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New Kan. House speaker keeping ex-speaker's aide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Incoming Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick is keeping his predecessor's chief of staff.

Merrick's office confirmed Tuesday that the Stilwell Republican has hired Christie Kriegshauser, who worked nearly two years for former House Speaker Mike O'Neal.

Fellow Republicans chose Merrick last week to replace O'Neal when the 2013 session opens in mid-January.

O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, did not seek another House term this year and is now the CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Kriegshauser previously worked for Merrick for three years, starting in January 2008 when Merrick was House majority leader. She became O'Neal's communications director in January 2011 and was promoted to chief of staff after 11 months.