Politics & Government

Kansas bill would require public disclosure of judicial applicants

The Kansas House gave initial passage Tuesday to legislation that would require district court nominating commissions to disclose the names of applicants for judgeships before submitting nominees to the governor.

Each judicial district has its own nominating commission, which reviews applicants for vacant district court seats and sends nominees to the governor for selection. Senate Bill 128 would expand the number of nominees that commissions submit to the governor from three to five.

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, brought an amendment on the floor that would require commissions to disclose the names of nominees to the public 10 days before submitting them to the governor, a change he says will add transparency to the process.

“If you seek a judicial appointment, that should be a matter of public record,” Carmichael told the House.

The bill would not apply to counties like Sedgwick County that elect judges.

Some Republican lawmakers chastised Carmichael for not offering the amendment in the House Judiciary Committee when it worked on the bill last month and expressed concern that the requirement could deter some potential applicants.

Despite these concerns, the amendment passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 77-41. The overall bill gained initial approval by a voice vote.

A final vote will take place Wednesday.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3