Mobile Navigation
Executive Branch »

Executive Branch » Governor / Lieutenant Governor

The executive branch of Kansas state government is headed by the governor, who acts as the chief administrator responsible for carrying out state laws and administering the executive budget. The lieutenant governor is the second-ranking member of the executive branch and is first in line to succeed to the governorship in the event of a vacancy.

Under provisions of the original Kansas Constitution, the lieutenant governor also served as the president of the Senate, but voted only when the Senate was equally divided. A 1972 amendment to the Kansas Constitution severed the lieutenant governor’s duties from the legislative branch. Beginning with the general election in 1974, the governor and lieutenant governor now run for office as a team, elected by Kansas citizens by popular vote. The statewide election takes place every four years during the November general midterm election (non-presidential election years).

The governor and lieutenant governor serve a four-year term, which begins on the second Monday of January following their election. The Kansas Constitution restricts the governor and lieutenant governor to two consecutive terms in office, after which they must wait one term before being eligible to run again. There are no qualifications to run for governor or lieutenant governor.

Duties of the Governor

The Kansas Constitution vests supreme executive power in the governor and, as a consequence, the governor is considered the preeminent figure in Kansas politics. As the state’s chief executive, the governor represents all Kansans and is responsible for safeguarding the public interest, for establishing goals for the state, and for providing state government and the people with leadership, direction and vision.

The governor is responsible for relating information from the executive department to the Kansas Legislature and for setting the agenda and issues for the state legislators to address during a legislative session. The governor annually presents a special message to the Legislature on the condition of the state (the State of the State address) and submits the state budget. The governor has the power to enact laws with his or her signature or letting bills become law without a signature by letting the bill signing deadline pass, and may veto all or part of bills to return to legislators. Further, the governor has the power to close regular legislative sessions to encourage lawmakers to make progress, as well as the authority to call special sessions of the Legislature.

In certain emergencies the governor may assume special, comprehensive powers. These powers involve greater police power and near absolute control over state, county, and local agencies and resources. However, in normal times, the governor may not enact legislation, though he or she may issue executive orders (when empowered to do so by the Legislature), which are binding throughout the state. Such executive orders do not have the force of law and may only be issued when related directly to the governor's duties. However, if the Legislature is controlled by the governor’s political party, the governor may strongly suggest the adoption of certain legislation, or request other executive officers to take such actions as the governor sees fit.

The governor also may issue executive reorganization orders (EROs) for the purpose of transferring, abolishing, consolidating or coordinating part or all of a state agency or its functions within the executive branch. EROs are transmitted to the Legislature and automatically become effective and have the force of law on July 1 following their transmittal unless within 60 days and before adjournment of the legislative session either the Senate or House of Representatives adopts by a majority vote a resolution disapproving it.

Though the governor shares power with other executive officers, in the event of a vacancy anywhere in the executive branch the governor appoints the successor. The governor also is required to fill vacancies in many other elected offices, including legislative, judicial and county-level positions.

Over the years, legislative enactments have authorized gubernatorial appointment of the members of various boards, commissions and authorities, as well as the executive heads of specific state agencies and departments, although many of the appointments require Senate approval. Some appointees serve at the pleasure of the governor, while others serve fixed terms.

By statute, the governor serves as chair of the State Finance Council and is a member of the State Board of Canvassers, the Education Commission of the States and the Governor's Committee on Interstate Cooperation. Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Calling the Kansas National Guard to duty to defend the state during invasion or to assist during national disasters.
  • Granting pardons to convicted criminals.
  • Keeping and officially using the Great Seal of Kansas.

Duties of the Lieutenant Governor

The role the lieutenant governor performs in the executive branch is determined by the governor. Since the 1972 constitutional amendment removing the lieutenant governor from the legislative branch, the lieutenant governor has been active in other areas of state government by working with state agencies and on issues most important to the governor. If the governor is absent or becomes incapacitated, the lieutenant governor assumes all powers and duties of the governor. If both offices become vacant, the line of succession is determined by the Legislature. Under present law, the president of the Senate would be next in line to assume the governorship, followed by the speaker of the House. By statute, the lieutenant governor is a member of the State Election Board and the State Objections Board.

Governors of the State of Kansas

To date there have been 46 Governors of the State of Kansas - 33 Republicans (R), 11 Democrats (D), and 2 Populists (P).

  1. Charles L. Robinson (R) - 1861-1863
  2. Thomas Carney (R) - 1863-1865
  3. Samuel J. Crawford (R) - 1865-1868
  4. Nehemiah Green (R) - 1868-1869
  5. James M. Harvey (R) - 1869-1873
  6. Thomas A. Osborn (R) - 1873-1877
  7. George T. Anthony (R) - 1877-1879
  8. John P. St. John (R) - 1879-1883
  9. George W. Glick (D) - 1883-1885
  10. John A. Martin (R) - 1885-1889
  11. Lyman U. Humphry (R) - 1889-1893
  12. Lorenzo D. Lewelling (P) - 1893-1895
  13. Edmund N. Morrill (R) - 1895-1897
  14. John W. Leedy (P) - 1897-1899
  15. William E. Stanley (R) - 1899-1903
  16. Willis J. Bailey (R) - 1903-1905
  17. Edward W. Hoch (R) - 1905-1909
  18. Walter R. Stubbs (R) - 1909-1913
  19. George H. Hodges (D) - 1913-1915
  20. Arthur Capper (R) - 1915-1919
  21. Henry J. Allen (R) - 1919-1923
  22. Jonathan M. Davis (D) - 1923-1925
  23. Ben S. Paulen (R) - 1925-1929
  24. Clyde M. Reed (R) - 1929-1931
  25. Harry H. Woodring (D) - 1931-1933
  26. Alfred M. Landon (R) - 1933-1937
  27. Walter A. Huxman (D) - 1937-1939
  28. Payne Ratner (R) - 1939-1943
  29. Andrew F. Schoeppel (R) - 1943-1947
  30. Frank Carlson (R) - 1947-1950
  31. Frank L. Hagaman (R) - 1950-1951
  32. Edward F. Arn (R) - 1951-1955
  33. Fred Hall (R) - 1955-1957
  34. John McCuish (R) - 1957
  35. George Docking (D) - 1957-1961
  36. John Anderson, Jr. (R) - 1961-1965
  37. William H. Avery (R) - 1965-1967
  38. Robert Docking (D) - 1967-1975
  39. Robert F. Bennett (R) - 1975-1979
  40. John W. Carlin (D) - 1979-1987
  41. Mike Hayden (R) - 1987-1991
  42. Joan Finney (D) - 1991-1995
  43. Bill Graves (R) - 1995-2003
  44. Kathleen Sebelius (D) - 2003-2009
  45. Mark Parkinson (D) - 2009-2011
  46. Sam Brownback (R) - 2011-2018
  47. Jeff Colyer (R) - 2018-Present