Week 13 of the 2024 Kansas legislative session is about to begin. Many issues still need to be resolved, and several pieces of legislation are alive and well. The legislature gave itself one extra day off by finishing all scheduled debates early and went home on Wednesday, March 27. They are scheduled to be back on Monday, April 1.

This week will be primarily dedicated to conference committee work. Six members, three from the Senate and three from the House are appointed to meet and reconcile differences between the chambers on the various pieces of legislation still in play. The conference committees generally comprise the chairperson, the vice-chairperson, and the ranking minority member of each respective committee that heard the initial bills. In Kansas, this means Four Republicans and two Democrats. 

These committees hold open meetings where the members negotiate and try to produce a final product. Some bills never make it out of the conference. The final product is called a conference committee report. It initially takes all six members to sign the conference committee report to advance the legislation out of the conference committee. If there is no unanimous consent, the committee can run an “agree to disagree” report that allows only four members to advance the legislation out of committee. 

Once the legislation advances out of conference with either a unanimous adoption or an “agree to disagree,” the conference committee report heads back to the chambers for full debate and final action vote. Ultimate passage requires both 21 votes in the Senate and 63 votes in the House to be sent to the governor for consideration. 

There are a few other routes that a bill can take to reach the governor’s desk for consideration, but the process on primary display next week will be the one described above. 

So here we are, entering the last week of the regular session. The last week can be full of late nights, early mornings, and a scramble to make up for weeks of legislative procrastination. Keep in mind that we’ve reported on several issues this year, but the legislature does not have to do anything other than pass a budget before they adjourn. Tax policy, vouchers, culture war issues, none of these things are a must. But then again, don’t forget it is an election year where all Senate and House districts are on the ballot (all 165 seats of the legislature are up for election: 40 Senate and 125 House), and these politicians want issues to tout when they flood our mailboxes, radios, television screens, and social media feeds this summer and fall.

So we don’t know what to expect, and this year is no different. The start of the “unlucky” numbered 13th week, coinciding with an April Fool’s Day kickoff, could trigger some nerves for the superstitious type. Let’s hope that the legislature doesn’t make unlucky fools out of all of us.