Jim Ward (Kansas politician)

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Jim Ward
Minority Leader of the Kansas House of Representatives
In office
January 9, 2017 – January 14, 2019
Preceded byTom Burroughs
Succeeded byTom Sawyer
Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 86th district
Assumed office
January 2003
Preceded by???
Personal details
Born (1957-12-05) December 5, 1957 (age 62)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationCreighton University (BA)
Washburn University (JD)

James Ward (born December 5, 1957) is a Democratic member of the Kansas House of Representatives, representing the 86th district.[1] He has served since 2003 and served as the House Minority Leader from 2017 to 2019, succeeded by Representative Tom Sawyer as of January 14th, 2019.

Prior to his election to the House, Ward served in the Kansas Senate from 1991 to 1993 and on the Wichita City Council in 1991.

Ward announced but later withdrew his candidacy for the 2018 gubernatorial election in Kansas.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

James (Jim) Ward was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on December 5, 1957.[citation needed]

Ward received his bachelor's degree from Creighton University and his JD from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He practices law in Wichita, Kansas. He is a member of the Wichita Bar Association, Project Freedom, and the Wichita Youth Court Project.[2]

Before his election to the Kansas House of Representatives, Ward served on the Wichita City Council, in the Kansas Senate, and on the Wichita School Board.

Ward supported the Kansas Legislature's override of former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's tax cuts.[3]

In November 2017, Ward spoke in Washington D.C. to U.S. Senate Democrats at a hearing examining similarities between a national Republican tax plan and former Kansas Governor Brownback's 2012 tax plan. Ward said "The great experiment was a complete and utter failure that nearly bankrupted our state...You put that on steroids and pass it around the country. Not only will it hurt the U.S. economy, it'll affect the world economy."[4][5]

Ward was named a Public Official of the Year in 2017 by Governing.[6]

Political positions[edit]

Ward is a supporter of Medicaid expansion, and he has repeatedly introduced legislation to expand the program[7] [8][9]. Ward also opposes efforts to impose work requirements and lifetime caps on Medicaid recipients. In 2018, he said, “There is no independent data that shows work requirements do anything except reduce the number of people who get health care."[10]

In 2015, Ward called for an audit of the Kansas Department for Children and Families after several children died in state custody. He spoke to the Kansas Legislative Post Audit Committee on July 29, 2015: “In the last couple of years, I’ve been getting more and more and more concerns presented to me about supervision not being done, placements being changed fairly radically quickly, and care plans not being followed through with."[11]

Later in 2015, Ward requested another audit of DCF on the grounds that the agency was discriminating against same-sex couples who were trying to adopt children.[12] An audit of DCF was conducted in 2017. [13]

Ward is an advocate of greater K-12 education spending in Kansas. In 2018, he said, “We are not adequately funding schools, and the outcomes are proving that." [14] When the Kansas House passed a $500 million school funding increase during the 2018 legislative session, Ward did not vote for it. He argued that a larger investment was required to make up for years of “chronic underfunding” and adhere to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling that education funding in the state is inadequate and inequitable: “It’s frustrating. I don’t think anyone on our side of the aisle thinks we’ve fixed the problem or ended the litigation." [15]

During the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Ward said he would reinstate an executive order that protects LGBT state workers from discrimination (which was originally signed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius). He also said he would support an anti-discrimination law: “As governor, I would reinstate the executive order, in addition to encouraging the legislature to enact a law protecting every Kansan from discrimination." [16]

Ward supports substantial changes to gun laws in Kansas. He has worked to repeal the Personal and Family Protection Act, which allows concealed firearms on the campuses of public universities in the state. [17] He is opposed to arming K-12 teachers, while he supports raising the minimum age for semi-automatic firearm purchases to 21, implementing comprehensive background checks for all gun buyers, preventing people with domestic violence or other violent crime convictions from possessing or purchasing firearms, and banning bump stocks in Kansas. [18]

