- Associated Press - Sunday, May 1, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Latest on the Kansas Legislature (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

The Kansas secretary of state would have a role in state Supreme Court nominations under a measure approved in the House.

Representatives voted 72-50 for the bill Saturday night. House members initially voted 57-56 against it but later voted 64-56 to reconsider so lawmakers could draft a new version.

The measure goes next to the Senate.



The Supreme Court Nominating Commission names finalists for court vacancies. It consists of five attorneys elected by other lawyers and four members selected by the governor. Negotiators removed a provision in the bill to allow the governor to fill vacant lawyer-member positons instead of the Supreme Court’s chief justice.

The bill retains provisions allowing the secretary of state to receive a roster of lawyers eligible to participate in elections of the commission’s attorney members.

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10 p.m.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s chief spokeswoman says Brownback believes he can sign a bill that contains legislators’ latest plan for balancing the state budget through June 2017.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the governor reviewed the bill Saturday after House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on its contents.

The plan would require Brownback to do most of the work of closing projected shortfalls totaling more than $290 million in the state’s current and next budgets.

The plan assumes Brownback follows through on previously announced plans to cut higher education spending and to delay highway projects so that road funds can be diverted to general government programs.

Hawley said in an email that reviewing the plan, “the governor believes it is something he can sign.”

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9:45 p.m.

The Kansas House has approved a proposal prohibiting local governments from creating policies regulating the work hours of private employees, nutrition labeling and the prices of real estate. Critics argued that the bill encroached upon local control.

Legislators voted 76-45 in favor of the bill Saturday.

The measure would outlaw local regulations that require employers to affect a private employee’s work schedule unless federal law requires them to do so.

Municipalities also would be prevented from creating nutrition labeling on food or non-alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants, cafeterias or vending machines.

A provision in the bill would prohibit a city or county from searching individuals’ rental properties without their consent, while another would prevent political subdivisions from creating a policy that would control the purchase price of a property.

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9:15 p.m.

Kansas House and Senate negotiators are considering stripping a provision that would give the governor more authority over the Supreme Court Nominating Commission out of a larger bill.

The House initially voted 57-56 against the measure but later voted 64-56 to reconsider so that lawmakers could draft a new version.

The commission consists of five attorneys elected by other lawyers and four members selected by the governor. The Supreme Court’s chief justice currently appoints replacements for lawyer members who resign before their terms are up. Negotiators are considering removing a provision to allow the governor to appoint the replacements instead.

Negotiators are discussing keeping a provision that would allow the secretary of state to receive a roster of lawyers eligible to participate in the elections of the commission’s attorney members.

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8:10 p.m.

A Kansas House leader says the chamber is going ahead with a late-night debate on a plan for balancing the state budget through June 2017.

Majority Leader Jene Vickrey said the Legislature’s staff isn’t expected to finish drafting the measure until 11 p.m. Saturday. And the House has a rule requiring members to specifically approve meeting past midnight.

But Vickrey said he and other leaders of the chamber’s Republican majority hope lawmakers can wrap up work on the budget early Sunday morning.

The plan would require Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to do most of the work in closing projected shortfalls totaling more than $290 million in the state’s current and next budgets.

It assumes Brownback follows through on previously announced plans to cut higher education spending and delay highway projects.

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6:45 p.m.

A bill dealing with deer antlers has divided Kansas legislators.

The Senate voted 25-15 on Saturday against a measure addressing cases in which the state’s wildlife department seizes antlers and other animal parts from poached game.

The department would have had to offer the parts first to the owner of the land where the poaching occurred. Currently, that’s one of four options.

The Senate’s action came after the House passed the bill, 81-32. The measure would have applied to any animal part seized by the department after 2005.

A major supporter was a land manager wanting antlers from a deer he said was poached on his land. They are in the department’s possession.

The agency opposed the bill. It raises an average of $2,500 annually by auctioning off seized antlers.

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6:25 p.m.

An effort to change the process for selecting Kansas Supreme Court justices has been revived in the Legislature.

The proposal being considered Saturday would give the governor more authority over the nine-member commission that names three finalists for each high court vacancy.

The House initially voted 57-56 against the measure but later voted 64-56 to reconsider so that lawmakers could draft a new version and try again.

