Then and Now: September 2011

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Kansas Senate chamber

This Month's Statehouse Photo

The Kansas Capitol in Topeka is the second building to house state government and is currently undergoing extensive renovations. The Senate chamber is considered a work of art in itself, decorated at a cost of $141,000 in 1885. The round, stained-glass windows were imported from France. The chamber is in the east wing and was built from 1865 and completed in 1873. Originally both the House and the Senate met in what is now the Senate chamber. It was divided in the center.
The senators' desks are original, purchased in 1885, and made from Kansas wild cherry wood. The columns are made of bronze and were hand-hammered. One of the Capitol's more distinctive features is a large mural in the east wing painted by Kansan John Steuart Curry. It focuses on an outsized image of abolitionist John Brown and is thought to be the only person convicted of treason who is featured in a state capitol.

25 Years Ago

Articles from the September 1986 issue of State Legislatures:

“The costs of health care continue to escalate, but some states have found a way to fight back.”

“In their 1986 sessions, nearly every state legislature acted in some way to avert the liability insurance crisis.”

“Sept. 17 is Constitution Day, a time to reflect on the elements that have made our experiment in self-government a success."

Did You Know?


The average age of a state legislator is 56 and has increased slightly in recent years as the number of legislators who are retired has risen; 23.6 percent of all state legislators are 65 years of age or older, 47.9 percent are between 50 and 64, 24.6 percent are between 35 and 49, and 3.8 percent are between under 20 and 34 years of age.. 

—From NCSL data on legislator demographics