Kansas City Republican State Senator Ryan Silvey has been confirmed as the next member of the Public Service Commission and has resigned his seat in the upper chamber.
Silvey received unanimous support in committee and was approved by a voice vote on the Senate floor after being appointed to his new position Tuesday evening by Republican Governor Eric Greitens.
Silvey and Greitens had a contentious relationship after the Senator condemned the governor for accepting large contributions through a political action committee that doesn’t have to identify its donors. Silvey also strongly criticized Greitens for his treatment of lawmakers during the last legislative session.
During his confirmation hearing, Silvey acknowledged he had clashed with the governor, but welcomed his new career opportunity. “While the governor and I have had our differences, energy policy is not one of those,” said Silvey. “We’ve never clashed on that. When they called and asked if I would consider the position, I was honored to do so.”
Silvey started his state legislative career in the House, where he served from 2005-2012, and chaired the Budget committee for four years. He was elected to the Senate 2012 and won a second term in 2016. During his tenure in the upper chamber, Silvey chaired a wide-ranging panel that oversees state commerce, energy, consumer protections and the environment.
In addition to the frequent conflicts with Governor Greitens, Silvey also clashed on several policy issues with the Senate’s President Pro Tem, fellow Republican Ron Richard of Joplin. Richard, who sponsored Silvey for Senate approval to the Public Service Commission, said it was important he had an opportunity for advancement. “We have had our differences, but that’s not to keep him from moving on in his career,” said Richard.
Democratic Senator Jason Holsman of Kansas City came into the legislature in 2006, a year after Silvey. On the chamber floor Thursday, he noted they had worked side-by-side as lawmakers for 12 years, shared the same home town, and had enjoyed a championship run by the Kansas City Royals baseball team.
“He and I were able to sit together for the last game that that core group had played together,” said Holdman. “And there was a sign in the crowd that said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ And that’s the approach that I’m taking today.”
Silvey will replace outgoing Public Service Commissioner Steve Stoll. His salary from the state will jump from roughly $36,000 to $108,759 per year.
Governor Greitens hasn’t said when or if he’ll opt to replace Silvey through a special election. Silvey’s district is highly competitive between Republicans and Democrats. GOP President Donald Trump won the district by a narrow 49%-to-45% margin, while carrying the state by 19 points.
The Senate also confirmed former Republican State Senator Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit to a position on the state Tax Commission Thursday. Kraus had resigned his legislative position in July of last year to assume his new role. He was elected to the House in 2004.
In 2010, he won a seat in the Senate and would have reached the state’s term limit by 2018. Kraus was known as a strong proponent of tax cuts in the upper chamber and authored a bill in 2014 that went into effect this year that lowers taxes incrementally.
The rate most people pay dropped from 6%-to-5.9% because revenues increased by $150 million in 2017. Income taxes will drop to 5.5% over time if state income continues to rise.