Legislative Issues – 2018

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

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

The 2016 election resulted in a dramatic shift for the Legislature. Since 2012, the Kansas Legislature had been dominated by “conservative” Republicans, with “moderate” Republicans and Democrats being a distinct minority. The 2016 election created a more balanced legislature — with approximately 1/3 of the seats held by each of the three “factions” (Brownback Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Democrats).

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

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

Bills, other than for funding, must pass the opposite house from origin on or before March 29, 2018 (second-house turn-around). All Bills must be considered for final action (other than bills from “exempt” committees) on or before April 6, 2017 (the “drop dead” date), when the Kansas House and Senate take “first adjournment.”

The major event weighing on the legislature in 2018 is the Kansas Supreme Court’s order that the legislature pass adequate funding of the public schools or else schools would not be able to open for the 2018-19 school year. Although the Kansas House passed a $500 million funding bill on April 3, 2018, that afternoon, Kansas Senate leadership announced to the GOP caucus that it would not bring any education funding bill to the floor for debate until an amendment to the Kansas Constitution (HCR5029) was passed by both houses and sent on to Kansas voters for consideration; social media exploded. On April 4, 2018, new Governor Colyer announced that he supported the House school funding bill of $500 million splitting with Senate leadership’s take no prisoner stance.

The Legislature returns for its “Veto Session” on April 29, 2018. The Legislature was expected to return again in late-May 2018 for adjournment sine die.

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

Senators chosen to lead committees are:

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

House members chosen to lead committees in 2018 are:

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

The following family law and related bills and concurrent resolutions were pending in the 2018 Kansas Legislature:

Senate:

HSub SB179: Crimes; Human Trafficking, unlawful use of a communication facility (PASSED SENATE 40-0) Mental health, CINC; creating juvenile crisis intervention centers. (SUB PASSED HOUSE  124-0)(CONFERENCE)

As introduced, HB179 would amend the law concerning human trafficking and would create new crimes and amendments to existing crimes and other related provisions, including internet trading in child pornography and aggravated internet trading in child pornography. The bill was introduced on February 10, 2017, and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing. On February 23, 2017, the bill was withdrawn from the Judiciary Committee and referred to the Senate Committee on State and Federal Affairs. On March 6, 2017, the bill was withdrawn from State and Federal Affairs and reassigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard testimony about the bill on Tuesday, March 07, 2017, at 10:30 am in Room 346-S.

On March 10, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment to clarify that persons convicted of promoting sexual relations would be required to register pursuant to the Kansas Offender Registration Act for 15 years; require the Attorney General, rather than the Secretary of Revenue, to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the requirement for training on human trafficking; amend the definition of aggravated human trafficking with language similar to that of the current crime of commercial sexual exploitation and make related amendments; provide an affirmative defense to aggravated human trafficking when the defendant was a victim; and replace “person under 18 years of age” with “child,” which would be defined to have the same meaning. The bill was placed on the Senate Calendar, but passed over March 28, 2018 for debate on March 30, 2018. On March 30, 2018, the Senate Committee of the Whole recommended that the amended bill be passed, and the Senate passed the bill Yea: 40 Nay: 0 on Final Action.

The amended bill was introduced into the House on April 3, 2017, but was not heard during the 2017 Session. At the beginning of the 2018 Session, the House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for Monday, March 12, 2018, at 03:30 pm in Room 112-N. On March 26, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee recommended a Substitute Bill containing modified language from HB2787, creating juvenile crisis intervention centers. The Substitute Bill would create law describing an intervention center as a facility that provides short-term observation, assessment, treatment and case planning, and referral for any juvenile experiencing a mental health crisis that causes the juvenile to be likely to cause harm to self or others. A juvenile could be admitted to an intervention center when:

  • The head of the center determines the juvenile is in need of treatment and is likely to cause harm to self or others;
  • A qualified professional from a community mental health center (CMHC) has given written authorization for the juvenile to be admitted to an intervention center; and
  • No other more appropriate treatment services are available and accessible to the juvenile at the time of admission.A juvenile could be admitted to an intervention center for not more than 30 days, and a parent with legal custody or a legal guardian of the juvenile could remove the juvenile from the center at any time. If the removal could cause the juvenile to become a child in need of care pursuant to the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children (CINC Code), the head of the intervention center could report such concerns to the Department for Children and Families (DCF) or could request the county or district attorney to initiate proceedings under the CINC Code. The bill would amend the statute governing when a law enforcement officer (LEO) may take a child into custody believing the child to be in need of care to require an LEO to take a child under 18 years of age into custody when the LEO reasonably believes the child is experiencing a mental health crisis and is likely to cause harm to self or others.

    The bill would amend the statutes governing ex parte CINC protective custody orders and temporary custody orders to allow placement, after written authorization by a CMHC, with an intervention center. The circumstances justifying an entry of a temporary custody order would be amended to include probable cause to believe the child is experiencing a mental health crisis and is in need of treatment.

The House Committee of the Whole debated the bill on March 28, 2018. After rejecting an amendment to the bill for Medicaid expansion proposed by Rep. Hodge (D-Newton) as not germane, the bill was recommended for passage. The House adopted the Substitute by Final Action on March 29, 2018 Yea: 124 Nay: 0.

On April 2, 2018, the Senate nonconcurred with the House appointing a conference committee, to which the House acceded the same day.

SB199: Appeals; bonds, amending requirements. (PASSED SENATE 32-7)(PASSED HOUSE 120-4)(CONFERENCE)

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

The bill was scheduled for hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 18, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S. On February 1, 2018, the Committee recommended passage of the bill with technical amendments and a provision that the new provisions would only apply to appeals filed after the bill’s effective date. The Senate Committee of the Whole debated the bill on February 13, 2018, sending it on to the full Senate on voice vote. The Senate passed the bill, as amended, on February 14, 2018, Yea: 32 Nay: 7, sending it onto the House.

