Archive for Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kansas Supreme Court blasts bill signed into law by Brownback

April 20, 2014

— In a rare public statement, the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday denounced a bill signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback, saying the measure would weaken the judicial system.

"The Supreme Court of Kansas has strongly opposed this bill since its creation. We are troubled now that it has been signed by the governor," the court said after Brownback's office revealed that he signed House Bill 2338.

The measure allows district judges — instead of the Kansas Supreme Court — to select the chief judge for the district's court. It also allows the chief judge of each of the state's 31 judicial districts to take control of their individual budgets from the state Supreme Court.

The bill also provides an additional $2 million for the judicial branch and increases docket fees.

The Supreme Court said the bill "weakens the centralized authority of the Kansas unified court system in exchange for money to pay our employees and keep courts open. And the money it provides still may fall short of even doing that.

"This is a poor trade. We have very serious concerns about what will happen to the administration of justice in Kansas. We believe Kansans deserve better," the court said.

Brownback's office did not immediately respond to the court's statement. He provided no comment on the bill in his news release about bills he had signed into law.

During debate on the bill, Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, described the legislation as a compromise to get a court budget for the next 16 months and avoid furloughs.

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