TOPEKA (KSNT) – Lawmakers are throwing their names in the hat to become the next top Democrat in the Kansas House.
House Minority Agenda Chair, Representative Brandon Woodard from Lenexa, announced Wednesday that he will be running for House Minority Leader.
Woodard became one of the state’s first two LGTBQ legislators elected to the House in 2019. He sent a letter to the Democratic caucus Wednesday outlining his intention to run.
“This decision is one I have made through extensive counsel, personal reflection, and a focus on how I can put my experiences as a professional fundraiser, political operative, and nonprofit leader to the best use to serve our team,” Woodard said in a letter sent to the Democratic caucus Wednesday.
“The upcoming term is going to be one with serious obstacles, especially with the Republicans narrowly maintaining their supermajority and their success in ousting the few Republicans we could occasionally count on to sustain a veto by Governor Kelly. But, I know that our caucus’ strength has always been in our unity. When we came together, we defeated anti-choice legislation, stopped every attempt at attacking LGBTQ youth, and avoided attempts to return to the disastrous tax policies of the Brownback administration. I know that we can do this work, together.”Rep. Brandon Woodard, D-Lenexa
Long-time Kansas lawmaker Vic Miller from Topeka says he’s also stepping up to fill the slot after Tom Sawyer announced he would not be seeking reelection.
“I think Democrats represent everyday Kansans in terms of the things we believe in and in terms of the legislation that we push,” Miller said.
Miller says some of those items include medical marijuana, property tax relief and eliminating the state’s heft food sales tax. Republicans passed a gradual reduction last year which drops the tax to zero by 2025. However, Miller says he’s backing Democrat Governor Laura Kelly’s plan to speed it up.
“We have the money to do it, and so there’s no reason to hesitate,” Miller said. “One of the first items of business is to get that sales tax off of food immediately.”
Lawmakers are also working on a medical marijuana bill to bring to the floor. The bill is expected to get support on both sides of the aisle in the House. But, this year, Republican Senate President Ty Masterson says it’s not a priority.
“It’s time Kansas got busy… we don’t want to finish last in that contest,” Miller said. “It’s just sad… there’s so many people out there suffering, who are in need of that treatment, and can’t get it.”
Miller says Medicaid Expansion is another issue high on his priority list. But, it could face pushback from Republicans in the House.
Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, who’s now a top candidate for Speaker of the House, has opposed Medicaid Expansion in the past.
“I don’t necessarily always agree with people, but I’ve been kicked around enough times, and worked in the minority, that if you can’t work with people on the other side, then you’re in the wrong place,” Miller said.
Each caucus will be choosing its next party leaders in the House and Senate. Those elections will take place Dec. 5.