Legislative Issues – 2017

 

The 2017 Kansas Legislature will convene on Monday, January 9, 2017. The Kansas Legislative session generally runs for 90 days until approximately mid-April. The 2017 Legislative Session is the first-session of the biennial legislature.

 

Elections for all House and Senate members occurred in November 2016. The election resulted in a dramatic shift for the Legislature. Since 2012, the Kansas Legislature has been dominated by “conservative” Republicans, with “moderate” Republicans and Democrats being a distinct minority. The 2016 election created a more balanced legislature — with approximately 1/3 of the seats held by each of the three “factions” (Brownback Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Democrats). Before the session began, uncertainty abounds about what will happen and how the Governor will interact with the Legislature. With a new administration in Washington, DC, legislative leaders expressed ‘concern’ that the governor’s failure to provide any insight into his 2017 legislative agenda “may [show] a desire to leave the governorship and the state.” (See Topeka Capital Journal, “Senate President Wagle: Lawmakers believe Brownback looking for ’ticket to D.C.’”)

Bills introduced into the 2017 Legislative Session are eligible for consideration by both the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.

For the 2017 Session of the Kansas Legislature, individual requests for bill introductions had to be submitted before February 2, 2017; with committee introductions before February 9, 2017. All bills had to pass its house-of-origin on or before February 27, 2017 (with some exceptions) or they died for the session. The Legislature took its mid-term break on February 27 and resumed Tuesday, March 7 for the second-half of the session. Over that break, the Kansas Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the Kansas school funding case, Gannon v. Kansas, which unsurprisingly found that the state had long unconstitutionally underfunded the state’s schools. That unanimous decision mandated the Legislature adequately fund the state schools before a June 30, 2017 deadline. Because of significant budget and school funding problems created over the last 4 years, many expect the 2017 legislative session to stretch far longer than its regular 90-day session — perhaps over 105 days.

Bill other than funding bills must pass the opposite house from origin on or before March 25, 2017 (second-house turn-around). All Bills must be considered for final action (other than bills from “exempt” committees) on or before April 3, 2017, when the Kansas House and Senate take “first adjournment.” The Legislature returned for its “Veto Session” on April 29, 2017. The Legislature will return again in late-May 2017 for adjournment sine die.

For the first time ever, the Senate Judiciary Committee will not be led by a lawyer – because there are no law-trained Senators in the majority party. On December 14, 2016, Senate President Wagle announced her choices for committee chairs. (See Topeka Capital-Journal, “Moderate senators tapped to lead budget, health committees.) In addition to not having a lawyer in the body to lead the important Judiciary Committee, the lack of a lawyer member also caused a problem because an “obscure” statute requires a lawyer member from the Senate serve on a committee that determines claims against the State of Kansas. (See ABA Journal, “Not one Kansas state senator is a lawyer, making compliance with obscure state statute impossible,” also Wall Street Journal)

Senators chosen to lead committees are:

Agriculture & Natural Resources – Sen. Dan Kerschen, R-Garden Plain
Assessment and Taxation – Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker
Commerce – Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe
Education – Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg
Ethics, Elections and Local Government – Sen. Elaine Bowers, R-Concordia
Federal and State Affairs – Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg
Financial Institutions and Insurance – Sen. Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia
Judiciary – Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson
Public Health and Welfare – Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka
Transportation – Sen. Mike Petersen, R-Wichita
Utilities – Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe
Ways and Means – Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick

House members chosen to lead committees are:

