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Senate changes bring uncertainty

Publication Date: 2010-11-21
  • Author:John Hanna
  • Publication:Topeka Capital Journal

Midterm changes in the Kansas Senate are creating uncertainty about whether it will keep thwarting the ambitions of the House's conservative Republicans.

Only two of the Senate's 40 seats were up for election this year, but the results of other contests will give it at least five new members after the 2011 Legislature convenes Jan. 10. Most importantly, it will have a new majority leader to replace Derek Schmidt, an Independence Republican who was elected attorney general.

Many legislators are guessing the new senators will have the same philosophies as their predecessors, given that most will be appointed from within the same party. That would leave in charge Republicans who helped engineer this year's sales tax increase and who have tempered anti-abortion initiatives and blocked bills on other social issues...

Some House Republicans have a long list of proposals they are eager to push, particularly with Sam Brownback, a Republican and a strong abortion and gay marriage opponent, taking office.

Their list starts with anti-abortion bills vetoed over the past decade, but it also includes a ban on state funding for embryonic stem cell research, overturning the state Board of Regents' ban on carrying concealed weapons on college campuses and perhaps even rewriting divorce laws. They also are likely to attack a statewide smoking ban and tougher seat belt law approved this year.