Kansas governor lays out priorities ahead of 2nd term

Ahead of the return of Kansas lawmakers to the state capital for the 2023 legislative session, Governor Laura Kelly is laying out some of her priorities.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:40 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Ahead of the return of Kansas lawmakers to the state capital for the 2023 legislative session, Governor Laura Kelly is laying out some of her priorities as she begins her second term.

As Governor Kelly begins that second four-year run, she’ll have to again contend with the Republican supermajority control in both the Kansas House and Senate. As she’s started laying out her key priorities for the next four years, the legislature will be the determining factor in what and how much she’ll be able to get done.

In a week, Kelly will make her pitch of priorities to the Kansas Legislature with her state of the state address. Wednesday morning, she took part of her plan to a Wichita childcare center, outlining plans for tax relief. 12 News senior reporter Shawn Loging sat down with Kelly to discuss what lies ahead in the upcoming session.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly sat down with 12 News to discuss her priorities ahead of the legislative session and her second term.

Kelly explained tax relief she hopes to see implemented among key priorities heading into her second term.

“I’ve been looking for any way I possibly can to provide some tax relief for Kansas families in particular, particularly given the inflation that we’ve all been living through,” she said.

There are three parts to the plan to “axe your taxes.” An immediate elimination of the state’s food sales tax rate rather than the phased approach passed last year, a back-to-school holiday on school supplies each August and increasing the income limit for retirees before their social security income is taxed from $75,000 to $100,000.

“More seniors get the relief that they need as they’re trying to live out their lives on a fixed income,” Kelly said.

But that will only be a small portion of what is discussed in the upcoming legislative session. Even with the amendment vote last August, abortion will be a debated issue in Topeka. Abortion legislation remains a priority for many Republicans and abortion-rights opponent groups. In Wednesday’s interview with Kelly, Loging asked her about the issue and where she stands on proposals or any changes to Kansas’ current abortion laws.

“I have been very consistent, and I have been in the legislature and the governor’s office now for 18 years, I have been consistent in that I firmly believe that the decision, women’s healthcare decisions are between that woman, her physician and her family,” Kelly said. “That politicians have no role to play.”

The abortion issue could be one in which Kelly’s veto power could have a significant say.

For a fifth time, Kelly said she will introduce a plan for for Medicaid expansion in Kansas. In the last few years, GOP leadership hasn’t supported expansion. Opponents of Medicaid expansion include incoming Kansas House Speaker Dan Hawkins who cited in an op-ed last year that it would take away resources from the most vulnerable by adding eligibility to people.

With neighboring states expanding Medicaid, Kelly said there’s an issue with Kansas “bleeding [its] healthcare workers.”

“They’re leaving Kansas to go work someplace they can actually get reimbursed for their services,” she said.