Kansas Legislature

Speaker of the House, Rep. Ron Ruckman, R-Olathe, chairs the opening session of the Kansas House of Representatives on Monday at the Statehouse.

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers returned Monday to the Statehouse and opened their annual session expecting big debates on tax cuts and Medicaid expansion.

Top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature planned to push again this year for income tax cuts after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed two bills last year. GOP leaders want to provide relief to individuals and businesses paying more to the state because of changes in federal tax laws at the end of 2017 championed by President Donald Trump.

Expanding the state’s Medicaid health coverage for as many as 150,000 additional people is a top priority for Kelly. She and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, have drafted a bipartisan proposal.

Before lawmakers convened, about 30 people protested outside the Senate chamber to demand that the Legislature tackle proposals for fighting climate change. Later, lawmakers walked between lines of gun-control advocates in red T-shirts to get into both chambers.

Democratic Rep. Brandon Whipple thanked colleagues as he gave up his House seat to become Wichita’s new mayor.

Kelly is scheduled to give the annual State of the State address Wednesday evening to a joint session of the Legislature. Her aides expect to outline details of her proposed budget Thursday morning.

In the new session of the Legislature, Atchison County is represented primarily by Rep. John Eplee, R-Atchison, and Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, whose district includes several other counties in Northeast Kansas. Eplee also represents Doniphan County. A northwestern portion of Atchison County is within the district of Rep. Randy Garber, R-Sabetha.

All members of the Legislature are up for re-election this year. Each state Senator who is not retiring will have to seek re-election to a potential four-year term. Each representative who is not retiring will have to seek re-election to a potential two-year term.

Candidates must file with the office of Secretary of State Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, to participate in the Tuesday, Aug. 4, primary election by no later than Monday, June 1. New voters and all voters who have moved to a new residence since the last time they registered to vote, among others, will need to be registered by no later than 21 days before the primary election to vote.

Voters who miss that deadline will still be able to register until 21 days before the Tuesday, Nov. 3, general election, which will elect the Legislature, various other offices and ballot issues, and the following federal races: President and Vice President of the United States; U.S. Senate; Second Congressional District of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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