2019 legislative session

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The cast of characters may be new, but the script taking shape at the outset of the Kansas Legislature’s 2019 session rings familiar. 

The new governor — Democrat Laura Kelly — proposes a budget that pays for her priorities. It highlights things that she believes her election shows that voters also want. Republican legislative leaders respond with what amounts to, Thanks, but we’ve got a better handle on what Kansans want.

Courtesy

As Kansas lawmakers begin work at the Statehouse this week, the Sedgwick County Republican Party's new chairman is also getting settled in to his new role.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Kansas' new Democratic governor on Tuesday reinstated a ban on anti-LGBT bias in state agencies' employment decisions that a Republican predecessor had repealed, and she also expanded the policy to cover government contractors.

Stephen Koranda

Education advocates are calling for Kansas lawmakers to muster additional cash for schools and end a lawsuit over education funding. The groups gathered Tuesday at the Statehouse to call for lawmakers to provide the money and not reopen a debate over the state's school finance law.

Lawmakers plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into schools last year in response to a court ruling. The court said it wasn’t quite enough, but adjusting for inflation would fix it.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Democratic Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly says she's aware the state may need to help higher education institutions but has more pressing issues she needs to focus on during her first legislative session.

"We're going to have to deal with situations in the state in a sort of triage approach, where we go after the critical issues first," Kelly said, listing K-12 education funding, Medicaid expansion, infrastructure and the state's foster care program as the main issues. "I'm fully aware of the needs for higher education and we will be reviewing those and doing what we can."

Kansas voters elected a new governor, Democrat Laura Kelly, who wants to promptly expand Medicaid eligibility, resolve a long-running lawsuit with more school funding, and address a crisis in the state's foster care system. But her ability to fulfill that agenda will depend on how willing a more conservative Legislature is to work with her.

Following an on-stage conversation with the governor-elect, My Fellow Kansans host Jim McLean was joined by Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty and Kansas News Service reporters Stephen Koranda and Celia Llopis-Jepsen for a live panel discussion of the dynamics heading into the 2019 legislative session. 

Beatty, armed with insights from a Fox News exit poll, said voters are looking for their elected officials to chart a center path. 

 

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly insists the state budget she’s preparing can fully fund the state’s schools, expand Medicaid coverage to another 150,000 people and begin to repair a troubled child welfare system — without a tax hike.

The Democrat said Wednesday night she’ll lean on experience and relationships built over 14 years in the Kansas Senate to carve out compromises with lawmakers on those priorities.

Yet she described her job as daunting and state government as broken in several key areas.

LaRissa Lawrie / KMUW/File photo

Sedgwick County commissioners are working on a list of priorities for state lawmakers to take up during the 2019 legislative session.

They held a meeting Tuesday to revise the county’s annual legislative platform before it comes up for a formal vote. The platform is an outline of key initiatives for the county's lobbyists and governmental representatives.

Pages