Kansas State Legislature

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The Kansas State Legislature is the state legislature of Kansas. It is a bicameral assembly, composed of the lower Kansas House of Representatives, and the upper Kansas Senate, with 40 Senators. Republicans comprise a super-majority in both houses.

The State Legislature meets at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka.


Bleeding Kansas

The Kansas Territory was created out of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. In several of the provisions of the act, the law allowed the settlers of the newly-created territory to determine, by vote, whether Kansas, once statehood was achieved, would be entered as either a free state or a slave state. The act created a rush of both abolitionist Northern and pro-slavery Southern immigrants to the territory, hoping that strength through numbers would place Kansas in their camp. Animosities between the newly-arrived sides quickly turned into open violence and guerrilla warfare, giving name to this period known as Bleeding Kansas.

The Bogus Legislature

During Kansas' first elections for a territorial government on March 30, 1855, nearly 5,000 Missouri "Border Ruffians" led by federal Senator David Rice Atchison and his followers, crossed the territorial border to stuff ballot boxes with votes for pro-slavery candidates. Using their overwhelming numbers, the Missouri Border Ruffians elected 37 out of 38 candidates for the Territorial Legislature. Free-Staters immediately called foul, naming the new Kansas Territorial Legislature, the "Bogus Legislature." Upon convening in Pawnee and shortly later at the Shawnee Methodist Mission, the Legislature began crafting over a thousand pages of laws aimed at making Kansas a slave state.

The Four Constitutions and the Battle for Legitimacy

In response to the illegitimacy of the Bogus Legislature, Free-Staters convened their own unauthorized shadow legislature and territorial government in Topeka, crafting their own Topeka Constitution in late 1855. While the document was debated and submitted to a vote to the territory, it was never accepted by the federal government as it considered the Free-State body illegitimate and in rebellion. The pro-slavery Legislature's response to the Free-Staters and growing violence was the writing of the Lecompton Constitution in 1857. Due to an electoral boycott by abolitionist groups and the questions regarding the validity of the Legislature itself, it never officially became law.

While the Lecompton Constitution was debated, new elections for the Territorial Legislature in 1857 gave the Free-Staters a majority government, caused in part by a boycott by pro-slavery groups. With this new mandate, the Legislature convened to write the Leavenworth Constitution, a radically progressive document for the Victorian era in its wording of rights for women and African-Americans. The constitution was adopted in 1858, though it too suffered the same fate as previous documents when the U.S. Congress refused to ratify it.

Following the Leavenworth Constitution's defeat, the Legislature again crafted a new document the following year, dubbed the Wyandotte Constitution. A compromise of sorts, it outlawed slavery in the territory, while removing progressive sections on |Native Americans, women and blacks. The Legislature successfully passed the document, and submitted it to public referendum. It was passed by the Kansas electorate on October 4, [[1859.

Statehood and the American Civil War

Following long debates in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, on January 29, 1861, President James Buchanan authorized Kansas to become the 34th state of United States. It had entered into the Union as a free state. Only six days later, the Confederate States of America formed between seven Southern states that had seceded from the United States in the previous two months.

Legislature pay cut

Kansas House members voted Feb. 9, 2010, to cut their pay and the salaries of other top elected and appointed officials by 5 percent to help balance the state’s fiscal year 2010 budget.[1] State Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, proposed the cuts in an amendment to legislation ratifying cuts made last year by Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

Neufeld estimated the measure to cut the pay of all elected state officials, judges, cabinet secretaries and appointed state officials by 5 percent would save the state $1.5 million by the end of the current fiscal year June 30. Revenue estimates prepared in early February by the Kansas Legislative Research Department showed that declining revenues would likely leave a negative balance of $39 million in the 2010 budget. The pay cut became effective March 11, 2010.


The Kansas Legislature is composed of 165 part-time legislators, meeting normally once a year. Meetings begin in January and usually will last for a period of 90 days. The Governor of Kansas retains the power to call a special legislative session if needed.


The Kansas Senate is the upper house of the Kansas Legislature. It is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal amount of districts, each with a population of at least 60,000 inhabitants. Members of the Senate are elected to a four year term without term limits.

Like other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Senate is reserved with special functions such as confirming or rejecting gubernatorial appointments to executive departments, the state cabinet, commissions and boards.

Leadership of the Senate

The President of the Senate presides over the body, appointing members to all of the Senate's committees and joint committees, and may create other committees and subcommittees if desired. Unlike other states, the Lieutenant Governor of Kansas does not preside over the Senate. Since a 1972 amendment to the Kansas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor's duties have been severed from the legislative branch, and is active in other areas of the Kansas state government such as commissions on military affairs and health insurance. In the Senate President's absence, the President Pro Tempore presides.

Current make-up

The current make-up of the Senate is 30 Republicans, 10 Democrats.

House of Representatives

The Kansas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Kansas Legislature. It is composed of 125 Representatives from an equal amount of constituencies, each with at least a population of 19,000. Representatives are elected to a two year term. Like the Kansas Senate, he Kansas House of Representatives does not have term limits.

Leadership of the House

The Speaker of the House presides over the House of Representatives. The Speaker is elected by the majority party caucus followed by confirmation of the full House through the passage of a House Resolution. In addition to presiding over the body, the Speaker is also its chief leadership position, and controls the flow of legislation and committee assignments. Other House leaders, such as the majority and minority leaders, are elected by their respective party caucuses relative to their party's strength in the chamber.

Current make-up

The current make-up of the House is 78 Republicans, 47 Democrats.

Joint Legislative Committees


External links

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