The bill was introduced into the House on February 15, 2018, and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill was scheduled for hearing on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at 3:30 pm in Room 112-N. On March 26, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee issued its report recommending that the bill be further amended to:

●  Reinsert language removed by the bill, as it was introduced, regarding the non-applicability of supersedeas bond limitations when the court makes a finding that an appellant is likely to disburse assets reasonably necessary to satisfy the judgment;

●  Remove provisions added by the bill, as introduced and amended by Senate Committee, governing the limitations on the amount of supersedeas bonds of individual, corporate, and small business appellants;

●  Establish a $25.0 million cap on any supersedeas bond, subject to continuing exceptions; and

●  Make the bill effective upon publication in the statute book.

An amendment to the bill was proposed in the House during floor debate that was ruled not germane. The Committee of the Whole then recommended to be approved as amended by House Judiciary. The bill passed on Final Action on March 29, 2018  Yea: 120 Nay: 4.

On April 2, 2018, the Senate nonconcurred with the House appointing a conference committee, to which the House acceded the same day.

SB221: CINC, newborn infant protection act (NIPA); amending powers and duties of the secretary for children and families (PASSED SENATE 35-5)

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

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

The bill was assigned to the Public Health and Welfare Committee when introduced on March 8, 2017.

At the beginning of the 2018 Session, the bill was set for hearing before the Committee January 16, 2018 at 9:30am in Room 118-N. On February 7, 2018, the Senate Committee made technical amendments to remove outdated terms and language throughout the CINC Code and to other statutes about children and minors, clarifying that “children in need of care” means children in need of care as defined within the CINC Code, updating statutory references. On February 8, 2018, the Senate Committee made an additional technical amendment to reconcile effective dates with current law. The bill was sent the Senate and placed on the Calendar. The amended bill was debated by the Senate Committee of the Whole on February 21, 2018, which adopted the bill as amended by Committee, rejecting a floor amendment by Sen. Pilcher-Cook to reduce the period from 60 days to 45 days. The Senate adopted the amended bill on final action Yea: 35 Nay: 5.

The bill was then sent on to the House where it was introduced and assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill was scheduled for hearing on Monday, March 12, 2018, at 1:30 pm in Room 546-S.

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

This bill was pre-filed before the beginning of the 2018 Session by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth). It would impose a presumption that “a court determination of legal custody, residency, and parenting time providing for a child’s equal or approximately equal time with each parent is in the best interests of the child.” It is a singularly bad bill. Not only is it poorly drafted, but it imposes a presumption that has no empirical basis. It then makes the bill worse by requiring that a court can only overcome the statutory presumption by making specific findings that the presumption is overcome by clear-and-convincing evidence. Some of the problems in this bill are highlighted by Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, and president of the High Conflict Institute in his article, “Thoughts on Shared Parenting Presumptions.”

The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the session began. The bill was set to be heard on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S. Over 25 individual conferees signed up to testify on the bill, including Ronald W. Nelson, who testified in strong opposition to the bill on behalf of the Kansas Bar Association because it would (1) discourage parental agreements on child-related issues; (2) encourage disagreement and dysfunction between parents; (3) encourage controlling and abusive parents to use the court system against their target; (4) impose a standard “cookie-cutter” formula for parenting time on all families contrary to the clear findings of world-wide objective data studies; (5) encourage the passage of additional legislative presumptions to overcome the presumption of equal time in cases in which the presumption should never have been mandated; (6) each child and each family is unique, and the imposition of state-wide presumptions is contrary to children’s best interests; (7) good families work out their issues in a way best for their children, but this bill imposes a presumption that they must work around instead of working through; (8) presumptions generally enable bad parents to use the system in inappropriate ways; (9) the imposition of this presumption would drastically increase the cost of litigation; (10) the imposition of this presumption would significantly disadvantage lower income and lower powered parent who seeks a result that is in the child’s best interests that is not an equal time share.

The bill generated a significant amount of press, including print and television. Numerous groups and individuals presented testimony on the negative effects this bill would have on children and families, including the Kansas Bar Association, the Kansas District Judges Association, and the Office of the Kansas Attorney General. Testimony is located on the supplementary page.

SB261: Courts; Transfer of Duty to Appoint Appraisers, Docket Fees (PASSED SENATE 39-0)(PASSED HOUSE 111-13)(CONFERENCE)

This bill was prefiled on December 29, 2017 and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing. As introduced, SB261 would have amended Kansas law requiring an appraisal prior to the State purchasing or disposing of any real property. The bill would transfer the duty to appoint a disinterested appraiser from the Judicial Administrator to the Director of Property Valuation, the head of the Department of Revenue’s Division of Property Valuation. Similarly, if the county assessment value of the real property is over $200,000, the bill would allow the Director of Property Valuation to appoint three disinterested appraisers, rather than the Judicial Administrator. The bill was scheduled for hearing in the Senate Judicyary Committee for Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 10:30 am in Room 346-S.

In the Senate Committee on Judiciary hearing, a representative of the Judicial Branch appeared as a proponent of the bill and explained the duty to appoint appraisers in these scenarios is far removed from duties tied to judicial administration.

The Senate Committee recommended the bill be placed on the Consent Calendar on January 18, 2018. The Senate approved the bill Yea: 39 Nay: 0, and the bill was introduced into the House the next day.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and set for hearings on Monday, March 05, 2018, at 3:30 pm in Room 112-N. On March 15, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the bill be passed with an amendment adding the provisions of SB309, regarding disposition of docket fees. The provisions of SB309 would extend from June 30, 2019, until June 30, 2021, the period during which the State Treasurer would deposit and credit the first $3.1 million to the Electronic Filing and Management Fund (Fund). Beginning with the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, the bill would increase from $1.0 million to $1.5 million the amount the State Treasurer would be directed to deposit and credit to the Fund in subsequent years.

