Archive for Thursday, April 25, 2013

Attorney general seeks $1.2 million to defend new laws

April 25, 2013


— Kansas’ attorney general is warning legislators that the state faces potential lawsuits and more than $1.2 million in costs because of laws enacted this year, including a pro-gun policy aimed at the federal government and a sweeping anti-abortion measure declaring that life begins “at fertilization.”

The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday reviewed requests from Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office to boost its budget during the two-year period beginning in July to cover potential litigation costs. The committee is examining spending proposals because legislators return May 8 from their annual spring break to wrap up business for the year.

Schmidt’s office said it needs up to $500,000 to defend the anti-abortion law, which blocks tax breaks for abortion providers, prohibits them from furnishing materials or instructors for public-school sex-education classes and bans abortions solely because of the baby’s sex.

It takes effect in July. The language about when life begins worries some abortion-rights groups, though abortion opponents see the language only as statement of principle, not an attempt to prevent the termination of pregnancies.

The attorney general’s office already has spent nearly $759,000 on outside attorneys’ services in defending anti-abortion laws enacted in 2011.

Schmidt’s office also sees potential litigation over the new gun law, which took effect Thursday and declares the federal government has no power to regulate firearms, ammunition and accessories manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas. The new law also makes it a felony for a federal agent to attempt to regulate such items.

In addition, Schmidt anticipates potential court challenges to two laws taking effect in July. One will require drug testing for some public assistance recipients, while another will prohibit public employee unions from automatically deducting money from members’ paychecks to finance political activities.

The attorney general’s spokesman did not immediately return telephone messages Thursday seeking comment, but the Legislature’s staff detailed Schmidt’s proposals in a memo for lawmakers. Senate committee Chairman Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said any law enacted by the state can face a court challenge.

“He’s just trying to anticipate potential activity,” Masterson said. “That’s not a legitimate argument not to pass the law.” But critics of the new laws noted that questions about whether they’d result in expensive legal disputes arose during legislative debates.

“We’re going to have to pay for it,” said Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.

Schmidt’s requests anticipate that a defense of the new anti-abortion law would inspire the most expensive potential litigation.

Abortion-rights supporters challenged 2011 laws restricting private health insurance coverage for elective abortions, imposing new health and safety rules specifically for abortion providers and denying the state’s share of federal family planning dollars for non-abortion services to Planned Parenthood. The insurance law was upheld, but the other cases are pending in federal and state courts.

Abortion-rights supporters have labeled the new anti-abortion law’s tax provisions discriminatory and argued that the language on life beginning at fertilization could be used to harass providers.

“I don’t think taxpayers want their money to go to defend unconstitutional laws,” said Elise Higgins, a lobbyist for the National Organization for Women’s state chapter. “It’s a waste of money that could be going to social services, education, jobs — all the things Kansans care about more than abortion politics.”

But Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-abortion group at the Statehouse, said this year’s law, like previous ones, was drafted to withstand legal challenges. She said the abortion industry and its allies turn to the courts simply to delay enforcement.

“These laws are worth defending,” Culp said. “It wouldn’t cost a cent if these people didn’t sue.”

The new gun-rights law declares that the “Kansas-only” guns, ammunition and accessories aren’t in interstate commerce, which is regulated by the federal government under the U.S. Constitution. Some legal experts have doubted it would pass constitutional muster.

Schmidt’s office is anticipating $225,000 in potential legal costs in defending the law, though he’s said he’s not sure how a challenge would arise, absent gun-control efforts by the federal government.

The attorney general estimates that defending the drug-testing and paycheck-deduction laws would cost up to $250,000 each over the next two years.


Satirical 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What a waste of money, if it is a law with which I disagree.

I am sure this is the first time in the history of the Republic that money had to be spent defending the Constitutionality of a law. (Note: Please ignore Obamacare and all historical reference to laws passed by liberals)


kernal 11 months, 3 weeks ago

At least our city commissioners are smarter than those in a PA town where they passed a law requiring landlords to evict tenants after a given number of disturbance calls to their local police department; disturbances including domestic violence calls. After three or four domestic calls by the tenant, or the tenant's neighbors,a victim of domestic violence gets evicted. ACLU is now involved in an open case. This is how dumbed down elected officials are in the U.S. now.


