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Bill Changes How Kan. Court Docket Fees Are Spent

easylocum/Flickr--Creative Commons

The Kansas House has narrowly approved a change in how some state programs are funded. Certain programs receive money from docket fees paid in the court system, but a bill in the House would instead put that docket fee money in the state general fund.

The money from docket fees goes to 14 programs, including the state Trauma Fund and the Access to Justice Fund. Supporters of the change say the docket money should instead be put into the state general fund, where lawmakers could then appropriate it to the programs.

Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican, says it would eliminate the erratic funding that sometimes comes from docket fees.

“Putting it back inside the appropriations process, not only will the judicial branch have more predictable income, but so will all these other organizations,” he says.

Some House members say the change could mean less money for critical programs. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, says the docket fees are used because lawmakers weren’t supplying needed funding in the past.

He points out that none of the groups receiving the funding testified in favor of the change.

“This is really a bad idea. It will hurt programs that help your community,” says Ward.

The bill passed by only one vote. It will get a final vote Tuesday.