The Kansas Senate advanced a bill Tuesday changing the way judges are chosen for the state Court of Appeals and giving the governor more say in who sits on the bench.
The measure would abolish an attorney-dominated nominating commission that now screens applicants for the Court of Appeals and submits the names of three finalists to the governor, who makes the appointment without Senate confirmation. The bill would scrap that process, giving governors the authority to make their own appointments, subject to Senate confirmation.
Senators gave the measure first-round approval Tuesday. The bill has already cleared the House, and Senate passage on a final vote expected today would send the bill to Gov. Sam Brownback.
The Senate previously approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the governor new authority to name judges to the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The House has yet to take action on the amendment, which if approved by two-thirds of its members would be placed on the August 2014 primary election ballot.
Senate Vice President Jeff King said he continued to meet with members of the Kansas Bar Association about the proposed changes in hopes of finding a compromise. The bar association currently appoints five of the nine members of the nominating commission, which critics say gives too much power to one organization.
King, an Independence Republican, said any deal would still have to go before voters to be ratified because the Supreme Court’s selection is specifically mentioned in the constitution.