Kansas GOP state Rep. Ron Howard of Wichita dies at 67

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas state Rep. Ron Howard, a conservative Wichita Republican who cast a crucial vote this spring to enact state income tax cuts, has died, the House speaker’s office said. He was 67.

The speaker’s office and fellow legislators said Howard died Tuesday from a lengthy illness.

Governor Laura Kelly has directed flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Howard.

“My thoughts are with Rep. Ron Howard’s wife, Terri, and all of his friends and family during this difficult time,” Kelly said. “A former Boeing worker and lawn care service owner, Rep. Howard shared a proud, hardworking background with many in his South Wichita and Haysville district. Despite facing difficult health challenges, Rep. Howard’s perseverance demonstrated his strong dedication to those he served.”

Howard missed most of the GOP-controlled Legislature’s annual session this year. But he returned in early May to the Statehouse despite ill health to help Republicans override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of income tax cuts, giving supporters just enough votes for the necessary two-thirds majority in the House.

The cuts were aimed at providing relief to businesses and individuals paying more in state income taxes because of changes in federal tax laws at the end of 2017 championed by former President Donald Trump. Critics said the cuts favor the wealthy and big businesses.

Howard was a former employee of aircraft manufacturer Boeing when he began serving in the House in January 2019. He unseated a Democratic incumbent in 2018 in a district that includes part of south Wichita and part of Haysville.

He served on the House agriculture, veterans and local government committees and on a committee that reviews state spending on social services.

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