A political storm in the Kansas House blew into the state Senate on Tuesday when the leading Senate Democrat took aim at House Speaker Mike O'Neal.
O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, an attorney, represents a coalition of trade groups suing the state over a legislative budget decision from last year.
Democrats accuse him of profiting from his position and said it's hypocritical for lawmakers like O'Neal to criticize schools for suing the state when he's being paid to do the same thing. One lawmaker called for O'Neal to step down as speaker.
Meanwhile, the Senate had planned Tuesday to debate and vote on a measure that criticizes school districts seeking to sue the state over funding. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, argues it's wrong for schools to use state tax dollars to sue the state.
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But Kelsey's resolution was tabled indefinitely after Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, tried to turn the legislation on O'Neal. Hensley wrote a proposed amendment that said lawmakers shouldn't represent a party suing the state over a budgeting decision.
O'Neal's clients, including the Kansas Association of Realtors and the Kansas Bankers Association, are upset with a 2009 budget move that took money from funds set up to regulate their industries. The funds are generated by fees paid by professionals.
O'Neal has denied any conflict of interest, noting that he voted against the decision to raid the funds last yea.
Senate Republicans avoided being drawn into the conflict by tabling Kelsey's bill before debate even started.