Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2006

Proposed amendment curtailing court fails

Measure would have limited judges’ financial authority

March 23, 2006


— Another proposed constitutional amendment aimed at curtailing the authority of the Kansas Supreme Court has failed in the Legislature, but supporters said Wednesday's vote wasn't the final word.

"I don't think it brings the debate to an end for those of us who think that this is an issue of paramount importance," said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe. "We'll continue to work it."

The measure would have clarified that the courts couldn't tell legislators how much money to spend - something the Supreme Court did last year on school finance.

The 66-58 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority, or 84 votes, needed to send the measure to the Senate. Had it passed the Legislature, voters in November would have had the opportunity to make it part of the Kansas Constitution.

"People just are more interested in trying to solve the education issues that we have than trying to take a slap at the court," said Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who voted against the proposal.

The proposal is among several ideas floated during the session as a way to show that legislators feel 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.

During last year's special session, the Senate passed the same proposed amendment, but the House never mustered the necessary votes to follow suit.

House Speaker Doug Mays said he was disappointed but not surprised the amendment was defeated again.

"I think we have a number of people in the Legislature who approve of what the court did," said Mays, R-Topeka. "Sooner or later the court is going to go too far and the public will demand we do something."

That could come later this summer, he suggested, if the justices reject the Legislature's school finance package and order more spending or attempt to prevent schools from opening next fall.

Aside from making clear that only the Legislature can appropriate money, the proposal also said "any existing order" directing legislators to appropriate money would be unenforceable once the provision was adopted by voters.

That wouldn't address last year's court order, because it has been carried out. But it would negate any court order directing legislators to spend money that might be issued between now and enactment of the proposal.

Displeasure with the courts, especially by conservative Republicans, resulted in the House last week clipping $3.7 million from the judiciary's budget in a plan to finance state government after July 1, leaving less than $108 million. The House also said the Supreme Court couldn't raise the cost of filing lawsuits and other fees to help fund its budget, as it did during the past four years.

Senators, however, are working on a proposed budget that would permit the Supreme Court to continue levying its surcharges. Negotiators for the two chambers will write the final version of any spending plan.

Discontent with the judiciary also was seen when the Senate two weeks ago tried, but failed, to pass a proposed amendment requiring confirmation by senators before justices could serve on the Supreme Court.

That would have been in addition to the current process, where a nominating commission interviews applicants and picks three candidates from whom the governor makes the selection.

Last month, the House Judiciary Committee rejected a proposal to scrap the nominating commission process and replace it with justices being appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.


bmwjhawk 12 years, 1 month ago

This amendment failure is GOOD! The process of checks & balances works and should never be thwarted. The legislature needs to quit making a power play and find a way to get their education funding "adequate" so that it will be in line with the Kansas Constitution.

Either that, or amend the Kansas Constitution and delete the adequate part.

LawrenceKSisgreat 12 years, 1 month ago

anyone having problems geeting to any other site beside LJW and SunflowerBB this morning? I cant find a probem reporting number anywhere? I have not been able to get to any other sites since 5:30 am today. A real problem reporting # seperate from the customer support # would be nice.

Jamesaust 12 years, 1 month ago

"I don't think it brings the debate to an end for those of us who think that this is an issue of paramount importance," said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe.

Paramount importance? I believe its clear that Rep. Kinzer does not take his job very seriously. Such persons are a direct threat to our liberty - people who are willing to sacrifice the process if it doesn't deliver the ends that they wish.

(Is there a Kay O'Connor Award or something that these moonbats are vying for?)

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 1 month ago

This legislature is astounding. The lengths they will go to punish those with whom they disagree using legislation is frightening. They have no respect for the governmental process described in the Constitution and they attempt to change the system itself if it fails to deliver exactly what they want.

These are conservatives? No, these are sloppy right-wing liberals employing the politics of indignation, retribution, and redress.

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