Bob Forer 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This is really outrageous. Either the legislature is too fricking stupid to understand basic constitutional law, or they have been so advised of the dubious constitutionality but passed the laws anyway because it makes them look gpod in the eyes of their constituents come re-election time. So in other words, they are either downright ignorant or intetlectually dishonest.

What's worse is now we are going to waste a lot of taxpayers money on a law that isn't needed, is ill advised, and will probably not be enforceable.

In the meantime the real pressing political issues and problems of the day are glossed over.

This kind of nonsense is not just happening in Kansas, but in other states and also in Washington. American political discourse has reached a new low. Shameful, but as long as the electorate allows this to happen, I see no end in sight.


msezdsit 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Brownback and his band of merry little fringe wacko fanatics are the anti-Robin Hood. They will steal enough from the poor and disadvantaged to easily pick up the tab on this.


donttreadonme 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"Legislators question paying more for NBAF", now there's another article that's "liberal friendly". President Obama is spending more money!


Larry Sturm 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Passing laws that have to be defended It would be better to use that money to help fund the schools but that is not using common sense.


donttreadonme 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"reality_check794 hours, 40 minutes ago ... It would be nice to have a news source in Lawrence that showed both sides versus only liberal friendly articles all the time. Apparently it is impossible to find a news source in Lawrence that isn't only catering to local one side bashing political news. It is comical how blind the LJWorld is."

What is "liberal friendly" about this article? It explained the AG's request for a million plus of our tax dollars, and then cited sources on all sides as to why the laws have to be defended, or shouldn't have to be defended, or why it's worth it to defend them.

Just because you don't like the facts doesn't make it "liberal friendly".

What's comical is thinking that this paper is "liberal friendly". I think the owner, Dolph Simons, would object to that characterization.


Karl_Hungus 11 months, 3 weeks ago

How many more books are going to be taken away from school children to pay for this garbage? These Neocons just want to get the Supremes (Court) to hear these cases before a few of them are replaced by Obama's picks......

So, Sammy Brownpants has to raise sales taxes to pay for a shortfall in the budget but can cook up enough money to "fight his good fight"

Nice to know that his cutting crew will be fat and happy while the old, poor, sick, young, middle class die in the streets, yep....he is the new definition of Christian


reality_check79 11 months, 3 weeks ago

If you like it or not laws have to defended. Arguing the law at this point gets you nothing. Not a fan of the abortion bill but it is a law. What amazes me is the lack of coverage by the LJWorld on federal spending for the last 5 years, I mean it has broken records! I know its not liberal friendly to report 100,000 people on furlough because of federal spending but it is more news worthy than 1.2 million needed to defend laws in Kansas. It would be nice to have a news source in Lawrence that showed both sides versus only liberal friendly articles all the time. Apparently it is impossible to find a news source in Lawrence that isn't only catering to local one side bashing political news. It is comical how blind the LJWorld is.


Bob Forer 11 months, 3 weeks ago

“He’s just trying to anticipate potential activity,” Masterson said. “That’s not a legitimate argument not to pass the law.”

What about the Constitution? A first year student knows that most of the new laws mentioned above will not pass constitutional muster.


Scut Farkus 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I certainly hope the Democrats are mounting some kind of offense for the mid-terms. Part of the problem is the State Democratic leaders have no backbone. They like their little islands of blue and could care less about the rural vote. Kansas is doomed if there is not a house cleaning next year. There's just too many extreme wing nuts supported by the Koch brothers in office right now. I am not anti-conservative but I am anti-idiot.


poolside 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Ask Kochs to cough up the "spare change" for their defense.


jafs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I generally disagree with the laws being passed by our legislature, and think they should stop passing laws that will cost a lot to defend in court, when they'll almost certainly lose there.

But, this question about the ICC is an interesting one to me. Originally, it was intended to regulate commerce between states. As such, commerce within an individual state wouldn't fall under that clause.

