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Week 1, January 9-13


The legislature returned to Topeka this week for the 2023-2024 legislative session. House Democrats kicked off the year with a new leadership team, Governor Laura Kelly’s inaugural events, and heard from the Kansas State Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Marla Luckert.


It was a celebratory week, particularly because of the House Democrats’ noteworthy November successes. The caucus elected 11 new representatives and flipped multiple seats, bringing the House Democrats to 40 members and House Republicans to 85. Additionally, Rep. Barbara Ballard made history when she was sworn in for her 31st session. This makes her the longest-serving, consecutive representative in Kansas history! Congratulations, Rep. Ballard!

Welcoming New Democratic Leadership and Members


The House Democrats elected a new leadership team for the 2023-2024 biennium:


Leader Vic Miller and Assistant Leader Valdenia Winn

Rep. Christina Haswood (Lawrence) was elected Policy Chairwoman, and Rep. Jerry Stogsdill (Prairie Village) was elected Agenda Chairman.

The caucus re-elected Rep. Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park to serve as House Democratic Whip. They also re-elected Rep. Barbara Ballard of Lawrence to Caucus Chair.

Additionally, the House Democrats were pleased to swear in a slew of new members this week, including Reps. Brad Boyd (Olathe), Ford Carr (Wichita), Kirk Haskins (Topeka), Allison Hougland (Olathe), Angela Martinez (Wichita), Lynn Melton (KCK), Silas Miller (Wichita), Dennis Miller (Olathe), Marvin Robinson (KCK), and Tobias Schlingensiepen (Topeka).

Governor Kelly’s Second Term: “Guided by civility and kindness, even when we disagree.”


Governor Laura Kelly and Lt. Governor David Toland were inaugurated on January 9, 2023. Governor Kelly's State of the State address is scheduled for January 24th.


  • “Kansas Gov. Kelly calls for ‘civility and kindness’ in second inaugural speech,” Kansas Reflector, 1/12/2023

  • “Oscar-winning filmmaker to host Kansas Inaugural Ball,” KSNT, 1/5/2023

  • “Democratic Kansas Gov. Kelly urges civility; Kobach is AG,” Associated Press, 1/9/2023

  • “Gov. Kelly invokes spirit of civility in second term,” WIBW, 1/9/2023


The Governor’s Budget Recommendations: Axing Your Taxes 2.0


On Thursday, January 12, Governor Kelly announced her budget recommendations for fiscal year 2024. Continuing with her first term’s successful, balanced approach -- and a noteworthy $2 billion budget surplus -- the governor’s recommended budget includes fully funding schools, tax cuts for families, and keeping Kansas in a solid fiscal position without compromising state functions.


Read more about Governor Kelly’s budget recommendations and view the full presentation:

  • Governor Kelly’s Budget Recommendation FY 2024, Adam Proffitt, Director of the Budget, 1/12/2023

  • “Here are 6 ways Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly wants to spend a $2 billion budget surplus,” High Plains Public Radio, 1/13/2023

  • “Kansas governor’s budget ends food sales tax, expands Medicaid and offers 5% raise to workers,” Kansas Reflector, 1/12/2023

  • “The Kansas Legislature has the state's $2 billion surplus to wrangle over this year,” KCUR, 1/9/2023


Fund Our Courts: State of the Judiciary


At the start of every legislative session, the Kansas State Supreme Court justices join the legislature for the State of the Judiciary. Chief Justice Marla Luckert delivered a speech in the House chamber, asking lawmakers to support specialty courts, behavioral health services, and pay raises for judges and court employees.

  • “Kansas chief justice seeks pay raises for judges as GOP frustration over abortion festers,” Kansas City Star, 1/11/2023


Across the Rotunda: The Senate Democrats


The Senate welcomed two new senators this week: Senator Chase Blasi (Colwich), who replaces Gene Suellentrop, and Senator Usha Reddi (Manhattan), who replaces Tom Hawk.


On Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes introduced two bills to reduce Kansans’ taxes. The first would eliminate the state sales tax on groceries, diapers, and feminine hygiene products effective April 1, 2023, and the second would create an annual, four-day back-to-school tax holiday.


In Case You Missed It


  • “How Kansas lawmakers could try to restrict abortion this year,” KCUR, 1/12/2023

  • “'Hear us,' child sex abuse survivors plead. Will Kansas lawmakers make legal reforms?” Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/12/2023

  • “Kansas Republicans spurn the voters and results they don’t like while reheating tired humbug,” Opinion by Clay Wirestone, Kansas Reflector, 1/12/2023

  • “Attorney General wants Kansas court to rethink abortion rights protections,” WIBW, 1/12/2023

  • “Prominent Kansas Senate Republican to pull double duty as Kris Kobach adviser, legislator,” Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/12/2023

  • “Gov. Laura Kelly announces plan to fully fund Kansas special education for the first time in years,” Kansas Reflector, 1/12/2023

  • “Lawmakers taking notice of corruption allegations against the Kansas Highway Patrol,” KMBC News 9, 1/12/2023

  • “'I was scared': Kansas sees startling human trafficking numbers,” KAKE, 1/11/2023

  • “With Medicaid ‘continuous coverage’ ending soon, many Kansans may lose access to care,” Kansas Reflector, 1/11/2023

  • “Kansas right pushing back more aggressively on LGBTQ rights,” Associated Press, 1/10/2023

  • “Governor Kelly Signs First Executive Order of Second Term to Improve Early Childhood Care and Education,” Office of the Governor, 1/10/2023

  • “This Kansas rep wanted to run for House speaker on a transparency platform. The GOP shut him down.,” Opinion by Clay Wirestone, Kansas Reflector, 1/9/2023

  • “Retiring Kansas senator’s gift to colleagues: A bill proposing ‘overdue’ raise in salary,” KAKE, 1/8/2023

  • “If you thought the abortion debate in Kansas ended with August amendment vote, think again,” Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/4/2023

  • “Robert Stephan dies at 89. He was Kansas' longest-serving attorney general.” Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/3/2023



It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and need your input on the various issues facing the state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 451A - S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7300 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can email me at You can also follow the legislative session online at







Kansas Legislative Website

Live Legislative Proceedings

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Photo : Rep. Valdenia Winn and Rep. Vic Miller attend Gov. Laura Kelly’s inauguration on Jan. 9, 2023, on the Statehouse steps. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

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