Sine Die

Today was Sine Die for the 2012 Kansas Legislature. Adjournment Sine Die literally means adjournment “without a day” for the Legislature – the last day of the session. But this year, it could have more properly been “Adjournment! Gratias Deus suus fecit!” (Adjournment! Thank God It’s Done!) Even more this year than in the past, this last day brings with it a heavy sigh and a hearty “Wheew!” It’s been hard to cram 90-days work into 100 (or apparently so)!

Although the last day of the session is usually a mere procedural requirement at which no real work is done, with few legislators in attendance, today’s last session was interesting. And was expected to be more so.

Leading up to today, there were suspicions that someone might try to pull one last reapportionment map out of the hat. Or that the House would try one more time to push something into the Senate in an attempt to show that the Senate refuses to do the bidding of the House. Perhaps another valiant effort to overturn a Supreme Court decision made a few days ago? Nah. It didn’t happen. But what did happen was significant nonetheless:

First, the 2012 Legislature adjourned without any further legislation being passed!

Second, both the House and Senate sessions focused on good things. Both the House and Senate passed Resolutions congratulating and commending First Assistant Revisor congratulating and commending First Assistant Revisor of Statutes James Arthur (Jim) Wilson III on his retirement after 40 years in the office and 35 years as one of the revisors staff assigned to work on the state budget.

Third, the Speaker of the House, Mike O’Neal, from Hutchinson, announced to the assembled House that he is not going to seek reelection to his House seat this November and, therefore, will not be Speaker next year. Mike has been in the House for 28 years (the last four as Speaker). And he’s been a force in that time. He will be missed.

Fourth, Senator Wagle (Wichita) announced that she is going to run for reelection this November. But at the same time, she also announced, in a moving talk, that she is undergoing serious cancer treatments again (she’s already started chemotherapy and will be shopping for different hairpieces this coming week). But she is planning on working harder and stronger when she returns next session.

Fifth, another moving series of talks were given after Lorene Bethell, Representative Bob Bethell’s widow, was sworn in to complete his term in the 113th House District. Representative Bethell was killed on the evening after the last session of the House when his car left I-70 near Paxico while he was traveling home.

Sixth, Sen. Mark Taddiken (Clifton) announced that he is retiring his seat  at the close of business today. Remembering his long tenure in the Legislature, Senator Taddiken said that he been “burning the candle at both ends and I’m running out of wick.”

And so it ended. And so would this column also end (for the legislative year).

But in reviewing past columns and discussions about family law related bills passed, I realized there was one bill I hadn’t talked about much. And hadn’t spent much time on other than a brief review. That bill is #HB2613 (Lifetime extension of Protection Orders).

This morning, waiting for the last day of the session to begin, I decided to find out when the bill had been signed by Governor Brownback. I found that it had been signed — along with #SB304, the Family Law Code Cleanup, Case Manager Qualifications, and Batterers Intervention Certification Act, on May 25. And I decided to review it to see what changes it makes. They are more substantial than I’d thought. And so here is a brief rundown of the changes:

1. The statutes were changed to allow the filing of a PFA or PFS case in *ANY* district court — not just in the district where the act is alleged to have occurred.

2. The statutes were changed to require notification to both parties in the first filing (rather than at the first hearing) that the parties are both entitled to legal representation.

3. The PFS statute was amended to delete the requirement that a continuing threat of stalking must be shown in order to obtain an extension of a stalking order. The language is amended to provide that, in a PFS action, upon motion for extension, the court “may” extend the order for up to one additional year (unless the provisions of (d) are met).

4. Both the PFA and PFS statutes were amended to provide that  if the plaintiff files “a verified motion” seeking extension of the protection order, which is personally served upon the defendant and given an opportunity to appear and cross examine the plaintiff’s witnesses, and if the court “determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant has (A) violated a valid protection order; or (B) has previously violated a valid protection order; [[yes, I know those are the same, but that’s what the statute says]] or (C) “has been convicted of a person felony or any conspiracy, criminal solicitation or attempt thereof, under the laws of Kansas or the laws of any other jurisdiction which are substantially similar to such person felony, committed against the plaintiff or any member of the plaintiff’s household,” then the court **SHALL** extend the order for “not less than two additional years and up to a period of time not to exceed the lifetime of the defendant.”

5. Both PFA and PFS statutes were amended to provide that the violation of an extended protection order is a level 6 person felony.

These are significant changes. And they will undoubtedly effect practice in family law come July 1.

The entire enrolled bill is here:

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Or on the Kansas Legislature’s website:

Thank you for letting me send these updates this session. It’s been a pleasure.