Senate Approves Funding Boost For Kansas Courts

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Senate passed what leaders are calling the largest Judicial Branch funding increase in state history.

The bill also moves budgeting authority to the chief district court judges and allows district judges and the Court of Appeals to elect their own chief judges.

The measure, approved Thursday, gives a $10 million boost to the courts in fiscal year 2015 through additional funding and budget savings.

“This legislation empowers local judges to run their courts to the best of their ability while ensuring that Kansas courts stay open,” said Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover. “With the passage of this important legislation, there should be no reason for furloughs or closings in the judicial branch.”

Much of the new funding comes through increasing court fees. Senate leaders, however, note that Kansas would still have the lowest court fees in the region. The Senate-approved measure also funds completion of an eFiling and electronic case management.

“In passing this legislation, the Senate has ensured full funding of Kansas courts and shown that it can work with district judges to solve the tough issues facing our state,” Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, said. “The Senate has proven it will rise above differences with the judicial branch to do what is best for the state.”

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss had warned the courts faced a projected $8 million shortfall in FY2015. He said, without additional funding, some court employees would be furloughed and court offices would close.

The Senate vote on the bill was 23 to 12. It now moves to the House.

The Judiciary funding bill is S. Sub for HB 2338.

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