- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas House committee that handles legislation on social issues will continue to be led by a vocal opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage.

Speaker Ray Merrick announced Wednesday that Republican Rep. Jan Pauls of Hutchinson will be the new chairwoman of the Federal and State Affairs Committee.

She’ll replace Republican Rep. Steve Brunk of Wichita. He is leaving the Legislature next month to become Kansas executive director of an affiliate of the conservative group Focus on the Family.

Pauls is an attorney who has served in the Legislature since 1991. She was a Democrat but switched parties in 2014, two years after gay-rights advocates targeted her in the Democratic primary and she barely won.

She’s opposed same-sex marriage and extending anti-discrimination protections in state law to gays and lesbians.

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