The bill was considered by the House Committee of the Whole on March 28, 2018 and recommended for passage (after a proposed amendment from the floor was rejected). The House passed the bill on Final Action on March 29, 2018 Yea: 111 Nay: 13.

On April 2, 2018, the Senate nonconcurred with the House appointing a conference committee, to which the House acceded the same day.

SB277: Recognition of Tribal Court Judgments

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

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

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

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

The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and scheduled for hearing on Wednesday, January 24, 2017 at 10:30 am in Room 346-S. The bill was debated by the Committee on January 31, 2018 and tabled because of concerns by some legislators that the bill changes would provide equal rights to married and unmarried parents.

SB281: Protection orders; Human Trafficking (PASSED SENATE 39-0)(PASSED HOUSE 124-0)(CONFERENCE)

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

The bill was scheduled for hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 23, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S. On February 15, 2018, the Senate Committee adopted an amendment about who may seek relief on behalf of a minor child under the Protection from Abuse and Protection from Stalking, Sexual Assault, or Human Trafficking Acts, as well as who may seek relief on behalf of a minor child alleged to be a human trafficking victim (to include not only a parent or an adult living with the child, but also the child’s court-appointed legal guardian or custodian). The bill was sent the Senate floor and was placed on the Calendar. The amended bill was presented to the Senate Committee of the Whole on February 22, 2018, which adopted it for consideration by the full Senate. The Senate adopted the bill as recommended that same day by emergency final action Yea: 39 Nay: 0.

The bill was sent on to the House for consideration. It was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Judiciary Committee scheduled hearings for Monday, March 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm in Room 112-N. On March 15, 2018, House Judiciary recommended an amendment to the bill by replacing references to “district judge” with “judge of the district court” (to include magistrate judges as well as district judges as those with authority to enter orders since that is what magistrate judges do in many Kansas judicial districts).

The House Committee of the Whole debated the bill on March 28, 2018, recommending that it be adopted as amended by House Committee. The bill passed on Final Action March 29, 2018 Yea: 124 Nay: 0.

On April 2, 2018, the Senate nonconcurred with the House appointing a conference committee, to which the House acceded the same day.

SB288: Protecting the Sabbath; penalties for serving civil process (PASSED SENATE 38-1)(PASSED HOUSE 85-39)(CONFERENCE)

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

The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and scheduled for hearing on January 31, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the bill be passed in a report filed February 1, 2018. The bill was placed on General Orders for debate February 8, 2018. After the bill was recommended for passage by the Senate Committee of the Whole, the Senate passed the bill unanimously on emergency final action, without amendment, Yea: 38 Nay: 1 February 8, 2018.

The bill was then introduced in the House and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill was set for hearing on March 5, 2018, at 3:30pm in Room 112-N. On March 26, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the bill be passed with an additional amendment repealing KSA 69-103, which makes it a misdemeanor for a person to knowingly procure an adjournment for trial on Saturday when the defendant is a person who recognizes the Sabbath on Saturday. The bill passed the House on Final Action March 29, 2018 Yea: 85 Nay: 39.

 On April 2, 2018, the Senate nonconcurred with the House appointing a conference committee, to which the House acceded the same day.

SB388: Judicial Branch; Salaries for justices, judges, and non-judicial personnel

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2018, is the same bill as introduced into the House (HB2689) to adequately and appropriate fund the Kansas judiciary.

The bill that would fund the judicial branch salaries for fiscal 2019, beginning July 1, 2018. As introduced, the bill substantially increases salaries of all levels in the judicial branch to overcome Kansas’s ranking as the 50th state in terms of judicial branch salaries. News stories have for years pointed out that Kansas judges and justices have no received salary increases for nearly 10 full years — as part of a “war” against the courts by former Governor Sam Brownback and the right-wing of the Republican Party in Kansas in its attempts to avoid constitutional mandates to adequate fund the Kansas public schools. The bill would increase the salary of the Chief Justice from $84,278 to $173,808, justices from $82,005 to $169,560, and district court judges from $114,813 to $149,762. In his State of the Judiciary meeting before introduction of the bill, Chief Justice Lawton Nuss warned that  below-market salaries of judicial branch employees that fueled high staff turnover and diminished applicant pools were detrimental to administration of justice in the state.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee for hearings.

SB390: Extreme Risk Protective Order Act

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2018, by Sen. Bollier (R-Johnson) would provide for restrictions on firearm licensing and possession for individuals determined to be an “extreme risk” to another person(s) after applying the factors stated in the Act. The bill was assigned for hearing to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

After the Stoneham Douglas High School shooting, increased media attention arose for more protections against irresponsible use of weapons, and National Public Radio interviewed Sen. Bollier about her introduction of this bill.

SB401: “Adoption Protection Act” (See HB2481)

This bill, introduced by a coalition of senators on February 7, 2018, and duplicating the same bill introduced into the House (HB2687), is another take on past bills to allow discrimination in the name of religion. The bill would allow adoption agencies and others to deny adoption services to individuals “based on the sincerely held religious beliefs” of the person providing the public service. The bill was assigned to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee for hearings.

In a highly unusual move, the bill was heard by the combined House and Senate Federal and State Affairs Committees for two-days of hearings to maximize the bill’s election-year impact for sponsors, March 21 (proponents) and March 22 (opponents).

As noted in an article in the Wichita Eagle published February 28, 2018:

“The legislation is “clearly targeted” at LGBT families, said Tom Witt, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality Kansas. He pointed to wording on the Protect Adoption Choice website (hosted by the Kansas Catholic Conference) that states, “LGBT couples have the legal right to adopt in all 50 states. Nothing in this bill changes that. In the past, several same-sex couples have accused the Department for Children and Families of discrimination.”

At the hearing on the bill, the proponents denied that the bill targeted LGBTQ families, insisting that they and their beliefs were under attack and that they merely wanted to be “protected” from being “forced” to do what they didn’t want to do (discriminate against anyone for any perceived reason based on their stated “sincere religious beliefs” (which has become a mantra of bigotry).

