Kan. House Speaker removes two committee chairmen; Shawnee Rep. may resign office

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas legislature saw a dramatic clash between two lawmakers when House Speaker Ray Merrick stripped fellow Republican John Rubin of his chairmanship of the House Corrections Committee on Tuesday, prompting  Rubin to openly discuss resigning from office in response.

“I was relieved as chairman by the speaker today in a very open and public way,” Rubin (R-Shawnee) said. “I’m considering resigning my seat in the House of Representatives.”

The disagreement came when Rubin attempted to get a bill moved to the floor for debate. SB 415 involves the Kansas Open Records Act.

The legislation considers the renewal of exemptions to the Kansas Open Records Act that included an amendment mentioning bingo gaming. A floor debate could have opened the bill to further amendments involving the lottery, casinos, and track betting.

Merrick also removed Rep. John Barker, (R-Abilene) from his chairmanship on the House Rules Committee.

Merrick released the following statement.

“Today there was an attempt to manipulate the House Rules and pull a bill out of committee despite a hearing on the issue in House Appropriations scheduled for Wednesday. This is a complex issue. There is the possibility that expanding gaming in Kansas could result in the state being forced to pay over $100 million to the current operators of the state owned casinos. An opinion on the legal details has been requested from the Attorney General and we are currently waiting on his legal perspective. This isn’t a decision we should take lightly at any time, but especially in light of these circumstances. The Appropriations committee will give this issue a fair hearing and will allow both sides to makes their case. At this time and with a heavy heart I am compelled to make the following committee changes.”