Legislative Issues–2020

The 2020 Kansas Legislature convened on Monday, January 13, 2020, for the second year of the 2019-2020 Legislature. Bills introduced in the 2019 Legislative Session survive for consideration in the 2020 legislative session, although a new version of the holdover bill is often introduced.

The Kansas legislative session generally runs for 90-days until approximately mid-April (although the 2017 Legislative Session lasted 105-days). But with the onset of COVID-19, the Legislature cut its session short, adjourning its regular session two-weeks early on the evening of Thursday, March 19, 2020, under a shadow of uncertainty about whether it would return for the traditional end of the session.

The Legislature left after passing a $19.9 billion budget for 2021 that didn’t include very much proposed spending because of the uncertain economy stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. With its adjournment, the Legislature left behind huge amounts of unfinished work that had caused conflict and consternation during the session (Medicaid expansion, a constitutional amendment seeking to overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision on individual autonomy, and sports betting).

The Legislature traditionally returns for its so-called veto session after taking a break in April. This year, when the session took its April break, the planned return to session on April 27, 2020, was far from guaranteed.

With the return to session imminent, the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC), comprised of House and Senate leadership, met on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, and decided to postpone the Legislature’s return to Topeka (although GOP leadership had been trying to play politics with the pandemic by saying Governor Kelly’s stay-at-home order was hurting the economy, was too long, and shouldn’t include in the restrictions certain groups that regularly meet in mass-gatherings (i.e. churches)). The LCC did not decide when the Legislature would return but instead scheduled a meeting to occur on or before May 6 to determine when it is safe for the Legislature to return. Thus, it was unlikely Veto Session would begin anytime until around May 6th or after. Also, keep in mind sine die, the ceremonial end of Session, set for May 21st, cannot be changed or extended unless the Legislature reconvenes

Elections for all House members and the Governor occurred in November 2018, and with 2020 another election year, the session was consumed with election-year politics and positioning. With the election of Laura Kelly (D) as Governor in 2018, the polarized House and ultraright wing Senate focused much of their politics on disagreeing with the Governor — including over a governor’s power during a state-and-national health emergency.

For the 2020 Session of the Kansas Legislature, individual requests for bill introductions had to be submitted before February 3, 2020; with committee introductions before February 10, 2020. All bills must pass its house-of-origin on or before February 27, 2020–turn-around day (with some exceptions) resuming a week later on March 4, 2020, for the second half of the session.

Bills, other than for funding bills and those assigned to an “exempt committee,” must pass the opposite house of origin on or before March 25, 2020 (second-house turn-around); but with the coronavirus pandemic, those deadlines were whisked away. Normally, all Bills must be considered for final action (other than bills from “exempt” committees) on or before April 3, 2019 (the “drop dead” date), when the Kansas House and Senate would usually take “first adjournment.”

The Legislature returns for its “Veto Session” on April 27, 2020.

The following family law and –related bills and concurrent resolutions were introduced during and pending in the 2020 Kansas Legislature (held-over from 2019 or introduced in 2020):

Senate:

SB85: Domestic battery; authorizing staggered sentencing. (2019 Holdover)

This bill would allow any sentence imposed for domestic battery to be broken up into segments (e.g. three 30-day terms instead of one  90-day  term). The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration on February 5, 2019.

SB88: Protective Orders; increasing penalties for violation. (2019 Holdover)

This bill would increase the penalty for violating a civil protection order issued in a protection from abuse action,  protection from stalking action, or domestic relations action to a Severity Level 7 felony for a second and subsequent violation. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing. The bill was scheduled for hearing on Friday, February 22, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. A Sedgwick County judge (and former Kansas House member) testified in favor of the bill, as did the Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence. The bill was not worked during the 2019 session meaning that it remains available for consideration in 2020.

SB102: Kansas Closed Case Task Force, creation. (PASSED SENATE 38-1) (See HB 2290) Judiciary; allowing chief justice emergency powers to alter deadlines (PASSED HOUSE 113-5)(SENATE CONCURRED 27-7)(GOVERNOR SIGNED MARCH 19, 2020)(EFFECTIVE MARCH 19, 2020)

Introduced on February 5, 2019, SB102 would create a closed case taskforce and require it to hold its initial meeting on or before October 1, 2019. The Task Force could meet in an open meeting at any time and place within Kansas upon the call of either co-chairperson. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled hearings on the bill for Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. On March 8, 2019, the bill was withdrawn from Committee on Judiciary and referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. On March 11, 2019, the bill was referred back to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On March 14, 2019, the Judiciary Committee recommended that the bill be passed and be placed on the Consent Agenda as a noncontroversial bill. The Senate passed the bill Yea: 38 Nay: 1 on March 21, 2019.

The bill was introduced into the House on March 22, 2019 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. As a conferenceable bill, the provisions of the bill were incorporated into and enacted as 2019HB2290 leaving a shell.

On March 13, 2020, in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, the House Committee on Judiciary recommended a substitute bill be included in the SB201 shell containing modified provisions of HB2743 (Allowing the chief justice of the Kansas supreme court to alter or suspend deadlines to secure the health and safety of court users and personnel) and recommended that the bill be placed on the Consent Agenda.

The bill was debated by the House Committee of the Whole on Monday, March 16, 2020. Amendments were offered that slightly changed the provisions of the emergency orders allowed and referencing K.S.A. 48-924. On Emergency Final Action, the House passed the bill Yea: 113 Nay: 5. The five who voted against the bill (Burris, Garber, Houser, Jacobs, and Rhiley) are ultra-conservative members of the House who expressed misgivings allowing the head of another branch of government (the courts) from having emergency powers, wanting to keep that power to themselves).

On March 17, 2020, the Senate concurred in the House amendments Yea: 27 Nay: 7 (with the most ultra-right members of the Senate voting ‘nay’ for many of the same reasons used by ultra-right House members). The approved bill was enrolled and presented to Governor on Thursday, March 19, 2020; and the Governor signed it into law that day.

SB119: Courts; encouraging districts to set up specialty courts. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced into the Senate Judiciary Committee by Sen. Haley (D-Topeka), would encourage state judicial districts to set up “specialty courts,” defined as “a court program that uses therapeutic or problem-solving procedures to address underlying factors that may be contributing to a person’s involvement in the criminal justice system, including, but not limited to, mental illness or drug, alcohol or other addiction.” At the time of the bill’s introduction, Johnson County and Sedgewick County have specialty courts set up and the Kansas Supreme Court has a rule governing specialty courts. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings, and scheduled for hearing on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. The bill was not worked during the 2019 session, but remained available for committee action in 2020.

SB157: Child Custody; creating a presumption in favor of equal parenting time for temporary orders. (2019 Holdover) (PASSED SENATE 39-1)

This bill, introduced on the last day for introduction of bills by individual legislators, is a duplicate of HB2196. The Senate version of the bill, introduced by Senators Hilderbrand, Alley, Berger, Doll, Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Goddard, Haley, Holland, Longbine, Olson, Petersen, Skubal, Suellentrop, Taylor, Wagle and Wilborn. Like its House counterpart, the bill would require courts to impose upon families – both divorcing and couples who had never married – equal parenting time when temporary orders are issued. This bill is another in a line of proposed bad solutions for problems that don’t exist coming from complaints by individuals arising from their own cases and seeking to impose upon everyone in the system cookie-cutter solutions. Just this past December, the Kansas Judicial Council issued a report that strongly came out against these kinds presumptions in its 2018 Report on HB2529, a bill that would have done essentially the same thing this bill seeks, but with final orders. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing.

