Susan Wagle

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Susan Wagle
SusanWagle 2019.jpg
President of the Kansas Senate
Assumed office
January 14, 2013
Preceded byStephen Morris
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 30th district
Assumed office
January 8, 2001
Preceded byBarbara Lawrence
Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 99th district
In office
January 1991 – January 8, 2001
Succeeded byTodd Novascone[1]
Personal details
Born (1953-09-27) September 27, 1953 (age 66)
Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Tom Wagle
EducationWichita State University (BA)

Susan Wagle (born September 27, 1953) is an American politician who serves as a Republican member of the Kansas Senate, representing Kansas' 30th district since 2001. She was elected Kansas Senate President in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Wagle was born on September 27, 1953, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her family moved to Wichita, Kansas when she was four.[citation needed] In 1979, she graduated with a B.A. from Wichita State University.[2] Wagle taught special education in Wichita public schools from 1979 to 1982[3][4] before becoming a businesswoman.[3]

Political career[edit]

Kansas House of Representatives (1991-2001)[edit]

In 1990, Wagle was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives.[5] She later became Speaker Pro Tem of the House.[6] Wagle served in the House from 1991 to 2001.[7]

Kansas Senate (2001-present)[edit]

Wagle was elected to the Kansas Senate from the 30th Senate District in 2000,[8][9] taking office in 2001.[9] Wagle was elected senate president on December 3, 2012, winning 23–9 over then-Senator Steve Abrams of Arkansas City.[5] She is the first female Kansas senate president,[10] and the first from Wichita.[5] She was re-elected to the post in 2016, defeating Ty Masterson by a vote of 23–7,[11] becoming only the fourth senate president in Kansas history to serve a second term.[5]

On May 29, 2019, nine protesters had been singing and chanting in the Senate chamber. When they refused to stop, the Senate suspended its work; Wagle ordered that the Senate gallery be cleared and that the protesters be detained and taken to another room. The Wichita Eagle's Jonathan Shorman reported that journalists were "'prevented from witnessing the arrests'". Calling Wagle's action "unprecedented" and "intolerable", the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government filed a complaint with Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Wagle countered, "'[A]t no time was the press denied access to Senate proceedings. My staff was simply following instructions during a time of recess to ensure the safety of everyone in the chamber'".[12]

Harrison Hems, Senate President Susan Wagle's chief of staff, said that he was dismissed on October 10, 2019 as a result of a disagreement over whether he should work on her campaign for the U.S. Senate.[13]

U.S. Senate campaign (2020)[edit]

In January 2019, Wagle formed an exploratory committee to assess entering the 2020 race to replace the retiring Pat Roberts in the U.S. Senate.[14] On July 23, 2019, she filed the paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission necessary to run. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had already entered the race. Wagle criticized Kobach's role in a controversial, privately-financed scheme to build a southern border wall to impede the unlawful entry of migrants to the United States. Wagle expressed support for the construction of a federally designed, bid and funded wall, but added, "We don’t need some rogue organization going out and building the wall."[10] In July 2018, Wagle had supported Kobach in a Republican gubernatorial primary, saying that he was the "strongest candidate". The endorsement was sent out by Wagle's staff spokeswoman on a state computer, thus violating Kansas ethics rules.[15]

Other political involvement[edit]

Wagle served as a delegate to the 1996 Republican National Convention. She served as National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2006. As of 2019, she was a member of ALEC's Board of Directors.[10][16][17]

Political positions[edit]

Her Project Vote Smart profile shows that the American Conservative Union has given her a 75% evaluation. The Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity has given her a 100% evaluation. The Kansas Policy Institute has given her a 76% evaluation.


While Wagle identified as pro-choice as a young adult, the experience of pregnancy led her to change her stance. She is considered a staunchly pro-life legislator.[3]

In 2015, Wagle sponsored a bill known as the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. It would have prohibited a person from performing, or attempting to perform, a dismemberment abortion unless it was necessary to preserve the life of the mother. The law was found unconstitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court.[18][19]

In 2019, Wagle opposed the confirmation of David Toland as Kansas Secretary of Commerce. As director of a local non-profit, Tolan had obtained a grant from a charitable fund posthumously named after George Tiller, an assassinated physician who had performed abortions. The grant funding did not relate to abortion; however, Wagle's spokesperson, Shannon Golden, called the relationship with the Tiller fund "concerning".[20] Toland was later confirmed.[21]

Government accountability[edit]

In 2018, Wagle cosponsored legislation with Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley that worked to bring more transparency to state contracts. The bill required lobbyist registration for anyone attempting to influence officials in state agencies or the executive branch over a state contract.[22]

