Politics & Government

Kansas House gets down to business as Legislature opens

With the rap of her gavel, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, launches the Kansas Senate into the 2014 legislative session shortly after 2 p.m. Monday.
With the rap of her gavel, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, launches the Kansas Senate into the 2014 legislative session shortly after 2 p.m. Monday. Associated Press

“Like the first day of high school.”

That’s how new state Rep. Steven Anthimides characterized his first day on the job at the state Capitol.

Anthimides, a Wichita Republican and a jeweler by trade, was one of two new area representatives to take their seats in the House on Monday. He joins Wichita Democrat John Carmichael on the freshman list.

Both representatives were selected by their respective parties to replace members who had resigned since the last session. Carmichael replaces Nile Dillmore, while Anthimides replaces Phil Hermanson.

Although the Kansas Legislature is notoriously partisan, Carmichael, a longtime Democratic Party activist, said “the thing that surprised me the most is the collegiality of the members.”

He said he met House Speaker Ray Merrick, the top Republican in the House, at a reception Sunday night, and “we visited about an hour.”

Both Carmichael and Anthimides said they were still trying to get their bearings on where they’re supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be there.

Carmichael, a lawyer, faces a heavy committee schedule with assignments to Judiciary, Elections and Energy and Environment.

Anthimides has been assigned to the Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Insurance, Financial Institutions and Vision 2020 committees.

“Keeping up the schedule, there’s so much to do,” said Anthimides. “It’s like a drink of water from a firehose.”

Monday’s proceedings on the House floor mostly set up structure and rules.

Unlike Carmichael, Anthimides actually got to vote on something more than House housekeeping.

He participated in a secret-ballot election of the Republican caucus to pick the new majority whip to replace former Rep. Brian Weber, R-Dodge City, who resigned in June.

The caucus selected Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe after a spirited endorsement from his father, fellow Rep. Ron Ryckman Sr. of Meade.

The elder Ryckman urged his colleagues not to hold the relationship against his son. “He’s also a product of my wife’s genes and influence,” he said.

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