Lawrence’s Boog Highberger says this will be his last term in Kansas House
photo by: Peter Hancock
Democratic lawmaker Dennis “Boog” Highberger, of Lawrence, does not intend to seek another term in the Kansas Legislature after his current term expires, he told the Journal-World Wednesday.
Highberger, who recently won reelection — unopposed — to the 46th District in the Kansas House of Representatives, was first elected to that body in 2015, taking over the seat vacated by Paul Davis, who chose to run for governor.
Highberger, who will be 65 by the end of this term, said he decided not to run again because he will have been in the Legislature nearly a decade by then.
“I think it’s time to step away for a younger generation,” he said.
Highberger, who is also an attorney and a former mayor of Lawrence, plans to remain in Lawrence and to continue working.
“Absolutely, this is home,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll find other ways to contribute to the community.”
In his time remaining at the Republican-dominated Statehouse, he still hopes to accomplish a few goals, including passing Medicaid expansion, which he has been passionate about since he first took office, and criminal justice reform. He also hopes to increase transparency regarding the legislative process itself, he said.
Highberger also frankly indicated that financial reasons played into his decision to leave the Legislature.
“I can’t afford to do it anymore,” he said. “It’s been a real financial hardship.”
He estimated that last year he made around $20,000 for being a representative, a situation — along with the schedule — that he said vastly limited who could realistically be a lawmaker.
“It would be good for me to have a few higher-earning years before I retire,” he said.
Between January and late spring, when the Legislature is in session, he said that he was unable to take on any legal work, noting that representing constituents, “if you’re doing your job right,” was a full-time commitment.
The 46th House District covers large parts of Lawrence east of Iowa Street, south of the Kansas Turnpike and north of 19th Street. Highberger has lived in Lawrence since 1977 and within the district for all but one of those years, he previously told the Journal-World.