Assistant District Attorney[edit]

Ward served as Assistant District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District[19] prior to opening his own practice in 1990. He worked on the first case in Kansas history to utilize DNA as evidence in a murder trial.[20] (State v. Pioletti[21])

2018 gubernatorial candidacy[edit]

On August 19, 2017, Ward announced his candidacy for the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial race.[22] He withdrew from the race in May 2018, instead announcing that he would seek re-election to the Kansas House of Representatives. He had struggled with fundraising and faced scrutiny over using legislative interns as designated drivers after events that involved alcohol.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Ward has two children.[citation needed]

On July 23, 2007, Ward was stopped near downtown Topeka for suspicion of drunken driving. He refused to submit to a sobriety test. He was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and failure to submit to a breath, blood or urine test. He was booked into the Shawnee County Jail and released the next morning, according to jail records. "As long as I've been around him, Jim has always been responsible," said then-Minority Leader Dennis McKinney. "It does surprise me. That's why I want to wait and see if there is enough evidence to file charges."[25]


  1. ^ http://votesmart.org/candidate/12557/jim-ward#.UftPR2RxtHs
  2. ^ Project Vote Smart - Rep. Jim Ward Biography
  3. ^ "Lawmakers override Brownback veto of tax increases, rolling back 2012 cuts". kansas. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  4. ^ Zampa, Peter. "Senate Democrats compare GOP tax plan to 2012 Kansas plan". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  5. ^ "Tax reform bill reminds some of Kansas plan". KSN-TV. 2017-11-02. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  6. ^ "Jim Denning & Jim Ward". Governing. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  7. ^ Institute, Kansas Health. "Medicaid expansion bill introduced - Kansas Health Institute". Kansas Health Institute. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  8. ^ Marso, Andy. "Medicaid Expansion Votes Denied In Both Kansas Chambers". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  9. ^ Smith, Sherman. "Kansas House Democrats again fail to introduce Medicaid expansion". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  10. ^ McLean, Jim. "Colyer Insisting On Work-For-Coverage Requirement In Kansas Medicaid Rules". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  11. ^ "GOP legislators block audit of Kansas foster care system, despite recent child deaths". LJWorld.com. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  12. ^ "Decision on DCF audit delayed until January". kansas. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  13. ^ Wingerter, Meg. "Audit Finds Concerns About Child Placement, Services In Kansas Foster Care System". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  14. ^ "$2 billion estimate for Kansas public schools shocks lawmakers; consultants' accuracy questioned". LJWorld.com. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  15. ^ Koranda, Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Stephen. "Kansas House Passes $500M School Funding Plan, Prompting Senate Ultimatum". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  16. ^ "Kansas governor candidates split on order protecting LGBT workers". kansas. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  17. ^ "Kansas House poised to debate guns on college campuses and in state hospitals". kansascity. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  18. ^ "Raise age to buy an AR-15? Arm teachers? Here's where Kansas governor candidates stand". kansascity. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  19. ^ "18th Judicial District Court". www.dc18.org. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  20. ^ Science, Stephen G. Michaud: Stephen G. Michaud Writes Frequently About Forensic (1988-11-06). "DNA Detectives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  21. ^ "State v. Pioletti". Justia Law. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  22. ^ "Kansas Rep. Jim Ward announces he's running for governor". KSN-TV. KSN. 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  23. ^ Woodall, Hunter (May 9, 2018). "House Democratic leader ends run for Kansas governor". Kansas City Star. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  24. ^ Woodall, Hunter; Ryan, Kelsey; Lowry, Bryan (October 31, 2017). "Not only does sexual harassment happen at Kansas Capitol, 'it's a regular occurrence'". Kansas City Star. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  25. ^ Carpenter, Tim. "Lawmaker arrested on DUI suspicion". The Topeka Capital Journal. Retrieved 24 July 2007.

External links[edit]

Kansas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Burroughs
Minority Leader of the Kansas House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Tom Sawyer