Kansans pass constitutional amendment on election, removal of sheriffs

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Amendment giving Legislature more power on state regulations may fail

TOPEKA — The state’s voters embraced an amendment to the Kansas Constitution on Tuesday requiring election of county sheriffs and narrowing options for ousting a wayward chief law enforcement officer, while an amendment granting the Legislature more authority to reject state administrative regulations could be headed to defeat.


Unofficial results on the bottom-of-the-ballot constitutional questions showed 549,972 or 62% supported the sheriff amendment and 343,111 or 38% were opposed to that change. Passage would sustain the practice of electing sheriffs in 104 counties — only Riley County would be allowed to continue appointing a sheriff because it operates a city-county policing agency.

The amendment would end the opportunity for a county attorney to bring ouster proceedings against a sheriff. The two remaining paths to removing a sheriff would be through a citizen petition or action by the state’s attorney general.

“The sheriffs amendment would take away power from our local county attorneys and concentrate that power in one office,” said Amii Castle, professor of law at the University of Kansas.

Meanwhile, 451,477 or 51% were opposed to the amendment delivering to the Legislature power to veto or suspend rules and regulations written by the executive branch. The vote was close with 440,790 or 49% eager to approve the amendment.

The Kansas Legislature placed both amendments on the November ballot, a move requiring two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate.

Gov. Laura Kelly opposed the constitutional amendments, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt supported both.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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