Unfortunately, our courts have widened the interpretation and given the federal government much wider latitude in using it.


bmoody51 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Where is the Headline proofreader? Really? A T T O R N Y? is that an alternate spelling? Yesterday, the wrong name was listed in the head for the style scout. Today, this. Doesn't show a great deal of professionalism.


btsflk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

There's no understanding these people. They scream about too much government infringement by way of too many laws upon their lives, about the government wasting their money. What do they see themselves doing?

I don't believe anyone believes in abortion, per se, but it is at times necessary. Restrictive laws such as they have passed only hurt poor women. Wealthy woman have always had access to and will continue to have access to abortion.

Oops, I forgot for a minute that this administration hates the poor.

Oh and be sure not to miss the aticle in today's paper about the huge tax deficit we are facing. Again, this burden falls on the poor.


question4u 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Much as our legislators seem to despise the United States, Kansas is still not its own country. When you pass state laws to circumvent the Constitution of the United States you are destined to pay high attorney fees, look foolish, and end up right where you started. Of course, you make the "believe it or not" segments of national news programs and become the target of countless jokes on late night talk shows: ways NOT to attract an educated workforce to the state or interest anyone with quality-of-life concerns in moving a business to Kansas.

If Kansas legislators are going to insist on creating a body of law that contradicts US law, they should at least give it a name to avoid confusion. How about Sharia. Wait, that would be perfect, but it's already taken.


Thomas Bryce 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I vote we send Mary Kay Culp, and all the Legislators who supported and passed These Laws, the Bill for defending these Laws They Passed knowing full well they would be challenged in a Court of Law. They sure don't mind wasting taxpayer dollars on THEIR Ideology. Bet it would be different if THEY had to pay to defend what they have done.


Paul R Getto 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Better up the ante, General. It will be much more expensive than you imagine.


oldexbeat 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Gee, get rid of free speech (ie, stop doctors from talking) and keep letting the mentally unfit get guns. Wow. What a state. The Containment Corporation of America (CCA) private jail people are next to benefit, after the lawyers. (Oh, wait, I'm not suppose to know that privatizing prisons is the next on ALEC instructions to their top employee in the state, Sammy Brownback.


Mike1949 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Brownback is providing jobs alright, for the attorneys. They knew this was coming, and I hope the state looses their you know what! I just want Brownback and the republican party to rein-verse the state! It is money wasted that we the people of Kansas should NOT have come out of our pockets!


somebodynew 11 months, 3 weeks ago

arch - good question. Since the same group (ALEC) actually wrote the laws, my guess is they are very similar - and will meet the same fate.

And yes, cds - that has to be one of the 'best' statements from Mary Kay I have ever seen. Fits right into the dictator state of mind from this administration.

But, let us not forget - this seems to be part of the BB job plan. Lots of work for outside attorneys. This is where all those jobs he promised are coming.


arch007bak 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder how similar the drug testing for public assistance recipients are between Kansas and Florida. Florida passed a law with similar intent only to have it blocked by a federal court.


cds 11 months, 3 weeks ago

“These laws are worth defending,” Culp said.

They will be sued and for good reason.

“It wouldn’t cost a cent if these people didn’t sue.”

It also wouldn't have cost if the laws had not been passed, but they were.


mikekt 11 months, 3 weeks ago

$1.2 million.......that's peanuts,......and all of these right wing laws, are great distractions for their peanut gallery, from their giving lots more $ to the already rich, in tax cuts, at the expense of the poor, the disappearing middle class and the states budget .

And Now, On With The Show !!!!! for the mindless, in "4-D Living Koback Vision", !!! ..........a Sam Brownback, Koch Brothers Production !!!


WilburM 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The Legislature goes on a highly dubious legislating binge, then has to come to terms with the fact that many of their "laws" may well be unconstitutional. Great use of state funds, defending bs laws. For example:

"Schmidt’s office also sees potential litigation over the new gun law, which took effect Thursday and declares the federal government has no power to regulate firearms, ammunition and accessories manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas. The new law also makes it a felony for a federal agent to attempt to regulate such items."

Such provisions are just begging for litigation, which ain't cheap. But nevermind, far-right conservatives have made their statements; now we'll have to pay for them.


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