A uniform law or act (uniform law) seeks to establish the same law on a subject among various jurisdictions (usually states). Uniform laws are usually drafted by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) and must be considered and enacted by each state or other jurisdiction that wishes to incorporate the uniform law’s provisions in its statutes. Uniformity of provisions among various states is a principal objective of uniform laws, and the ULC strives to “provide states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.”
In addition to drafting uniform laws, the ULC also drafts model acts, where uniformity of provisions among states is not a principal objective, but uniformity may still be promoted even though many jurisdictions may not adopt the act in its entirety.
Uniform Law Commission
The ULC (also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws) was founded in 1892. It is a nonprofit unincorporated association of state commissions on uniform laws from each state, as well as the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Members (commissioners) must be lawyers, and include practicing attorneys, judges, legislators, legislative staff, and law professors.
The ULC states its purpose “is to promote uniformity in state law when uniformity is desirable and practicable.” The ULC has produced over 300 uniform and model acts on subjects including commerce, family and domestic relations, real estate transactions, trusts and estates, alternative dispute resolution, and other topics.
Kansas joined the ULC in 1893. According to the ULC, Kansas has adopted 118 uniform or model acts drafted by the ULC through 2020. [Note: This number includes uniform or model acts that may have been revised versions, as well as statutes that have since been repealed, so the number of uniform laws currently in effect in Kansas is lower, as discussed below.]
Kansas statute (KSA 46-407a) provides for five representatives to the ULC, as follows:
- Three representatives who are members of the Kansas bar, appointed by the Kansas Commission on Interstate Cooperation, with the advice of the president of the Kansas Bar Association;
- The chairperson of the House Committee on Judiciary; and
- The chairperson of the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Because ULC members must be lawyers, the statute provides that, if the chairperson of either judiciary committee is not a member of the Kansas bar, then the chairperson may designate another member of the committee who is a member of the Kansas bar to serve instead. If no member of the committee is a member of the Kansas bar, then the Revisor of Statutes may be designated to serve instead, and the Revisor may designate an assistant revisor to serve.
Current Uniform Laws in Kansas
The 2019 General Index to the Kansas Statutes Annotated lists 48 different uniform laws in Kansas statutes.
Some of the more widely adopted uniform acts that have been adopted in Kansas include the following:
- Uniform Commercial Code (KSA Chapter 84). A comprehensive set of laws governing all commercial transactions in the United States, including sales of goods, leases, negotiable instruments, bank deposits and collections, funds transfers, letters of credit, documents of title, investment securities, and secured transactions;
- Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (KSA 65-3220, et seq.). Governs organ donation;
- Uniform Trade Secrets Act (KSA 60-3320, et seq.). Governs trade secret protection;
- Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (KSA 23-36,101, et seq.). Allows enforcement of child support orders issued by an out-of-state court;
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (KSA 23-37,101, et seq.). Limits the state with jurisdiction over child custody to one, in order to avoid competing orders;
- Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (KSA 16-1601, et seq.). Removes barriers to electronic commerce by establishing the legal equivalence of electronic records and signatures with paper writings and manually-signed signatures; and
- Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (KSA 58-3611, et seq.). Governs management of funds donated to charitable institutions in accordance with modern investment and expenditure practice.
2017 – 2018 Biennium
SB 329, enacting the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, was introduced in 2018 and was recommended favorably by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. It was rereferred to that committee and no further action was taken.
HB 2186, enacting the Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000, was introduced in 2017 and was passed by the House. The Senate Select Committee on Education Finance recommended a substitute bill regarding school finance. The Uniform Arbitration Act of 2000 was subsequently enacted through 2018 HB 2571.
HB 2472, amending the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, was introduced and enacted in 2018.
2019 – 2020 Biennium
SB 55, enacting the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, was introduced in 2019 and heard in the Senate Committee on Judiciary. No further action was taken.
SB 194, amending provisions related to the Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, was introduced in 2019 and was recommended favorably by the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare. It was rereferred to that committee in February 2020 and no further action was taken.
HB 2521, enacting the Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act, was introduced in 2020 and was passed by the House. It was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. No further action was taken.
HB 2533, enacting the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act, was introduced in 2020 and was recommended favorably by the House Committee on Judiciary. No further action was taken.
HB 2554, enacting the Uniform Fiduciary Income and Principal Act (UFIPA), was introduced in 2020 and was passed by the House. It was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. No further action was taken.
HB 2713, enacting the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, was introduced in 2020 and was passed by the House. It was recommended favorably by the Senate Committee on Judiciary. No further action was taken.[Note: The shortening of the 2020 Legislative Session due to the COVID-19 pandemic likely impacted the progress of many bills.]
Robert Gallimore, Managing Research Analyst
Natalie Nelson, Principal Research Analyst