Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he was calling a special legislative session for Sept. 3 because of a real danger to citizens from the absence of the Hard 50 law, but some legislators thought the special session had political overtones.
“This is an unprecedented diversion tactic. It’s pretty clear that Gov. Brownback is putting on a show so he can deflect peoples’ attention away from the controversy surrounding his selection of a nominee for the Kansas Court of Appeals,” said Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley, Senate minority leader, in a news release Tuesday.
“When Attorney General Derek Schmidt requested the governor to call a special session, Schmidt suggested it be called in mid-September,” Hensley said in the news release. ”Instead, Brownback scheduled it for September 3rd – conveniently just four days after the deadline for naming a nominee to the Court of Appeals. It is obvious that he wants to rush this appointment through the Senate quickly to avoid any organized opposition to his nominee.”
However, Brownback’s statement focused only on the “Hard 50” law.
“We must address this issue to protect all our citizens, but particularly out of concern for the victims of these crimes and their families,” Brownback said in his statement. “I agree with the attorney general’s opinion that we face an ‘extraordinary occasion’ sufficient to justify this office exercising its authority to call the Legislature into special session pursuant to Article 1, Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution.”
Brownback cited the attorney general’s opinion that putting off the issue until the regular session in January would result in an increase in the number of convicted killers who would be eligible for parole after only 25 years instead of after 50 years.
“It is my hope after talking to legislative leaders that the special session can be completed by the close of business on Sept. 5,” Gov. Brownback said in the statement.