Opponents’ testimony emphasized that children’s best interests in finding “forever families” shouldn’t be subject to discriminatory views of those who are supposed to be charged with finding the best family for those children. They emphasized that adoption is not a cultural battlefield to be used as a forum for war against LGBTQ families by those seeking to imose their narrow view of what constitutes family upon children in need and families desirous of caring for those children needing continuing care, and they emphasized that is the children who need protection against those who seek to use adoption not as a place to find and connect families, but as another way to hurt families and to use children in their pitched political battles.

The bill did not make it out of Committee, but on March 28, 2018, during debate on the proposed amendments to the Kansas Adoption and Relinquishment Act (HB2481) Sen. Molly Baumgartner (R-Louisburg) moved to amend this discriminatory bill into the HB2481, which was approved Yea: 24 Nay: 14.

SB431: Extreme Risk Protective Order Act

This bill, a near-duplicate of Sen. Barbara Bollier’s SB390, was introduced on February 22, 2018, into the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but was then assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The bill would provide for restrictions on firearm licensing and possession for individuals determined to be an “extreme risk” to another person(s) after applying the factors stated in the Act. The bill was assigned for hearing to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

After the Stoneham Douglas High School shooting, increased media attention arose for more protections against irresponsible use of weapons, and National Public Radio interviewed Sen. Bollier about her introduction of SB390.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the bill on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 10:30 am in Room 144-S.

SB445: ABLE Accounts; transfer on death, income tax deduction for contributions, conforming allowable expenses for 529 plans to federal law (SEE SB449)

This bill, introduced late in the 2018 legislative session, would allow taxpayers, beginning in tax year 2018, to be able to deduct up to $3,000 ($6,000 for married filing jointly) for the cumulative contributions to both a 529 Education Savings Plan and a 529a ABLE Savings Plan for each designated beneficiary. It would also provide that upon the death of the beneficiary in a 529a ABLE Savings Plan, the assets in the account would be transferred to the estate of the designated beneficiary or another eligible account specified by the designated beneficiary or their estate, but would not be allowed to be claimed by the Kansas Medicaid Plan or any other state agency. The bill was assigned to the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, which heard testimony about the bill on Tuesday, March 15, 2018, at 9:30 am in Room 548-S.

Another almost identical bill (SB449) was introduced days after the Senate hearing, and ended up being the bill that the Senate Committee worked and passed out.

SB446: Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act

This bill, a duplicate of HB2777, was introduced into the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs by a coalition of members seeking to impose censorship upon various publications and websites to ban “obscene” materials and ads. The bill defined “obsence” to include child pornography; revenge pornography, and websites “known to facilitate” the selling of sexual relations, or human trafficking, among other things, and imposing “blocking requirements” on those publications and websites. The bill followed “informational hearings” held on the harm caused society and families by the use of pornography in modern America, and was another bill introduced to bolster the election hopes of a certain faction. The bill was assigned to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, but was not scheduled for hearings.

SB449: ABLE Accounts; transfer on death, income tax deduction for contributions, conforming allowable expenses for 529 plans to federal law (PASSED SENATE 40-0)

This bill, introduced late in the 2018 legislative session, would allow proceeds from an ABLE account established under IRS section 529A to be transferred upon the death of a designated beneficiary to a beneficiary or account for another eligible individual specified by the designated beneficiary. The bill would disallow the State from seeking to obtain the proceeds from an ABLE account upon the primary beneficiary’s death for moneys paid out by the State under the Kansas Medicaid plan. The bill was assigned to the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, which heard testimony about the bill on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 9:30 am in Room 548-S. That same day, the Committee recommended that the bill be passed and placed on Senate Consent Calendar. The bill was passed by the Senate on the Consent Calendar Yea: 40 Nay: 0 on March 27, 2018.

The bill was introduced into the House on March 28, 2018, and assigned to the House Committee on Taxation. On April 5, 2018, the House Committee amended the bill to clarify the circumstances under which the State or its agencies or instrumentalities would be prohibited from seeking proceeds from section 529A accounts, “unless otherwise required by section 1917(b) of the federal social security act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(b).”

SB451: Updating statutory references changing references to Social and Rehabilitation Services

This is a technical bill that would change and correct various references throughout the Kansas statutes that still reference the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), which was renamed and reorganized by 2012 Executive Order 41. The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare, which held a hearing on the bill March 22, 2018 at 9:30 am in Room 118-N.

House:

 

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

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

HB2108: Grandparents as Caregivers Act amendments (held over)

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

HB2101: Marriage; abolishing common law marriage

This bill would abolish common law marriage in the state of Kansas effective July 1, 2017, protecting any common law marriages entered before the effective date. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee for hearings. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled the bill for hearing on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in Room 112-N. Ronald W. Nelson testified against the bill with written and oral testimony. The bill did not make it out of committee.

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

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

HB2145: Firearms; prohibiting the possession of a firearm by persons subject to protection orders. (PASSED HOUSE 120-0)(PASSED SENATE 40-0)(CONFERENCE)(HOUSE CONCURRED WITH AMENDMENTS IN CONFERENCE 113-6)

This bill was introduced into the Kansas House on February 24, 2017, and referred to the House Federal & State Affairs Committee that same day. As introduced, the bill would amend the “criminal use of weapons” statute by adding possession of a firearm by (a) fugitives from justice; (b) aliens illegally or unlawfully in the United States; (c) persons convicted of a misdemeanor for a domestic violence offense within the past five years; and (d) persons subject to court orders restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner, child, or child of an intimate partner.

The bill was heard by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 9:00 AM in Room 346-S. On March 24, 2017, the Committee recommended that the bill pass as introduced. The bill was placed on the House Calendar, but carried over to the 2018 Session after it was not put on the Debate Calendar.

