The Kansas Senate, on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, gave approval to a constitutional amendment that would take the question of school funding out of the hands of judges. It would give the legislature sole authority over how schools are funded in the state.
This comes after a federal court ruled this year - just before the current legislative session began - that the state is not funding the schools adequately. The courts gave a similar ruling in 2005, and with the downturn in the economy, school funding was cut again. Schools sued again and the courts agreed with the schools again.
The state has since appealed the ruling. The state constitution says the legislature must provide a "suitable" education, but does not define what "suitable" is. Conservative legislators want to prevent the courts from making such rulings and leaving the issue solely up to the legislature.
The courts do determine whether a law or ruling is constitutional, but those who favor the amendment say the courts are overstepping their bounds by setting a dollar amount on how much the state must spend.
Opponents say it violates the principle of three branches of government, and they say it is in essence wanting to change the rules when you don't like how the game is going.
Local school districts might still have the option of raising local taxes to put more money into education.
The measure still has to pass the House. It failed in the House last year, but since then there was an election, and conservatives now have control over the House as well.
The vote passed 27-13. In the House it will have to get 84 of 125 votes to pass.
If it passes the house, and it must have a two-thirds majority vote, it would then go to the state's voters to decide, perhaps in the August primary of 2014.