Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Lawmakers Send Judicial Funding Fix to Governor

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Lawmakers Send Judicial Funding Fix to Governor

Article excerpt

The Legislature approved a fix Thursday to prevent a possible showdown with the judicial branch over funding after a discussion of the separation of powers between the two branches.

The Senate passed House Bill 2449, 39 to 1, sending it to Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature.

The measure removes a portion of a law the Kansas Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in December. The House passed the bill unanimously last week.

The need for the legislation came after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the Legislature usurped the Supreme Court's authority when it passed House Bill 2338 in 2014.

District Judge Larry Solomon sued in February 2015 to stop the law. Under the law, chief judges would be picked by the direct election of judges working in each district. Previously, the judges were picked by the Supreme Court. According to Solomon, who sits in the 30th Judicial District, the 2014 law violated the Kansas Constitution.

The Supreme Court sided with Solomon, who also prevailed in the lower courts.

Lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year -- House Bill 2005 -- that strikes court funding if provisions of the 2014 law are struck down, which the Supreme Court did. But an injunction keeping the funding in place until mid-March remained in place, giving lawmakers time to fix the law, which they did through House Bill 2449.

Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, indicated the Legislature supports the judiciary. He said the Legislature had increased judicial spending.

"The financial signal that this body sent was clear, and that is: regardless of our opinion of any specific case or of any specific member of the judicial branch, we funded the courts," King said.

Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said the issue had received "too short a shrift" last year. …

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