Government & Politics

Olathe lawmaker Mike Kiegerl to resign because of health concerns

Olathe Rep. Mike Kiegerl will retire soon over health concerns and because he may have to move out of his district.
Olathe Rep. Mike Kiegerl will retire soon over health concerns and because he may have to move out of his district.

Rep. Mike Kiegerl will resign from the Kansas Legislature later this month.

The Olathe Republican said he was leaving his seat for two reasons: He’s recently been diagnosed with a heart condition and, unrelated to that, he may have to move out of his district.

But he’s also frustrated, he said, with the possibility the Republican-controlled Legislature will raise taxes this session.

“I am disgusted about the policies that I hear about which seems to indicate that we’re raising taxes, which is unnecessary,” said Kiegerl, 77. “There’s no reason for us to raise taxes. It’s the easy way.”

The state is facing a roughly $320 million shortfall this year.

State projections show Kansas is expected to face roughly $1 billion in shortfalls through the end of fiscal year 2019.

Lawmakers have discussed tax increases, as well as budget cuts, to make it through the shortfall.

Olathe Republicans will pick Kiegerl’s successor during a precinct meeting expected to be held later this month.

Kiegerl said his resignation will be official Feb. 15.

Kiegerl served in the House from 2005 to 2012 and then from the summer of 2013 to the current session.

In an interview Thursday, Kiegerl said he was a strong supporter of Gov. Sam Brownback and bemoaned public backlash over the governor’s earlier tax cuts.

Republicans and Democrats alike ran against the governor’s economic policies during the 2016 election.

“Most of all, I think we ought to be supporting the governor,” Kiegerl said. “The governor has made mistakes; he’s a good friend.”

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican, said he’s known Kiegerl for more than a decade. “I like Mike, but you gotta do what the doctor says you gotta do,” Fitzgerald said.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward said he didn’t always agree with the Olathe Republican.

“He was a good Kansan who tried to do well for his district,” said Ward, a Wichita Democrat. “I do think there’s a little frustration in that his party and the state has moved away from his more extreme conservative views. I could see how that wouldn’t be as enjoyable (an) experience.”

Kiegerl said he would have liked to keep serving, but the health and housing obstacles led him to this choice.

“It’s not the frustration that makes me resign,” he said.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw