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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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Abortion Amendment Takes Center Stage

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 4, 2020

This week the Kansas Senate approved a constitutional amendment on abortion; Gov. Laura Kelly created a nominating commission for Kansas Court of Appeals openings, and the KBA testified on two bills.

Last Wednesday evening, the Kansas Senate approved SCR 1613 which allows the legislature to make laws concerning abortion. This amendment would be placed on the August primary ballot. The final tally was 28-12 to approve. SCR 1613 was amended once to make the August primary a “special election”. This change was to fix a technicality which required all constitutional amendments to be placed on a special or general election. The August primary did not qualify, thus the need to amend the resolution. The resolution now heads to the House which is dealing with its own constitutional amendment on abortion. The House debate should come next week. Passage in the House will be more difficult, with 84 votes needed to approve. See; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20200129/kansas-senate-passes-constitutional-amendment-on-abortion; See also; https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article239732848.html

Last Tuesday, Gov. Kelly issued an Executive Order to create a nominating commission for the Kansas Court of Appeals. The commission will operate much as does the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. It will have 9 members, with 5 lawyers and 4 nonlawyers. Gov. Kelly will appoint all members to the commission including two from each congressional district and one chair. Linda Parks will be the Chair.

The KBA testified on two bills this week:

SB 269 – Increasing the retirement age for District Court Judges from 75-80 yrs. of age

The KBA joined Sen. Vic Miller and District Judge Norbet Marek in supporting the bill. The bill would allow a judge to serve to the age of 80. Currently a judge must retire upon reaching 75, unless their term of service extends past the age of 75. In that situation, the judge may serve till the end of their term. SB 269 would mandate a judge retire at age 80. Sen. Pyle (R-Hiawatha) had concerns that centered on the judicial selection process. He floated a term limit on judges but did not make that proposal official. The Senate Judiciary committee should work the bill in the coming weeks.

HB 2461 – Public Litigation Coordination Act

The KBA, KTLA, Kansas Counties, the League of Municipalities, Kansas School Board Association and seven other individual associations opposed HB 2461. This bill would prohibit public entities from entering contingency fee contracts without the written approval from the Kansas Attorney General. The purpose of the bill is to allow the state the opportunity to coordinate litigation of large public health issue, specifically opioids and vaping. The KSAG is willing to negotiate the specifics of the bill to carve out legal services that are not the intended target of the legislation and narrow the scope to satisfy local government issues, but the underlining policy of contingency fee contracts remains an issue. We will work with the committee on any amendments.

The KBA is monitoring several other bills including:

HB 2401 – LLC Quorum requirements

Rep. Boog Highberger (D-Lawrence) proposed a bill that would lower the quorum requirements for certain corporations to 10 percent. This bill is designed to assist the Merc Co-Op in Lawrence, Kansas, increase its corporate stock number. The Merc Co-Op would like to raise additional capital, but its corporate structure requires a vote by shareholders. The Merc board has attempted to hold an annual meeting to make these changes but has been unable to attain a quorum; so Rep. Highberger offered HB 2401. Our Corporate Law Section has concerns that this will negatively impact corporate law in Kansas.  The section objects to legislation designed for a single entity and believes that non-legislative solutions are available to the Merc. The KBA will work with Rep. Highberger on the bill as it progresses.

HB 2500 – Uniform Power of Attorney Act

The bill is sponsored by the Kansas Judicial Council. The council proposed a similar bill two years ago which was roundly criticized and eventually withdrawn from consideration. The goal of the legislation is to require third parties to accept durable Power of Attorneys. The KBA Title Standard Committee is closely monitoring this bill.

Next week, the KBA will be involved in at least two bills:

SB 334 – Amendments to authentication of records and documents

The Kansas Judicial Council is attempting to amend the “Best Evidence Rule” in Kansas. SB 334 would modernize our authentication of document rules to better conform to the federal rule of evidence. Dean Jim Concannon is testifying in support of the bill and on behalf of the Kansas Judicial Council.

HB 2553 – Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act

The KBA approved the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act at our December meeting. This bill has been introduced, and a hearing is set for Wednesday, February 5th in House Judiciary.  Prof. Linda Elrod will testify on the bill, and Larry Rute has submitted testimony on behalf of the KBA.

Tags:  2020 Legislative Session  abortion  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  HB 2401  HB 2461  HB 2500  HB 2553  LLC Quorum requirements  nominating commission for Court of Appeals  Public Litigation Coordination Act  SB 269 raising judges' retirement age to 80  SB 334  SCR 1613 

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Week One Round-up

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 21, 2020

As you are aware, the Kansas Legislature returned on Monday, January 13th for the 2020 legislative session. This year things got off to quite a start with overviews of the Hodes abortion case by the House Fed/State Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. The goal was to begin the conversation on a constitutional amendment limiting the right of abortion and curtailing the power of the courts on abortion issues. Two identical constitutional amendments have been introduced, one in each chamber. These amendments, HCR 5019 and SCR 1613, will be the focal point early in the session.

 

This Tuesday the House Fed/State and Senate Judiciary Committees will meet in a joint session to hear both amendments. It’s symbolic to hear these amendments one day before the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. The amendments contain some significant issues for moderate Republicans, namely the amendment is set to be on the primary ballot in August. Moderate Republicans are wary of this placement as it will drive more conservative voters to the polls which would place their position in jeopardy. With the current composition of both committees, it seems likely that the amendment will be passed favorably and sent to the floor where it will need 84 votes in the House and 27 votes in the Senate to pass. 

 

KBA Sections have already begun reviewing 12 proposals. These proposals range from criminal law bills to business association. None of the bills being reviewed by KBA sections have been set for hearing. This allows our experts a bit of time to fully process the proposals before making a recommendation. The KBA will introduce its proposal, Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act, this coming week.

 

The Judicial Branch introduced two procedural bills on Wednesday in House judiciary. The first is the expansion of audio/visual technology in courtrooms. The second deals with name changes on birth certificates. The KBA has previously supported the use of audio/visual technology in courtrooms as an improvement to judicial economy.  See; http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/documents/hb2447_00_0000.pdf

 

The second bill dealing with birth certificate name changes is appreciably more controversial. The bill itself simply requests the ability to open a case and assign a case number on orders for name changes to vital statistics. The controversy will arise when others attempt to expand the bill to include changes to biological sex on birth certificates. This possibility will create some avoidance to “work” the bill, and its passage is suspect. As a side note, when introduced, there was an audible groan from committee members. The bill language is not available online yet.

 

Sen. Vic Miller (D-Topeka) introduced a bill that increases the retirement age from 75 to 80 for Kansas District Court judges. The KBA has previously supported increasing the retirement age of state court judges. The Miller proposal increases the age to a hard 80. Currently a district court judge shall retire at age 75 unless the term ends after the judge reaches 75. In that case the judge may serve till the end of the term. See; http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/documents/sb269_00_0000.pdf

 

Later this week, the KBA will host the JoCo Bar and WBA for a legislative reception. The reception will be on the evening of January 23rd. I understand that several judges and Court of Appeals members plan to attend, but none of the Supreme Court justices. Their absence is a direct result of the lawsuit over salaries for the judicial branch. A number of legislators will be in attendance, so to avoid the appearance of impropriety, the Justices felt it best to skip the reception.

Tags:  2020 Legislative Session  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  AV technology in courtrooms  HCR 5019  KBA Legislative issues  name changes HB 2447  proposed constitutional amendments on abortion  SB 269 - retirement age for KS District Court judg  SCR 1613  Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act 

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