TOPEKA — Teenagers will be forbidden from seeking the governor's office in future election cycles under legislation lawmakers endorsed this week.
The bill requires candidates to be 25 or older to join the governor's race. The House shipped the legislation to the governor Wednesday on a 70-52 vote, a day after the Senate approved it 32-4.
Both chambers had passed competing versions of the bill during the early part of the session. In negotiations, lawmakers compromised on the House position that governors be at least 18 and the Senate position of 30. Some lawmakers weren't happy with the change, which takes effect next year.
"I don't concur with the Senate's attempt to discriminate against young people who are interested in making our state a better place by leading us into the 22nd century," said Rep. Vic Miller, D-Topeka. "I think it's unfair to raise the age to 25."
He also complained the final version of the bill includes a watered down section that provides for election audits.
The absence of qualifications for Kansas governor received national attention this year after a wave of high school students and people from other states announced they were entering the race. Andy Maskin, a New York City resident, plans to be the first of these nontraditional candidates to pay the high fee for getting his name on the ballot.
No residency requirement is included in the final version of the bill, but the law now stipulates the attorney general hold a law license. Other provisions modify rules for advance ballots to ensure disabled Kansans can vote.
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, complained that only lawyers, not police officers, will be allowed to seek the A.G.'s office.
"When you think about what our attorney general is all about, they are the law enforcement for the state of Kansas," Landwehr said. "I think this will eliminate and omit a lot of potentially good candidates."