2016 Legislative Review, 0916 KSBJ, 85 J. Kan. Bar Assn 8, 27 (2016)

AuthorJoseph N. Molina III, J.

2016 Legislative Review

Vol. 85 J. Kan. Bar Assn 8, 27 (2016)

Kansas Bar Journal

September, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III, J.

Te 2016 legislative session was marred by budget woes, school funding issues and election year antics. Te budget saw missed estimates nearly every month which required midyear budget cuts, transfers and other accounting gimmicks to balance. By the end of the year major payments to schools were delayed to avoid further cuts. Budget-wise, 2017 doesn’t look much better. Tere was a push to repeal a portion of the 2012 tax cuts, even though the governor publicly stated he was against such a proposal. Te bill died in the House with a coalition of conservatives and moderates voting against the measure for very diferent reasons.

Funding estimates were revised downward in April, but state revenue continued to miss the mark, rolling up a more than $100 million def-cit. Te governor used money from KDOT and Higher Education to fill most of the hole. He also cut some children’s programs. Finding a long term solution to the funding problem will be an election hot potato with some members calling for more cuts while others call for a full repeal of the 2012 tax cut.

School funding was brought to the foreground when the Kansas Supreme Court found the “fix” unconstitutional. Te fix, Senate Sub. for HB 2655, altered supplemental general state aid and capital outlay state aid for FY 2017. Te goal was to equalize state funding so each student has a substantially similar education for a substantially similar tax effort. Te major sticking point was a “hold harmless” provision that provided funds to school districts if that school district would have lost funding under the new formula. Te Kansas Supreme Court had a signifcant issue with this provision and found the entire bill unconstitutional.

With the funding formula for schools being unconstitutional, there existed no way to fund schools for the upcoming year and the court ordered that schools be closed should a suitable resolution not be found by July 1. Therefore, the governor called a special session to deal with a potential constitutional crisis. Te legislature reconvened on June 23 to hash out a new school funding formula. Te initial proposal would see an overall cut to K-12 and reallocating those funds to other districts. Tis idea fell through almost immediately and a coalition of moderates, some leadership members and democrats crafted Senate Sub for HB 2655. Tis bill would use funds from the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority and current extraordinary needs fund to close the $38 million equity gap. Te plain-tiffs in the school finance case agreed that this would fix the equity portion on the case and the court agreed before the July 1 deadline.

Tis ends one chapter of the school funding issue but opens the next more expensive part of the book-adequacy! Te Kansas Supreme Court bifurcated the school finance case into two parts: (1) Equity (Does each student have the same opportunity for an education) and (2) Adequacy (Does the state providing enough funding). Te adequacy issue will be up for hearing on September 21, thus keeping school finance on the minds of voters and candidates as they enter prime campaign season.

Te state budget and school funding dominated most of the 2016 session, but several other issues were debated. Some failed to gain any traction, others will be used for campaign fodder and still others were passed into law becoming effective on July 1, 2016.

Some of the major pieces of legislation that have a direct impact on the practice of law will be summarized below. Te full summaries can be found at http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Policy.html.

Court Issues

Courts and Filling Judicial Vacancies; House Sub. for SB 128

House Sub. for SB 128 amends statutes governing municipal courts and felling judicial vacancies.

Municipal Courts

Te bill amends the statutes governing expungement for convictions of city ordinances or state laws, as well as arrests, to provide that when an expungement is ordered for a case appealed from a municipal court, the district court clerk must send a certified copy of the expungement order to the municipal court, which shall order the case expunged once the copy of the order is received. Similarly, the bill amends the statute governing appeals from municipal courts to require the district court to send notice of dismissal, conviction, or acquittal to the municipal court clerk at the end of the case.

Judicial Vacancies

Te bill also amends and enacts laws related to the felling of judicial vacancies, including the method used to select the lawyer members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission and district judicial nominating commissions, the applicability of the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) and Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) to nominating commissions, and the number of nominees a district judicial nominating commission will be required to nominate.

Selection of Lawyer Members of Nominating Commissions

Te bill requires applicants for admission to practice law to provide the following information: name, place of residence, date of birth, sex, and the last four digits of the person’s social security number or the person’s full driver’s license or non-driver identification card number. A pending applicant must notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court in writing of any change in name or address within ten days of such change. Te bill requires any person whose application is pending as of the defective date of the bill to provide the correct information required above to the Clerk within 60 days of the effective date of the bill and requires the Clerk to send notice of this requirement within 30 days of the defective date.

A new section requires the Clerk to maintain a roster of attorneys licensed to practice law in Kansas, including the information required above and the congressional and judicial districts of residence for each person. Similar to requirements for pending applicants, the bill requires any Kansas licensed attorney to notify the Clerk of any change in name or residential address within ten days of such change.

To be eligible to nominate or receive and cast ballots for the lawyer members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, the bill requires attorneys to be licensed and residing in Kansas (and, for Commission members, the appropriate congressional district) on or before the February 15 prior to the selection of such positions. Te same requirement applies with regard to elections of lawyer members of district judicial nominating commissions, except the relevant date is November 15.

On or before the February 20 preceding the selection of the chairperson or members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, the Clerk must transmit a certified copy of the roster of Kansas licensed attorneys to the Secretary of State, containing the voter information set forth above for those residing in Kansas (or within the relevant congressional district for a member election) as of February 15, in a format prescribed by the Secretary of State, who then will append the unique voter identification number for each person listed on the roster having such a number. Te same procedure is required on or before the November 20 preceding the election of a lawyer member of a district judicial nominating commission, with the same voter...

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