On February 1, 2018, the House Committee of the Whole considered the bill, updating statutory references by replacing “2016” with “2017” (to correct for the bill not passing in the 2017 Session), and reconciled the definition of “domestic violence” in the bill to match its definition passed into law during the 2017 Session. On February 2, 2018, the House passed the bill Yea: 120 Nay: 0.

The bill was introduced into the Kansas Senate on February 5, 2018, and assigned to the Senate  Committee on State and Federal Affairs. The bill was set for hearing on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, at 10:30 AM in Room 144-S – one day before a former student opened up on former fellow students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at Parkland, Florida killing 17 and wounding 17 more. The Senate Committee issued its report on March 4, 2018, recommending that the bill be amended to add prohibiting the possession, but not sale, of “thowing stars,” change the bill’s effective date from July 1, 2018 to the date of publication in the Kansas Register, and to exempt “silencers” as long as they were home-made. The bill was debated by the Senate Committee of the Whole on Thursday, March 15, 2018, and passed on for Final Action without further amendment. The Senate approved the Committee amended bill Yea: 40 Nay: 0, on Emergency Final Action that same day, sending the bill to Conference Committee for review.

On March 20, 2018, the House nonconcurred with the Senate amendments, sending the bill to Conference Committee to work out differences.

On April 5, 2018, the Conference Committee conferees reported to the House that the Conference Committee concurred with the amendments made by the Senate. The House voted Yea: 113 Nay: 6 to concur with the  amendments, sending the approved bill on to the Governor.

HB2172: Marriage; removing unconstitutional opposite-sex requirement (held over)

This bill would remove language from the Kansas marriage statutes requiring that persons marrying in the state be of “opposite sex.” The restriction was found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges. The bill was not set for hearing during the 2017 session, but was held over.

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

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

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

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

HB2247: Legal Publications; authorizing use of internet websites for legal publication (held over)

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

H Sub HB2332: Electronic communications and stored information; prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure (held over)(PASSED HOUSE 115-0)

This bill was introduced in the House Committee on Government, Technology, and Security on February 9, 2017, to address various information technology concerns with the increased use of online communication and data storage. The bill provisions would (1) prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of any electronic communications by providers or third-parties; (2) protect unlawfully divulged communications from disclosure in discovery, by subpoena, or under other means of legal compulsion; (3) prohibit the communications use in evidence before any court or administrative tribunal; (4) provide additional protections to electronic communications protected by the attorney-client privilege, whether inadvertently disclosed and would prohibit any service agreement from requiring the waiver of that attorney-client privilege. The bill was assigned back to the Committee on Government, Technology, and Security for hearings. On February 20, 2017, the bill was withdrawn from the Committee and assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. On February 22, 2017, the bill was re-referred back to the Committee on Government, Technology, and Security, and set for hearing on Monday, March 6, 2017, at 9:00 AM in Room 218-N.

On February 15, 2018, the House Committee on Government, Technology and Security recommended a substitute bill be considered by the House. The substitute bill would amend the membership of and the frequency of required meetings for the Information Technology Executive Council (ITEC), decrease membership on the Council from 17 members to 15 members, and would direct the persons who would be appointed to the Council. The Substitute bill was sent to the House and placed on the Calendar.

The House Committee of the Whole debated the bill on March 1, 2018. A proposal to add requirements that state agencies adopt cyberbullying policies was rejected  Yea: 53 Nay: 68, and the substitute bill was then recommended to be passed. The House approved the bill Yea: 115 Nay: 0 on March 5, 2018.

The substitute bill was introduced into the Senate  on March 5, 2018 and assigned to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The Committee scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 10:30 AM Room 548-S Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 10:30 AM Room 548-S. On March 22, 2018, the Senate Committee issued a report recommending passing the bill with an addition amendment to replace two members appointed from the Joint Committee on Information Technology (JCIT) to two members from the Senate Committee on Ways and Means or their designees, added back the Network Manager of INK, reduced the number of cabinet agency head members from two to one, and made the Executive Branch CITO responsible for setting the dates of the meetings.

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

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

HB2365: Appropriations; Courts (held over)

This bill was introduced on February 13, 2017, and assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. It is the vehicle in the House to appropriate money to the Courts for FYs 2018 and 2019. It was referred to the House Appropriations Committee for hearing. The bill was set for hearing on March 20, 2017, at 9:00 am in Room 112-N.

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

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

The bill was scheduled for hearing by the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs for February 08, 2018, at 9:00 am in Room 346-S.

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

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

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on State and Federal Affairs, which set the bill for hearing for May 16, 2017, at 8:00 am in Room 346-S.

HB2481: Adoption and Relinquishment, Updates (PASSED HOUSE 117-0) Adoption Protection Act (PASSED SENATE 28-12)(CONFERENCE)

This bill was introduced into the House on January 17, 2018. It was developed by the Kansas Judicial Council Adoption Advisory Committee, in consultation on some portions with the Kansas Judicial Council Family Law Advisory Committee. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and set for hearing on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 3:30pm in Room 112-N.

The bill makes some significant corrections to existing Kansas adoption and relinquishment laws. First, the bill corrects a statutory error over when a Kansas court may exercise child-custody jurisdiction. The bill makes clear that jurisdiction in adoption and relinquishment cases is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) as required by the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA).

Second, the bill would eliminate conflicting provisions for when a parent’s rights may be terminated in the absence of voluntary relinquishment.

Ronald W. Nelson testified generally in support of the bill, pointing out technical edits that should be made to make the bill better, including using a phrase other than “residence of the child” and differentiating the termination provisions applicable to “possible,” “presumed,” and “established” parents for constitutional reasons. Testimony was presented to the House Judiciary Committee hearing by five proponents, some making suggestions for amendment.

