Last week the KS Legislature was busy rejecting Governor Kelly’s attempts to reorganize some state agencies, dealing with sports wagering, hearing sexual abuse litigation proposals and discussing anti-vaxx legislation. However, all this activity did not result in any legislation passing either chamber. I guess John Wooden’s comment stands: “Never confuse activity with accomplishment.”
For the KBA’s part it was a busy week in committee. There are several new proposals that need Your attention.
Contingency Fee Proposal – SB 446 comes from the Kansas Chamber. It was circulated to the BOG and two ALERTS were emailed to KBA membership. The proposal creates a strict fee schedule for anyone entering a contingency fee contract for legal services resulting from personal injury, wrongful death or damage to property. The proposal provides:
(c), in any contingency fee agreement described in subsection (a), such fee shall be the exclusive method for payment of the attorney by the claimant and shall not exceed an amount equal to a percentage of the net amount recovered as follows: (1) 331 /3% of the first $300,000; (2) 25% of the next $300,000; (3) 20% of the next $300,000; (4) 15% of the next $300,000; and (5) 10% of any amount that exceeds $1,200,000.
No hearing has been scheduled for HB 446.
Legal Advertising Proposal – SB 445 is also a product of the Kansas Chamber. It too was circulated to the BOG and email ALERTS sent to KBA members. The proposal attempts to limit the types of legal advertising that can be aired in Kansas. It affects all forms of communications. No hearing has been scheduled for HB 445.
Withdrawal of Court of Appeal Nominee – SB 403 was introduced by Sen. Eric Rucker (R-Topeka) to clarify when a nominee for the Kansas Court of Appeals may withdraw from consideration. The proposed language states:
(2) The governor may withdraw an appointment from consideration by the senate at any time before the senate consents to such appointment by serving written notice of such withdrawal on the secretary of the senate in accordance with K.S.A. 60-303, and amendments thereto.
The bill also strikes out several provisions that set out the time period in which the governor and sent must act. As drafted the bill sets no time period for the Senate to act on a Court of Appeal nomination.
Original Jurisdiction over Medical Malpractice – HB 2673 was introduced by Rep. Fred Patton (R-Topeka) on behalf of Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa). The bill would give the Kansas Supreme Court original jurisdiction over medical malpractice cases with a claim of noneconomic loss.
Allowing Legislators to remain in a closed courtroom – HB 2591 was introduced by Rep. Michael Capps (R-Wichita). The bill would allow legislators of either chamber to observe the proceedings in a closed courtroom. This bill infringes on a judge’s authority over his courtroom. The KBA has previously OPPOSED such measures.
Contract for Deed – HB 2600 was introduced by Rep. Jason Probst (D-Hutchinson) to resolve issues his constituents are having with the sale of real estate via contract for deed. Rep. Probst had a similar proposal last session which he did not file. HB 2600 has a hearing on Wednesday, February 19th at 9am in House Local Government.
Quorum Requirements for certain Corporation – HB 2401 was introduced by Rep. Boog Highberger (D-Lawrence) to assist the Merc Co-Op in amending its corporate charter. The bill lowers the quorum requirement to 10% which would allow fewer voting members be present to change its By-Laws. Our Corporate law section, led by Bill Matthews and Bill Quick, are concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent and would like to work out a non-legislative alternative.
Audio-Visual use in Courtrooms – HB 2447 was introduced by the Kansas Judicial Council to expand the use of audio/visual technology in courtrooms. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee this week but did draw a few amendments including the right of a parent to testify via teleconference in CINC cases. The bill now heads to the House floor.
Public Litigation Coordination Act – HB 2461 was introduced by the KSAG office to require public entities get approval before entering into contingency fee contracts. The KSAG would have sole discretion in approving these requests. The KBA opposed this bill along with the League of Kansas Municipalities, Kansas Association of Counties, Kansas Collection Agencies and the Trial Lawyers Association. The bill is being negotiated with new language being introduced in the Kansas Senate.
Uniform Power of Attorney Act – HB 2500 was introduced by the Kansas Judicial Council. The bill provides a new power of attorney form and requires, in certain instances, that third party entities accept this form or a form that is substantially compliant with the judicial council form. The bill was amended to include language that allows third party entities to deny PoA’s if relied upon the opinion of counsel. The bill now heads to the House floor.
Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act – HB 2533 was introduced by the KBA with Prof. Lind Elrod speaking on behalf of the BAR. The bill allows arbitration to be used in certain family law setting such as divorce actions. Family Law Arbitration is voluntary. The House Judiciary Committee recommended HB 2533 favorably for passage this week. HB 2533 now heads to the House floor.
The KBA will be involved in the following hearings:
Terminating Parent Rights – SB 404 was introduced by the KS Judicial Council to create a cause of action to terminate the parental rights when the child is conceived as a result of a sexual assault. The KBa Family Law Section is interested in this bill.
Code Clean-up – SB 424 was introduced by the Ks Secretary of State’s office to clean-up the code after several laws pass in 2019. This will allow the KS SOS to use new technology in business filings. It does postpone the enactment of several laws so the proper technology can be place.
Judicial Branch Budget – The House General Government Budget subcommittee will meet on Wednesday, February 19th at 3:30pm to discuss the Judicial Branch Budget. The KBA will submit testimony supporting the supplemental budget that seeks a raise for judges and staff.