On February 25, 2019, the bill was withdrawn from Committee on Judiciary and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means to protect it from being dead for the session. The bill was withdrawn from the Committee on Ways and Means and referred back to the Senate Judiciary Committee the next day, February 26, 2019, and set for hearing on Thursday, March 7, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. On March 7, 2019, twenty proponents and 7 opponents, including Ronald W. Nelson, presented testimony. WIBW-TV presented a summary of the testimony in an article the next day quoting Ronald W. Nelson, who presented testimony in opposition to the bill. The Committee worked the bill on Thursday, March 21, 2019, eventually passing the bill out with amendments after the bill nearly failed for lack of a second. The Committee amended the bill in four ways: (1) by inserting a provision that would allow the other party to overcome the equal parenting time presumption “if there is a presentation of documentation or other information by a parent that would support a finding of good cause that domestic abuse has occurred or is occurring.” The amendment further provides that in that instance not only would be equal parenting time provision evaporate, but there would arise a “presumption” that the parents shouldn’t have either joint legal custody or equal parenting time. (2) by defining “joint legal custody” to mean that “both parents retain the decision-making authority for the most important issues affecting a child’s life, including health, education and welfare, and that neither parent has the right to decide such matters without receiving input from or consulting with the other parent.” (3) by defining “parenting time” as “the schedule of time when each parent has actual physical access to a child, during which the scheduled parent is responsible for the physical care and supervision of the child.” (4) by defining “equal parenting time” as being “that a child’s actual physical access to each parent is regular and equal or nearly equal.” The language is poor — in many ways and for many reasons. With those amendments, the bill was placed on the Senate Calendar, but was not debated during the 2019 Session.

On February 4, 2020, without any notice beforehand, the bill was placed on the debate calendar for the Senate Committee of the Whole and debated. Senator Wilborn (R-McPherson) moved to make technical amendments to the bill updating it from 2019 to 2020, and the bill was moved to final emergency action. That same day, the Senate shockingly approved the bill as slightly amended Yea: 39 Nay: 1 (with Sen. Dinah Sykes (D-OP) being the only senator to vote against the bill, explaining:

“Mr. Vice President: I am voting no on SB 157. First, I support the intention of this bill to allow for shared parenting; however, I believe this legislation unintentionally puts children at risk. When dealing with the complex decisions around the best interest of a child, this bill presupposes and defines that the best interest of the child is splitting time equally. In the tumultuous aftermath of divorce, children need stability and as little disruption in their lives as possible. The automatic presumption of shared parenting binds the hands of the judicial decision-maker. My concern is that this bill shifts the focus from children to parents and will lead to children moving between homes frequently eroding stability when that stability is most important. Even in stable relationships with two parents, the work of parenting is rarely equally distributed. Each parent has their own strengths and weaknesses and depending on the needs of the child may need one or the other parent to a greater degree. Again, I support the intention of this bill to try to find a way for both parents to remain involved in children’s lives; however, I think this will make children’s lives more difficult. —DINAH SYKES”

The bill was introduced into the House on February 6, 2020, and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee on February 7, 2020 for hearings. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill Monday, March 9, 2020 at 3:30pm in Room 346-S. Ronald Nelson presented written and in-person testimony against the bill, as did other family law attorneys and domestic violence prevention associations.

SB160: Crimes; related to domestic violence calls to law enforcement. (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 13, 2019. It would require law enforcement officers investigating alleged domestic violence to give certain notices and conduct a lethality assessment to victims and others who are affected. The bill would require police to provide information to victims about the timing of their abuser’s release from custody when an arrest is made. KSNT (Topeka) aired a short segment about the reasons for the bill on February 13. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing.

SB161: Defining the term “primary aggressor” in criminal code and for protection from abuse actions. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on February 13, 2019, by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would define the term “primary aggressor” in the state criminal code (with references to it in the protection from abuse act) as “the person determined to be the most significant aggressor, rather than the first aggressor. In determining the primary aggressor, the court or an officer shall consider the intent of the law to protect victims of domestic violence from continuing abuse, the threats creating fear of physical injury, the history of domestic violence between the persons involved, the nature of the injuries suffered or inflicted on another and whether either person acted in self-defense.” The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

SB162: Children; DCF notification by foster care management contractors (PASSED SENATE 40-0)(2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced by the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare to require notification by a foster care case management contractor and the Kansas DCF if a child in the care of the department is missing from state care for any of the reasons stated in the bill. This bill is an outgrowth of the study of the Kansas Foster Care System for reported and continuing administrative failures through the past years. The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare for hearings.

The bill was set for hearing Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 9:30 AM Room 118-N, but that hearing was cancelled and rescheduled the next day, February 21, 2019 at 9:30 AM in Room 118-N. Senator Baumgardner (R-Louisburg) testified in favor of the bill stating the bill would provide additional transparency and assure the Executive branch, the Legislative branch, and the general public receive timely information about delays in out-of-home placement and the children who have left their out-of home placement. A DCF representative testified to explain current procedures to address the reporting of and investigation into the children in DCF custody who are missing. The DCF representative stated the daily updates the Secretary for Children and Families receives could easily be shared with the Governor’s Office without a statutory change. The DCF representative expressed concern regarding the disclosure of confidential information on the missing children in violation of confidentiality laws relating to children’s identities that might place the federal Title IV-E funds related to child welfare at risk. On February 25, 2019, the Committee worked the bill, amending the bill to clarify the required time frame for a contractor to notify DCF of a foster care child who is missing or spent any overnight period in a facility under the control of the contractor and the time frame for DCF to subsequently notify the required parties; remove the requirement to publish such report in the applicable newspaper; and specify the information to be provided in the report.

The Senate Committee of the Whole debated the bill on February 25, 2019, making technical amendments to the bill. The full Senate passed the bill Yea: 40 Nay: 0 on Emergency Final Action that same day, passing the bill over to the House for consideration.

The bill as amended was introduced into the House on February 28, 2019, assigned to the House Committee on Children and Seniors. The Committee scheduled hearings on the bill for Monday, March 18, 2019, at 1:30 PM in Room 346-S.

SB166: Grandparents as Caregivers; deeming children as foster children. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on February 13, 2019, by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would make changes to the Grandparents as Caregivers Act, including to  reduce the age of grandparents covered by the act from 50 to 40 years of age, and providing that grandparents would be able to obtain parenting skills training at no charge. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was scheduled for hearing Thursday, February 21, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S, but was not worked by Committee before first adjournment, meaning that the bill is dead for the session.

SB214: Child death review board; confidentiality of records (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced on February 22, 2019 and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing. The bill would provide exceptions to confidentiality in the event of a child death while in the care of the state allowing legislators and legislative committees with authority over the Department of Children and Families access to that information in the course of legislative investigations. The bill was scheduled for hearing Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

SB215: Crimes; domestic battery, child endangerment (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on February 25, 2019, would amend child endangerment statutes to include domestic battery in the presence of a child. The bill would also increase the penalties for domestic battery. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings, but the bill was not heard during the 2019 Session.

The Senate Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for January 22, 2020.

SB218: Abuse; requiring duly ordained minister of religion or an employee of or volunteer for a religious organization to report certain abuse and neglect of children. (PASSED SENATE 39-0)(2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced into the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee after bill introduction deadline (to protect it for consideration) is a modification of SB37 originally introduced by Sen. Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City). This bill is the result of negotiations between the original proponents and the Catholic Church. The bill would add duly ordained ministers of religion and employees and volunteers for religious organizations as mandatory reporters of child abuse while protecting pastoral privilege in appropriate circumstances. The bill was referred to the Senate Federal & State Affairs Committee for hearing. The Committee held hearings on the bill Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 10:30 AM in Room 144-S. On March 21, 2019, the Committee recommended the bill be passed as introduced. The Senate Committee of the Whole also recommended the bill be passed and introduced, and the full Senate voted to pass the bill, Yea: 39 Nay: 0, on March 27, 2019, sending the bill to the House. The bill was introduced into the House the same day.

In the 2020 session, the bill was scheduled to be heard by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at 9:00 am in Room 346-S. That hearing was canceled and rescheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 9:00 AM in Room 346-S. But that hearing was also canceled with the impending legislative adjournment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to occur that same day.