The commission consists of five attorneys elected by other lawyers and four members selected by the governor.

The Supreme Court’s chief justice currently appoints replacements for lawyer members who resign before their terms are up. The bill would allow the governor to appoint the replacements.

For each court vacancy, the governor must name one of the commission’s finalists. Legislators have no role.

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4:40 p.m.

State aid to Kansas public schools would be protected from cuts during the 2016-17 school year under a new legislative plan for balancing the state budget.

Three Senate and three House negotiators agreed Saturday to protect education funding. Their talks had stalled temporarily over the issue.

The state is facing projected shortfalls totaling more than $290 million in its current budget and the one for the next fiscal year beginning in July. The plan assumes Republican Gov. Sam Brownback will make some spending cuts.

Lead House negotiator Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe said lawmakers have promised schools stable funding.

Lead Senate negotiator Ty Masterson of Andover said during talks that some fellow GOP senators didn’t believe any potential cuts should be off the table.

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4:20 p.m.

Kansas legislators negotiating over budget issues have agreed that they’ll have Republican Gov. Sam Brownback do most of the work of closing projected shortfalls.

Three senators and three House members finished drafting a plan Saturday for balancing the state budget through June 2017. Kansas faces projected shortfalls totaling more than $290 million in its current and next budgets.

The plan delays $99 million in state contributions to public employee pensions due this spring, possibly until the end of June 2018.

But it assumes Brownback follows through on previously announced plans to cut higher education spending and to delay highway projects so that road funds can be diverted to general government programs.

The plan also assumes that Brownback will make as-yet-unspecified spending cuts after July 1 to keep budget balanced.

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3:15 p.m.

A Republican senator involved in the Kansas Legislature’s budget negotiations says lawmakers are justified in leaving much of the budget-balancing work to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

Sen. Jim Denning of Overland Park said Saturday that a plan will leave some spending cuts to Brownback because he won’t back off one of his signature income tax cuts.

The House on Friday rejected a plan to repeal a 2012 policy exempting more than 330,000 farmers and business owners from personal income taxes. Brownback sees the exemption as a pro-growth measure.

Budget negotiator and Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka said she understands why some GOP legislators want to leave spending cuts to Brownback but said it’s irresponsible.

Brownback has announced plans to delay highway projects and cut higher education spending.

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2:55 p.m.

Budget negotiations in the Kansas Legislature have stalled temporarily over whether aid to public schools should be protected from future budget cuts.

Lead Senate negotiator Ty Masterson said Saturday during talks that some GOP senators object to giving public schools special protection.

The Andover Republican said some senators don’t believe any potential cuts should be off the table as the state seeks to balance its budget.

The state is facing projected shortfalls totaling more than $290 million in its current budget and the one for the next fiscal year beginning in July. The state constitution prohibits a deficit.

A budget-balancing plan could leave some cuts to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. The House’s three budget negotiators want to exempt funding for public schools and suggested it in talks Friday night.

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12:40 p.m.

Top Republicans in the Kansas Legislature consider two bills an important part of efforts to balance the state budget through June 2017.

GOP leaders hoped lawmakers would make progress Saturday on passing the measures. One is aimed at cutting prescription drug costs for poor and disabled Kansans who receive health coverage under the Medicaid program by nearly $11 million a year.

The measure would the Medicaid program to use “step therapy” with prescriptions. Participants would be required to try less expensive medications and have the treatment fail before obtaining more expensive drugs.

The other bill would allow the state to sell off the Kansas Bioscience Authority’s assets to raise $25 million. The agency was set up in 2004 to nurture emerging biotechnology companies but has had a mixed record.

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11:40 a.m.

Kansas legislators are negotiating over the details of a plan that would close part of the projected $290 million shortfalls in the current and next state budgets.

Three Senate and three House negotiators met Saturday to reconcile differences between their chambers on spending issues. They’re also drafting budget-balancing measures.

They are considering a plan to indefinitely delay state contributions to public employee pensions. The contributions would be covered later with part of the state’s annual payments from a 1998 national legal settlement with tobacco companies.

But the lawmakers’ plan is likely to leave much of the budget-balancing work to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

The governor has already announced plans to cut higher education spending. He also plans to delay major highway projects and divert road funds to general government programs.

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