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Minutes for HB2461 - Committee on Judiciary

Short Title

Enacting the public litigation coordination act to restrict contracts by public entities for legal services on a contingent fee basis.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 20, 2020

Natalie Scott review HB2461.

The staff passed out a recommended amendment. (Attachment 1) Representative Ralph explained the amendment. There were many questions regarding the District Attorney’s office being able to collect contingent fees vs the municipalities.  Clarification was explained by Representative Ralph and Natalie Scott to the best of their knowledge and understanding. Many concerns were raised about who would be the recipient for the contingency fees once the Attorney General would take over the cases. Another major concern expressed was regarding who the participants were in the group which developed the amendment.  Representative Ralph said the committee was working to provide an amendment to move the bill forward. Ongoing discussion caused Chairperson Patton to interrupt the discussion. He explained Representative Ralph was asked to look at working on an amendment with the involved parties which is customary. Representative Carmichael felt that the parties selected did not include a good representation from his district or party.

Representative Carmichael stated others needed to have time to ask questions and also suggested they consult the Research Office staff to see if they had found anything regarding an Intervention Statue about Judicial Discretion. Robert Gallimore, Office of Research, referenced KSA60-224 Subsection A. Mr. Gallimore read through the statue. It was agreed by Representative Carmichael and staff representing the Research Office and the Revisors office that the statue would apply to section 2 of the bill/amendment being discussed.

Representative Owens commented that the discussion occurring in committee was the right place to be having it so issues could be worked on and resolved prior to going to the house floor where it is often difficult to have the time for such discussion and amendments. Representative Warren asked a couple of clarifying questions which were answered by the Natalie Scott and Representative Ralph. In particular, details about the intervention and ability of the Attorney General's office to supersede municipalities.  Representative Wheeler explained that he felt that the local municipalities should be the ones to receive the fees and any damages awarded and not the Attorney General's office. He continued by saying adding something specific regarding collection of fees, damages, etc., needed to be included in the bill and that would address most of the concerns being expressed. 

Chairperson Patton acknowledged there appeared to be a lack of support for the amendment.  Chairperson Bergquist and Humphries commented regarding the amount of work that had been done and the committee should move forward. Additional discussion continued. Chairperson Patton suggested that the suggested amendment be withdrawn. Representative Ralph withdrew his recommended amendment. Chairperson Patton stated action would be suspended on HB2461.