SB245: Enacting an “anti-red-flag law prohibiting enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws providing for red-flag orders

This bill, pre-filed by Sen. Richard Hilderbrand (R-Galena) on December 3, 2019 would prohibit state and local governments from enacting or enforcing ‘red-flag’ laws, whether state, federal, or local. It is a duplicate of HB2425, pre-filed in the House by Rep. Mike Houser (R-Columbus). The filing of this bill is a dog-whistle seeking to pander to gun-rights reactionaries who think that any law that might provide reasonable limits on the people who can buy and carry guns is fundamentally wrong. This bill would pre-empt the state, counties, and municipalities from enacting or enforcing any law that provides for “extreme risk protection orders,” generally issued because the person against whom the order is made has been found a danger to self or others if they were able to purchase or possess a firearm. This bill is unconstitutional and will not go anywhere. But the fact that a state legislator thought it was a good idea to introduce it raises more concerns about the lack of sanity in the current legislature. On December 26, 2019, introduction of the bill was decried in an editorial by the Kansas City Star Editorial Board as the kind of law that would encourage lawlessness that “could make Kansas a sanctuary” for dangerous gun enthusiasts and mass murderers: “It would be a manifest tragedy if a Kansan had reason to suspect someone was about to commit a mass shooting and did nothing to stop it. It would be an even greater monstrosity if Kansas law actually prevented such a lifesaving intervention. But that’s precisely what [at least two Kansas] state lawmakers want the law to do, by banning the enforcement of any federal “red flag” law that allows concerned relatives and authorities to seek a court’s help to temporarily keep guns out of the hands of those who clearly pose an imminent risk to themselves or others.”

SB269: Increasing the mandatory retirement age for judges to 80 years of age

This bill, introduced on the second day of the 2020 session by Senators Miller, Doll, Francisco, Haley, Hardy, Longbine, Masterson, Pettey, Rucker and Wilborn, would increase the mandatory retirement age for judges sitting at the district and appeals courts from 75 to 80 and remove the provision that a judge who reaches the maximum age may continue as a judge until the next election cycle for that position. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The bill was scheduled for hearings on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. On January 30, 2020, the Committee recommended that the bill be passed with an amendment to change the mandatory retirement age to age 79 (instead of 80) and making the bill effective upon its publication in the Kansas Register. On February 3, 2020, the bill was withdrawn from the Calendar and re-referred back to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of Senate President Susan Wagle’s campaign to hold up all business in the Senate until her pet project to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision that women have a right to bodily integrity under the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights was passed by the Senate.

SB332: Children in need of care; Changing requirements for court orders directing a child to remain in a present or future placement. (DEAD)

This bill, introduced on January 28, 2020, makes one simple change: modifying the possibility of a court will order a child be placed outside the home to a mandate that the child be placed outside the home if the court adjudicates a child in need of care under certain provisions of the child in need of care code. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill was set for hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. The bill was then rescheduled for hearing on Thursday, February 13, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. The bill was passed out of committee on February 19, 2020 with a recommendation that it be passed as introduced. On March 4, 2020, the bill was stricken from the Senate Calendar when it was not debated before first house turnaround.

SB334: Rules of Evidence and Procedure; Authentication of documents. (PASSED SENATE 39-1)

This bill was introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 28, 2020. The bill would make extensive changes to the rules on authentication of documents to be admitted into evidence. The bill would strike much of the language that now governs authentication of documents (‘ancient documents’ for which indications definitively show the judge that it is reliable and has not been subject to tampering). The bill would substitute a variety of items not normally authenticated and that are often subject to easy tampering. The bill also includes within its terms “examples” of what documents would be admitted under the amendment — an extremely unusual and inappropriate manner of drafting rules of evidence and procedure. “To satisfy the requirement of authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the proponent [would merely have to] produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.” That standard is low and does nothing to protect against modern sophisticated computer tampering–or really even unsophisticated old-school tampering. As described by the Director of Budget in its fiscal note, “SB334 would remove a judge’s ability to make findings regarding business entries with conditions, that when met, allow for admission. The bill would change the authentication process to require the proponent to produce evidence to support a finding that an item is what the proponent claims it is and provides a list of self-authenticating items of evidence. SB334 would require an original writing, recording, or photograph be produced, subject to exceptions found in statutes or rules. In a jury trial, the bill would place the obligation to make a finding regarding authenticity on the jury and not the judge.” The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The bill was set for hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at 10:30 AM Room in 346-S. The bill was then set for hearing on Thursday, February 6, 2020, 10:30 AM Room 346-S. Another hearing was held Wednesday, February 11, 2020, at 10:30 am in Room 346-S. Hearing.

At the Senate Committee hearing, a representative of the Kansas Judicial Council testified in support of the bill, stating the bill represented the result and recommendations of a Kansas Judicial Council advisory committee study to incorporate provisions from the Federal Rules of Evidence into the Kansas Rules of Evidence to address technological advances and eliminate uncertainty arising from appellate court decisions. No opponent or neutral testimony was provided.

The Senate Committee recommended the bill be placed on the Consent Calendar. On February 25, 2020, the Senate passed the bill Yea: 39 Nay: 1, sending it to the House for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the House on March 4, 2020 and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was heard on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 3:30 PM Room in 346-S.

SB384: Foster Care Students; require department of children and families and department of education to prepare annual report on outcomes.

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2020, would require the state department of education and the Kansas department for children and families to prepare an annual report on educational outcomes for foster care students. The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Education. The Senate Committee set hearings on the bill for Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at 1:30 PM in Room 144-S. In the Senate Committee hearing, proponent testimony was provided by representatives of the DCF, Jobs for America’s Graduates–Kansas, and the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, noting the requirement for an annual report card would give a more complete understanding of a foster care student’s experience in the education system. According to the proponents, the report card would allow for better-tailored responses to the needs of foster care students and providing the report card data publicly will ensure transparency and promote accountability for the education of foster youth. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by a private citizen. No neutral or opponent testimony was provided.

The Senate Committee amended the bill to change the language of “report” to “academic report card,” make technical corrections, require de-identified disaggregated race and ethnicity data for all of the required data, and add the Kansas Preschool Pilot program or early childhood special education program under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act to the requirement to report the number and percentage of foster care students enrolled in any preschool-aged at-risk program. As amended, the Committee recommended that the bill be approved.

The bill was debated by the Senate Committee of the Whole on February 27, 2020, and approved for final passage. That same day, the Senate approved the bill Yea: 39 Nay: 0 on Emergency Final Action sending the bill to the House for consideration.

The Senate approved bill was introduced into the House on March 4, 2020, and referred to the House Education Committee. The Education Committee scheduled hearings for Monday, March 16, 2020, at 1:30 PM in Room 218-N. On March 17, 2020, with the anticipated adjournment of the legislature because of the COVID19 pandemic, the Education Committee amended the bill at the request of DCF to require the report cards to include data pertaining to foster youth participation in certain mental health programs.

SB388: Sodomy; decriminalizing voluntary sexual relations.

This bill, introduced by Sen. Vic Miller on February 10, 2020, would decriminalize sodomy if the participating individuals knowingly and voluntarily consented to the act. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

SB404: Termination of parental rights; rape or sexual assault resulting in conception (PASSED SENATE 40-0)

This bill, drafted by the Family Law Advisory Committee of the Kansas Judicial Council and introduced on February 12, 2020, would provide for a process to terminate the parental rights of a person whose sexual assault of another has resulted in the conception of a child, and would expand the reasons for termination of parental rights under the CINC Code from only “rape” to other instances of conception as a result of sexual assault. The bill would also amend the Kansas Family Law Code to add “evidence of an act of sexual assault” as a factor to be considered in determining the issue of legal custody, residency, and parenting time of a child.

A verified petition for termination of parental rights as an independent action would require allegations sufficient to show that: (1) the respondent is the parent of the child; (2) the respondent committed rape, aggravated indecent liberties, or incest against the petitioner; (3) the child was conceived as a result of the act of rape, aggravated indecent liberties, or incest; and (4) termination of the parent-child legal relationship of the respondent with the child is in the best interests of the child.

The bill would require the petition or attached affidavit include information required by the UCCJEA.

The bill includes provisions for sealing identifying information if there are allegations that the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child would be jeopardized by disclosure. These provisions would expire on July 1, 2025, unless reviewed and continued by the Legislature before that date.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and scheduled for hearing on Thursday, February 20, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

In the Senate Committee hearing, representatives of the Kansas Judicial Council and the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence provided proponent testimony, stating the bill would help protect a victim of sexual assault from being required to co-parent with the other biological parent, when a child is conceived as a result of the assault. The Senate Committee made technical amendments to the bill to correct a statutory reference and to remove redundant language, recommending that the amended bill be passed.