Agriculture  – Chairman: Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chairman: Kent Thompson
Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget – Chairman: Don Schroeder, Vice Chairman: Larry Hibbard
Appropriations – Chairman: Troy Waymaster, Vice Chairman: Erin Davis
Commerce, Labor and Economic Development – Chairman: Les Mason, Vice Chairman: Ken Corbet
Corrections and Juvenile Justice – Chairman: Russ Jennings, Vice Chairman: John WhitmerChildren and Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications – Chairman: Joe Seiwart, Vice Chairman: Randy Garber
Education – Chairman: Clay Aurand, Vice Chairman: Diana Dierks
Elections  – Chairman: Keith Esau, Vice Chairman: Blake Carpenter
Federal and State Affairs – Chairman: John Barker, Vice Chairman: Ron Highland
Financial Institutions and Pensions – Chairman: Jim Kelly, Vice Chairman: Randy Powell
General Government Budget – Chairman: Bill Sutton, Vice Chairman: Chuck Weber
Government, Technology and Security – Chairman: Pete DeGraaf, Vice Chairman: Greg Lewis
Health and Human Services – Chairman: Dan Hawkins, Vice Chairman: Susan Concannon
Higher Education Budget – Chairman: Kevin Jones, Vice Chairman: Susie Swanson
Insurance – Chairman: Jene Vickrey, Vice Chairman: Willie Dove
Judiciary – Chairman: Blaine Finch, Vice Chairman: Fred Patton
K-12 Education Budget – Chairman: Larry Campbell, Vice Chairman: Steve Huebert
Local Government – Chairman: Kristey Williams, Vice Chairman: Jack Thimesch
Seniors – Chairman: Steve Alford, Vice Chairman: Linda Gallagher
Social Services Budget – Chairman: Brenda Landwehr, Vice Chairman: Stephanie Sawyer Clayton
Transportation – Chairman: Richard Proehl, Vice Chairman: Shannon Francis
Taxation – Chairman: Steven Johnson, Vice Chairman: Tom Phillips
Transportation and Public Safety Budget – Chairman: J.R. Claeys, Vice Chairman: Michael Houser
Veterans and Military – Chairman: Les Osterman, Vice Chairman: Lonnie Clark
Water and Environment – Chairman: Tom Sloan, Vice Chairman: Ken Rahjes

The following family law and related bills and concurrent resolutions were pending in the 2017 Kansas Legislature:

Senate:

SB13: Code of Civil Procedure; Updates (PASSED HOUSE 39-0)

Introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third-day of the 2017 Session, this bill –recommended by the Kansas Judicial Council – updates the Kansas Code of Civil Procedure adopting the 2016 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (but not others made in 2014 and 2015). One major change included in the 2016 Federal amendments would provide that the “3-day rule” no longer applies to electronic service. Another change would introduce the contempt of discovery “proportionality” — that is, a party could object to discovery relevant, but not material to the particular matters at issue in the case. Proportionality is an attempt to provide a narrowing of discovery parameters so that it is not as easy to request relevant but marginally material information from another party.

A hearing on the bill was held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. The Committee recommended the bill pass in a report issued January 26, 2017. On February 7, 2017, the bill was considered by the Senate Committee of the Whole, and recommended that it be passed. On February 8, 2017, the bill passed the Senate   Yea: 39 Nay: 0. It was then introduced into the House on February 9, 2017, where it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings.

In the House, the bill was scheduled for hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 07, 2017, at 3:30PM in Room 112-N.

SB50: Uniform Laws; changing membership (PASSED SENATE 40-0)

This bill was introduced to change the Senate member statutorily appointed to sit on the Uniform Laws Commission and the state committee on claims against the state. It would delete the statutory provision appointing the Chair of the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee to two important posts: the Uniform Laws Commission and the legislative committee that reviews and recommends claims against the state for payment. Both positions require that the member be a lawyer. But for the first time since statehood, there are no lawyer members in the Kansas Senate, so the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee chair is now not a lawyer (or law-trained). The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was set for hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 10:30 AM Room 346-S.

On February 20, 2017, the Judiciary Committee approved an amended bill for passage by the Senate. The bill would clarify the Commission members would be the chairpersons of the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary, if such chairpersons are members of the Kansas Bar. But if the Senate Committee on Judiciary chairperson is not a member of the Kansas Bar and there is not another member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary who is a member of the Kansas Bar, then the bill would allow the chairperson to appoint, with the advice of the Senate President, a former member of the Legislature who is a member of the Kansas Bar to serve on the Commission in lieu of the chairperson for the chairperson’s current legislative term.

The bill was placed on General Orders for February 21, 2017. Rep Peterson offered a technical amendment from the floor that easily passed the Senate Committee of the Whole. On Final Action, on February 22, 2017, the bill passed, as amended, unanimously.

In the House, the bill was scheduled for hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 07, 2017, at 3:30PM in Room 112-N.

