Yesterday, a little after 11am, surrounded by supporters, Laura Kelly was sworn in as the 48th governor for the great state of Kansas. Kelly was sworn in by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss beneath three banners reading Equality, Education & Opportunity. Her first speech as Governor hit on those three points. See: Laura-kelly-inaugural-we-must-forge-new-chapter-in-our-story (cjonline.com); See also: Make Kansas boring again: Gov. Laura Kelly’s inaugural address was delightfully dull (kansascity.com)
The remainder of the morning activates went very much as anticipated. Freshman legislators were sworn in at 2pm, again by Chief Justice Nuss, and they were done a little after 3:30. This gave plenty of time for pictures, a few handshakes and then getting prepared for the Inaugural ball. There was a sighting of Rep. Sharice Davids in the Capitol holding court with a group of Kansas Young Democrats. As session opening days go this was a combination of historic and routine.
The Inaugural Ball was what one would expect. It was very well attended with over 2000 party goers. The room was filled with both state and federal elected officers, lobbyist, supporters and contributors. Party leaders made toasts welcoming the new governor, cracked a couple of jokes and visited with colleges they haven’t seen since the session closed in 2018. A good time was had by all attending. But now the work begins, the spotlight shifts from celebration to accomplishments. No one expects a long honeymoon for Gov. Kelly since we must deal with several big issues. See: Kansas-legislature-poised-for-heated-budget-debate-cold-reality-of-partisanship (cjonline.com)
The House has already filed 31 bills. Those bills can be found at the Kansas Legislative website: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/bills/. There is a bill exempting Kansas from Daylight Savings time (HB 2008); a bill restricting state officials from lobbying (HB 2010); a bill removing the Kansas Secretary of State from lawyer registration (HB 2020) and a bill dealing with term limits for Insurance Commissioner and Secretary of State (HB 2021). There are also 7 bills aimed at worker comp issues. This is a lot for Day 1.
The Senate was much more subdued in their opening filings. The Senate filed less than half the bills the House opened with. Those 15 Senate bills run the gamut of issues. There are bills on tax, bills on healthcare, bills on elections and even a bill on firearm background checks (SB 8).
When any of these bills receive hearings is up to committee chairs. A number of those committees will meet for the first time today. The goal is to make introductions, get staff settled and pass committee rules. Only then can we official introduce bills into those committees. It’s a bit of a process but we will be headed down the track full speed before we know it.
If you need any information please visit www.kslegislature.org or www.ksbar.org/legislative for KBA specific info.