Lawmakers to debate bill that would stop governor from filling treasurer, insurance commissioner openings

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas lawmakers are considering stripping the governor of some of her powers.

The governor is in charge of appointing replacements to statewide officeholders when there is an opening, but some legislators want to stop that.

When Republican Jake LaTurner left his position as state treasurer to go to Congress, Governor Laura Kelly filled the position with her lieutenant governor, Democrat Lynn Rogers. It’s that flipping of parties that has some lawmakers wanting a change.

Lawmakers are proposing a bill that leaves it up to state political party officials to choose replacements for state treasurer and insurance commissioner openings.

“I think this legislation is very commonsensical, in that we just stick to what the people of Kansas wanted, if they elected a Democrat, they get to keep a Democrat, if they elected a Republican, then they get to keep a Republican,” said House Elections Committee Chair and Derby Representative Blake Carpenter.

A similar bill was passed out of committee last year but didn’t reach the floor, allowing Kelly to choose a Democrat. It wasn’t the first time a governor has chosen a replacement from a different party, as governors Sebelius and Graves did the same thing.

Carpenter said the decision is better left to the political party officials.

“We’re basically using the exact same process that we replace legislative members with currently in the legislature, and so it’s just a much bigger process where we’re using the entire statewide delegation for the Republican party or the Democrat party,” Carpenter said.

There is also a proposal to change the rules for attorney general and secretary of state replacements.
But that is unlikely to happen this year, as it would require a constitutional amendment to take away those governor’s powers.

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