As Commerce Committee Chairwoman, Wagle began an investigation into the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) in 2011. The KBA was founded under former Governor Kathleen Sebelius with the goal of spurring growth in the bioscience sector. The KBA had an independent board that approved spending.[23] Wagle called for an investigation due to excessive spending on salaries, benefits, travel, and entertainment.[24] Wagle noticed a stark difference between the state's 12-year investment and its final return. The state had invested $240 million into the KBA. The legislature and Governor Sam Brownback intended to fill budget holes left by massive tax cuts benefitting the wealthiest Kansans by selling the KBA for $25 million and slashing budgets for highways, schools and Medicare.[25] The sale of the authority netted only $14 million.[26] Wagle called for an audit and review for the abuse of taxpayer dollars which ultimately led to the shutdown of KBA for findings of misspent funds.[25] The legislature passed a $1.2 billion tax increase and overrode Brownback's veto of the measure. Wagle cast the deciding vote to override but did not comment on her vote.[27]

Sexual harassment reform[edit]

In 2017, Wagle worked to implement changes in sexual harassment policies at the Kansas Capitol.[28] Those changes included mandatory training sessions, anonymous reporting, and protections for interns.[29]

Supreme Court appointment process[edit]

Wagle has expressed disagreement with state Supreme Court decisions and has attempted to change the process for nomination and confirmation of justices. In 2013, Wagle unsuccessfully advocated for a constitutional amendment that would allow the governor of Kansas to nominate state Supreme Court justices.[30]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Shockers in the legislature, Wichita State University. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Powers of persuasion: Susan Wagle seen as one of Kansas' shrewdest politicians". Wichita Eagle. January 3, 2015.
  4. ^ "Candidates seek seat as Kansas governor". Nevada Daily Mail. July 30, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c d "Sen. Susan Wagle first Wichitan elected Senate president". Wichita Eagle. December 3, 2012.
  6. ^ Institute, Kansas Health. "Senate president prefers options remain open on Medicaid expansion". Kansas Health Institute.
  7. ^ "Wagle to file for U.S. Senate seat". July 23, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Senator Susan Wagle – President of the Senate". Kansas State Legislature 2013–2014. Kansas Legislative Information System and Services. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Susan Wagle, GOP leader of Kansas Senate, launches bid to replace Pat Roberts in 2020, Wichita Eagle, Bryan Lowry, July 23, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  11. ^ Capital-Journal, Jonathan ShormanThe Topeka. "Susan Wagle wins re-election as Senate president". The Hutchinson News.
  12. ^ "Unprecedented" Sunshine Coalition files complaint after reporters driven from Senate, WIBW-TV, Nick Viviani, May 29, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  13. ^ Kansas UPDATED: Wagle's chief of staff departs over disagreement, Sunflower Journal, Brad Cooper, October 10, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  14. ^ Susan Wagle, weighing bid for U.S. Senate, says she will form exploratory committee, Wichita Eagle, Jonathan Shorman, January 9, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Wagle’s endorsement of Kobach violated ethics rules, Wichita Eagle, Jonathan Shorman, September 26, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  16. ^ Leadership, American Legislative Exchange Council. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  17. ^ Kansas lawmakers flock to ALEC meeting, Shawnee Dispatch, Scott Rothschild, August 12, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  18. ^ Kansas Supreme Court Rules State Constitution Protects Right To Abortion, National Public Radio, Dan Margolies and Celia Llopis-Jensen, April 26, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  19. ^ "SB 95 - Bills and Resolutions - Kansas State Legislature". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  20. ^ In Commerce nominee’s hometown, residents take sides in bitter confirmation fight, Wichita Eagle, Jonathan Shorman and Lara Korte, March 31, 2019. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "After bitter fight, Kansas senators confirm Gov. Kelly's pick to lead commerce agency". Wichita Eagle. April 1, 2019.
  22. ^ Kite, Allison. "Kansas Senate president proposes transparency measure for executive branch". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  23. ^ Audit finds Kansas Bioscience Authority’s former leader misspent funds, destroyed documents, Wichita Eagle, Dion Lefler, January 23, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  24. ^ "Kansas Bioscience Authority officials' raises, bonuses scrutinized". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  25. ^ a b Gov. Brownback’s proposed budget fix includes sweeps from transportation, children’s programs, Kansas City Star, Bryan Lowry, January 13, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  26. ^ Here’s what Bioscience Authority’s portfolio sold for, Wichita Eagle, Bryan Lowry, December 16, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  27. ^ Brownback Tax Cut Era Ends With Kansas Legislature’s Veto Override, KCUR, Celia Llopis-Jepson, June 7, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  28. ^ "Political opposites raising awareness of #MeToo in the Kansas Legislature. But is anything changing? - KLC Journal". May 4, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  29. ^ "Kansas City group offers ideas to rid Kansas Capitol of sexual harassment". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  30. ^ Eagle editorial: Don’t change courts, Wichita Eagle, Rhonda Holman, January 29, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Stephen Morris
President of the Kansas Senate