When last we looked at the effort to end merit selection for the Kansas Court of Appeals, the House had adopted HB 2101, a change to a quasi-federal system (governor appoints, senate confirms, but instead of life tenure, retention elections). When the Senate failed to take it up, the House tried to force the issue by attaching it to a completely unrelated bill (SB 83). When the Senate balked at the change in March 2011, a conference committee was set to reconcile the competing versions of SB 83.
Yesterday (February 23, 2012), the issue was forced again when a Senator moved to accept the House amendment killing merit selection for the Court of Appeals. The effort failed on a 17-22 vote. The vote split across party lines. All 17 votes in favor of ending merit selection were from Republicans. Of the 22 votes against, 14 Republicans and 8 Democrats opposing the amendment.
SB 83 now returns back to the conference committee created in March 2011, its fate unknown.
For news reports and details, check out this Gavel Grab post.