Kansas lawmakers wrap up a week-long veto session. Here is what happened.

Kansas lawmakers left Topeka on Friday after a week-long veto session, passing several important bills while failing on a pair of controversial attempts to override the veto.

Veto Waivers Fail on Transgender Athletes and Parents’ Bill of Rights

Republican lawmakers succeeded in overturning some of the bills Governor Laura Kelly vetoed, but failed on the two most high-profile items.

The Kansas House was unable to enact a ban on transgender athletes, as well as a so-called Parents’ Bill of Rights that expands parents’ access to school materials and curriculum.

While there were more than a dozen GOP defectors who opposed the Parents’ Bill of Rights, the Transgender Athletes Bill was a narrower vote.

In the end, four Republican members sided with Democrats to uphold that veto, an outcome cheered by LGBT advocates and their legislative allies.

Still, the problems are unlikely to go away, with proponents of both proposals promising to make them a campaign issue in the gubernatorial race and legislative elections.

But Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, told reporters he was more focused on lawmakers using “little kids, as political punching bags.”

“I don’t care about their politics and their election issues,” Witt said.

Lawmakers successfully overruled Kelly’s veto on a bill requiring some food stamp recipients to complete a currently voluntary job training program. Critics say it demonizes the poor, but Republicans have pushed it as a way to fill jobs.

After:Kansas House Fails to Override Vetoes on Transgender Athlete Ban and Parents’ Bill of Rights

Sports betting sent to Kansas governor’s office

After more than four years of legislative wrangling, lawmakers sent a bill legalizing sports betting to Governor Laura Kelly.

Under the bill, casinos can partner with online betting platforms, as well as 50 retailers, such as a restaurant or gas station, to offer in-person betting, a number of ‘among them to be non-profit.

The bulk of the revenue raised by the state – 80% – would go to a fund designed to incentivize the Kansas City Chiefs to move their stadium across state lines to Kansas.

While tax revenue is expected to be modest, proponents believe this is an important decision for the state to make.

“I think it’s time to let Kansans participate and use these apps, like buying a ticket from QuikTrip,” said Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe.

After:After years of waiting, Kansas lawmakers vote to legalize sports betting and try to lure KC chiefs

Debate over public health laws contentious for legislative Republicans

Republicans barely pushed through a bill targeting longstanding public health laws designed to prevent infectious disease outbreaks.

The legislation bans mask mandates at all levels of government, seeks to make quarantine and isolation orders unenforceable, and block COVID-19 vaccine mandates by governments.

Slim GOP majorities passed the bill amid party infighting. While supporters said they were voting for personal freedom and against government excesses, opponents worried about what it might mean to contain other diseases. Ongoing bird flu outbreaks in the state and an outbreak of active tuberculosis in Wyandotte County were cited as cause for concern.

The bill was apparently pushed forward by House Republicans in exchange for motion in the Senate on other legislation. The indications pointed to the sports betting bill, which passed in the same roll-call vote, and a bill on the 988 suicide hotline, on which the Senate leadership did not. had not acted sooner.

After:COVID-inspired rewrite of public health laws passes Kansas Legislature, despite concerns over TB outbreak

Food tax cuts won’t happen until after the election

The Kansans will see some relief at the grocery store, but they will have to wait eight months.

Kelly has promised to sign onto the Republican-drafted food sales tax cut plan, which takes effect Jan. 1 and gradually cuts the state’s tax rate until it hits zero in 2025. While Democrats preferred an immediate zeroing starting July 1, they considered the Republican plan to be better than nothing.

Lawmakers previously passed a $310 million package of tax cuts over three years.

After:Property tax relief for homeowners highlights $310 million tax reduction bill signed by Kansas governor

Additional tax policy bills could be considered when lawmakers return later this month.

There is a larger HB 2597 tax bill, which seemed dead when the House GOP leadership indicated it would not proceed. The senators attempted to push the bill forward, but amid rule violations, chose to adjourn with a promise to review the bill. Among its policies are a tax cut on retirement income and a sales tax cut on utilities.

The House leadership’s desired bill, HB 2136, could also see action.

Lawmakers also have SB 331, which would repeal the ban on businesses imposing a surcharge on credit and debit card payments.

Meanwhile, Democrats have vowed to pursue more immediate food sales tax relief.

After:Laura Kelly to sign Republican food sales tax phase-in plan, wants it implemented sooner

Budgets include 988 hotline, state pay raises, education funding

Lawmakers passed an update to the state budget bill, signed by Governor Laura Kelly earlier this month.

The latest round of spending includes $10 million for the 988 suicide prevention hotline, pay raises for some state employees not covered by a previously approved broader pay raise, and a transfer of $250 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

The members also sent more than $6 billion in K-12 education funding to Kelly, complying with court-ordered spending increases.

It also includes a highly controversial provision allowing students to enroll in any school district in the state, space permitting. Districts have said such decisions should be made locally, but Conservatives say it will give families much-needed flexibility.

Remaining items include Recut Cards, Medical Marijuana

Lawmakers will return on May 23 to deal with a handful of remaining items and potentially overturn any outstanding vetoes Kelly has uttered.

Most notably, the legislature may have to approve new congressional maps if the state’s current plan is struck down by the Kansas Supreme Court. A Wyandotte County judge ruled that the maps signed into law in February were an unconstitutional gerrymander.

Negotiators will also have one last chance to strike a deal on the creation of a medical marijuana program, with lawmakers currently locked in discussions over the parameters of such a move. It’s unclear if he would have the support to pass the Kansas Senate, however.

Andrew Bahl is a senior reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 443-979-6100.

Jason Tidd is a reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Tidd.

Comments are closed.