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election 2017

New House Speaker Getting Good Marks

Associated Press - January 16, 2017 11:06 am

The Kansas House’s new speaker is receiving bipartisan praise in his first weeks in the job for what fellow lawmakers say is a collaborative style.

Ron Ryckman Jr. rose quickly when fellow conservative Republicans had firm control of the House. First elected in 2012, he became chairman of its powerful, budget-writing Appropriations Committee in 2015.

He’s now the top Republican in a chamber that’s shifted to center after voters showed their discontent with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s fiscal policies by ousting 19 GOP incumbents, most of them Brownback allies.

So far Ryckman’s colleagues see him as more than up to the task of managing the chamber’s work as legislators wrestle with closing budget shortfalls projected to total $1.1 billion through June 2019. Already, his committee appointments have boosted moderates’ role.