 On February 19, 2018, the Committee worked the bill, recommending that the bill be passed without amendment. The bill was sent the House floor and Calendared for consideration. The bill was placed on General Orders for February 21, 2018, at which time it was passed on to the full House for final passage on voice vote, where the House adopted the bill Yea: 117 Nay: 0) on February 22, 2018.

The bill was introduced into the Senate that same day and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. The Committee scheduled hearings on the bill for Friday, March 16, 2018 at 10:30am in Room 346-S. On March 22, 2018, the Senate Committee recommended that the bill pass without amendment. The bill was placed on the Senate Calendar. On March 27, 2018, the bill was considered by the Senate Committee of the Whole. Sen. Molly Baumgartner (R-Louisburg) proposed to include in the bill the “Adoption Protection Act” (SB401) (otherwise known as the Discrimination in the name of Religion Act). The amendment was challenged as not germane, but was ruled as germane by the Senate Rules Committee Chair. The amendment was then adopted 24 Nay: 14, which the following Senators voting for the discriminatory language: Alley, Baumgardner, Berger, Billinger, Bowers, Denning, Estes, Fitzgerald, Givens, Goddard, Hilderbrand, Kerschen, Longbine, Lynn, Masterson, McGinn, Olson, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Suellentrop, Tyson, Wagle, Wilborn. An amendment to limit the provision submitted by Sen. Lynn Rogers (D-Wichita) was rejected Yea: 16 Nay: 21, with the following voting not to limit the discriminatory language only to private adoptions: Alley, Baumgardner, Berger, Billinger, Bowers, Denning, Estes, Fitzgerald, Goddard, Hilderbrand, Kerschen, Lynn, Masterson, Olson, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Suellentrop, Tyson, Wagle, Wilborn. As amended, the Senate Committee of the Whole recommended passage by the full Senate. The full Senate passed the amended discriminatory bill on March 29, 2018 on Final Action Yea: 28 Nay: 12, with Alley, Baumgardner, Berger, Billinger, Bowers, Denning, Doll, Estes, Fitzgerald, Givens, Goddard, Hardy, Hilderbrand, Kerschen, Longbine, Lynn, Masterson, McGinn, Olson, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, V. Schmidt, Suellentrop, Taylor, Tyson, Wagle, Wilborn voting for it and Bollier, Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Haley, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Kelly, Pettey, Rogers, Skubal, Sykes voting against it.

As amended, the legislation would prohibit the Kansas Department for Children and Families and other state agencies from denying contracts to agencies that refuse placements on religious grounds. Agencies also could not be denied licenses because of a refusal to make placements. The Wichita Eagle reported that supporters of the discriminatory bill said no one would be discriminated against and that it was needed to attract more organizations to help in adoptions, and “simply put existing practice into law.” Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) said the legislation would protect Catholic Charities and other religiously affiliated groups. But Sen. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) blasted the bill, saying “It’s sick discrimination. And these are people who can love and adopt children and are doing so. So to say it is not discriminatory, I beg to differ.”

Shortly after the Senate passed the newly amended bigoted bill, the House voted Yea: 58 Nay: 64 on a motion to concur with the Senate amendments, killing the bill. But about 30 minutes later, Rep. Russ Jennings (R-Lakin) moved to reconsider the rejection. The motion to reconsider was adopted, and then a motion to nonconcur was passed by voice vote, sending the bill to Conference Committee instead of killing it.

 

HB2520: Retroactive Child Support Guidelines

This bill was introduced on January 23, 2018. The bill would make significant (and inappropriate) changes to current law allowing the courts to order retroactive support.

The bill was set for hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 3:30pm in Room 112-N. Ronald W. Nelson testified against the bill.

First, the bill would extend the time to file a request for retroactive child support to four years after a child reaches the age of majority (current law allows a parent to seek retroactive child support only until the child’s majority, but allows the child to seek support until two-years after majority);

Second, provide that the Kansas Child Support Guidelines “shall be used to guide the court in determining the amount of retroactive child (currently, the Kansas Child Support Guidelines must be used to determine support);

Third, require the use of the proposed obligor’s “net resources of the obligor during the relevant time period” to determine the support obligation (the Kansas Child Support Guidelines uses gross income rather than “resources”);

Fourth, mandates that the court use generally inappropriate considerations for the determination of support for a child including whether (a) the obligee had made any previous attempts to notify the obligor of the obligor’s parentage or probable parentage; (b) the obligor had knowledge of the obligor’s parentage or probable parentage; (c) the retroactive child support order would “impose an undue financial hardship on the obligor or the obligor’s family” and (d) the obligor has provided actual support or other necessaries before commencement of the action.

Kansas courts have historically ruled that the factors listed in this bill could not be used to deprive a child of the rightful support from a parent and fashioned a common law remedy in addition to the limited options granted by the previous statutes finding that the legislation inappropriately punished children. There are also likely problems with the intersection with federal laws regarding state obligations to award child support. All in all, the bill is not well thought out, and is confusingly drafted.

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill February 6, 2018. Along with other opponents, the Kansas Bar Association submitted written testimony by Ronald W. Nelson pointing out the problems with the bill (as above outlined).

HB2524: Protection from Abuse; Allowing petitions for a protection from abuse order to include a request for transfer of rights to a wireless telephone number (PASSED HOUSE 117-0)(PASSED SENATE 40-0)(GOVERNOR SIGNED)(EFF: JULY 1, 2018)

This bill was introduced in the House on January 23, 2018. It was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing. The bill would allow a petitioner in a protection from abuse case to request the court order a third-party carrier to transfer the telephone number used by the petitioner into a separate account for the petitioner. The bill is likely unenforceable because it allow the court to order a person not a party to an action (the carrier) to take action on accounts held by the defendant.

The bill was set for hearing on January 31, 2018 at 3:30pm. Allow with three other conferees, Ronald W. Nelson testified in support of the bill, suggesting that the bill should allow courts to require consent to transfer of cellphone numbers to victims accounts rather than allowing a potentially invalid order to require a third-party to the action to do something without notice or due process, and to also expand the provisions to protection from stalking as well as protection from abuse cases.

