First Adjournment

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, April 1, 2019

The Kansas Legislature will reach First Adjournment today, April 5th. This deadline effectively kills any bill not already passed by at least one chamber. Of course, there are exceptions, and those are very similar to those used after Turnaround (House Appropriations, Senate Ways & Means, Tax etc.). The Legislature will return on May 1st for Veto Session. 

•  Judicial Branch Budget

The Kansas Judicial Branch has asked for budget enhancements totaling $20.1 Million. These enhancements include judicial raises ($7.8 million); nonjudicial raises ($10.3 million), and 7 new judges/staff with 20 unfunded positions ($2.0 million)

House Appropriations would like to phase in the increases over several years. The phase-in would begin in FY 2020 and last three years for staff and five years for judges.

Senate Ways & Means will discuss judicial pay during Veto Session.

The Judicial Branch Budget can be found on page 5 of the bill explainer for House Sub for SB 25. This bill is in conference and being negotiated.

       1.  SB 25   Appropriations for FY 2019/2020/2021 and 2022 for various state agencies

The Judicial Branch also gained approval for its docket fee extension bill. That bill, SB 20, has passed both chambers (35-5 in the Senate/118-6 in the House), but the KS House amended the bill to include HB 2039, recognizing Tribal Court Judgments.

SB 20 accounts for $9 million dollars of the judicial branch budget. It has been sent to conference committee to debate the differences. The Senate appointed Sen. Wilborn, Sen. Miller and Sen. Rucker. The House should appoint, Rep. Patton, Rep. Carmichael and Rep. Ralph.

       2.  SB 20   Extending the Judicial Branch Surcharge

The Judicial Branch was also able to get approval for HB 2211. This bill allows judges to waive driver’s license reinstatement fees should the defendant qualify due to manifest hardship. The hope is this program will provide an incentive those with traffic fines to apply for the waiver and pay a percentage of the fine minus penalties. The Judicial Branch believes this will end with a net positive impact on the judicial branch budget.

       3.  HB 2211    Allowing judges to waive or reduce driver license reinstatement fees


  • Merit Selection Proposals

For most of the session, merit selection was not an issue. However, with the nomination and subsequent withdrawal of Judge Jeffry Jack for the Kansas Court of Appeals, things have changed.  The first proposal is similar to previous judicial selection constitutional amendments. This bill would eliminate the merit selection process and move towards a “governor nominate/senate confirm model.” This proposal was introduced by Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover).

       1.  SCR 1610    Constitutional amendment revising article 3, relating to the judiciary; allowing the governor to appoint supreme court justices and court of appeals judges, subject to senate confirmation; abolishing the supreme court nominating commission.

Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene) introduced a constitutional amendment in the House that would require the Supreme Court to issue opinions within a year of hearing the case.

       2.  HCR 5010    Constitutional amendment to require the Kansas supreme court to issue decisions within one year of final arguments

Neither of these proposals have been scheduled for hearings

Sen. Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha) introduced a resolution calling for the resignation of Judge Jack. That resolution has no legal effect but does keep the issue alive. The Senate did not take up the issue.

       3.  SR 1731    Calling for the immediate resignation of District Court Judge Jeffry Jack of the 11th Judicial District

The Kansas Legislature has less than a week to complete its work. A state budget and a school finance plan have yet to be negotiated. The House passed some school finance policy proposals but failed to pass a funding plan. The Senate passed a funding plan. How this shakes out will be interesting to see.  Both chambers must also finalize a budget this week. The budget conference committee has already met but just to deal with some less controversial issues. 

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

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First Adjournment

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The 2014 legislative session reached First Adjournment on Friday, April 4 and continued working until Sunday, April 6 when a school finance plan was approved by the Kansas House. First Adjournment is the last official day of the regular session but legislators wanting to finalize the school finance issues it dragged on for the entire weekend. The importance of this date cannot be understated because bills not passed by both houses (exempt committees have some leeway) are dead for the session. This being an even numbered year also means they do not carry over and must be reintroduced as a new bill with a new bill number next year.


Legislators went deep into the night on Friday, April 4, Saturday, April 5, and Sunday, April 6 before finally managing to pass a plan with the minimum number of yes votes (63-57). Initially, both chambers introduced bills hoping to bring an end to the issue early on but charter school and private tuition proposals became a huge sticking point. The fallout from the botched bill extended to Rep. Marc Rhoades who decided to resign as chair of House Appropriations instead of support the new bill. See; see also; and


Once the dust settled, the Senate had the upper hand and passed their bill first. The House concurred to the Senate position that eliminated tenure for K-12 teachers. This is seen as a union busting measure and praised by a number of conservatives who championed teacher reform measures.


The big pieces of the school finance bill (Senate Sub. for HB 2506) are as follows:

  • Provides an additional $109,265,000 for Supplemental General State Aid (Local Option Budget Equalization).
  • Transfer $25,200,786 to the Capital Outlay Fund from the state general fund.
  • Changes the definition of At-Risk Pupil to exclude those students in grades 1-12 who are not full time and those over 19 years of age. Provisions wouldn’t apply if a student had an individualized education program (IEP).
  • Establish the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission.
  • Alternative Teacher Licensure provisions.
  • Increase to 20 percent the number of Kansas schools that can participate as an Innovative School Districts.
  • Changes statutory Base State Aid Per Pupil to $3,838.
  • Eliminates due process rights for tenured public school teachers.
  • Corporate Education Tax Credit Scholarship Program, allowing companies to give $10,000 for scholarships for kids who come from families who make less than $43,000 a year or have a IEP.

For more coverage of the issue see the following:

In addition, both the House and Senate voted to approve the Conference Committee Report on HB 2338, which contains the judicial budget. The KBA was unsuccessful in removing the policy provisions that de-unified the court system.


Senate Sub. for HB 2338, Judicial Budget (Passed Senate 26-11; House 66-57)

  • Appropriates $2 million additional from the state general fund for FY 2015.
  • Increases existing docket fees and create statutory filing fees for appeals to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
  • Allows chief judge in a judicial district to elect to be responsible for submitting a budget for the judicial district to the chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court.
  • District court judges in each judicial district would elect a district judge to serve as chief judge.
  • Requires the chief justice to provide notification of a vacancy in the office of district court judge or district magistrate court judge to the chairperson of the district judicial nominating commission not later than 120 days following the date of the vacancy.
  • Deletes requirement for the payment of longevity to Judicial Branch non-judicial staff.

The KBA was able to thwart an attempt by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce to alter the collateral source rule in Kansas. The bill, SB 311, increased the cap on non-economic damages to $350,000. The bill included two policy provisions; one adopted the Daubertexpert witness standard. The other allowed evidence of collateral source payments to be introduced to a jury. The KBA worked diligently with Kansas Association for Justice to remove the provision. The final agreed upon bill passed both chambers without collateral source.


The KBA received good news when both of its bills (HB 2398, dealing with LLCs, and HB 2444, dealing with spend thrift trusts) passed prior to First Adjournment and are now on their way to the governor for his signature. The KBA has requested a bill signing ceremony with the governor for HB 2398. This will be an excellent way to recognize the hard work of the LLC subcommittee (Bill Quick, Bill Matthew, Webb Hecker, and Joe Jarvis). I hope to have photos taken for the KBA Journal.

Tags:  budget  First Adjournment  judicial branch  LLCs  school finance  state general fund 

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