On February 26, 2020, the Senate Committee of the Whole recommended that the amended bill be passed. The Senate approved the bill

In the Senate Committee hearing, a representative of the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and four private citizens testified in support of the bill, stating such incidents are increasing and the bill would simplify the process for requiring registration for such offenders. No neutral or opponent testimony was provided.

The Senate Committee amended the bill to add dissemination of any videotape, photograph, film or image of another identifiable person 18 years of age or older who is nude or engaged in sexual activity as one of the variants of breach of privacy requiring registration.

The Senate Committee of the Whole considered the bill on February 26, 2020. The Senate then approved the bill Yea: 40 Nay: 0 on Emergency Final Action, sending it to the House for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the House on March 4, 2020 and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was heard on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 3:30 PM Room in 346-S.

SB415: Domestic violence; relinquishment of firearms

This bill, introduced on February 12, 2020, by Senator Sykes, would be required to relinquish any firearms and any conceal and carry license if a court issued a qualifying protection order against the defendant or upon conviction of domestic battery by the defendant. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing.

SB420: Kansas Offender Registration Act; revenge porn (PASSED SENATE 40-0)

This bill, introduced on February 12, 2020, into the Senate Judiciary Committee would require anyone convicted of certain kinds of breach of privacy (installing a concealed camera to secretly record a nude person, disseminating those nude photos or videos) (generally “revenge porn”) to register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The bill was set for hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee for Monday, February 24, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. In the Senate Committee, a representative of the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and four private citizens testified in support of the bill, stating such incidents are increasing and the bill would simplify the process for requiring registration for such offenders. No neutral or opponent testimony was provided. The Senate Committee amended the bill to add dissemination of any videotape, photograph, film or image of another identifiable person 18 years of age or older who is nude or engaged in sexual activity as one of the variants of breach of privacy requiring registration. The amended bill was recommended for passage.

On February 26, 2020, the Senate Committee of the Whole recommended that the amended bill be approved by the full Senate. On that same day, the Senate approved the amended bill on Emergency Final Action, Yea: 40 Nay 0, sending the bill to the House for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the House on March 4, 2020, and referred to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was scheduled for hearing on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 3:30 PM Room in 346-S. On March 16, 2020, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that an amended version of the bill be adopted. The House Committee amended the bill to apply the new breach of privacy registration requirements to persons convicted on and after July 1, 2020, exempt juvenile offenders from the breach of privacy registration requirements, and add the contents of HB2474, as amended by the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice, which changed penalties for violating the Kansas offender registration act, created a method by which the court could waive the payment of fees, and allow offenders to register in a single location.

SB461: Foster children; designation as high risk missing persons

This bill, introduced on February 20, 2020, would add “[persons] who are children in the custody of the secretary for children and families” to the definition of “high risk missing persons” in KSA 75-712c, which would require that local police and law enforcement agencies, “immediately and specifically make such determination known to the missing and unidentified person system of the Kansas bureau of investigation and cause the information to be entered into the missing person system of the national crime information center as soon as possible after the minimum information to make such entry is received.” The bill was introduced into the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee and assigned to that Committee for hearings.

Concurrent Resolutions

SCR1610: Judiciary; Abolishing Merit Selection, Instituting Political Appointment of Judges for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (2019 Holdover)

On March 27, 2019, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee introduced a proposed  concurrent resolution to amend the Kansas State Constitution to do away with merit selection of the Kansas appellate courts — the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals — with those appointments instead to be made by whim of the governor subject to confirmation by the Senate. This concurrent resolution was made as a further attempt by the Kansas Senate to inject more dysfunction into the political process on the heels of continuing conflict between Governor Laura Kelly and the ultra-conservative leadership in the Kansas Senate as and is a continuation of past efforts during the Brownback administration to turn the state judiciary from an independent branch of government into one controlled by the majority party without merit-based selection being required. The bill was assigned to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee for hearings.

House:

HB2020: Courts; supreme court nominating commission, attorney licensure. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, prefiled by Rep. Carmichael (D-Wichita), would restore the law to the way it read before 2016 (see 2016 HB128, 3rd CCR) when the legislature passed bills pushed by former Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Among other things, the 2016 law required (1) applicants for admission to practice law to provide the following information required of persons applying to register to vote: (a) name, (b) place of residence, (c) date of birth, (d) sex, and (e) the last four digits of the person’s social security number or the person’s full driver’s license or nondriver’s license identification card number; (2) the names, residential addresses, dates of birth, unique voter identification numbers, and dates of licensure to practice law in Kansas of all persons on such certified rosters would be disclosed upon proper request to the Clerk or to the Secretary of State; (3) changes to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission process for elections; (4) prohibiting the nominating commission from having private sessions to discuss private information about judicial applicants.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for review. The bill was scheduled for a hearing Monday, January 28, 2019, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S.

HB2025: CINC; Including a person who has filed a petition for adoption in the definition of an interested party in the child in need of care code. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, prefiled by Rep. Capps (R-Wichita), would designate as an ‘interested party’ in child in need of care proceedings any person who has filed a petition for adoption of the child in need of care, “except that the court may restrict those rights if the court finds that it would be in the best interests of the child.

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Children and Families for review.

HB2079: Sexual battery; Removing the spousal exception from sexual battery. (DEAD)

This bill was introduced by Rep. Brett Parker (D-Overland Park) and would simply remove the exemption from the crime of sexual battery that a spouse cannot commit the act. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary for hearings. As reported by the Lawrence Journal-World, Sen. Holland filed the bill on behalf of a constituent who was abused by a pastor as a child.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and set for hearing on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S. On February 14, 2019, the Committee recommended that the bill be passed by the full House. The bill remained on the Calendar at first adjournment without reassignment to an exempt committee, meaning that it is dead for the session.

In 2020, a new bill (HB2467) was set for hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on January 27, 2020, and passed out of committee on unanimous vote.

HB2129: Protection orders; gun safety red flag act. (2019 Holdover)

This bill is a reintroduction of the ‘red flag act’ proposed in the 2018 legislative session. It would provide a way for police and family members to petition the district court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. Introduced by Representatives Ward and Hodge, the bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

HB2164: Adoption Discrimination Act; repeal. (2019 Holdover)

This bill would repeal the “Adoption Protection  Act,” enacted by the legislature in 2018, which sanctioned discrimination against LGBTQ persons by private adoption agencies. See 2018SB284 discussion on our 2018 Legislative page.

HB2192: Courts; restoring merit selection for Kansas Court of Appeals. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2019, would provide that Kansas Court of Appeals judges are to be reviewed and nominated by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission for merit with three candidates sent to the governor for consideration and appointment. This bill would restore the practice that existed before Sam Brownback and the GOP legislature changed it in 2014 to eliminate merit selection for court of appeals judges, leaving that process to the governor. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings.

HB2196: Child Custody; creating a presumption in favor of equal parenting time for temporary orders. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, as introduced, is a duplicate of SB157. This bill would require that courts impose upon divorcing families equal parenting time when temporary orders are issued. Introduced by Representatives Pittman (D-Leavenworth), Awerkamp (R-St. Marys), Bergquist (R-Park City), Ellis (R-Meriden), Eplee (R-Atchison), Highland (R-Wamego), Hineman (R-Dighton), and Resman (R-Olathe), this bill is another in a line of proposed bad solutions for problems that don’t exist coming from complaints by individuals arising from their own cases and seeking to impose upon everyone in the system cookie-cutter solutions. Just this past December, the Kansas Judicial Council issued a report that strongly came out against these kinds presumptions in its 2018 Report on HB2529, a bill that would have done essentially the same thing this bill seeks, but with final orders. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing.

HB2208: Crimes; creating the crime of ‘sexual extortion’. (DEAD)

This bill was introduced into the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice on February 8, 2019. The bill would provide another prohibition on “revenge porn,” but for when the threat to expose intimate photographs with the intention of compelling the victim to “(A) Engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse or conduct that is of a sexual nature; or (B) produce, provide or distribute an image, video or other recording of a person in a state of nudity or engaging in conduct that is of a sexual nature.”

