Kansas Legislature

Kansas News Service/File photo

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and top Republican legislators agreed Tuesday to try for now to encourage Kansas counties to adopt local mask mandates rather than consider a statewide rule as the state experiences its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases of the pandemic.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has moved a Kansas Statehouse meditation room created by Republicans as a place for prayer and reflection to a less-visible space to create more room for her staff to social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new meditation room is on the northwest side of the building’s basement floor, down an out-of-the-way hall in what used to be a room set aside — but only occasionally used for — shooting videos and television interviews.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A near sweep by conservatives over moderates in several primary races this week sets up more conflict over the next two years between the Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

“There will be a lot of feuding and fighting going on, particularly given the COVID situation,” said Rep. Tom Phillips, a moderate Republican from Manhattan who isn’t seeking a fifth term.

Republican leaders could further limit Kelly’s power to guide the state’s response to the pandemic and power past her objections to reducing corporate taxes.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

TOPEKA — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday after being in a public meeting last month with a legislative leader who’d been infected and hospitalized, a spokesman said.

Kansas News Service/File photo

TOPEKA — A top Republican legislator in Kansas was hospitalized last month after testing positive for the novel coronavirus and didn’t disclose it to colleagues until this week. The state’s Democratic governor declared Thursday that she’ll get tested because the two of them attended a meeting together after he was hospitalized.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Control of the Kansas Legislature could turn on dozens of down-ballot races in the Aug. 4 primary election, in which many of the contests, particularly for the Kansas Senate, pit conservative Republicans against moderate incumbents.

In Republican Senate primaries, moderates facing their first re-election test since 2016 can no longer use former Gov. Sam Brownback as a foil. And while taxes remain an issue, two perhaps counterintuitive issues are at the core of this year’s legislative contests: Medicaid expansion and abortion.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Richard “Dick” Bond, a Republican former president of the Kansas Senate who later broke with the party as it grew more conservative, died Thursday.

He was 84 and had been in failing health.

Known for his humor and deft management of the Senate, the banker and attorney had a long political career.

He spent 25 years as a top aide to three members of Congress before serving 14 years in the Kansas Legislature representing a district covering Overland Park. He retired from office in 2001 after serving four years as Senate president.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansans from Liberal to Leavenworth will need to wear a mask in public starting Friday.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said she will issue a new executive order later this week requiring masks. While the State Finance Council will review the order — a Republican-majority panel of legislators that she has clashed with during the pandemic — they cannot revoke it. Only the full Legislature has the ability to do that with a concurrent resolution Kelly's office said.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas' Democratic governor is locked in a new partisan dispute with the Republican-controlled Legislature over her plan to largely paper over a massive budget shortfall tied to the coronavirus pandemic with short-term accounting moves.

Republican legislative leaders argued Friday that measures outlined by Gov. Laura Kelly's budget director to balance the next budget merely push most of the state’s financial problems off a year — and back into the Legislature’s lap. The plan avoids cuts for public schools, social services and highway projects.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — At the beginning of the year, independent consulting firm London Economics released a study of Kansas electric rates — how they’re developed, why they’re more expensive than neighboring states and some suggestions on how to change that.

Legislators seemed poised to act on some of the recommendations until the coronavirus struck and shortened their session by several weeks. Some consumer and environmental advocates say the abrupt stop cut the time and energy given to critical policy aimed at reducing your utility bills.

Pages