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Kansas House speaker's top aide stepping down, to be replaced by Kansas Chamber official

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TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick's chief of staff is taking a new job with a health insurance company and will be replaced by a Kansas Chamber of Commerce official.

The Stilwell Republican's office announced Thursday that Chief of Staff Wade Hapgood will step down when the Legislature finishes its annual session next month. Hapgood has been Merrick's top aide since June 2013.

Hapgood will become vice president of state government affairs for UnitedHealth Group Inc. It is the parent company for one of three firms managing the state's Medicaid program for the needy and disabled.

He will be replaced by Christie Kriegshauser. She is the Kansas Chamber's vice president for political affairs but was Merrick's chief of staff before Hapgood.

The chamber's CEO is former House Speaker Mike O'Neal.

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