Capitol Chatter
View this email in your browser

Capitol Chatter

Tom Krebs

Monday, February 13, 2017

“Admission is free and characters abound”
It’s good when you can draw a line in the sand and know it’s for real. 
In the Kansas House, so essentially for the legislature, there were enough votes the last four years to prevent a constitutional amendment changing the selection process of Supreme Court members being passed. Although there were a number of runs at it, those wanting to give more power to the governor knew, eventually, they could not garner the 84 votes necessary to put a constitutional measure on the ballot.  As a result, measures would come out of the House and/or Senate Judiciary Committee that would change the selection method, and every time they failed on the House floor.
Counting the noses to turn back a constitutional amendment was an essential part of each election night since 2012.  Between mods, Rs, and Ds in 2012, there were well into the 50s the votes that would not support a change of any sort.  In 2014, the number might have fallen into the high 40s, but in 2016, the situation changed greatly.  It is easy to see that number move to the high 70s, maybe even the low 80s, but the new moderate tenor has made a whale of a difference in the House Judiciary Committee. As a result, Kansans in general, and educators in particular, don’t have to worry about the selection process being changed for at least two years,.
What’s interesting is it appears the Judiciary Committee is even MORE moderate than what the overall composition of the floor looks like, given the committee leadership.  Twelve votes are necessary for a bill to come out of the committee; nine members might be construed as conservatives, maybe even one or two less.
A look at the committee:
  • Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa serves as chair. He has been a leading moderate since his election in 2012;
  • Rep. Fred Patton, R-Topeka, is vice chair. He is a current board member at Seaman USD 345 and a former president of KASB;
  • Elizabeth Bishop, D-Wichita; retired teacher;
  • Roger Elliott, R- Wichita; former board member; and
  • Tim Hodge, D-Newton, current Newton USD 373 board member.
The last three all replaced much more conservative incumbents.
There are also at least ten other mods or Ds on the committee for a total of 15.
One member of the conservative faction is Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, and a former board member who currently serves on the House K-12 committee.
The bottom line? A moderate judiciary committee has been selected, but perhaps more importantly, none of the current justices facing retention votes lost their seat on the bench.  As a result, it is widely expected the upcoming court decision regarding adequacy will fall into a range that enjoys support among most Kansas educators.
It appears, for once, in some time, the legislative branch and the judicial branch just may be aligned in the school finance arena.
And even with all that November election success, are there enough votes in both chambers to override a gubernatorial veto?
Stay tuned.

Tom Krebs is a recently retired KASB staff member who survived nine legislative sessions.  He is a former teacher, administrator and school board member. For more news from the statehouse and around the education world in general, follow him, if you dare, on Twitter at TomKrebs1. Again, admission is free, characters abound and views are his and his alone!
Copyright © 2017 USA|Kansas, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list