Abortion Constitutional Amendment keeps legislators in their seats

There’s been plenty of press about the constitutional amendment on abortion rights being pushed by Kansans for Life, or KLF. It has passed the Senate. However, as we write this Under the Dome, the amendment is having a harder time in the House.

Essentially, the issue is the Supreme Court ruled Kansans have a right to an abortion. Worried that this means there can be no regulation of abortion, KFL is pursuing a constitutional amendment that would reverse the high court’s ruling. It is presented as allowing the legislature to enact modest regulations. However, those opposed to the amendment point out that KFL and other anti-abortion advocates have often offered bills that would go so far as to outright ban abortion in the state. In fact, when the resolution calling for the constitutional amendment was debated on the House floor, Rep. Randy Garber (R-Sabetha) offered an amendment to the resolution that would do just that. His amendment was ruled not germane.

At the end of the debate, the resolution was advanced on a vote of 80 to 41. That’s more than enough votes to advance it to a final action vote but four short of the super-majority needed for a constitutional amendment.

As we write this, House members have been on a “call of the House” for more than four hours while supporters of the resolution try to persuade at least four members to switch from “nay” to “aye.” They’ve had no luck. In an effort to move those four votes, Kansans for Life announced that they would oppose Medicaid expansion unless the constitutional amendment was passed.

So there we are as we end the week – in a stalemate. Who knows how long this call of the House will last!

Chiefs Make for a Quiet Week

The legislative committees did not do as much work this week as they normally would thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs winning Superbowl LIV. Like all of us, the legislators thought it might be great fun to go to the Wednesday victory parade and rally in Kansas City so the Legislature simply shut down for the day.

We were then left with little big news to report. But we will when we return next week. The Legislature plans to take up a veritable cornucopia of bills attacking schools and public sector unions.

Monday will see bills on KPERS re-amortization (SB 321), dual enrollment program tuition (SB 335), liability insurance for teachers (HB 2572), dramatic limits on the expenditure of at-risk funds (HB 2540), and mental health parity (HB 2459).

On Tuesday, there is a hearing on HB 2573, a bill requiring all high school students to pass a civics test as a requirement for graduation from high school.

Wednesday has a bill designed to hassle public employees who wish to use payroll deduction for union or association dues payments (SB 361). Another bill would require post-secondary institutions to publish a massive amount of data on cost, student success rates, student loans, job availability, potential salaries in various fields, and much more (HB 2519).

Finally, on Thursday, there will be a hearing on raising the age for sale, purchase, and possession of tobacco products – including vaping products – from 18 to 21 (HB 2563). Later on Thursday, there will be a new voucher bill introduced, courtesy of Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) and Rep. Renee Erickson (R-Wichita), in which 3rd and 4th graders would be offered vouchers if they have state assessment scores in reading or math in the first or second level (HB 2552).