Kansas Legislature

WCN 24/7, flickr Creative Commons

TOPEKA — A commission established by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in response to the mass civil unrest over racial injustice earlier this year is urging state lawmakers to ban officers from entering a home without announcing their presence, but it’s unclear how aggressively the Legislature will pursue it.

Republican legislative leaders will likely keep their sometimes combative relationship with Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.

Conservative Republicans maintained their grip on top jobs in the Kansas House and Senate in leadership elections on Tuesday.

That paves the way for lawmakers to restrict the governor’s powers to respond to the pandemic and continued challenges for some top Democratic priorities, like Medicaid expansion.

In the House, Republican Speaker Ron Ryckman won an unprecedented third term.

KMUW/File photo

Nearly two months after Gov. Laura Kelly announced that Kansas would develop a "unified" strategy to ramp up coronavirus testing, the program is enough of a work in progress that even some of the state's contractors don't yet have all the details.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — This week’s election set the stage for partisan fights in the Kansas Statehouse over things like redistricting, abortion, Medicaid expansion and pandemic-related aid.

Democrats had hoped to crack the Republican supermajority in both chambers — thus taking away the GOP’s power to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes — but that didn’t happen.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

Democrat Stephanie Byers became the first transgender member of the Kansas Legislature Tuesday night.

She’ll represent parts of south Wichita after defeating Republican challenger Cyndi Howerton in the race for Kansas House District 86. Byers received 54% of the vote in her first run for public office.

Byers is a retired band, orchestra and jazz teacher at Wichita North High School. She taught there for nearly 30 years.

She spoke about her transition and how she explained that to her students in an interview with KMUW in May 2019.

Fernando Salazar/For KMUW

Another member of the Estes family will represent Kansans as Susan Estes won her race for a seat in the Kansas House.

Estes, a former teacher, is married to U.S. Congressmen Ron Estes, who also won his race Tuesday night.

Susan Estes defeated Democratic challenger Matt Fox, a middle school teacher and wrestling coach in Douglass, with 56% of the vote.

The seat is part of the 125-member Kansas House of Representatives. District 87 represents portions of east Wichita.

Kansas News Service

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.

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