The constitution of the state of Kansas provided for the creation of a bi-cameral (two house) state legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate. In many ways, these state legislators are important in the lives of their constituents, or those individuals whom a state legislator represents. The constituents are meant to have access to and conversations with their elected officials in order to have a voice in the democratic process. Like its national counterpart, the U.S. Congress, Kansas’ legislators are also elected by the people, and as such the legislature is meant to serve as a tool to address voter grievances and to correct any omissions or flaws in current legislation.
The Kansas House of Representatives is the largest of the two legislative bodies. The constitution allows for 125 individuals to serve in the house. This number is based on the population of Kansas and the number of people in each state congressional district. Every 10 years, following the census, the state legislature can redraw district lines to either add or reduce the number of representatives and voting districts. The unique task of the house is to impeach or bring ethical charges against an elected official who is suspected of committing a crime, such as fraud. State legislators serve a two-year term of office.
The Kansas Senate is comprised of 40 senators under the state constitution, and each serves a four-year term. In Kansas each state senator represents approximately 16,000 Kansans, and as with the state House of Representatives, state senators should be accessible to voters to discuss important local issues. One of the state senate’s unique functions is approving the governor’s appointments for positions within the state government. In the event of impeachment, the state senate is responsible for trying the case. The senate votes on the guilt or innocence of the elected official on trial. However, the state senate can only remove that individual from his or her office. The state legislature cannot proceed with trying that individual on civil or criminal charges if found guilty. Those functions are carried out separately by the judicial branch of the state government.
Together, both houses ensure that the voices of the people are heard and that each representative is held accountable to them and his or her fellow legislators. In the Kansas Legislature, a member from either house can introduce a bill for consideration to become a law. The House of Representatives is responsible for writing and reading the majority of the bills for a vote. Once a bill has passed the house, it goes to the state senate, which either approves it or sends it back for revisions. Once a bill is approved by both the house and the senate, it is sent to the governor to be signed into law. The governor can also opt to veto all of parts of the bill. To override a governor’s veto, both the house and the senate would a two-thirds majority vote.
The state legislature has the duty to establish a state budget, the power to tax and collect revenue, to create and pass legislation, to impeach, and to amend the state constitution. It does not have the power to make a bill a law, or to impose on the role and actions of the judicial system.
The Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate are housed in the Kansas State Capitol. The House of Representatives Hall is located in the Capitol’s west wing, the Senate Chamber is located in the Capitol’s east wing.
Entry: Legislative Branch
Author: Mandi Barnard
Date Created: July 2012
Date Modified: July 2012
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.