Ray Merrick

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A top Kansas legislator circulated a letter Wednesday protesting the federal government's recent directive on accommodating transgender students in public schools and promising that lawmakers will "use every possible avenue" to resist it.

KHI News Service

Tensions are rising at the Kansas Statehouse. On Monday, heated exchanges among Senate Republicans forced leaders to close a caucus meeting to the media. And yesterday, Speaker Ray Merrick publicly relieved two committee chairs of their duties shortly after a dispute on the House floor.

Merrick, a Republican, removed fellow Republican John Rubin as chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. He also replaced Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican and retired judge, as the chair of the committee that resolves disputes over the House rules.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Lawmakers gaveled in today to officially start the 2016 legislative session. Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick says filling a budget hole is his top priority.

Last year was a record-long session focused on tax policy, and Merrick says he does not want a repeat of that.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas House Republicans have re-elected Ray Merrick to a second, two-year term as speaker. Fellow conservative Virgil Peck had challenged Merrick, but Merrick easily won in an 80-16 vote.

"I would like to think that most of them have seen me for two years and know what I've done and what we got accomplished and I think it validates that," says Merrick.

Merrick says one of his priorities this session will be finding ways to fill a budget hole. He says he'll focus on spending cuts, rather than raising revenues.

Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick says he'll be working to focus the chamber on economic issues for the rest of the legislative session.

Recently, some controversial bills in the House have caught national attention and criticism.

Merrick says he can't stop members from filing bills, but he can try to get lawmakers back to what he calls the basics.

"Making (Kansas) the most business friendly state in the country and emphasizing that the rest of the session," he says.

Wagle Wins KS Senate President, Merrick Speaker

Dec 3, 2012

Kansas Republicans elected Susan Wagle Monday as the new president of the state Senate.

A veteran Wichita Republican, she is the first woman to lead either legislative chamber. Wagle defeated Steve Abrams of Arkansas City.

Johnson County Republican Ray Merrick is the new speaker of the Kansas House. Merrick won on a second ballot Monday over fellow Johnson County representative Arlen Siegfried.

When the session begins in January, Republicans will outnumber Democrats 32-8 in the Senate and 92-33 in the House.