This past week has been hectic in the Kansas Legislature.
Non-exempt committees (exempt committees are generally Senate and House Federal and State Affairs, Calendar and Printing, Taxation, House Appropriations, & House Ways & Means) met for the last time last Friday, March 16, 2012 getting bills worked and out of committee to the Chamber Floor for consideration this week.
The fast pace of the week was further pressured by the fact that the Legislature also needed to deal with two additional hot issues: the state budget and Legislative reapportionment. Monday, was Budget Day in the House and Tuesday was Budget Day in the Senate. Tuesday was Reapportionment Day in the House and Wednesday was Reapportionment Day in the Senate. And yesterday, March 21, 2012, was the Second House Consideration Deadline (meaning that most bills, other than those from exempt committees, had to be passed by the Opposite Chamber from which it was introduced by the close of business on March 21 or they were dead for the session. It also meant that some bills that were from exempt committees needed to be considered by that initial chamber in order to have a realistic change of making it through the legislative process this year.
Family Law legislation for the session was caught up in this whirlwind, with the following outcomes on legislation of interest to Family Lawyers:
A few bills of interest to Family Law practitioners did not make it out of committee.
#SB297, which provided that gifts between spouses would be removed from the definition of “marital property” in KSA 23-2601 (formerly KSA 23-201). The bill would have eliminated from the statute an exception in the list of property that remains the sole and separate property of a married person, notwithstanding the marriage. The bill was introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee at the request of the Kansas Judicial Council and was identical to 2011 SB 44, which was requested by the Kansas Bar Association, considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and referred to the Kansas Judicial Council for study at the end of the 2011 Legislative Session. The bill failed to make it out of the House Judiciary for lack of a motion. http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/sb297/
Also, the House Appropriations Committee dumped the Court’s e-filing legislation
On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee passed out #SB262, a bill that originally directed that grandparents would receive preference in placements when a child “is removed from a parent.” In Senate Judiciary, the bill was amended to delete the “preference” language, inserting instead a mandated “consideration” of grandparents by the courts when making placements after a child was removed from a parent’s custody. After testimony to the House Committee, the Committee made further amendments, rejecting the Senate’s “consideration” language and reviving the “grandparent preference” for custody. House Judiciary also, however, refined other language in the bill providing that the preference arises only when the child is removed from both parents’ custody and instructing that a judge could overcome the “preference” by specific findings in the order detailing why the preference isn’t applicable in the particular case.
On Final Action in the House on Tuesday, #SB262 passed 124-0, returning the bill to the Senate for a Concur/Non-Concur vote.
The bill may be viewed at: http://t.co/hrLMjhu5 [PDF] Articles about the bill can be accessed at: http://t.co/s9u9ImSu
On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee passed out #HB2741, the Family Law Code Clean-up bill with further technical amendments. http://t.co/57sJl7R3 [action] http://t.co/E6WJ3dJl [bill]. The bill was completely non-substantive attempting to correct and omissions in 2011 SB 24 and make further reference changes throughout the statutes necessitated by the change in numbering of the Family Law statutes. The Committee amended the bill by making additional technical corrections and changing the effective date to publication in the Kansas Register (instead of on publication in the statute book, which would mean the technical changes would not be effective until July 1, 2012, although applied retroactively according to the bills language).
A bit of drama occurred on the House Floor on Wednesday when, during debate by the House Committee of the Whole, Representative Kiegrel proposed a substantive amendment to the bill relating to child support enforcement for casino winnings. After some debate, including comments by a number of legislators that while the amendment was a fine concept, it was inappropriate to add it on to a technical bill, Representative Kiegrel withdrew his amendment and the bill was passed on to final action on voice vote.
On Emergency Final Action in the House late Wednesday evening, the House passed #HB2741 by a vote of 122-0.
In other Final Action on Wednesday, the House passed the following bills of interest:
#SB366, Civil Procedure; Attachment & Garnishment: Passed 122-2 . The bill was passed back to the Senate, which non-concurred in the House Amendments and appointed a Conference Committee. http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/sb366/
#SB322, court fees & judicial branch surcharge: Passes 94-30 . The House adopted the Senate amended bill without further amendment, so the bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk. http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/sb322/
#SB304, Enacting Batterer Intervention Program Certification: Passes 123-1 . The bill was passed back to the Senate, which non-concurred in the House Committee amendments and appointed a Conference Committee. http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/sb304/
Finally, on Tuesday, the Senate passed #HB2613, mandating the courts extend protection from stalking and abuse orders for a period of between 2-years to life in some situations. The bill would require courts to extend protection from abuse and protection from stalking orders for at least two years and allow extension up to the lifetime of a defendant if, after the defendant has been personally served with a copy of the motion to extend the order and has had an opportunity to present evidence at a hearing on the motion and cross-examine witnesses, it is determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant has either previously violated a valid protection order or been convicted of a person felony or conspiracy, criminal solicitation, or attempt of a person felony, committed against the plaintiff or any member of the plaintiff’s household.
The Senate passed the bill, with Senate Committee amendments, by a 40-0 vote. The House non-concurred on Wednesday and appointed a Conference Committee http://t.co/cr9Da3TE http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/hb2613/