The House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice held a hearing Monday, February 18, 2019, at 1:30 PM in Room 152-S. The House Committee amended the bill to specify a 15- year registration requirement for the crime when one of the parties involved is under 18 years of age, and recommended that the House pass the amended bill. The bill was stricken from the House Calendar when it was not considered before turnaround day, February 28, 2019.

A similar bill doing the same thing as directed by this bill was introduced in the 2020 Legislative Session. (HB2546)

HB2241: Crimes; creating the crime of rape by misrepresentation of identity. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on February 12, 2019, would amend the Kansas rape statute to assure that a person who committed rape could not use the defense of “consent” because of the mistaken belief by the victim that the perpetrator was a person the victim would have consented to have intimate relations with but for the false representation by the perpetrator that the perpetrator was that other person. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing.

HB2242: Abuse and Neglect; Joint Investigations of certain reports of abuse. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced into the House Judiciary Committee on February 12, 2019, would require the Department of Children and Families to relay any second or subsequent report of abuse or neglect made by a  mandated reporter concerning the same child to an appropriate law enforcement agency within six hours of receiving that report or reports. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings.

HB2320: Enacting the marriage and constitution restoration act. (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced on the last day legislators could introduce bills as individuals, February 13, 2019. The bill would enact the “marriage and constitution restoration act.” The legislators who introduced this ridiculous bill are Representatives Garber (R-Sabetha), Donohoe (R-Shawnee), French (R-Lansing), Helmer (R-Mulvane), Highland (R-Wamego), Huebert (R-Valley Center), Rahjes (R-Agra), and Rhiley (R-Wellington). The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where it will never see the light of day.

There are not enough bad things to be said about the bill. It is poorly written; it drones on for pages and pages with “whereas” clauses (a sure sign that the drafter doesn’t know how legislation is written or how proper English is used; it is contradictory within itself, and it seems to have insult as its primary purpose. The bill reads more like a rant against modern society than anything else. It rambles on with vague complaints against “secular humanism,” marriage by same-sex couples, transgender individuals, marriage not based in the sponsors’ narrow view of what the Bible says about marriage and marital relationships. One of the bills describes sexual orientation as a “mythology.”

Thomas Witt, the Executive Director of Equality Kansas, said about the bills, “The two marriage bills introduced today represent the most vile, hateful, and disrespectful legislation I’ve seen in my fourteen years as Equality Kansas’s lobbyist. Every year, we see bills that seek to restrict, remove, and limit the rights of LGBT Kansans, but never have we seen the level of extremist vitriol laid out in legislative language. These bill combines are 18 pages of insults and name-calling. Fred Phelps would be proud. The sponsors of these bills should be ashamed of themselves.”

This bill and its companion, HB2321, quickly garnered national attention, with a Newsweek article being one of them. USAToday and TheHill.com also picked up on Kansas’s embarrassment.

HB2321:Creating the “optional elevated marriage act.” (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced on the last day legislators could introduce bills as individuals, February 13, 2019, in tandem with HB2320, which would create the “marriage and constitutional restoration act.” This bill would enact “elevated marriage,” which is presumably better than the apparently degraded marriage everyone has always entered and that religious institutions have always recognized and blessed.” The legislators who introduced this ridiculous bill are Representatives Garber (R-Sabetha), Donohoe (R-Shawnee), French (R-Lansing), Helmer (R-Mulvane), Highland (R-Wamego), Huebert (R-Valley Center), Rahjes (R-Agra), and Rhiley (R-Wellington). The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and will never see the light of day other than to highlight the idiocy of its sponsors.

HB2333: Adoption; allowing a decree to provide for an earlier effective date. (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced February 14, 2019, in the House Judiciary Committee. It was not then set for hearing. The bill would allow a court to enter a final decree of adoption to take effect at an earlier date than the filing of the final judgment if the court makes a specific finding of fact that “it is in the best interests of the child.” However, “In no case shall such decree take effect before a bona fide relationship was established between the child to be adopted and the prospective adoptive parent.” The bill shows a deep lack of knowledge about final judgments, appellate practice, civil procedure, and family-and-probate law litigation. The bill appears to have been submitted to deal with a single case because of the provision allowing for a retroactive entry of an amended order if the original order was entered before the statute effective date. The bill note indicates that the bill was introduced in 2019 by the House Committee on Judiciary at the request of Representative Highberger on behalf of Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC. The bill was scheduled for hearing in the 2020 session by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S.

In the 2020 House Committee hearing, a Washburn University law professor, a representative of Sharma- Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC, and another attorney testified in support of the bill, stating the bill would allow Kansas judges to protect the rights and best interests of a small group of children who might otherwise be denied such rights due to an arbitrary filing date controlled by scheduling vagaries. Two attorneys, two private citizens, and a representative of the Adoptee Rights Campaign provided written-only proponent testimony. No neutral or opponent testimony was provided.

On February 25, 2020, the House Committee amended the bill to limit the ability to order an earlier effective date to no more than two years earlier than the filing of the judgment and only when the child being adopted is 16 or 17 years of age, and to change the date of the modification provision from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020. The bill was stricken from the House calendar on February 27, 2020, having not been debated by the full House before turnaround 2020.

HB2359: Establishing the child welfare system delivery task force. (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced on the last day that Committee introduced bills could be introduced by the House Committee on Children and Seniors. The bill would establish a committee (similar to the task force established in 2018 to investigate the child welfare system and recommend legislation and improvements arising out of that investigation. The task force would be tasked with:

“(1) Determining the monetary costs required to adequately fund high- quality state child welfare services;
(2) evaluating the benefits and disadvantages of the privatization of state child welfare services;
(3) determining the best level of collaboration among private and public entities that are responsible for the delivery of state child welfare services; and
(4) submitting reports to the governor and the legislature on a semi-annual basis, beginning on February 1, 2020, concerning the findings of the task force and any recommended changes of state.”

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Children and Seniors.

HB2376: Authorizing amendments to a registrant’s birth certificate when there is a change in the registrant’s sex. (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on February 19, 2019. It would allow for changes to an applicant’s Kansas birth certificate when there is a change in the registrant’s sex. The bill was assigned to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee for review.

HB2392: Child abuse; household members as mandatory reporters, investigations required. (2019 Holdover)

This bill was introduced on March 11, 2019, into the House Federal and State Affairs Committee by Rep. Louis Ruiz (D-KCK) and referred to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill would amend the Kansas Code for Care of Children to require that a child who was an alleged victim of abuse or neglect be visually observed by the employee of the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) or the law enforcement agency investigating the report. As introduced, the bill would require that “any adult who resides in the same home as the child” would be a statutorily mandated reporter of child abuse and could suffer the same penalties for not reporting suspected child abuse as professionals now mandated with the reporting duty. The bill would provide that in the event of a joint investigation by DCF and law enforcement, both would be required to visually observe such child. All investigation reports required by the bill would have to include the date, time, and location of any such visual observation of a child.

On March 21, 2019, the bill was withdrawn from the House Judiciary Committee and referred to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee to protect it from session deadlines. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee scheduled the bill for hearings on Thursday, March 21, 2019, at 9:00 AM in Room 346-S. On March 25, 2019, the Committee amended the bill to remove the provisions that would have added any adult residing in the same home as the child to the list of individuals required to make a report if they suspect a child has been harmed as a result of physical, mental, or emotional abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse. The language eliminated by the House Committee also contained a definition of “adult residing in the same home” and several immunity provisions. The bill was placed on the House calendar for debate, but was not considered before the session’s veto session. KSN-TV published a story on the bill April 16, 2019.

HB2393: Support Debt; setoff against debtors, support debt matched by gaming facilities. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on March 12, 2019, would provide for the definition of “support debt” and “support debtor,” and would provide for the collection of that support debt from any amounts of money to be paid to a support debtor by any gaming facility, lottery, race track or other similar facility.

