Kansans pass constitutional amendment on election, removal of sheriffs

Amendment giving Legislature more power on state regulations may fail

By: - November 8, 2022 11:44 pm
Kansas voters easily endorsed an amendment Tuesday to the Kansas Constitution on election of sheriffs, but a proposed amendment granting the Legislature more control of state rules and regulations appeared headed for defeat. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas voters easily endorsed an amendment Tuesday to the Kansas Constitution on election of sheriffs, but a proposed amendment granting the Legislature more control of state rules and regulations appeared headed for defeat. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

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 571,717, or 62%, supported the sheriff amendment and 352,175, or 38%, were opposed. Passage would sustain the practice of electing sheriffs in 104 counties.

Only Riley County would be allowed to continue with a system in which a special board hires a director to operate a law enforcement agency serving Manhattan, Ogden and the county.

This amendment also 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, 464,673, or 50.3%, were opposed to the amendment delivering to the Legislature power to veto or suspend rules and regulations written by executive branch agencies under control of the governor. The vote was close with 458,673, or 49.7%, eager to approve the amendment.

The secretary of state’s office said the counting of late-arriving advance ballots and provisional ballots would alter those preliminary vote totals.

The Kansas Legislature placed both amendments on the November ballot, a move requiring two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly opposed the constitutional amendments, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt supported both.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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