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Kansas House Republicans push message of GOP unity, plan on wielding veto override

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House Republicans say they plan on having good working relationship with House Democrats

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by Rachel Mipro, Kansas Reflector
December 6, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas House Republicans outnumber Democrats by a large majority and are planning to fight Gov. Laura Kelly on legislation when they feel it’s necessary.

House Democrats say they’ll use a strategy of brain over brawn.

In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 85-40, retaining enough seats during the November election to keep a GOP supermajority locked in place. With the majority of seats held by Republicans, the GOP has enough votes to override any of Kelly’s vetoes.

During Monday’s vote on House leadership, which occurs after every two-year election cycle, House Democrats and Republicans nominated candidates for leadership and gave speeches about their plans for the next two years.

Republican House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, who won nomination for the position again, said the GOP would try to find common ground with Democrats when possible. Hawkins said the GOP would be looking at tax relief, education issues and election integrity. He expects a power struggle with Kelly over some of the legislation, as has happened in the past.

“Certainly we will try to pass what we can and she’s going to veto probably quite a bit of what we do,” Hawkins said. “And we’ll try to override it like we have in the past. That’s not changing. We’ve had four years with Gov. Kelly, we’ve got four more, and I’m sure we will work really hard to override any veto she brings.”

A few rooms over, the House Democratic caucus acknowledged that they were unlikely to get legislation past the GOP supermajority. 

Rep. Vic Miller, D-Topeka, who was selected as minority leader, said the party would make up for their lack of seats through intelligence. House Democrats are prioritizing issues of Medicaid expansion, marijuana legalization and reproductive health care rights in the upcoming legislative session.

Miller and Hawkins both said they hoped to have a cordial working relationship, with Hawkins offering to have weekly meetings with Miller.

“I know we’re going to have philosophical differences, no doubt about that, but that doesn’t have to be bitter,” Miller said.

Hawkins said he had a good working relationship with the former minority leader, Rep. Tom Sawyer, and planned to maintain the relationship with Miller.

“I’m not saying that we’re going to agree on everything, which we won’t,” Hawkins said. “Fundamentally we’re quite a ways apart, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t sit down and talk. And even when we disagree, we can talk through the situations and part in a friendly manner.”

While Hawkins said he plans on maintaining good communication with House Democrats, he said he didn’t anticipate the House would find any political middle ground. Hawkins said he expects a shift further to the right in upcoming legislation.

“I don’t think the House is going to come to the center. Just look at what the election was, I would say our body, if anything, moved a little bit further to the right. So I think you’re going to see conservative proposals consistently come out,” Hawkins said.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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