Legislative Issues – 2018

The 2018 Kansas Legislature convened on Monday, January 8, 2018 for the second year of the 2017-2018 Legislature.

The Kansas Legislative session generally runs for 90 days until approximately mid-April, but because of various issues and the fact that 2018 is an election year, early estimates project that the 2018 session will last for a near-record time (the 2017 Legislative Session lasted 105-days, tying a record). The 2018 Legislative Session was the second session of the biennial legislature. Elections for all House and Senate members occurred in November 2016. An election for all House members will go forward in November 2018.

The 2016 election resulted in a dramatic shift for the Legislature. Since 2012, the Kansas Legislature had 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).

Bills introduced into the 2017 Legislative Session survive for consideration in the 2018 legislative session.

For the 2018 Session of the Kansas Legislature, individual requests for bill introductions had to be submitted before January 29, 2017; with committee introductions before February 7, 2017. All bills must pass its house-of-origin on or before February 22, 2017 (with some exceptions) or they die for the session. The Legislature takes its mid-term break on February 26 and resumes Tuesday, March 6 for the second-half of the session.

Bills, other than for funding, must pass the opposite house from origin on or before March 29, 2018 (second-house turn-around). All Bills must be considered for final action (other than bills from “exempt” committees) on or before April 6, 2017 (the “drop dead” date), when the Kansas House and Senate take “first adjournment.” The Legislature returns for its “Veto Session” on April 29, 2018. The Legislature was expected to return again in late-May 2018 for adjournment sine die.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is not by a lawyer because there are no law-trained Senators in the majority party.

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 in 2018 are:

Agriculture  – Chair: Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chair: Kent Thompson
Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget – Chair: Don Schroeder, Vice Chair: Larry Hibbard
Appropriations – Chair: Troy Waymaster, Vice Chair: Erin Davis
Children & Seniors – Chairman: Steve Alford Erin Davis, Vice Chairman: Linda Gallagher
Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development – Chair: Les Mason, Vice Chair: Ken Corbet
Corrections and Juvenile Justice – Chair: Russ Jennings, Vice Chair: John Whitmer
Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications – Chair: Joe Seiwart, Vice Chair: Randy Garber
Education – Chair: Clay Aurand, Vice Chair: Diana Dierks
Elections  – Chair: Keith Esau, Vice Chair: Blake Carpenter
Federal and State Affairs – Chair: John Barker, Vice Chair: Ron Highland
Financial Institutions and Pensions – Chair: Jim Kelly, Vice Chair: Randy Powell
General Government Budget – Chair: Bill Sutton, Vice Chair: Chuck Weber
Government, Technology and Security – Chair: Pete DeGraaf, Vice Chair: Greg Lewis
Health and Human Services – Chair: Dan Hawkins, Vice Chair: Susan Concannon
Higher Education Budget – Chair: Kevin Jones, Vice Chair: Susie Swanson
Insurance – Chair: Jene Vickrey, Vice Chair: Willie Dove
Judiciary – Chair: Blaine Finch, Vice Chair: Fred Patton
K-12 Education Budget – Chair: Larry Campbell, Vice Chair: Steve Huebert
Local Government – Chair: Kristey Williams, Vice Chair: Jack Thimesch
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 2018 Kansas Legislature:

Senate:

SB199: Appeals; bonds, amending requirements.

This bill would significantly change the rules for district court’s consideration of supersedeas bond conditions for civil appeals. It is apparent the purpose is to deal with large tort judgments, rather than the typical everyday case that predominates trial court determinations.

The bill was scheduled for hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 18, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S.

SB221: CINC, newborn infant protection act (NIPA); amending powers and duties of the secretary for children and families

This bill, introduced in the 2017 Legislative Session, would delete the requirement in CINC proceedings for approval of the guardian ad litem and would instead require the consent and approval of the Secretary of DCF when parents choose to relinquish their rights prior to a hearing to consider termination of parental rights when the child’s plan is either adoption or appointment of a custodian. The bill would also clarify processes for adoption of children who are in the custody of the Secretary and adoption of children who are no longer in the custody of the Secretary. The bill would clarify that extended out-of-home placement can be used to make a determination of parental unfitness when the court is considering termination of parental rights or appointment of a permanent custodian.

Finally, the bill would amend the Newborn Infant Protection Act to add definitions of a relinquishing parent and a non-relinquishing parent. The bill would increase the age of an infant that can be relinquished at certain facilities from 45 to 60 days old.

The bill was assigned to the Public Health and Welfare Committee when introduced on March 8, 2017. At the beginning of the 2018 Session, the bill was set for hearing before the Committee January 16, 2018 at 9:30am in Room 118-N.

