September 2019 Journal

Page 6

2019 Legislative Session • In Review by Joseph N. Molina III

KBA Director of Legislative Services

Kansas State Seal KBA Staff Photo by Ryan J. Purcell


he Kansas Legislature adjourned Sine Die on May 29, 2019. When you review the raw numbers, the 2019 session was comparable to previous years. For instance, in 2019 the Kansas Senate introduced 241 senate bills, 44 senate resolutions and 12 concurrent resolutions. The Kansas House proposed 411 bills, 24 resolutions and 14 concurrent resolutions. The number of bills introduced is similar to the numbers introduced in previous years. However, the number of bills sent to the governor for approval was down more than 20 percent. In 2019, Gov. Laura Kelly approved 71 bills, vetoed the tax bill1 (twice) and SB 67, the abortion reversal pill. Gov. Kelly also made several line-item vetoes from the budget. Finally, the governor also let HB 2209, the Farm Bureau Health proposal, become law without her signature. Whether the lack of bills sent to the governor was by design or simple coincidence is hard to say, but the pace at which the legislature moved was noticeably slower. For instance, the 6

The Journal of the Kansas Bar Association

Senate Judiciary Committee is one of the busiest committees in the legislature. In 2019, 67 bills were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee held 19 hearings before the turnaround deadline and 24 hearings before the dropdead deadline. In 2018, the committee heard 25 percent more bills over nine more hearings. This clearly had an impact on how many bills continued through the legislative process. As such, less was done—but as John Wooden once said, “Never confuse activity with achievement.” Schools, Taxes and the Budget When the Kansas Legislature was active, its focus was on three issues: K-12 education , tax cuts, and the state budget. The legislature was in a time crunch to deliver what it hoped would be a constitutionally appropriate school finance plan to the Kansas Supreme Court. The plan was crafted by the governor’s office and the Kansas Senate, and it included an additional $360 million over four years.2 The Kansas House

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