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Minutes for HCR5022 - Committee on Federal and State Affairs

Short Title

Proposing a constitutional amendment requiring that a sheriff be elected in each county; exception.

Minutes Content for Thu, Jan 20, 2022

Chairperson Barker opened the hearing on HCR5022.  The Revisor provided an overview of the resolution (Attachment 1).  A number of questions were directed to the Revisor by Chairperson  Barker and Representatives Miller and Hoye.

Chairperson Barker recognized Greg Smith as a proponent of HCR5022 (Attachment 2).  He stated that he was appointed to the charter commission in Johnson County this year.  They had overwhelming testimony from the citizens of Johnson County that they do not want an appointed sheriff.  That was an amendment to their charter that was discussed.  It's his recollection that vote was defeated 21-4 by the 25-member commission. 

Sheriff Jeff Easter testified as a proponent of HCR5022 (Attachment 3).   He stated the goals of the Kansas Sheriffs' Association is to preserve the Office of Sheriff consistently throughout Kansas; allow the Office of Sheriff to be required by the constitution; and assure an appropriate ouster process for the Office of Sheriff.  They believe the voters should have the power to vote who they want for Sheriff.  Questions were asked by Chairperson Barker and Representatives Arnberger, Penn, and Waggoner. 

Representative Miller spoke about what Shawnee County tried to do.  He as on the Shawnee County Commission at the time.  He stated it was a total city/county consolidation question that was first sanctioned by statute by this Legislature.  The proposal did not eliminate the Sheriff's Office; it expanded it.  It's his understanding that passage of HCR5022 would eliminate or reduce the options that they have to put before the voters.

Chairperson Barker directed the Committee's attention to the written proponent testimony of Attorney General Derek Schmidt (Attachment 4).

Chairperson Barker allowed Sandy Horton, Executive Director of the Kansas Sheriffs' Association, to respond to a question by Representative Highberger.  He stated that he talked with the Executive Directors of the states surrounding Kansas.  The office of Sheriff is mentioned in the Missouri constitution three times, but the office is created by the Legislature.  In Colorado, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, the office of Sheriff was created through their state constitutions.  In Nebraska, it was created by the Legislature.

Representative Eplee requested information from the Research Department about why the office of Sheriff was taken out of the Kansas Constitution in 1905. 

Chairperson Barker recognized Dennis Butler as an opponent to HCR5022 (Attachment 5).  He testified about the advantages of consolidation of the law enforcement offices in Riley County.  Their concern with HCR5022 is that bills can be amended without warning this the provision allowing Riley County to be exempted could be stripped from the bill.  Questions were asked by Chairperson Barker and Representative Smith.

Chairperson Barker allowed Representative Michael Dodson to offer neutral testimony on HCR5022 (Attachment 6)

Chairperson Barker recognized Clancy Holeman as a neutral on HCR5022 (Attachment 7).  He requested that Section 2(b) of HCR5022 remain in place as written.

There being no further conferees, Chairperson Barker closed the hearing on HCR5022.

Chairperson Barker stated that the meeting next Monday will be for requests for bill introductions only.  Committee members may appear by Webex as opposed to in person.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:55 a.m.