SB257: Child custody; presumption of equal parenting time in absence of parent agreement

This bill was pre-filed before the beginning of the 2018 Session by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth). It would impose a presumption that “a court determination of legal custody, residency, and parenting time providing for a child’s equal or approximately equal time with each parent is in the best interests of the child.” It is a singularly bad bill. Not only is it poorly drafted, but it imposes a presumption that has no empirical basis. It then makes the bill worse by requiring that a court can only overcome the statutory presumption by making specific findings that the presumption is overcome by clear-and-convincing evidence.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the session began.

SB277: Recognition of Tribal Court Judgments

This bill simply authorizes the Kansas Supreme Court to make rules for the recognition of tribal court judgments. Kansas courts already recognize tribal court judgments under the principles of comity, but this bill would provide specific authorization for the Kansas Supreme Court to implement procedures to recognize those tribal judgments. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The bill was scheduled for hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 24, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S.

SB280: Child custody; parentage act; consolidating family law code

This bill originating in the Kansas Judicial Council as part of the ongoing consolidation and reworking of the Kansas Family Law Code. The bill seeks to eliminate non-uniform provisions from the Kansas Parentage Act by referring determinations of child custody and parenting time to the Family Code article that addresses child custody issues. The statutes proposed changed were included in 2014 changes considered, but excluded for further study, by the legislature (see 2014 HB2568).

The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and scheduled for hearing on Wednesday, January 24, 2017 at 10:30 am in Room 346-S.

SB281: Protection orders; Human Trafficking.

This bill was introduced on January 16, 2018, and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. As introduced, the bill would expand the Kansas Protection from Stalking and Sexual Assault Act to include protection from victims of human trafficking defined as, “any act that would constitute human trafficking or aggravated human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of a child, or selling sexual relations [under applicable statutes). The bill would not only authorize the victim or a parent of the victim to seek protection but would also authorize the attorney general to seek protection orders for victims.

The bill was scheduled for hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 23, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S.

SB288: Protecting the Sabbath; penalties for serving civil process

This bill, introduced on January 17, 2018, would repeal KSA 69-102, which provides for a fine of one hundred dollars or imprisonment in the county jail for up to 30 days for anyone who shall procure or serve process on the Sabbath (as defined by KSA 69-101). Notably, the statute was last amended in 1923. It’s time.

 

House:

 

HB2068: Child support; arrearages, enforcement, and collection (held over)

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 (held over)

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. The bill did not make it out of committee.

HB2123: Discrimination; prohibiting gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination (held over)

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 (held over)

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. The bill was not set for hearing during the 2017 session, but was held over.

HB2216: Crimes; removing consensual relations from definition of criminal sodomy (held over)

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. The bill did not receive a hearing during the 2017 session, but was held over.

HB2222: Child Abuse; expanding list of mandatory reporters (held over)

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 (held over)

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.

HB2332: Electronic communications and stored information; prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure (held over)

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.

HB2352: Evidence; limiting certain misdemeanors use for impeachment (held over)

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 (held over)

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.

HB2414: Real Estate Appraisers; standards (held 0ver)

This bill, introduced into the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on March 24, 2017, would impose certain standards on a licensed real estate appraiser, “when performing an appraisal of real property for a real estate-related financial transaction.” Among other requirements, the appraiser would be governed by, “the 2014-2015 edition of the uniform standards of professional appraisal practice promulgated pursuant to federal law or any later version as adopted by the board in rules and regulations; or the 2016 edition of the standards of valuation practice and valuers’ code of professional ethics promulgated by the appraisal institute.”

HB2425: Children and minors; making “household members” mandatory reporters (held over)

This bill, introduced on May 10, 2017, in the House Committee on State and Federal Affairs during the ‘veto session,’ would require “any adult who resides in the same home as the child” report any incident of child abuse to the Department of Children and Families. For purposes of the requirement, “reside” would mean any adult who stays, sleeps or maintains with any  regularity or temporarily one’s person and property in the home for three  or more consecutive days or parts of days, or for ten or more nonconsecutive days in a period of 30 consecutive days.” Failure to fulfill the mandate would be a Class B misdemeanor. The bill is astoundingly broad and would impose requirements that would make many people unknowingly in violation, but would also encourage a massive amount of false and non substantial reports.

At the beginning of the 2018 legislative session, the bill was scheduled for hearing before the Federal and State Affairs Committee (instead of the Children and Seniors Committee) on January 16, 2018 at 3:30pm in Rm 346-S.

HCR5017 Constitutional amendment staggering terms of the Kansas Senate
 
This proposed constitutional amendment, prefiled on December 12, 2017, by Rep. Jerry Stogsdill (D-Prairie Village) for consideration in the 2018 Session, would stagger the terms of the Kansas Senate. Under existing Kansas constitution provision, members of the Kansas Senate are all chosen in the same year for four-year terms. If approved by the Legislature and voters, this amendment would go into effect with the 2020 election.