Senators seek fix for domestic violence contract

TOPEKA — Senators think they have found a potential fix for a contract dispute that has led the state’s top coordinator of services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

That state contract was rejected last week by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, which subcontracts with 29 agencies across the state that help about 450 battered women, men and children being helped with transitions from abusive relationships to new beginnings.

The coalition believes new SRS contract requirements create barriers to serving survivors by requiring psychological evaluations required under the new contract could be used against mothers in child custody cases. SRS disputes their interpretation.

SRS officials say the coalition overreacted and that they just want more accountability to ensure the state complies with requirements tied to a federal grant that pays for survivor services.

But Sens. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, and John Vratil, R-Leawood believe shuffling funds between several budget allocations could allow the coalition to contract with the state without adhering to the new requirements initiated last fall.

Their proposal in a budget conference committee this morning would cut $1 million from alcohol and drug abuse service grants, replace that with problem gambling and addiction funds and add $1 million in state general funds handled by Gov. Sam Brownback’s office.

There’s no guarantee the Governor’s office would forego the new requirements sought by SRS. Kelly said it would be a “good faith effort.”

To learn more about the dispute between the coalition and SRS, see The Eagle’s prior reporting here: