Yesterday a Kansas House/Senate conference committee agreed on a plan to tie the judiciary’s entire funding package to its eventual decision in a case currently pending in the state’s trial courts.
As previously discussed here, here, and here, this process started in 2014 when HB 2338 as amended gave $2 million to the state’s judiciary for FY 2015 but with a “non-severability” provision: the funds would only come available on the condition that the courts not strike down other provisions in HB 2338 stripping the supreme court of administrative power. Article 3 of the Kansas Constitution gives the Supreme Court, “general administrative authority over all courts in this state.”
Rather than just ending the 2014 $2 million supplemental, this year’s plan as approved by the conference committee yesterday would completely de-fund the judiciary if the courts rule against any provision in HB 2338, in particular the provision currently contested in a lawsuit filed in February transferring the ability to name chief judges from the Supreme Court down to the District Courts and Court of Appeals.
Local news reports indicate that because the bill is coming out of a conference committee there will be no opportunity to amend out the non-severability provision, meaning legislators will have to vote yes or no on the entire appropriations bill unchanged.