Kansas abortion foes brace for state Supreme Court decision

Ethics

Abortion opponents in Kansas have been bracing themselves for nearly two years for a ruling from the state's highest court that protects the right to have an abortion and potentially upends politics in a state long at the center of the national debate.

The Kansas Supreme Court is relatively liberal in a state with a Republican-dominated Legislature that has strong anti-abortion majorities.

Court watchers also are asking: Why is it taking so long for the justices to rule? No one outside the court knows for sure and the justices are not saying, as is their long-standing custom. One educated guess is that they still are wrestling with the implications of declaring that the state constitution protects abortion rights.

That was the core legal issue when the court heard attorneys' arguments in March 2017 in a major abortion lawsuit . An abortion-rights decision could allow state courts in Kansas to chart their own course on abortion and invalidate restrictions that the federal courts would uphold.

"What's the test for that?" said Jeffrey Jackson, a Washburn University of Topeka law professor. "There's any number of weird possible decisions that you can get to."

The case arises from abortion opponents' numerous legislative victories during eight years under Republican governors. Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a strong abortion rights supporter, takes office Monday, but the Legislature emerged from last year's elections more conservative — and as anti-abortion as ever.

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USCIS Adjusting Premium Processing Fee

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it is adjusting the premium processing fee for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers beginning on Oct. 1, 2018 to more effectively adjudicate petitions and maintain effective service to petitioners.

The premium processing fee will increase to $1,410, a 14.92 percent increase (after rounding) from the current fee of $1,225. This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, represents the percentage change in inflation since the fee was last increased in 2010 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers.

“Because premium processing fees have not been adjusted since 2010, our ability to improve the adjudications and service processes for all petitioners has been hindered as we’ve experienced significantly higher demand for immigration benefits. Ultimately, adjusting the premium processing fee will allow us to continue making necessary investments in staff and technology to administer various immigration benefit requests more effectively and efficiently,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Moore. “USCIS will continue adjudicating all petitions on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable law, policies, and regulations.”

Premium processing is an optional service that is currently authorized for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. The system allows petitioners to request 15-day processing of certain employment-based immigration benefit requests if they pay an extra fee. The premium processing fee is paid in addition to the base filing fee and any other applicable fees, which cannot be waived.