HB2394: Child Abuse; changing penalties. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on March 12, 2019, would change the definition of criminal ‘abuse of a child’ to more objective and less hyperbolic terms. The present statute criminalizes “torturing or cruelly beating” a child and “inflicting cruel and inhuman pain and suffering on a child.” This bill would change that definition to instead define the term as “knowingly causing physical contact with any child less than 18 years of age that results in or could reasonably be expected to result in physical injury to the child; or recklessly causing bodily harm to any child less than 18 years of age.” The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was set for hearings Monday, March 18, 2019, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S.

HB2403: Establishing the joint committee on child welfare system oversight. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced on March 21, 2019, by the Committee on Taxation would establish a joint legislative committee on child welfare system oversight. The joint committee shall review among other things, the level of oversight and supervision by the Kansas department for children and families over each entity that contracts with the Kansas department for children and families to provide reintegration, foster care and adoption services. The joint committee would consist of 11 members of the legislature from various committees. The bill was referred for hearing to the House Committee on Children and Seniors. The bill was immediately set for hearing on Friday, March 22, 2019, at 1:30 PM Room in 346-S. On March 25, 2019, the Committee amended the bill to modify the topics to be addressed by the Joint Committee, the number of authorized meetings, and the timeline for the first meeting.

HB2406: Relinquishment of firearms pursuant to certain court orders. (2019 Holdover)

This bill, introduced through the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on March 25, 2019, would allow a court to order the relinquishment of firearms by anyone subject to criminal or civil orders for domestic battery, protection from stalking, or protection from abuse. The bill was referred back to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee for hearings.

HB2425: Enacting an “anti-red-flag law prohibiting enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws providing for red-flag orders

This bill, pre-filed on December 4, 2019, by Rep. Mike Houser (R-Columbus) is a dog-whistle filing that seeks to pander to gun-rights reactionaries who think that any law that might provide reasonable limits on the people who can buy and carry guns is fundamentally wrong. This bill would pre-empt the state, counties, and municipalities from enacting or enforcing any law that provides for “extreme risk protection orders,” generally issued because the person against whom the order is made has been found a danger to self or others if they were able to purchase or possess a firearm. This bill is unconstitutional and will not go anywhere. But the fact that a state legislator thought it was a good idea to introduce it raises more concerns about the lack of sanity in the current legislature. On December 26, 2019, introduction of the bill was decried in an editorial by the Kansas City Star Editorial Board as the kind of law that would encourage lawlessness that “could make Kansas a sanctuary” for dangerous gun enthusiasts and mass murderers: “It would be a manifest tragedy if a Kansan had reason to suspect someone was about to commit a mass shooting and did nothing to stop it. It would be an even greater monstrosity if Kansas law actually prevented such a lifesaving intervention. But that’s precisely what [at least two Kansas] state lawmakers want the law to do, by banning the enforcement of any federal “red flag” law that allows concerned relatives and authorities to seek a court’s help to temporarily keep guns out of the hands of those who clearly pose an imminent risk to themselves or others.”

HB2426: Revising references within the Kansas Code of Civil Procedure

This bill, pre-filed on December 12, 2019, by Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger (D-Lawrence) would correct various references within the code of civil procedure for internal consistency and correct cross-reference. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The bill was scheduled for hearing before the House Judiciary Committee for Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S, but the hearing was canceled and rescheduled for Monday, January 27, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S. In Committee, Representative Highberger testified as a proponent, stating the bill contained corrections to statutory references found by himself and the Office of Revisor of Statutes. On January 28, 2020, the Committee passed the bill out of Committee recommending that it be placed on the Consent Calendar. On February 3, 2020, the bill was approved Yea: 114 Nay: 0, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate that same day and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Senate Committee scheduled hearings for Monday, February 17, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

HB2445: Allowing children who run away to be placed in a juvenile detention facility for 24 hours

This bill, introduced on January 15, 2020, would allow for a maximum 24-hour detention in a secure facility for any child who runs away. The bill would provide for an additional means of enforcement of protective orders for judges who do not now have the power to order detention.

The bill was scheduled for hearing before the Corrections and Juvenile Justice for January 28, 2020, in Room 152-S at 1:30p.

HB2447: Civil Procedure; two-way video communications for hearings. (HOUSE PASSED 83-39)

This bill, introduced on January 16, 2020, in the House Judiciary Committee would amend various codes governing how court hearings may be conducted (municipal, criminal, and civil). The bill was introduced at the request of the Judicial branch. As introduced, the bill would allow for the use of teleconferencing and two-way video communications in situations not now allowed. For example, the bill would add language to the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children stating, in any proceeding under the Code, the court may allow a child or parent to appear by videoconference in lieu of the child’s or parent’s personal presence. The bill would replace the provision allowing for video-conferences in civil matters by allowing testimony by contemporaneous transmission from a different location whenever any party requests the use of videoconferencing by written notice at least seven days before the hearing or proceeding. The notice would have to include the name and Internet protocol address of the testifying witness and the date and time the witness would testify. The court could modify the notice period upon a showing of good cause, and the bill would allow the Supreme Court to adopt rules to govern the administration of an oath to a witness who testifies by videoconference under these provisions.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and set for hearing on January 23, 2020, at3:30 PM in Room 346-S. At the House Committee hearing, the Chief Judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals and representatives of the League of Kansas Municipalities and Kansas Association of District Court Clerks and Administrators testified in support of the bill, stating generally that the bill represented the recommendations of the Judicial Branch Videoconferencing Committee and would allow increased use of videoconferencing in courts across the state. A representative of the Kansas Bar Association submitted written-only proponent testimony. 

On February 13, 2020, the House Committee amended the bill to also allow parents to testify via videoconferencing under the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children and to allow the court to modify the notice period for good cause and to allow the Supreme Court to adopt rules to govern the administration of an oath for the provisions in the Rules of Civil Procedure, and recommended the amended bill be passed by the full House.

On February 19, 2020, the bill was debated by the House Committee of the Whole, during which the House rejected an amendment to the bill that would have inserted unnecessary language into the provisions that allowed the courts to allow testimony by videoconference link (the amendment proposed insertion of the phrase, “by the court for good cause shown and with appropriate safeguards,” which is what the courts already do). The House Committee of the Whole recommended that the bill as amended by Committee be passed, and the full House passed the bill February 20, 2020,  Yea: 83 Nay: 39.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on January 20, 2020, and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate Committee scheduled hearings on the bill for Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 10:30 AM Room in 346-S. The Senate Committee set an additional hearing date for Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. The Senate Committee set hearings for Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 10:30 AM Room 346-S, but canceled; and then Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S, and canceled that hearing as well because of the Legislature’s adjournment due to the COVID19 pandemic.

HB2457: Family Law; allowing for the opening and sealing of a civil action to amend or correct a birth certificate.

This bill, introduced on January 21, would amend the Kansas Parentage Act to provide that the court case filed to amend or correct a birth certificate shall be sealed, including the parents’ affidavits, court orders, and the original birth certificate to be released only upon order of the court for good cause shown. The proposed change addresses privacy concerns about having birth certificates and other private information open to the public within court records. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. A hearing was scheduled for January 22, 2020.

HB2467: Sexual battery; removing spousal exception. (PASSED HOUSE 105-15)

This bill, a near duplicate of HB considered in the 2019 Session, would remove the spousal exception to the crime of sexual battery. When the previous version of the bill was heard by the House Judiciary Committee, it was passed but died when it was not debated by the House Committee of the Whole before the end of the 2019 session. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which held hearings on the bill January 27, 2020.

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on January 27, 2020, and the bill passed out of committee on unanimous vote. No one testified in opposition to House Bill 2467 and the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed it out of committee without debate. In an article on the bill’s passage out of committee, the Topeka Capital-Journal quoted Michelle McCormick, program director for the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment in Topeka as testifying that, “The current law is especially harmful to individuals who are sexually battered as part of an abusive marriage. It seems unconscionable to me that we would allow a law to stand that allows unwanted sexually violent touch within marriages.” The bill was again placed on the House Calendar for consideration by the 2020 House.

