Topeka — Having already voted to cut the judiciary's budget, the House took up a proposed constitutional amendment Tuesday to clarify that the courts can't tell legislators how much to spend - something the Kansas Supreme Court did last year on education funding.
The House gave first-round approval on a voice vote to the proposed amendment, but it must have a two-thirds majority, or 84 votes, to send it to the Senate. If the Legislature approves the idea, voters would get a chance in November to make it part of the Kansas Constitution.
"All we're doing in this amendment is taking back ground that was taken from us," said Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson. "Let's give the opportunity to set the record straight."
The proposal is among several ideas floated during the session as a way to show that legislators think the court overstepped its authority when it ordered them to spend an additional $143 million - forcing a special session last summer - to meet their constitutional obligation to adequately fund public schools.
"It's about whether we believe self-government is a principle worth fighting for," said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe. "We are in a constitutional conflict with the Kansas Supreme Court."
During the special session, the Senate passed the same proposed amendment, but the House never could muster the necessary votes to follow suit.