Brownback signs Kansas Supreme Court changes into law

Apr 21, 2014

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback recently signed 19 bills into law.  Topping the list was and a bill stripping the Kansas Supreme Court of its appointment power as well as changing the system’s management according to a recent article from the Kansas Health Institute.

House Bill 2338, which appropriates an additional $2 million for the state court system through increased court fees but also alters the way the courts are managed. 

Under the new law, the judges in each court district and the judges of the Court of Appeals will elect a district judge to serve as chief administrative judge for the district. It effectively strips the Kansas Supreme Court of its authority to appoint chief judges in the state's 31 judicial districts.

The Supreme Court justices issued a statement after the bill was signed criticizing it for weakening "the centralized authority of the Kansas unified court system in exchange for money to pay our employees and keep courts open.”

“This is a poor trade. We have very serious concerns about what will happen to the administration of justice in Kansas,” according to the court's statement.

Ryan Wright is the executive director of Kansans for Fair Courts.  He described the bill as retribution for the Supreme Court’s recent finance ruling.

“The Legislature passed this bill to punish the Supreme Court for upholding the Kansas Constitution and ensuring that Kansas children have equitable access to a world-class education," Wright said in a prepared statement.

Three health related bills were passed.

  • Senate Bill 311 caps economic damages in medical malpractice cases and personal injury lawsuits.
  • House Bill 2552 requires all properly submitted claims for payment from Kansas Medicaid providers with managed care organization be fully paid or denied within 30 days.  Full payment or denial on all other claims is required within 90 days.
  • Senate Bill 271 increased penalties for medical fraud.

More details are available from The Kansas Health Institute.