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Regular Sessions

The Kansas Constitution prescribes that the Legislature meet in regular session annually, beginning on the second Monday in January, and that all sessions be held at the state capital (Topeka). Previously, the session in odd-numbered years was of unlimited duration while in even-numbered years the session was limited to 60 calendar days (unless two-thirds of the elected members of each chamber voted to extend it). A constitutional amendment adopted at the 1974 general election extended the duration of the session held in the even-numbered years to 90 calendar days, still subject to extension by a vote of two-thirds of the elected membership of each chamber.

Beginning in 1980, adjournment dates began occurring later in the year, generally from mid-May to early June. However, the adjournment date may bear little relationship to the length of the session. Normally, the Legislature schedules a first adjournment early in April and a “wrap-up” session in the latter part of that month. For all practical purposes, the session ends during the last few days in April or early in May. Sine die (final adjournment), which mainly is ceremonial, is fixed at a convenient date at some time after the governor has had the opportunity to act on all measures.

Bills and concurrent resolutions under consideration by the Legislature upon adjournment of a regular session held in an odd-numbered year may be considered at the next succeeding regular session held in an even-numbered year, as if there had been no such adjournment.

Special Sessions

A special session occurs when the Legislature is called to convene at a time outside the regular legislative session, usually to address a particular topic or emergency. Special sessions rarely are convened. The governor may call a special session of the Legislature whenever the governor believes it warranted. A special session must be called when the governor receives a petition for that purpose signed by at least two-thirds of the members elected to each chamber.

There is no specific timing for a special session. Such sessions nearly always are necessitated by one or two important matters of state, which the governor specifies at the time of the call. However, once in session, the Legislature may act on any matter as if it were in the regular session. All bills and resolutions enacted during a special session must have been introduced during such special session and may not be carried over to the next regular session.

Interim Activities

The work of the Kansas Legislature is not confined exclusively to meeting in regular or special session. The four-month period when the Legislature is in regular session highlights the legislative cycle, but the actual work of the Legislature continues throughout the year. As soon as one regular session ends, preparation for the next one begins. In recent years, this preparation principally has involved the appointment of numerous special committees to study proposals assigned to them by legislative leadership or by statute. Statutory committees also meet during the interim period and issue reports concerning their activities and recommendations.

How often are there calls for a special sessions of the Legislature?

Since Kansas became a state in 1861 there have only been 22 occasions when the Legislature had to meet for a special session.

Year Reason
1874 Grasshopper Relief
1884 Foot-and-Mouth Disease
1886 Judicial and Legislative Apportionment
1898 Railroad Freight Rate Control
1903 Kaw Valley Floods
1908 Various State Issues
1919 Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment
1920 Industrial Court Law
1923 Veterans' Bonus Legislation
1928 Road Amendments
1930 Taxation
1933 Various State Issues
1934 Mortgage Foreclosures
1936 Social Security Act
1938 Welfare and Taxation
1958 State Budget
1964 Legislative Apportionment
1966 Legislative Apportionment
1987 State Highway Plan
1989 Property Tax
2005 School Finance
2013 "Hard 50" Law