Kansas lawmakers ceded some of their authority when they scheduled Sine Die — of final adjournment. As they adopted a school funding bill in the early morning hours of April 7, they also approved a schedule for the veto session set to begin tomorrow.
The 2018 legislative session must conclude within the next eight days. It’s a compressed schedule that won’t allow lawmakers opportunity to override any gubernatorial vetoes.
“There won’t be time,” Speaker of the Kansas House Ron Ryckman explains. “The Governor can veto anything, and there won’t be a chance for us to override.”
Sine Die is set for May 4, and in the eight days between now and then, lawmakers must set and adopt a budget. They’ll do so using the most current revenue estimates available; Kansas Budget Director Larry Campbell briefed legislative committees on those numbers today, but the abbreviated timeline means lawmakers will be working over the weekend.
Ryckman says the House Appropriations committee is meeting today. Once they have a budget plan, it can’t be read into the official record until Friday. That pushes final action on any budget proposal until Sunday at the earliest.
“There are timing issues,” he says. “When you have a compressed eight days like this, where you have to do the budget, you have to work on the weekend to keep things moving.”
Adopting a budget is the only statutory requirement legislators face as the return to Topeka
Thursday. They’ll also be pressed to ensure the recently adopted school funding formula will pass the Kansas Supreme Court’s muster. That may mean fixing a technical glitch in the financing bill lawmakers approved April 7. The school funding proposal sought to increase K-12 education funding by $500 million over the next 5 years, but a drafting error created an $80 million miscalculation.
Education and budget considerations aren’t the only things lawmakers are expected to wrangle with over the coming week. They will also be challenged with a number of unresolved issues like a proposal to harmonize Kansas income taxes with federal tax reforms and legislation to protect faith-based adoption agencies.
No matter what solutions lawmakers reach, the compressed schedule means they won’t have the opportunity to override any legislation they pass from here on out. Gov. Jeff Colyer has 10 days to sign or veto legislation.
Normally, lawmakers adopt a legislation and allow 10 days for the bill to be completed and proofread before the Governor signs it. That leaves no time to override a veto, and there’s no way to extend the timeline, Ryckman says.
“We had our staff look into it. They can’t find a way, even if we have the political will to do so,” he says.
Sine Die is Latin for “without another day,” and setting that deadline is a constitutional effort. It required the approval of two-thirds of the legislature when lawmakers adopted May 4 as the finish line during the waning minutes of the regular session a few weeks ago. Ryckman says he can’t find a way to unring that bell.
“This has never happened before. Never in the state’s history has this been an issue,” he says. “But we’ve got to play the cards we’re dealt at this point.”
Those cards likely mean some important issues won’t be resolved before the legislative session ends, Ryckman says.
“At least we know exactly where the finish line is,” he says.