Kansas Legislature

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A former Kansas House Speaker told state lawmakers to fight back against a court ruling over school funding. The state Supreme Court says lawmakers must reduce funding disparities among school districts or schools could close.

Former Republican Rep. Mike O’Neal didn’t tell Kansas legislators directly to defy the court, he said they should respond. But he said they could point to state law passed years ago saying the court can’t close schools.

J. Stephen Conn, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers may comply with a court ruling over school funding, but they could also take a swipe at the courts in the process.

Legislators want to avoid a school shutdown in a legal fight over school funding, but Gov. Sam Brownback and some other legislators aren’t happy with the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas lawmakers will begin committee meetings next week in advance of a special session focused on school funding issues. The committees could discuss a constitutional amendment that would block the courts from shutting down schools during funding disputes.

The state is currently involved in a legal fight over school funding. The Kansas Supreme Court has said if it isn’t fixed by the end of the month, the funding system will be unconstitutional and schools could be closed.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Update via AP Wednesday, 10:06 a.m.: Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to set the date for a special session of the Kansas Legislature on school funding.

The Republican governor plans to sign a proclamation Wednesday afternoon formally calling the GOP-dominated Legislature into special session.

He wants lawmakers to respond to a state Supreme Court order last month declaring that public schools won't be able to open after June 30 if legislators don't rewrite school finance laws.

The court rejected some changes made earlier this year in how Kansas distributes more than $4 billion a year in aid to its 286 local school districts.

The justices said education funding remains unfair to poor districts. Many Republicans have strongly criticized the ruling, and some have wanted to defy the court.

Lawmakers adjourned their annual session June 1.

Original story:

Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will call state lawmakers back to Topeka for a special session to work on school funding issues. In a statement, Brownback said he made the decision after consulting with legislative leaders.

While most school districts in Kansas prepare for a possible shutdown at the end of the month, educators are looking for some guidance from the state Department of Education (KSDE).       

Everyone is waiting to see whether there will be a special session of the Kansas Legislature to try and fix the inequity between rich and poor districts.

If it’s not fixed by the end of the month, the state Supreme Court has said it will prohibit districts from spending or raising money.

For the first time, someone in leadership in the Kansas Legislature has called for a special session to craft a solution to school funding inequity that will satisfy the state Supreme Court and head off a possible shutdown of schools by month's end.

Rep. Ron Ryckman from Olathe, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, sent a letter addressed to "Colleagues" suggesting now is the time to act.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The final day of the Kansas legislative session is often nothing more than a formality--but this year, a legal fight over school funding forced Kansas lawmakers to meet and consider how to respond.

Updated Wednesday, 1:56 p.m.: Lawmakers dropped their push to try to pass a new school funding fix before the end of the 2016 session.

Original story:

Many Republican legislators are serious about defying a recent Kansas Supreme Court order on education funding and ready to test whether the justices would not allow public schools to open for the new academic year, the Senate's majority leader said Tuesday.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle says lawmakers won't attempt this week to address the state Supreme Court's most recent ruling on education funding.

The Wichita Republican issued a statement Tuesday saying the state's attorneys have not had enough time to analyze the decision.

Lawmakers reconvene Wednesday to formally adjourn their annual session.

Wagle said she's consulted with Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick and GOP Gov. Sam Brownback about Friday's court decision and they've agreed on taking no action yet.

kslegislature.org

Republican Kansas Sen. Michael O’Donnell is running for a seat on the Sedgwick County commission instead of seeking re-election in the state Legislature.

O’Donnell announced Tuesday that he will seek the county's District 2 seat, which is currently held by Democrat Tim Norton. Norton says he intends to file for re-election.

O’Donnell has served in the Kansas Senate since 2013. Before that, he was on the Wichita City Council.

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