Politics & Government

Police make arrests in Kansas Senate after pro-Medicaid expansion protest

Police arrested nine protesters who brought the Kansas Senate to a halt Wednesday, singing and shouting at lawmakers for not expanding Medicaid.

The extraordinary disruption came as the Legislature convened for the final day of the 2019 session after a final push to expand Medicaid failed weeks ago.

A lone protester began singing and was soon joined by several others. They shouted “Lord hear our prayer, we need healthcare” and other chants.

“There is healthcare somewhere,” one protester sung.

Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, recessed the chamber as police and sergeant-at-arms approached the protesters. Wagle’s chief of staff, Harrison Hems, said police arrested nine people.

Journalists were prevented from witnessing the arrests as police escorted reporters out of the chamber. Senate staff also sought to clear senators off the floor as well.

“I was asked by the Capitol Police to clear the floor,” Hems said.

When the Senate reopened, the galleries had been cleared. The galleries were initially closed but later reopened.

The disruption was the most serious in an escalating series of demonstrations this year over Medicaid expansion. Protesters have previously unfurled banners in the Capitol and tossed thousands of fliers in support of expansion.