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Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Report on Nuss case to reflect party lines

October 4, 2006

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— Republicans and Democrats on a House investigating committee expect to offer competing reports on a Kansas Supreme Court justice's conversation with two senators about then-pending school finance litigation.

GOP members want the report to conclude that Justice Lawton Nuss' conversation influenced the Legislature's approval this year of a plan to phase in a $466 million increase in aid to public schools over three years. They also want it to say evidence gathered by the committee suggests there may have been other contacts between the court and lawmakers, despite repeated statements to the contrary.

Democrats want the report to conclude that Nuss' conversation had no effect on the Legislature's discussions and that the evidence overwhelmingly shows Nuss' conversation was the only contact between the court and the Legislature.

Republicans hold a 6-4 majority, so the committee is likely to adopt their conclusions. However, Democrats expect they'll be able to attach a minority report.

The committee met Tuesday at the Statehouse to discuss what will go into the report and asked its staff to draft two versions. The panel plans to meet again Oct. 26.

"It went generally as I might have anticipated," said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe. "It looks like there will be two potential versions of the report circulated."

Nuss removed himself from the lawsuit after his conversation with Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, became public. Justices are prohibited from discussing cases with outsiders.

After the Legislature approved its school finance plan, the court dismissed the lawsuit.

In August, the Commission on Judicial Qualifications admonished Nuss that his conversation was improper, but it did not recommend further sanctions by the Supreme Court.

Since the House committee was created in May by Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, Democrats have questioned its usefulness, noting the judicial inquiry.

"I think it's been an incredible waste of time," said Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, a committee member. "We never really had a point where we were trying to get."

Comments

prioress 7 years, 6 months ago

Much ado about "nussing." Let's get to the business of funding the schools at the level they promised last spring.

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