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Kansas Legislature gavels in for 2021 session

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 7:01 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Monday marked the return of lawmakers to the Kansas statehouse for the 2021 legislative session.

The new session marks new leadership in the Senate with Andover-area Republican Sen. Ty Masterson taking over the role of Senate President and McPherson Republican Rick Wilburn as Vice President.

Lenexa Democrat Sen. Dinah Sykes will serve as Senate Minority Leader, overtaking the role held by Anthony Hensley, who lost his race for reelection.

“It’s exciting, it’s like the first day of school...with new leadership comes new responsibilities, so looking forward to fitting into the role and adapting to my own personality,” she said.

“It’s definitely different this year with COVID but I think we have a lot of opportunities that we can address and help Kansans.”

One of the first chances to help will be through the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA).

Many provisions in the act are set to expire on January 26.

Republican Rep. Fred Patton, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee met with 13 NEWS on Friday and detailed what is at stake.

“If we don’t do something by the 26th, then the disaster declaration goes away,” he said.

“Some very, I think, needed health care provisions that allow tele-health so you don’t have to go to your doctor for some procedures, they can talk to you through your computer, some out of state licenses, especially in rural Kansas, we’re having doctors and medical professionals come in and provide services those things need to stay in place for sure.”

KEMA will not be the only item on lawmakers’ radar.

Republican Sen. Brenda Dietrich, who made the switch from the House said legislators need to catch up on a lot from last year.

“A lot of those bills that we didn’t pass will now be back because we didn’t get a chance to address them last session so we’ll start off having hearings in almost every committee that I’m on so it’ll be a very fast-paced session I believe,” she said.

“It’s just going to be a session where a lot of folks are going to have areas they’re going to want to investigate look at having hearings on and then we’ll find out where those bills go from that point after they’re introduced.”

Meanwhile, in the House, newly-elected Kansas City Democrat Aaron Coleman recently reached an agreement with a woman who accused him of stalking.

It ended a court order against him but a spokesman for House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer said there will still be a complaint filed against Coleman this week to try to oust him from the post.

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