On February 19, the Committee worked the bill, amending the bill provisions to also apply its provisions to actions under the Protection from Stalking and Sexual Assault Act (PFSSAA), require the clerk of the court to supply forms prescribed by the Judicial Council, clarify confidentiality provisions, require providers operating in Kansas to adhere to orders issued under the bill’s provisions, and prohibit providers from charging a fee for the transfer services provided in the bill. The amended bill was sent to the House and Calendared. The bill was set on General Orders for February 21, 2018. The amended bill was passed on to the full House by voice vote of the House Committee of the Whole. On February 22, 2018, the House adopted the bill Yea: 117 Nay: 0, sending it on to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was introduced to the Senate on February 22, 2018, assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 28, 2018. On March 5, 2018, the bill was withdrawn from the Senate Committee on Judiciary and referred instead to the Senate Committee on Utilities for hearings. The Utilities Committee scheduled hearings for Friday, March 16, 2018, at 1:30pm in Room 548-S. On March 22, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued its report recommending that the bill be passed and placed on Senate’s Consent Calendar, which passed the bill Yea: 40 Nay: 0 on March 27, 2018.

The bill was sent to the Governor for signature, and Governor Colyer signed the bill on April 6, 2018.

HB2529: Child Custody; Creating presumption of equal parenting time

This bill was introduced into the House on January 23, 2018. It is a duplicate of SB257. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearing.

The bill was set to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 3:30pm in Room 112-N. As with its Senate counterpart, Ronald W. Nelson testified in strong opposition to the bill on behalf of the Kansas Bar Association because it would (1) discourage parental agreements on child-related issues; (2) encourage disagreement and dysfunction between parents; (3) encourage controlling and abusive parents to use the court system against their target; (4) impose a standard “cookie-cutter” formula for parenting time on all families contrary to the clear findings of world-wide objective data studies; (5) encourage the passage of additional legislative presumptions to overcome the presumption of equal time in cases in which the presumption should never have been mandated; (6) each child and each family is unique, and the imposition of state-wide presumptions is contrary to children’s best interests; (7) good families work out their issues in a way best for their children, but this bill imposes a presumption that they must work around instead of working through; (8) presumptions generally enable bad parents to use the system in inappropriate ways; (9) the imposition of this presumption would drastically increase the cost of litigation; (10) the imposition of this presumption would significantly disadvantage lower income and lower powered parent who seeks a result that is in the child’s best interests that is not an equal time share.

The bill generated a significant amount of press, including print and television. Numerous groups and individuals presented testimony on the negative effects this bill would have on children and families, including the Kansas Bar Association, the Kansas District Judges Association, and the Office of the Kansas Attorney General. Testimony may be found on the supplementary page.

Thirty-two conferees submitted testimony at the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on February 6, 2018: 15 in favor of the presumption and 17 against, including Ronald W. Nelson, presented written testimony through the Kansas Bar Association.

HB2630: Child custody; factors, adding “protecting children from witnessing abuse”

This bill was introduced on February 6, 2018. It was assigned for hearing to the House Judiciary Committee. It seeks to offset — or abolish — the “friendly parent doctrine,” which proponents say is contained in Kansas factors for judges to use when deciding child custody issues. The bill would limit the court’s consideration of the “the willingness and ability of each parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child” by providing that “a parent’s actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor if the court finds that such parent is acting to protect the child from witnessing or being a victim of domestic abuse by the other parent.” Like other proposals to institute presumptions and priorities among factors, the proposed change seeks to impose a view of particular cases on all cases, directing how the court should consider a particular case. Good judges already balance these issues when applying the factors presented in the statutes. The concerns embodied by this proposed change are better handled by court education and the appointment of good and knowledgeable judges rather than by burdening the statutes with directives that don’t apply well to unknown fact scenarios.

The bill was not set for hearing.

HB2687: “Adoption Protection Act” (See HB2481)

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2018 by a coalition of ultra-conservative GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate (SB401) is another take on past bills to allow discrimination in the name of religion. The bill would allow adoption agencies and others to deny adoption services to individuals “based on the sincerely held religious beliefs” of the person providing the public service. The bill was assigned to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee for hearings.

In a highly unusual move, the bill was heard by the combined House and Senate Federal and State Affairs Committees for two-days of hearings to maximize the bill’s election-year impact for sponsors, March 21 (proponents) and March 22 (opponents).

As noted in an article in the Wichita Eagle published February 28, 2018:

“The legislation is “clearly targeted” at LGBT families, said Tom Witt, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality Kansas. He pointed to wording on the Protect Adoption Choice website (hosted by the Kansas Catholic Conference) that states, “LGBT couples have the legal right to adopt in all 50 states. Nothing in this bill changes that. In the past, several same-sex couples have accused the Department for Children and Families of discrimination.”

At the hearing on the bill, the proponents denied that the bill targeted LGBTQ families, insisting that they and their beliefs were under attack and that they merely wanted to be “protected” from being “forced” to do what they didn’t want to do (discriminate against anyone for any perceived reason based on their stated “sincere religious beliefs” (which has become a mantra of bigotry).

Opponents’ testimony emphasized that children’s best interests in finding “forever families” shouldn’t be subject to discriminatory views of those who are supposed to be charged with finding the best family for those children. They emphasized that adoption is not a cultural battlefield to be used as a forum for war against LGBTQ families by those seeking to imose their narrow view of what constitutes family upon children in need and families desirous of caring for those children needing continuing care, and they emphasized that is the children who need protection against those who seek to use adoption not as a place to find and connect families, but as another way to hurt families and to use children in their pitched political battles.

