Dear Senator Walker:
As ranking minority member of the senate education committee, you request our opinion regarding the constitutionality of 1994 house bill no. 2056 (H.B. 2056). Specifically, you ask whether the bill includes multiple subjects in violation of section 16 of article 2 of the constitution of the state of Kansas.
The house committee on education introduced H.B. 2056. As originally considered by the house committee, the bill was titled:
"AN ACT concerning teachers employed at the state school for the blind or the state school for the deaf; relating to hearings provided upon notice of nonrenewal or termination of contracts of employment. . . ."
In its original form, H.B. 2056 contained twelve sections and amended a number of statutes in article 11a of chapter 76 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated. The statutes amended in the original form of H.B. 2056 were applicable only to teachers employed by the Kansas state school for the deaf and the Kansas state school for the blind. See K.S.A. 76-11a03 et seq. The bill was passed by the house on February 10, 1993.
During a hearing of the senate committee on education, H.B. 2056 was amended to include: a section amending K.S.A. 72-5443 regarding the role of a hearing officer in due process hearings of teachers employed by unified school districts; a section amending K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 72-6410 increasing the base state aid per pupil; and a section amending K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 72-6433 regarding a cap on the local option budget. The title of H.B. 2056 was amended to read:
"AN ACT concerning education; relating to hearings provided for teachers upon notice of nonrenewal or termination of contracts of employment; affecting the definitions of base state aid per pupil and state prescribed percentage under the school district finance and quality performance act. . . ."
Our review is limited to the version of H.B. 2056 as amended by the senate committee on education.
Article 2, section 16 of the Kansas constitution provides:
"No bill shall contain more than one subject, except appropriation bills and bills of revision or codification of statutes. The subject of each bill shall be expressed in its title. . . . The provisions of this section shall be liberally construed to effectuate the acts of the legislature."
The purpose of the constitutional provision is the prevention of a matter of legislative merit from being tied to an unworthy matter, the prevention of hodge-podge or log-rolling legislation, and the lessening of improper influences which may result from intermixing objects of legislation in the same act which have no relation to each other. State v. Reves, 233 Kan. 972, 977 (1983). This provision has been construed and applied many times by the Kansas appellate courts. The basic rules were enunciated by the Kansas Supreme Court in State v. Barrett, 27 Kan. 218, Syl. para. 3-10 (1882) and reiterated in State ex rel. Stephan v. Thiessen, 228 Kan. 136, 143 (1980) and Reves, 233 Kan. at 977:
"In order to correctly interpret that provision of sec. 16, article 2 of the constitution, which provides that 'No bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title,' its object must be taken into consideration; and the provision must not be construed or enforced in any narrow or technical spirit, but must be construed liberally on the one side, so as to guard against the abuse intended to be prevented by it, and liberally on the other side, so as not to embarrass or obstruct needed legislation.
"Under this provision of the constitution, the title of an act may be as broad and comprehensive as the legislature may choose to make it; or it may be as narrow and restricted as the legislature may choose to make it. It may be so broad and comprehensive as to include innumerable minor subjects, provided all these minor subjects are capable of being so combined and united as to form only one grand and comprehensive subject; or it may be so narrow and restricted as to include only the smallest and minutest subject.
"And while the title to an act may include more than one subject, provided all can be so united and combined as to form only one single, entire, but more extended subject; yet, neither the title to the act nor the act itself may contain more than one subject, unless all the subjects which it contains can be so united and combined as to form only one single subject.
. . . .
"Where a section of an act is assailed as being in contravention of said provision of sec. 16, article 2 of the constitution, it is sufficient if it is germane to the single subject expressed in the title and included therein, provided the act itself does not contain more than this single subject.
"Where the title to an act is not broad enough to include everything contained in the act, that which is not included within the title must be held to be invalid, for such is evidently the manifest intention of the constitution; and the courts have no power to enlarge or extend or amplify the title to the act, any more than they have to enlarge or diminish or modify or change the act itself.
"Where an act contains two separate and independent subjects, having no connection with each other, and the title to the act is broad enough to cover both, held, that probably, as a general rule, the act is unconstitutional and void." (Emphasis added.)
The court's standard of review was restated most recently in Harding v. K.C. Wall Products, Inc., 250 Kan. 655 (1992). Quoting Reves, 233 Kan. at 972, Syl. ¶ 1, the court in Harding, 250 Kan. at 671, stated:
"Art. 2, sec. 16, of the Kansas Constitution should not be construed narrowly or technically to invalidate proper and needful legislation, and where the subject of the legislation is germane to other provisions, the act is not objectionable as containing more than one subject or as containing matter not expressed in the title. This provision is violated only where an act embraces two or more dissimilar and discordant subjects that cannot reasonably be considered as having any legitimate connection with or relationship to each other." (Emphasis added.)
The title of H.B. 2056 provides in part that the bill regards education. The legislative committee has chosen to give the bill an expansive title which may include a number of minor subjects. The title of H.B. 2056 then clearly sets forth the subjects addressed in H.B. 2056. The bill regards the hearings provided for teachers upon notice of nonrenewal or termination of contracts of employment and affects the definitions of base state aid per pupil and state prescribed percentage under the school district finance and quality performance act. It appears that none of the provisions contained in H.B. 2056 were previously defeated during the present legislative session. The provisions of section 16 of article 2 are to be liberally construed to effectuate the acts of the legislature. The provisions of H.B. 2056 do not embrace two or more subjects which are so dissimilar and discordant that the provisions cannot reasonably be considered as having any legitimate connection with or relationship to each other. H.B. 2056 does not violate section 16 of article 2 of the Kansas constitution.