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Child Advocate Bill Advances in Legislature

Lawmakers have advanced a measure to create a Kansas child advocate’s position in the attorney general’s office.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to create the advocate’s office to investigate complaints about the state’s foster care system for abused and neglected children, and to help lawmakers provide oversight.

Some GOP lawmakers in the House are wary of putting the advocate under the attorney general, with Republican incumbent Derek Schmidt running for governor in 2022.

The Senate committee’s Republicans sought to lessen concerns of partisanship by requiring a joint legislative committee on child welfare to screen applicants for the advocate’s job and name three finalists.

The attorney general’s pick would be subject to Senate confirmation.

A House committee last month approved a plan to have the governor and Kansas Supreme Court’s chief justice jointly appoint the child advocate, subject to Senate confirmation.

Under that plan, the advocate would be under the Legislature.

The Senate committee rejected that plan.

Republicans suggested the selection method would not be as transparent.


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