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Kansas state senator requests legislation altering recall process

Kansas Capitol
Posted at 12:35 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 13:35:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas State Sen. Dennis Pyle says he hopes to introduce legislation creating a constitutional procedure expanding the grounds for a recall petition.

Pyle, R-Hiawatha, sent a letter to Senate President Susan Wagle on Monday asking her to take steps for the legislation to be heard before the end of the legislative session on May 21.

The legislature would not be able to override a veto on the legislation issued by Gov. Laura Kelly if it were issued once the session ended, should the legislation make it to her desk.

"Recently, I have been contacted by numerous constituents with concerns about the ability to check gubernatorial powers. The language in the constitution and the statutes is a little unclear. Before the legislature adjourns, I would like to have others look at the process, to see what ability there is to recall," Pyle wrote in a release.

A copy of the letter Pyle sent to Wagle is below.

Madam President,

Article 4 § 3 of the Kansas Constitution provides: “Recall of elected officials. All elected public officials in the state, except judicial officers, shall be subject to recall by voters of the state or political subdivision from which elected. Procedures and grounds for recall shall be pre-scribed by law.”

So the Constitution requires that all elected officials be subject to recall, but the grounds for recall and the procedures for such recall are determined by statute.

K.S.A. 25-4301 through 25-4317 provide the process for the recall of state officials.

K.S.A. 25-4302 provides the grounds for the recall of an officer: “(a) Grounds for recall are conviction of a felony, misconduct in office or failure to perform duties prescribed by law. No recall submitted to the voters shall be held void because of the insufficiency of the grounds, application, or petition by which the submission was procured.
(b) As used in this section, the term "misconduct in office" means a violation of law by the officer that impacts the officer's ability to perform the official duties of the office.”

K.S.A. 25-4305 and 4306 provide the application process and requirements for the recall of an elected official.

K.S.A. 25-4314 provides for when such recall election would be held.

It is my understanding that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear proposals for potential statutory checks on the gubernatorial powers prior to Sine Di. While I support putting checks and balances in place, even expanding the grounds for the statutory recall process outlined in the aforementioned statutes, there is the real possibility that any statutory proposal that is passed will be vetoed by the governor without the legislature being given the opportunity to override such veto.

Having been contacted by numerous constituents about the necessity to check gubernatorial power, I am here by submitting an official request that prior to the end of the legislative session, you, in your capacity as President of the Senate, take the necessary steps to call a meeting of an exempt committee for the purpose of examining the need to introduce and hear legislation creating a constitutional procedure expanding the grounds for a recall petition and giving the people of Kansas the power to vote on a constitutional recall petition process on the 2020 August primary election ballot, with the goal of creating another check on gubernatorial powers.

I understand time is critical. Please act now.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Respectfully,
Dennis Pyle
State Senator, District 1