Kansas 2012 Legislative Session Begins Monday, January 9

The 2012 Kansas Legislature convenes on January 9, 2012 at 2:00 o’clock p.m. Calendars for the first day are now available at for the House and Senate on the Kansas Legislative Website: http://kslegislature.org/li/

Governor Brownback is scheduled to present his State of the State speech to Joint Legislative Session on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 6:30 o’clock p.m.

Although the 2012 Session begins Monday, it is still unclear what specific new family law oriented bills the Legislature will consider. But there’s been talk for months from the Governor’s Office about new initiatives to “preserve marriage” and “strengthen families.” The Topeka Capital-Journal pointed out in an article discussing the Administration’s moves promoting marriage and family: “The vanguard of people shaping Gov. Sam Brownback’s new state government program promoting marriage aren’t shy about speaking their mind.”

As pointed out by the Capital-Journal article, many of the participants come from conservative Christian organizations, including The Institute for American Values, the Heritage Foundation, and the Georgia Family Council. A handful of higher education institutions contributed, but only one, the Christian liberal arts Friends University, was from Kansas. Interestingly, no Kansas family lawyers, psychologists, or marriage and family counselors are known to have been included in the group. And this absence has caused many in those communities concerns about the direction of any proposed “reforms” from the Brownback Administration. One hint about what may come from the secret meetings was contained in a proposal put out by AmericanValues.org titled, “Second Chances: A Proposal To Reduce Unnecessary Divorces” – presented to U.S. State Legislatures in November 2011.

The “study” includes a few proposed legislative acts including “The Second Chances Act,” which proposes, among other things, that all states change their ‘minimum statutory waiting periods’ to 365 days, with some minimal exceptions “(1) When the respondent has been convicted, during the marriage, of a violent or sexual felony against the petitioner or a minor child; or (2) When a court has made a final, non-preliminary civil protection order against the divorce respondent, based on a final determination that the respondent committed or threatened physical violence against the divorce petitioner or a minor child of the divorce petitioner, where the respondent had advance notice and an opportunity to participate in an evidentiary hearing.” This “study” was sponsored and promoted by the Institute for American Values, one of the participants in Governor Brownback’s group of “marriage experts.”

Another expected proposal is a “clean-up” bill on the Kansas Family Law Code now that the Revisor’s Office has moved all Kansas Domestic Relations statutes to K.S.A. Chapter 23. After the 2011 Kansas Legislature passed the bill, it was discovered that some provisions needed revised to assure that no substantive changes had occurred in the move. Modernization of the code will wait until further proposals come from the Kansas Judicial Council.

The 2012 Legislative Session will also consider two other Kansas Judicial Council proposals:

One, considered by the 2011 Session, would automatically terminate the inheritance rights of former spouses upon entry of a decree of divorce or annulment. The Kansas Senate substituted other legislation for the 2011 session’s proposed bill (2011 HB 2071).

The second, would enact the most recent revision of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Actto incorporate updates since Kansas enactment of the uniform law in 1996. Among other things, the most recent version of UIFSA modifies UIFSA’s existing international provisions to follow through with the obligations of the United States under the 2007 Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.

We will be updating our followers throughout the 2012 Legislative Session. If you have questions or comments, please let us know.