AP NEWS

Kansas lawmakers open session, see big tax, Medicaid debates

January 13, 2020 GMT
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Speaker of the House, Rep. Ron Ruckman, R-Olathe, brings the Kansas House of Representatives to order at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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Speaker of the House, Rep. Ron Ruckman, R-Olathe, brings the Kansas House of Representatives to order at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers returned Monday to the Statehouse and opened their annual session expecting big debates on tax cuts and Medicaid expansion.

Top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature planned to push again this year for income tax cuts after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed two bills last year. GOP leaders want to provide relief to individuals and businesses paying more to the state because of changes in federal tax laws at the end of 2017 championed by President Donald Trump.

Expanding the state’s Medicaid health coverage for as many as 150,000 additional people is a top priority for Kelly. She and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, have drafted a bipartisan proposal.

Before lawmakers convened, about 30 people protested outside the Senate chamber to demand that the Legislature tackle proposals for fighting climate change. Later, lawmakers walked between lines of gun-control advocates in red T-shirts to get into both chambers.

Democratic Rep. Brandon Whipple thanked colleagues as he gave up his House seat to become Wichita’s new mayor.

Kelly is scheduled to give the annual State of the State address Wednesday evening to a joint session of the Legislature. Her aides expect to outline details of her proposed budget Thursday morning.