After Kansas House declines to invite Chief Justice for state of the judiciary speech, House Dem wants a statute to require such an address

I noted earlier in January that the Kansas legislature declined to invite the state’s chief justice to deliver a state of the judiciary address. Now HB 2040 of 2013 would in fact require such a speech be delivered, orally, at the start of every session.

First, some background.

Longtime readers of the blog may know I’ve tracked state of the judiciary addresses delivered to legislatures for a few years now, noting whether or not the speech was required by statute or constitutional provision. There are at least 3 such states that have specific language that is cited when the legislature makes the formal invitation to the state’s chief justice.

  • Iowa Code 602.1207: The chief justice shall communicate the condition of the judicial branch by message to each general assembly, and may recommend matters the chief justice deems appropriate.
  • Indiana Constitution Art. 7, Sec. 3: The Chief Justice shall have prepared and submit to the General Assembly regular reports on the condition of the courts and such other reports as may be requested.
  • Texas Government Code Section 21.004 Government Code: (a) At a convenient time at the commencement of each regular session of the legislature, the chief justice of the supreme court shall deliver a written or oral state of the judiciary message evaluating the accessibility of the courts to the citizens of the state and the future directions and needs of the courts of the state. (b) It is the intent of the legislature that the state of the judiciary message promote better understanding between the legislative and judicial branches of government and promote more efficient administration of justice in Texas.

Kansas HB 2040 would specify any report by the chief justice would have to be delivered, in person, to the legislature (legislative leaders in declining to invite the chief justice in 2013 suggested he just send a written report instead).

At the beginning of each regular session of the legislature, the chief justice shall have the responsibility for delivering an oral state of the judiciary address to the legislature evaluating affairs concerning the state of the judiciary, including accessibility of the courts to the citizens of this state, future needs of the courts of the state and any recommendations for addressing such affairs of the judiciary.

The same bill would also require the governor’s state of the state address be made orally to the legislature.

Given that the bill is authored by a Democrat in a chamber that is made up of 92 Republicans and 33 Democrats, it appears unlikely the bill will get out of the House Judiciary Committee.