Archive for Friday, January 15, 2016

Editorial: Correct course

Kansas House and Senate committees have set the right tone by taking quick action to restore the state’s judicial budget.

January 15, 2016

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Early signs are that Kansas legislators will move quickly to resolve a potential crisis over the budget for the state’s judicial branch — and that’s good news for the state.

On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee approved identical bills to restore the judicial budget. The bills toss out a 2015 law that included a “nonseverability clause” tying judicial funding to a 2014 law changing the way chief judges are appointed in the state’s 31 judicial districts. The clause required that the entire law, which included funding of the judicial branch, would be thrown out if any part of the law was found to be invalid. A subsequent court ruling that the change in chief judges’ appointments was unconstitutional had put the judicial budget in jeopardy.

Republican lawmakers reportedly said Thursday they didn’t want to close the courts. That’s good, but it raises the question of why they inserted the nonseverability clause in the first place — especially when a lawsuit contesting the chief judge selection change already had been filed.

It seemed they were trying to pick a fight with the court system, but perhaps they’ve had a change of heart. For whatever reason, it’s good to see legislators taking quick and straightforward action to resolve the issue. Hopefully, the bills will move smoothly through the legislative process without any tinkering or controversy.

Even with the budgets restored, more controversy likely is ahead for the state’s judiciary, thanks to Gov. Sam Brownback’s renewed call for amending the Kansas Constitution to change the way justices on the Kansas Supreme Court are selected. Despite his repeated assertion that our system is out of step with the rest of the nation, Kansas is one of 24 states that uses a merit system with a nominating commission to select supreme court justices. Rather than try to address any concerns about the makeup of the Kansas commission, Brownback continues to advocate throwing out the merit system in favor of a more political system in which the governor appoints justices with Senate confirmation.

A proposed constitutional amendment to change the selection process failed to make it through the Legislature last year and legislators may not want to tackle this issue again in an election year. That, like quick action to restore the judicial budgets, would be a smart and practical choice.

Comments

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

Was brownie and the legislature trying to pick a fight with the judicial branch of government?............it was more like brownie and the legislature were trying to control the Judiciary by the threat of controlling their budget strings,.....if they misbehaved, in their eyes !

Sure, brownie wants to have the power to turn poorly qualified 1%er patronage lawyers,...into top judges,... as political hand out croni jobs; as opposed to having competent jurists being chosen by their own thoughtful knowledgable piers on their own merits for a judgeship position ( brownie doesn't like that ! ) ( brownie gets really mad about qualified judges, appointing new judges based only on their judicial merit ! )

Gee....maybe next week brownie will show up at one of the Rural Ks. Hospitals and deside to preform brain surgery,.........with, of course, the consent and advise of the legislature, who don't seem to be that worried about the decline in the rural hospital system in Kansas on their watch . Would you like to be his first patient ?

How about if brownie would open a dental office in the middle of nowhere to solve the states dental crisis by calling himself a dental expert ? Would you want to sit in their chair if brownie appointed an unqualified person with slight experience ( as a political plum ), to fix your teeth ?

Lynn Grant 1 year, 7 months ago

Should never have happened in the first place! Does the majority of this Legislature ever consider existing law before they jump in the deep end?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Never believe that the RINO controlled Kansas House,Kansas Senate or the Brownback administration is coming around. Political rhetoric, misinformation and deception are the attributes most often put forth by the representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Koch brothers toxic political empire rules in Kansas.

The question becomes is how did a minority toxic political empire take over Kansas Government?

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