SB101: Protection from Abuse; Protection from Sexual Assault (PASSED SENATE 40-0)

This bill would add language to the protection from abuse and protection from stalking acts allowing a person asserting non-consensual sexual contact to obtain a protection order against a defendant. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. It’s unclear why the language needs to be added to the statute. Recently, the Kansas Court of Appeals decided an appeal that explicitly found that sexual assault is included in the existing language and intent of the statute as it exists. See Kerry G. v. Stacy C, – Kan.App.2d –  (2016).

The Senate Judiciary Committee set a hearing on the bill for Thursday, February 09, 2017, 10:30 AM in Room 346-S Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. Ronald W. Nelson testified on the bill in a neutral capacity pointing out that the legislation was unnecessary and perhaps detrimental since the Kansas courts have found that unwanted sexual contact is already covered by the existing act.

The Senate Committee adopted an amendment proposed by the KCASDV to reorganize subsections in the PFSSAA definitions section and clarify that a can could issue a protection from stalking or sexual assault order granting any one or more of the orders currently allowed by law, including orders restraining a defendant from harassing, abusing, or sexually assaulting a victim.

On February 22, 2017, the Senate Committee of the Whole considered – and recommended passage of – the committee-amended bill. The Senate unanimously approved the bill 40–0, sending the bill on to the House for consideration.

In the House, the bill was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, which set a hearing on the bill for Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 03:30 PM in Room 112-N.

 

SB114: CINC; clarifying rules for admission of drug and substance testing results (PASSED SENATE 39-0)

This bill would require the admission of any drug and substance testing report in a CINC proceeding merely if the report “is prepared and attested by the person conducting the test or an authorized employee of the facility that conducted the test.” There would be no opportunity to challenge the test; no opportunity to cross-examine the proponent of the test; and no opportunity to question the validity of the test. It would simply be admitted, by statutory mandate. The bill was introduced on January 31 and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing. The Judiciary Committee scheduled the bill for hearing on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 10:30 am in Room 346-S. The Judiciary Committee recommended the bill pass February 14, 2017.

On that same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill out of committee without amendment for consideration by the Senate. On February 23, 2017, the Senate Committee of the Whole recommended the full Senate pass the bill as amended by committee. The full Senate passed the bill 39-0-1 that same day.

The bill was introduced into the House and referred to the House Judiciary Committee the same day the bill passed the Senate. In the House, the bill was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, which set a hearing on the bill for Wednesday, March 14, 2017, 03:30 PM in Room 112-N.

SB124: Child custody factors; domestic abuse (PASSED SENATE 40-0)

This bill was originally introduced into the 2014 Legislature. After committee debate, it was referred to the Kansas Judicial Council for review. This is the resulting bill. It would amend the factors that courts use to determine legal custody, residency, and parenting time to correct  the ‘spousal abuse’ factor to direct that court’s consider ‘domestic abuse,’ instead since the factors are used not only in divorce cases, but also where the parents were never married. The bill was introduced on January 26, 2017, and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee set a hearing on the bill for Thursday, February 09, 2017, 10:30 AM in Room 346-S Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

On February 20, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued its report recommending that the bill pass the Senate, as introduced. On February 22, 2017, the Senate Committee of the Whole considered – and recommended passage of – the committee-approved bill. ON February 23, 2017, the Senate passed the bill 40-0.

The bill was introduced into the House on that same day, and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. In the House, the bill was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, which set a hearing on the bill for Wednesday, March 14, 2017, 03:30 PM in Room 112-N.

 

House:

HB2019: Foster Care; Creating Foster Care Oversight Task Force

Introduced on the first day of the 2017 Session, this bill would establish a task force to oversee and make recommendations to improve the Kansas foster care system. The bill was assigned to the Committee on Children and Seniors for hearings. The bill was scheduled for hearing February 14, 2017 at 9:00am in Room 218-N. On February 16, 2016, the bill was withdrawn from the House Committee on Children and Families and reassigned to the Appropriations Committee. The next day, the bill was withdrawn from the Appropriations Committee and reassigned to the House Committee on Children and Seniors for further committee action. After turn-around, the bill was set for hearing in the Committee on Children and Seniors on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 09:00 AM in Room 218-N.