As noted in an article in the Wichita Eagle published February 28, 2018:

“The legislation is “clearly targeted” at LGBT families, said Tom Witt, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality Kansas. He pointed to wording on the Protect Adoption Choice website (hosted by the Kansas Catholic Conference) that states, “LGBT couples have the legal right to adopt in all 50 states. Nothing in this bill changes that. In the past, several same-sex couples have accused the Department for Children and Families of discrimination.”

The bill did not make it out of Committee, but on March 28, 2018, during debate on the proposed amendments to the Kansas Adoption and Relinquishment Act (HB2481) Sen. Molly Baumgartner (R-Louisburg) moved to amend this discriminatory bill into the HB2481, which was approved Yea: 24 Nay: 14.

HB2689: Judicial Budget; salaries of justices, judges, and non-judicial employees
This bill, introduced on February 7, 2018, is the bill that would fund the judicial branch salaries for fiscal 2019, beginning July 1, 2018. As introduced, the bill substantially increases salaries of all levels in the judicial branch to overcome Kansas’s ranking as the 50th state in terms of judicial branch salaries. News stories have for years pointed out that Kansas judges and justices have no received salary increases for nearly 10 full years — as part of a “war” against the courts by former Governor Sam Brownback and the right-wing of the Republican Party in Kansas in its attempts to avoid constitutional mandates to adequate fund the Kansas public schools. The bill would increase the salary of the Chief Justice from $84,278 to $173,808, justices from $82,005 to $169,560, and district court judges from $114,813 to $149,762.

The bill was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee for hearings. At the hearing, various committee members blasted the court recommendations and accused the Chief Justice of lying about the underlying figures, questioned the data included in the testimony, and suggested that the recommendations provided had no basis behind them. A motion to strip the provisions regarding judicial branch increases was passed by committee majority.

HB2700: Privacy; Requiring redaction of social security numbers in documents available for public inspection and copying (PASSED HOUSE 117-0)

This bill, introduced on February 7, 2018 by Rep. Esau (R-Olathe), would require the redaction of any social security numbers in documents available to the public. The Kansas court system already prohibits the use of full social security numbers and limits public access to financial disclosure documents in family law cases by Supreme Court rule and federal law already requires privacy of this information.

The bill was assigned to the Elections Committee for hearing. On February 7, the bill was withdrawn from the Elections Committee and re-referred to the Committee on Government, Technology and Security, which set for hearing on February 19, 2018, at 9:00am in Room 281-N. On February 20, 2018, the Committee amended the bill to provide that the provisions of the bill would not apply to documents recorded in the official records of any county recorder of deeds or in the official records of the courts. The bill was then sent on to be Calendar by the House. The House Committee of the Whole considered the bill on February 22, 2018, approving it as amended by Committee. The House adopted the amended bill the same day on Emergency Final Action Yea: 117 Nay: 0.

 The bill was introduced into the Senate on February 28, 2018 and assigned on  to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Elections and Local Government on March 1, 2018 for hearings. The hearing was cancelled, and on March 14, 2018, the bill was withdrawn from the Senate Ethics, Elections, and Local Government Committee and referred instead to the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs (an exempt committee). The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee set the bill for hearing on Monday, March 19, 2018, beginning at 10:30 am in Room 144-S.

HB2710: Civil Rights; Protecting domestic violence victims from employer retaliation or discrimination.

This bill, introduced on February 8, 2018, by Rep. Whipple (D-Wichita) would add to the Kansas Act Against Discrimination a prohibition on adverse employment actions because the employee was the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. The bill was assigned to the House Labor and Economic Development Committee for hearings.

HB2728: Information Release after the fatality of Child in Need of Care caused by abuse or neglect

This bill was introduced on February 8, 2018, would provide for an exception to the confidentiality provisions of the Child in Need of Care Code so that information about the child’s death would be publicly available. It is a reaction to past instances when children died in the care of a foster care family or facility and information about the incident could not be released. The bill was introduced through the House Judiciary Committee and would require the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families to release the following information in response to an open records request: the age and sex of the child; the date of the fatality; a summary of any previous reports of abuse or neglect received by the secretary involving the child, along with the findings of such reports; and any department recommended services provided to the child.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. On February 13, the bill was withdrawn from the Judiciary and referred to the House Appropriations Committee (an exempt committee). It was the re-referred to the Judiciary Committee on the following day. The bill was scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at 3:30 pm in Room 112-N.

HB2769: Gun Safety Red Flag Act

This bill, introduced into the House Taxation Committee late in the 2018 Session, would allow the courts to grant an order prohibiting a defendant from owning, controlling, or purchasing a firearm or ammunition if the court found that the defendant poses an immediate danger to themselves or others. The bill would allow a law enforcement officer or a family member of the defendant to file a petition for an Gun Safety Protective Order (GSPO). The bill would allow the court to search criminal and health records of the defendant to examine potential grounds to issue the order. Additionally, the court could issue a GSPO without having the defendant present, but the bill would require that the hearing be held within 14 days of receiving the petition.

The bill was assigned to the House Taxation Committee, but was not scheduled for hearings during the 2018 Session.

HB2777: Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act

This bill, a duplicate of SB446, was introduced into the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs by a coalition of members seeking to impose censorship upon various publications and websites to ban “obscene” materials and ads. The bill defined “obsence” to include child pornography; revenge pornography, and websites “known to facilitate” the selling of sexual relations, or human trafficking, among other things, and imposing “blocking requirements” on those publications and websites. The bill followed “informational hearings” held on the harm caused society and families by the use of pornography in modern America, and was another bill introduced to bolster the election hopes of a certain faction. The bill was assigned to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, but was not scheduled for hearings.

Concurrent Resolutions & Proposed Constitutional Amendments
HCR5017 Constitutional amendment staggering terms of the Kansas Senate

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

The proposed amendment was assigned to the Committee on Elections, which scheduled a hearing on the bill for Wednesday, February 07, 2018, at 1:30 pm in Room 281-N.