Senate President Wagle announces new committee chairs

Several key Senate committees will be led by moderate Republicans as Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, announced new chairs for the 2017 legislative session, which starts in less than one month.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, has been removed as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and replaced with Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick.

Last week, Masterson unsuccessfully challenged Wagle for Senate president, and McGinn had served as chair of Ways and Means before moderates lost control of the Senate in 2012.

Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, was appointed chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, taking over from Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, who did not seek re-election. Schmidt was chair of the committee before moderates lost control of the Senate in 2012.

Wagle also appointed Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, chair of the Senate Education Committee, to replace Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, who did not seek re-election.

Baumgardner, a professor at Johnson County Community College, has been in the Senate since 2014. She also served on the JCCC Board of Trustees for 18 years.

Wagle also combined the Local Government Committee, which had been chaired by Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, with the Ethics and Elections Committee, which had been chaired by Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, who did not seek re-election. The new Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee will be chaired by Sen. Elaine Bowers, R-Concordia.

Wagle also combined the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees and placed Sen. Dan Kerschen, R-Garden Plain, in charge. And she did away with the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee.

Here are the remaining Senate committees and their chairs:

Assessment and Taxation — Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker

Commerce — Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe

Federal and State Affairs — Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg

Financial Institutions and Insurance — Sen. Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia

Judiciary — Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson

Transportation — Sen. Mike Peterson, R-Wichita.

Utilities — Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe

House committee chairs are expected to be announced soon.

December 15, 2016