The House Committee of the Whole debated the bill on February 6, 2020. During debate, Rep. Cindy Holscher moved to amend the bill to add a requirement that anyone convicted of domestic battery undergo a domestic violence offender assessment conducted by a certified batterer intervention program and follow all recommendations made by such program. On final action, February 7, 2020, the House passed the amended bill Yea: 105 Nay: 15, sending it on to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on February 10, 2020, and was assigned for hearings to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB2487: Children with Disabilities; changing language. (PASSED HOUSE 118-7)

This bill was introduced on January 23, 2020. It would amend Kansas law to substitute the term “emotional disability” for the term, “emotional disturbance” in the definitions of “children with disabilities” and “individuals with disabilities.” The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Education for hearings.

The House Education Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for February 4, 2020, at 1:30 pm in Room 218-N. On February 7, 2020, the Committee passed out the bill without amendments for debate by the full House. In the House Committee, proponents stated that the change was appropriate because of the negative stigma associated with the term “emotional disturbance.” Proponents indicated the change would have no effect on special education services provided. The bill was placed above the line for debate by the House Committee of the Whole on February 25, 2020, but passed over retaining its place on the Calendar. The bill was debated by the House Committee of the Whole on February 26, 2020. On that same day, the House approved the bill on Emergency Final Action   Yea: 118 Nay: 7, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on March 4, 2020, and assigned to the Senate Education Committee for hearings. The Senate Education Committee scheduled hearings on the bill for Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 1:30 PM in Room 144-S. On March 18, 2020, the Senate Committee recommended a substitute bill that, would amend the law related to special education, the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH), and the issuance of handicapped placards for motor vehicles, and would also enact the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact, in addition to the provisions changing terminology. The Senate Substitute contains the provisions of HB2487, as recommended by the House Committee on Education, SB230, as amended by the Senate Committee of the Whole, SB284, as amended by the Senate Committee on Education, and SB490, as introduced.

HB2500: Kansas power of attorney act; form and duties. (PASSED HOUSE 122-0)

This bill, introduced on January 24, 2020, would provide that a Kansas power of attorney would be deemed sufficient if executed on a form provided by the Kansas Judicial Council. But the bill would also make clear that a third party presented with the power of attorney would have no duty to inquire into the powers of the attorney-in-fact or whether the attorney in fact is exceeding or improperly exercising the attorney in fact’s authority, so long as the third party is relying in good faith upon a document provided to the third party, although the provision would not relieve the third person of any duty “to report abuse, neglect or exploitation” and “making such report shall relieve the third person of any liability for not accepting a power of attorney.”

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S.

In the House Committee hearing, a representative of the Kansas Judicial Council testified in support of the bill stating the bill is intended to address entities who improperly refuse to accept durable powers of attorney. A representative of the Office of the Attorney General testified as a neutral conferee and requested amendments to the bill. A representative of the Kansas Land Title Association submitted written-only testimony opposing the bill and suggesting an amendment

On February 17, 2020, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the bill be passed with an amendment to address the validity of powers of attorney executed prior to the amendments made by the bill, remove a provision regarding a third party’s duty to determine or inquire regarding whether an attorney-in-fact is exceeding or improperly exercising authority, limit an award of attorney fees to cases wherein a third person does not act in good faith, add a statutory cross-reference, and add provisions specifying a method of acknowledgment and allowing a third person to rely on an opinion of counsel.

The bill was placed on the House Calendar for debate for February 20, 2020. After brief debate by the House, during which some representatives praised the process for creating uniform laws by the Uniform Laws Commission, the House recommended passage of the bill without further amendments. On emergency final action immediately after Committee of the Whole action on February 20, 2020, the House passed the bill Yea: 122 Nay: 0 sending the bill to the Senate.

The Senate received the bill on February 24, 2020 and referred the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled hearings for Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

HB2518: Domestic Violence; counting crimes of domestic violence as prior convictions. (PASSED HOUSE

This bill, introduced on January 29, 2020, would amend the criminal penalty statutes to count any crime with a “domestic violence” designation as a prior conviction under the crime of “domestic battery.” The bill was assigned to the Committee on Corrections for hearing. The bill was heard Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at 1:30 PM Room in 152-S.

The Committee passed out the bill for consideration by the full House on February 18, 2020. On February 25, 2020, the House Committee of the Whole approved the bill for passage. The full House passed the bill on February 26, 2020, Yea: 125 Nay: 0, sending the bill to the Senate.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on March 4, 2020, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 5, 2020. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled hearings for Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

HB2533: Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act. (DEAD)

This bill, introduced on January 30, 2020 at the request of the Kansas Bar Association, would enact the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act. If enacted, Kansas would be the fourth state to adopt the UFLAA (North Dakota, Arizona, and Hawaii being the other states that have adopted the Act since it was proposed in 2017.

The uniform act sets out arbitration procedures chronologically, from defining an arbitration agreement to providing standards for vacating a confirmed award. Many of the provisions of the UFLAA are familiar to arbitrators and practitioners in the dispute resolution field because the UFLAA is based in part on the Uniform Arbitration Act (1955) and Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (2000) (which was adopted by the Kansas Legislature in 2017). The UFLAA’s provisions for arbitrator disclosure, award, appeals, and arbitrator immunity, among others, are drawn substantially from these earlier uniform acts. Since family law disputes are different from traditional commercial disputes, however, the UFLAA contains some key provisions that do not appear in the Uniform Arbitration Act or Revised Uniform Arbitration Act. The bill was assigned to the Judiciary Committee for hearings.

The bill was set for hearing on February 5, 2020, at 3:30 pm in Room 346-S. The hearing was canceled due to snow, and rescheduled for February 6, 2020, at 3:30 pm in Room 346-S. In the House Committee hearing, Washburn University Law Professor Diane Elrod, the reporter for the Uniform Laws Commission Committee that drafted the UFLAA testified in support of the bill, stating the need for alternatives to litigation to resolve family law disputes. Larry Rute, a representative of the KBA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, provided written-only testimony supporting the bill. No other testimony was provided.

The Committee passed out the bill for consideration by the full House as introduced, on February 17, 2020. On February 27, 2020, the bill was stricken from the Calendar.

HB2546: Crimes; creating the crime of sexual extortion (PASSED HOUSE 125-0)

This bill, introduced on February 4, 2020, by Representatives Owens, Croft, Erickson, Lynn, Waggoner, Warren, and Wasinger, would create the crime of sexual extortion. The bill would define “sexual extortion” as communicating by any means a threat to injure the property or reputation of a person, commit violence against a person, or distribute an image or video of a person that is of a sexual nature or depicts such person in a state of nudity with the intent to coerce that person to engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or conduct of a sexual nature; or produce, provide, or distribute an image, video, or other recording of a person in a state of nudity or engaging in conduct that is of a sexual nature. The bill would essentially expand the current crime of “revenge porn” and make it a felony rather than a misdemeanor. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings on February 3, 2020.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill Monday, February 17, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S. Representatives of Legal Momentum – The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence testified in support of the bill, stating the bill would address conduct that does not fit squarely within Kansas’ current sexual conduct and blackmail offenses. The House Judiciary Committee recommended passage of the bill without amendment on February 20, 2020. The bill was debated by the House Committee of the Whole on February 25, 2020, and recommended for passage. On February 26, 2020, the House passed the bill Yea: 125 Nay: 0 sending the bill to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on March 4, 2020, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled hearings on the bill for Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S.

HB2587: Adoptions; venue.

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2020, would allow the venue for an agency adoption to be in the county where a state agency or their subcontracting agencies have offices when the state is the agency. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary.

In the House Committee hearing, Representative Humphries testified in support of the bill, stating the change would remedy an unintended omission in the law and encourage attorneys to continue offering their services in agency adoptions. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by DCF, which requested an amendment to replace “subcontracting agency” with “foster care case management grantee.” On February 20, 2020, the Committee recommended that the bill be passed without the amendment suggested by DCF.

The bill was heard by the House Committee on Judiciary on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at 3:30 pm in Room 346-S. On February 20, 2020, the House Judiciary Committee recommended the adoption of the bill without amendment. On February 25, 2020, the House Committee of the Whole recommended the full House adopt the bill. On February 26, 2020, the House passed the bill Yea: 124 Nay: 1, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on March 4, 2020, and then referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 5, 2020. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled hearings for Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. An addition hearing scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S was canceled, as was a hearing scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S because of the Legislature’s COVID19-related adjournment.

