Archive for Monday, December 4, 2006

Wilk denied speaker’s post

December 4, 2006

Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, was chosen by his GOP colleagues Monday morning as the next speaker of the Kansas House.

Ingalls won on the second ballot, eliminating Lansing State Rep. Kenny Wilk and Mike O'Neal of Hutchinson.

The outcome is important to Kansans statewide because of the speaker's power.

The speaker appoints committee chairmen and women and can in most cases kill or push through legislation that the speaker feels strongly about. The office also controls the flow of bills, which also can determine their outcome.

Neufeld, a farmer, was first elected to the House in 1984. As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he is a knowledgeable and tough budget negotiator.

In 1994, Neufeld attained a footnote in House history when he was accused of blackmailing a legislator on a House vote by calling the legislator's wife about allegations of sexual misconduct. Neufeld acknowledged making the call but said he wasn't trying to blackmail anyone.

The case never went to trial because the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers have wide constitutional protections in what they can say to other legislators.

For more on the speaker's race, check out The Current on Thursday.

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