 

HB2041: Courts; Fees and costs; extending the judicial branch surcharge fund. (PASSED HOUSE 122-0)

Introduced on January 12, 2017, this bill would extend the judicial branch surcharge from 2017 to 2019. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Judiciary Committee held hearings on the bill Monday, January 30, 2017, 03:30 PM in Room 112-N, issuing a report on February 3, 2017 that the bill pass as introduced. On February 9, 2017, the House Committee of the Whole recommended passage of the bill as introduced. On February 13, 2o17, the House passed the bill Yea: 122 Nay: 0, sending it on to the Senate.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on the same day the House approved the bill, assigning it to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing.

HB2053: Courts; Requiring defendants to pay for the cost of collection in domestic cases. (PASSED HOUSE 122-0)

Introduced on January 12, 2017, this bill would add “domestic” cases to the types of cases for which costs of collection of court debts may be assessed. However, the statute requires a “defendant” pay those debts, so it’s unclear from the bill as introduced how the statute would apply in domestic cases. The bill was referred to  the Judiciary Committee for hearings, which scheduled the bill for hearing on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm in Room 112-N (after the informational briefing on the Kansas Judicial Council by Nancy Strouse).

On January 30, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to correct the reference to to “defendant,” instead referencing ‘persons ordered to pay,” and recommended that it pass. The House Committee of the Whole considered the bill on February 7, 2017, and recommended that the bill pass as amended by committee. The bill passed the House as amended on February 8, 2017, Yea: 122 Nay: 0.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on the same day, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing on Thursday, March 16, 2017, 10:30 AM Room in 346-S.

HB2068: Child support; arrearages, enforcement and collection

This bill, introduced by the Appropriations Committee would provide for various additional penalties for persons with arrearages of more than 15 days on court ordered child support obligations, including suspension of driver’s license, hunting and fishing licenses, and vehicle registrations. In addition, if either $10,000 or more than 6 months child support arrearages exist, a notice must be sent to the licensing body of any licensure held by the person in arrears. The Appropriations Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for Thursday, February 09, 2017, 09:00 AM in  Room 112-N.

HB2108: Grandparents as Caregivers Act amendments

This will would amend the Grandparents as Caregivers Act to reduce the age at which grandparents would qualify for certain services for grandchildren being taken care of in their home from 50 to 40. The bill was introduced in the House Appropriations Committee on January 19, 2017, and assigned to that Committee for hearing. The Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for Thursday, February 02, 2017, 09:00 AM Room 218-N, but then rescheduled the hearing for Thursday, February 9, 2017, 09:00 am.

HB2101: Marriage; abolishing common law marriage

This bill would abolish common law marriage in the state of Kansas effective July 1, 2017, protecting any common law marriages entered before the effective date. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee for hearings. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled the bill for hearing on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in Room 112-N. Ronald W. Nelson testified against the bill with written and oral testimony.

HB2123: Discrimination; prohibiting gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination

This bill would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of human characteristics for which discrimination is prohibited. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which scheduled hearings for Tuesday, February 07, 2017, 03:30 PM in Room 112-N.

HB2172: Marriage; removing unconstitutional opposite-sex requirement.

This bill would remove language from the Kansas marriage statutes requiring that persons marrying in the state be of “opposite sex.” The restriction was found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges.

HB2186: Arbitration; enacting the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000 (HOUSE PASSED 72-53)

This will would update the Kansas arbitration statutes to the provisions of the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000 – a significant and important update to the statutes. The bill was introduced on January 26, 2017, and assigned to the Judiciary Committee for hearing. The Judiciary Committee set the bill for a hearing on on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 03:30pm in Room 112-N. The House Committee adopted a technical amendment correcting a statutory reference, recommending that the amended bill be passed by the House.

The amended bill was considered by the House Committee of the Whole on February 21, 2017. Debate on the bill was the first floor fight by some who desired to reinstate teacher and other protections stripped from them by the governor in the past few legislative years. Rep. Stodgsdill (D-Prairie Village) offered a floor amendment adding into the bill teacher due process protections. Although the amendment was challenged for germaneness, the amendment was ruled proper. The amendment was adopted by House COW  Yea: 66 Nay: 59.  On Final Action on February 22, 2017, the House approved the amended bill   Yea: 72 Nay: 53.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on that same day, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

HB2198: Domestic battery and stalking; collection of biological samples

This bill would add domestic battery and stalking to the list of offenses for which the Kansas bureau of investigation may collect biological samples. The bill was introduced on January 30, 2017, and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee scheduled the bill for hearing on Wednesday, February 7, 2017, at 3:30p in Room 112-N, but the hearing was cancelled.

