Kansas State Legislature

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Kansas State Legislature

Seal of Kansas.svg.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2014 session start:   January 10, 2011
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Stephen Morris (R)
House Speaker:  Michael O'Neal (R)
Majority Leader:   Jay Emler (R) (Senate),
Arlen Siegfreid (R) (House)
Minority leader:   Anthony Hensley (D) (Senate),
Paul Davis (D) (House)
Structure
Members:  40 (Senate), 125 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art 2, Kansas Constitution
Salary:   $88.66/day + per diem
Elections
Last Election:  November 2, 2010
125 seats (House)
Next election:  November 6, 2012
40 seats (Senate)
125 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Kansas Legislature has control
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 State Senate, with 40 Senators. Republicans comprise a super-majority in both houses.

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

History

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 the 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.

Sessions

Article 2 of the Kansas Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Section 8 of Article 2 states that the Legislature is to convene on the second Monday of January of each year. Section 8 also limits the length of regular sessions in even-numbered years to ninety calendar days, but it allows these sessions to be extended by a two-thirds affirmative vote of both houses. In 2010, this kind of extension occurred, moving the session's adjournment date from March 30th to May 28th.

Bills may be pre-filed between sessions in odd years and sessions in even years for consideration during the following sessions.[1]

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 10-June 1, 2011.

Session highlights

Business tax deductions

In the 2011 session, the legislature allowed "expensing," a way for businesses to receive larger tax deductions for start-up costs such as new equipment and software. [2]

School funding

In July, state revenue officials forecast a revenue surplus of at least $175 million for FY 2011 (July 2010-July 2011), a pleasant windfall for policymakers that had cut $800 million out of the FY 2012 budget not six months ago. In response, state education administrators petitioned lawmakers to restore some of the funding for schools that was eliminated as part of Governor Sam Brownback's austerity measures.

Board of Education member Sue Storm was pessimistic about the prospect of reversing the cuts, which saw aid to Kansas public schools drop about $232 per pupil in the 2012 fiscal year. Others argued the board should ask for only a percentage of the funds back as a way to improve relations with austerity-minded legislators. Given the Republican legislative majority had proposed eliminating the state's corporate income tax entirely in the 2011 session, a measure that would cost the states about $200 million annually, House Majority Leader Paul Davis saw little reason to substantial increases in funding. He also noted the funding increases would need to be approved during the 2012 session in the midst of an election campaign, when legislators would continue to advocate for tax cuts.[3]

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature's regular session was scheduled to last from January 11th to March 30th. However, the session was extended, and it did not adjourn until May 28th.[4]

Elections

2010

See also: Kansas House of Representatives elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Kansas House of Representatives were held in Kansas on November 2, 2010.

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.[5] State Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, proposed the cuts in an amendment to legislation ratifying cuts made the previous 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.

Legislators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2011, members of the Kansas legislature are paid $88.50/day. Additionally, legislators receive $118/day per diem tied to the federal rate.[6]

The $88.50/day that Kansas legislators are paid as of 2011 is an increase over the $88.40 they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem has increased from $99/day in 2007 to $118/day in 2011.[7]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Kansas legislators assume office the second Monday of January after their election.

Senate

The Kansas Senate is the upper house of the Kansas Legislature. It is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal amount of districts. Each member represents an average of 71,328 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[8] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 67,210.[9] 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 Vice-President presides.

Current make-up

Party As of July 2014
     Democratic Party 8
     Republican Party 32
Total 40


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 member represents an average of 22,825 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[10] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 21,507.[11] Representatives are elected to a two year term. Like the Kansas Senate, the 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.


Party As of July 2014
     Democratic Party 32
     Republican Party 93
Total 125

Joint Legislative Committees

The Kansas State Legislature has 19 joint standing committees.

External links

References