Kansas Legislature to open session with new leaders, members

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas legislators prepared Monday to open their annual session with new leaders in the Senate and new lawmakers in a quarter of the seats.

The afternoon House and Senate sessions were for swearing in members and ratifying Republican lawmakers’ selection of the House speaker and speaker pro tem and the Senate president and vice president. Because those positions are mentioned in the Kansas Constitution, the full chamber must vote on them, but by tradition, approval of the majority party’s choice is a formality.

The new Senate president and majority leader are Wichita-area Republicans Ty Masterson and Gene Suellentrop. The new minority leader is Lenexa Democrat Dinah Sykes.

Twenty-eight of the House’s 125 members are new. Fourteen of 40 senators are new, though seven previously served in the House.

This year’s 90-day session will be marked by COVID-19 precautions. About half of the House’s 165 members will be seated in its galleries to allow for social distancing, while senators will take over space on the floor of their chamber normally reserved for visitors and reporters.

The Legislature spent $3 million to upgrade its technology for live video and audio streaming of its meetings and so that people could participate remotely.


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