HB2590: Allowing law enforcement to have access to information from Kansas Department of Children and Families.

This bill, introduced by Rep. Capps on February 7, 2020, would allow law enforcement officials access to certain information from the Kansas Department of Children and Families information related to children for the purpose of ensuring the safety of any child and such child’s family. The extremely broad language allowing incredible access to private information not only about a child, but that child’s family would open up DCF records dramatically. The bill was assigned to the Committee on Children and Seniors for hearing.

HB2591: Allow members of the house of representatives and senate remain in a courtroom closed by a judge pursuant to court rule.

This bill, introduced by Rep. Capps on February 7, 2020, would allow any elected state representative to remain in the courtroom while confidential child in need of care proceedings are being heard notwithstanding any local court rule restricting access to the courtroom. Judges already have the power to allow selected individuals to remain in the courtroom on a need-to-know basis. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Children and Seniors.

HB2604: Child Abuse; requiring registration of persons convicted.

This bill, introduced on February 10, 2020, by Rep. Helmer, would require that anyone convicted of the crime of child abuse would have to register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (generally applied to sexual offenders). The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings.

HB2641: Marriage; removing gendered language.

This bill, introduced by Representatives Ruiz and Woodard on February 12, 2020, would remove language in the Kansas statutes presuming that spouses are to be of the opposite sex. The proposed amendments would remove the phrases “husband and wife” and “of the opposite sex” in recognition of the Constitutional rights of all people to marry. The bill was assigned to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee for hearings.

HB2651: Crimes; aggravated abuse of a child

This bill, introduced on February 12, 2020, by Rep. Pittman, would create the crime of “aggravated abuse of a child,” defined variously as “knowingly inflicting cruel and inhuman corporal punishment with a deadly weapon on a child less than 18 years of age, recklessly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to any child less than 18 years of age, or knowingly using unreasonable physical restraint against a child less than 18 years of age.” The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice of hearings.

HB2675: Protection from Abuse; additional basis to extend protection order.

This bill was introduced on February 13, 2020 in the House Judiciary Committee. It would expand the reasons for which a judge may extend a protection order for more than one additional year (two-years to the life of the defendant). The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings.

A hearing was scheduled for Monday, February 17, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S. In the House Committee hearing, an attorney, a private citizen, and a representative of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence testified in support of the bill, stating the bill would allow longer extensions of protective orders for certain past victims of abuse who are not currently eligible for such extensions. On February 20, 2020, the Committee passed the bill out for consideration by the full House. The bill was stricken from the House Calendar on February 27, 2020, when it was not debated before the turn-around deadline.

HB2699: CINC; court services officers. (PASSED HOUSE 105-20)

This bill, introduced on February 14, 2020, would require court services officers to assist with child in need of care cases when directed by a judge. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and scheduled for hearing on Monday, February 17, 2020, at 3:30 PM Room in 346-S.

In the House Committee hearing, a Sedgwick County district court , speaking in his individual capacity, and two attorneys testified in support of the bill, stating CSOs in Sedgwick County have assisted with child in need of care (CINC) cases since the 1970s and help efficiently manage the high volume of such cases. A representative of the Judicial Branch gave neutral testimony, stating that a recent Kansas Supreme Court workgroup reviewed CSO caseloads and recommended CSOs not continue providing ten services currently performed in some areas of the state, including CSO supervision of CINC cases when a child is in the custody of the Secretary. This is another in a long line of bills that have been introduced over the years seeking to make state law conform to Sedgwick County practices (often not for the best). On February 21, 2020, the Committee passed out the bill without amendments for consideration by the full House. On February 25, 2020, the House Committee of the Whole recommended passage of the bill. The full House passed the bill Yea: 105 Nay: 20 on February 26, 2020, sending the bill to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on March 4, 2020, and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Senate Committee scheduled the bill for a hearing on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S. An additional hearing scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S and another set for Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S, were canceled due to the impending legislative adjournment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

HB2700: Dependent persons; financial abuse

This bill, introduced on February 14, 2020, would update the list of mandatory reporters of abuse, create a definition of “financial exploitation,” and increase the time within which DCF must complete an initial investigation from 30 to 60 working days. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing.

On February 26, 2020, the bill was withdrawn from the House Judiciary Committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee (an exempt committee) to protect it from death by turnaround. The bill was referred back to the House Judiciary Committee on March 4, 2020, but then withdrawn from House Judiciary and referred to the House Committee on Children and Seniors on March 10, 2020. The Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for Monday, March 16, 2020, at 1:30 PM in Room 346-S, but that hearing was canceled with the impending legislative adjournment on March 19, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HB2713: Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (PASSED SENATE 122-3)

This bill, introduced on February 14, 2020, in the House Judiciary Committee would enact the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Act replacing the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, which was enacted by Kansas in 1984. It would apply to a notarial effect performed on or after January 1, 2022. Among other clarifications and improvements, the RULNA would require, if a notarial act relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on a record, the individual making the statement or executing the signature to appear personally before the notarial officer. It would continue these provisions from ULONA, adding a “dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty” standard to the “personally known” qualification and providing additional detail regarding the identification documents or verification or affirmation of a credible witness that may be used to identify an individual. RULONA would allow a notarial officer to require an individual to provide additional information or identification credentials necessary to assure the officer of the individual’s identity. If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct another individual, other than the notarial officer, to sign the individual’s name on the record, with specified language to be added by the notarial officer in such cases. It would also add a requirement that the laws of the state that has commissioned the notary public who performed the notarial act require the notary public to be present in that state while performing the notarial act. If the physical presence requirement for a notarial act is satisfied by the use of audio and video communication between the notary public and a remotely located individual, the bill would require the laws of the state that has commissioned the notary public require the notary public to ascertain the identity of the individual. A notary public in Kansas could perform a notarial act using communication technology for a remotely located individual under requirements stated in the Act.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2020, and set for hearing on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S. An additional hearing scheduled for Thursday, February 20, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Room 346-S was canceled. The Judiciary Committee passed the bill out of Committee on February 25, 2020, with amendments to other statutes to conform them to the RULONA. On February 26, 2020, the House Committee of the Whole recommended passage of the Committee amended bill. On Emergency Final Action that same day, the House passed the amended bill Yea: 122 Nay: 3, sending the bill to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced into the Senate on March 4, 2020, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings March 5, 2020. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 10:30 AM in Room 346-S, just a couple days before the Legislature broke for recess as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HB2733: Firearms; relinquishment upon issuance of certain orders, protection orders, domestic violence convictions.

This bill, introduced on March 10, 2020 in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee (an exempt committee), would require that a court enter an order that a defendant relinquish any firearms in that defendant’s possession, custody, or control and any concealed carry license issued to the defendant upon: (1) the court’s issuance of a qualifying protection order against that defendant; or (2) the defendant’s conviction for domestic battery or any misdemeanor for a domestic violence offense. Violation of the order would constitute a felony. The bill was assigned to the Federal and State Affairs Committee for hearings.

HB2735: Child custody; parent blindness not to be a factor.

This bill, introduced on March 10, 2020, into the House Federal and State Affairs Committee would prohibit a court from considering a parent’s blindness as a basis for the denial or restriction of legal custody, residency, or parenting time when the court has otherwise determined that the child’s best interests are served by that parent having legal custody, residency, or parenting time. The bill would require that a party alleging that a parent’s blindness makes it not in the best interests of a child, the party asserting that allegation would have the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the parent’s blindness is not in the best interests of the child. If that burden was reached, then the blind parent would have the opportunity to present evidence that, with the implementation of supportive parenting services, placement with such parent is in the best interests of the child. Finally, the bill would provide that the court may issue an order requiring that supportive parenting services be implemented, and the parties may request that the court review the need for continuing such supportive parenting services after a reasonable period of time. All of these things can already be done. The bill while undoubtedly well intentioned makes broad brush strokes at a complex issue and doesn’t consider how courts actually assess best interests considerations in real cases. The bill was assigned for hearings to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.