HB2215: Crimes; removing opposite-sex requirement for unlawful voluntary sexual relations with a child

This bill would remove the requirement for “unlawful sexual relations with a child” that the offender be of the opposite sex as the victim. The bill was introduced on January 31, 2017, and was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing.

HB2216: Crimes; removing consensual relations from definition of criminal sodomy

This bill would remove consensual acts between persons over the age of 16 from the definition of criminal “sodomy,” a law that has not been enforced for many years and which was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). The bill was introduced on January 31, 2017, and was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing.

HB2222: Child Abuse; expanding list of mandatory reporters

This bill would expand the list of mandatory child abuse reporters to include “animal control officers.” The bill was introduced on January 31, 2017.

HB2247: Legal Publications; authorizing use of internet websites for legal publication

This bill would authorize the publication of legal notices on approved internet websites. With the increase in use of the internet – and decrease in local newspapers – the bill seeks to expand the availability of legal notices (including service of process by publication). The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill was scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 01:30 PM in Room 281-N.

HB2293: Protection from Abuse; sexual abuse

This bill would add language to the protection from abuse and protection from stalking acts allowing a person asserting non-consensual sexual contact to obtain a protection order against a defendant. The bill is nearly identical to SB101. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. It’s unclear why the language needs to be added to the statute. Recently, the Kansas Court of Appeals decided an appeal that explicitly found that sexual assault is included in the existing language and intent of the statute as it exists. See Kerry G. v. Stacy C, – Kan.App.2d –  (2016).

HB2332: Electronic communications and stored information; prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure

This bill was introduced in the House Committee on Government, Technology, and Security on February 9, 2017, to address various information technology concerns with the increased use of online communication and data storage. The bill provisions would (1) prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of any electronic communications by providers or third-parties; (2) protect unlawfully divulged communications from disclosure in discovery, by subpoena, or under other means of legal compulsion; (3) prohibit the communications use in evidence before any court or administrative tribunal; (4) provide additional protections to electronic communications protected by the attorney-client privilege, whether inadvertently disclosed and would prohibit any service agreement from requiring the waiver of that attorney-client privilege. The bill was assigned back to the Committee on Government, Technology, and Security for hearings. On February 20, 2017, the bill was withdrawn from the Committee and assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. On February 22, 2017, the bill was re-referred back to the Committee on Government, Technology, and Security, and set for hearing on Monday, March 06, 2017, 09:00 AM in Room 218-N.

HB2532: Evidence; limiting evidence used to impeach

This bill, introduced into the House Judiciary Committee would amend the Kansas Evidence Code to provide that, “Evidence of an adjudication for a crime, which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a misdemeanor involving dishonesty or false statement, shall not be admissible for impeachment of a witness.” It’s unclear why this bill was introduced since it would prohibit use of evidence clearly relevant and material to the ability of a witness to tell the truth. The bill was assigned to the Judiciary Committee for hearings, and set for hearing on Monday, February 20, 2017, 01:30 PM in Room 152-S.

HB2352: Evidence; limiting certain misdemeanors use for impeachment

This bill would amend the Kansas Evidence Code to provide that: “Evidence of an adjudication  for a crime, which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a misdemeanor involving dishonesty or false statement, shall not be admissible for impeachment of a witness.” The bill is nonsensical in that a trier of fact would very much want to weigh convictions of dishonesty and the making of a false statement in weighing a witnesses credibility. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which scheduled a hearing on the bill for Monday, February 20, 2017, 01:30 PM in Room 152-S.

HB2365: Appropriations; Courts

This bill was introduced on February 13, 2017, and assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. It is the vehicle in the House to appropriate money to the Courts for FYs 2018 and 2019. It was referred to the House Appropriations Committee for hearing.