As you may have seen, heard, or read over the past week, the drama never stops in Topeka.
If it’s not one faction of the Kansas Republican Party bashing the other, it’s good ol’ political brinksmanship on other issues of slightly more than passing interest to most Kansans. Like how much the schools will lose — or gain against each other. Or how deeply — or drastically — taxes will be cut over the next few months and years. Or how many billions of dollars will be the state deficit in 2017 (with our mandated balanced budget), meaning draconian cuts (or sensible reschufflings of resources) that might mean. And, of course, the important issues involved in the well-known, deeply held similarities between the residents of Hugoton, Liberal, Cummings and of Liberal’s well-known philosophical “sister-city” Lawrence (west). It’s the stuff of which dreams are made; and nightmares born.
But, thank goodness, we in Family Law have none of those dramatics to concern ourselves with. For earlier this week – at the beginning of the long hot early–summer of our extended Kansas Legislative veto session–the Family Law bills that were veritably “shooting through” to the legislative finish line (although nothing so fast as the new anti-anti-trust legislation that zipped through the Kansas House this week after their distinguished and scholarly review of the finer points of vertical and horizontal price-fixing by deciding to overrule the Kansas Supreme Court a few weeks after it issued an “offending opinion”). Instead, on Monday, the first weekday of the extended veto Session, the Kansas Senate approved #SB304 on a 35-1 Vote, which addressed all the various family law bills considered this year (with the exception of extensions of protection orders to up to lifetime) which was approved the previous Friday by the House on a 116-0 vote.
For those who don’t know what all was going into SB304, we now know:
First, the base of #304 is the Certified Batterers Certification Act, introduced by the Attorney General, which creates a Batterer Intervention Program Certification Unit in the Attorney General’s Office for the purpose of certifying and inspecting batterer intervention programs in Kansas. It also provides that the Attorney General would be required to develop tools, methodologies, requirements, and forms for the domestic violence offender assessment (DVOA) in consultation with the certified state domestic violence coalition and with local domestic violence victims’ services organizations. It will prohibit operation of a batterer intervention program without certification pursuant to the act.
Second, #HB2741, the Family Law Code Cleanup Bill, which had been passed by the Kansas House, introduced into the Kansas Senate, and informally assigned to a House-Senate Conference Committee. This Cleanup Bill is purely a clean-up bill to correct mistakes and oversights in the Family Law Recodification of 2011. There were no substantive changes in this part of the bill ( it was sponsored by the Kansas Judicial Council).
Third, #HB2740 which never had any hearings in the House or Senate and changes the qualifications for anyone who wants to serve as a domestic relations case manager effective September 1, 2012. This portion of the bill (which was perhaps the most highly discussed part of the entire bill) provides for the following qualifications in KSA 23-3508:
“(d) To qualify as an appointed case manager, an individual shall:
(1) (A) Be currently licensed in Kansas as a licensed psychologist, licensed masters level psychologist, psychologist, licensed clinical psychotherapist, licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, licensed master social worker or licensed specialist social worker;
(B) be currently licensed to practice law in Kansas and have at least five years of experience in the field of domestic relations law or family law; or
(C) be a court services officer and have training in domestic relations cases as prescribed by the district court in which the case is filed;
(2) be qualified to conduct mediation;
(3) have experience as a mediator;
(4) attend one or more workshops, approved and as ordered by the district court in which the case is filed, on case management; and
(5) complete a minimum number of continuing education hours regarding case management issues or abuse and control dynamics issues as established
and approved by the supreme court.
(e) On and after September 1, 2012, any case manager appointed by the court prior to, on or after July 1, 2012, shall meet the requirements of subsection (d).”
We can all now sleep easier. But some legislators already have their sights on the statute for the next session of “Legislature Drama Theatre 2013.” And we even have a trailer for it (although, not nearly as polished as the Trailer for “Ethics for Good XII”) So I’ve included links for both:
Woman Fights for Case Manager Reform:
Ethics for Good XIII (2012):
Finally, so that everyone knows what is the law effective in two weeks when the Kansas Register comes out and the Kansas Family Law Code is “cleaned-up,” I’ve included a link to the updated version of the full “new” Code:
Cheers. Or enjoy. Or “think about your poor Kansas Legislators as they slog away at each other tomorrow in their nearly newly restored digs” 🙂