by Anne Meyer
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
4:37 PM CST, January 13, 2013
Lawmakers return to Topeka to start the new legislative session. Key topics like the budget, tax cuts and school finance will top their list of issues to tackle in 2013.
Before the session begins, one Wichita lawmaker is already making history twice. Susan Wagle is the first Wichitan to lead the Kansas Senate, she's also the first female Senate President in state history.
"I will have increased influence," Wagle said. "But I am looking towards developing an atmosphere where everyone takes part, everyone has an equal voice and then majority rules."
She'll have the majority on her side. Both the Senate and House are republican driven, with a recent shift to more a conservative leadership that is likely to follow Governor Sam Brownback's agenda of spending cuts and less taxes to promote economic growth.
"We are very unified between the House, Senate and the Governor in trying to grow jobs in trying to grow Kansas," Wagle said.
"Education, the budget, the sales tax issue; we have so many major issues that we need to start looking at on day one," said newly elected Wichita Senator Michael O'Donnell.
O'Donnell is one of 16 new Senators this year. Plus there are 49 freshman lawmakers in the House, making this the year of new voices in Topeka.
"There is close to half the legislature that is new," O'Donnell said. "So this is a time that being a freshman Senator isn't going to be hindrance for my district because there is so many from across the state."
"We have a lot different perspectives," Wagle added. "We will have a lot of long debates, but I think it will be healthy and good for the people of Kansas."
With so many key issues to cover in 2013, both senators know they have a lot of work ahead.
Anne Meyer will be in Topeka to cover the first day of the legislative session, along with Tuesday evening's State of the State address. Look for her reports on Eyewitness News and here at www.kwch.com.
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