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Influential Kansas House committee leader to step down next month


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An influential Kansas House committee leader who helped temper fellow Republicans' drive to limit what state and local officials can do during pandemics plans to give up his legislative seat next month.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Patton announced Monday that he will step down Oct. 16 to spend more time with his family, and focus on community activities and his legal practice as an attorney. Patton is from Topeka and has served in the House since 2015.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Patton often was a moderating influence on fellow Republicans as the GOP-controlled Legislature pushed Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly to accept limits on her power and the power of other officials to require masks or close schools and businesses.

Republicans in Patton's district will pick a replacement to hold his seat until after the 2024 elections. Patton said he timed his resignation to give his replacement an extra year of experience and seniority.