Kansas: Senate plan provides judiciary more funding, but only if courts rule against pending lawsuit

For the second year in a row Kansas legislators appear poised to give the courts more money on the condition they do not strike down certain laws as unconstitutional.

In 2014 the legislature enacted HB 2338 as amended. The bill, as detailed here and here, gave $2 million to the state’s judiciary on the condition that the courts not strike down other provisions in HB 2338 stripping the supreme court of administrative power, including how local chief judges are elected (currently the Supreme Court picks; HB 2338 would let local judges pick their own chief). HB 2338 contained a non-severability clause: if the Kansas courts strike down the stripping of the supreme courts authority or any other portion the entire bill/law falls including the additional funding.

In February 2015 a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of HB 2338 in light of the conflicting law (HB 2338: local judges pick the chief judges) and Supreme Court rule directing the Supreme Court pick. Moreover, the state’s constitution provides “The supreme court shall have general administrative authority over all courts in this state.” That lawsuit is pending a copy is located here.

Now in April 2015 a new funding bill has been introduced (HB 2005, as amended) to give additional funding for the Kansas courts. Under the new plan (HB 2005 as amended by the Senate) the judiciary will get funding for the upcoming year provided it does not rule in favor of the pending lawsuit and find that HB 2338 of 2014 is unconstitutional.

The provisions of this act are not severable, nor are they severable from the provisions of 2014 Senate Substitute for House Bill No. 2338, chapter 82 of the 2014 Session Laws of Kansas. If any provision of this act or of 2014 Senate Substitute for House Bill No. 2338, chapter 82 of the 2014 Session Laws of Kansas, is stayed or is held to be invalid or unconstitutional, it shall be presumed conclusively that the legislature would not have enacted the remainder of this act without such stayed, invalid or unconstitutional provision and the provisions of this act are hereby declared to be null and void and shall have no force and effect.

HB 2005 of 2015 is currently pending in was approved by the Senate Ways & Means Committee 3/25/15.