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2017 Kansas Legislative Leaders

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 5, legislators elected a new crop of representatives to lead them into the 2017 session. The Kansas House decided on Rep. Ron Ryckman as the new speaker. He defeated Rep. Russ Jennings in a conservative vs. moderate battle 57-28. This is significant for several reasons: First, Ryckman will now have the power over committee assignments and what bills come to the floor for debate/vote; second, his victory is tempered by the loss of a conservative majority in the House. Those 28 moderate votes could be combined with the now 40 Democrat votes to establish a working majority.  Ryckman has already signaled a willingness to listen to these groups. See:

Democrats surprised almost everyone when they decided to replace Rep. Tom Burroughs with Rep. Jim Ward as Minority leader. Most believed Burroughs would continue as Minority Leader after the successful election of 13 new Democrats to the House. However, this was still not enough as Ward was elected by two-votes 21-19.

The rest of the leadership races shaped up as shown:

Speaker of the House

Ron Ryckman – Olathe

House Majority Leader

Don Hineman – Dighton

Assistant House Majority Leader

Tom Phillips – Manhattan

Speaker Pro Tem

Scott Schwab – Overland Park

House Minority Leader

Jim Ward – Wichita

Assistant House Minority Leader

Stan Frownfelter – Kansas City


The Senate was not nearly as exciting as House elections; however, there were a few rule votes that got heated. But in the end not much has changed in the Kansas Senate. Sen. Susan Wagle has maintained her position as Senate President. Wagle was able to fend off a conservative challenge from Sen. Ty Masterson on a 23-7 vote. Democrats will continue to be lead by Sen. Anthony Hensley, returning unchallenged as Senate Minority Leader.

Senate Leadership consists of the following:

Senate President

Susan Wagle – Wichita

Senate Vice President

Jeff Longbine – Emporia

Senate Majority Leader

Jim Denning – Overland Park

Assistant Senate Majority Leader

Vicki Schmidt – Topeka

Senate Minority Leader

Anthony Hensely – Topeka

Assistant Senate Minority Leader

Laura Kelly – Topeka


For more coverage of the leadership elections please visit:

Kansas Public Radio -

The Associated Press -

Wichita Eagle -

Topeka Capital-Journal -

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