Statehouse Dress Code May be Reviewed
January 22, 2016

AP) – The Kansas Senate’s top leader says one of its committees is likely to reconsider a dress code for women imposed by its chairman.
Senate President Susan Wagle said the Ethics and Elections Committee will probably discuss the issue when it meets again next week. The Wichita Republican serves on the panel but wasn’t present when Chairman and St. John Republican Mitch Holmes outlined rules for the panel.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Holmes’ rules included a dress code prohibiting women testifying on bills from wearing low-cut necklines and miniskirts. The rules have no dress code for men.
A bipartisan group of women senators is criticizing the dress code.
Wagle plans to let the committee handle objections to the dress code, saying the legislative process eventually moves toward a consensus.

Brownback’s 1st Version of Budget Trimming Draws GOP Heat
December 9, 2014

AP) – Two GOP leaders in the Kansas Senate are criticizing Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for eliminating a projected $279 million shortfall in the current state budget.

Brownback’s plan would trim spending and divert funds for public pensions to general government programs. His administration unveiled it Tuesday.
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan outlined the proposal Tuesday in interviews with reporters. The plan avoids cutting aid to public schools and the state’s Medicaid program for the needy.

The governor can make some spending cuts himself but needs the Legislature’s approval for some parts of his plan.

Those parts include diverting nearly $96 million in funds for highway projects to general government programs.

The plan would eliminate a projected $279 million shortfall in the budget for the fiscal year that began in July. The state still would face a $436 million shortfall for the next fiscal year.

Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita said the governor is picking winners and losers by being selective in cutting. She said she prefers to see the burden of closing the budget shortfall spread evenly.

Senate Vice President Jeff King of Independence criticized the plan for diverting $41 million in contributions to the state pension system. King is chairman of the Senate pensions committee.

King said the plan threatens to undo gains made in recent years to improve the pension system’s long-term financial health.

Same Sex Business Bill to Return Next Year in Kansas
March 6, 2014

Kansas Senate President Says Same Sex Business Ban Opposed by GOP Majority
February 14, 2014

(AP) – The president of the Kansas Senate says her chamber is unlikely to pass a bill that would prevent lawsuits against someone who refuses, for religious reasons, to provide services to gay and lesbians.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday, drawing strong reaction from across the country. It would prohibit government sanctions or lawsuits over faith-based refusals to recognize same-sex unions or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to couples.

Senate President Susan Wagle issued a statement Thursday night saying a majority of Republicans in the chamber don’t support the bill. She says most Republican senators support traditional marriage and protecting religious freedom, but they also don’t condone discrimination.

Most Democrats in the Senate have already said they oppose the bill.

Wagle Considers Re-doing Kansas Re-Districting
December 6, 2012

(AP) – Incoming Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle says she’s interested in redrawing legislative districts next year even though federal judges redrew boundaries earlier this year.

Wagle told The Associated Press Thursday that she first wants to consult with attorneys to see whether a quick round of political redistricting is possible under the Kansas Constitution and past court decisions.

But she said if it is possible, in her words, “Nothing should be out of the realm of fixing.”

Wagle is a Wichita Republican and was among the conservative GOP legislators frustrated with this year’s legislative stalemate over redrawing political boundaries to ensure equal representation. Lawmakers failed to approve any maps, forcing three federal judges to draw the new lines.

GOP conservatives gained control of the Senate in this year’s elections.