After receiving a wide majority in the state’s legislature in November’s election, Kansas Republicans are staying busy putting that political power to use.
According to the Associated Press, GOP state lawmakers voted on Monday to pass several bills previously vetoed by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.
“The grassroots in their communities”
House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch touted the move as one that reflects the will of his party’s constituents.
“They listened to folks back home,” he said of the veto overrides. “It’s because of, really, the grassroots in their communities telling [them], ‘Hey, this is important to us.'”
Among the bills passed was one intended to promote election integrity by limiting to 10 the number of ballots that an individual or group can collect and submit on behalf of other voters. Furthermore, candidates may only collect ballots from immediate family members.
For her part, Kelly issued a statement last month dismissing such a proposal as “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The governor went on to insist that the legislation “is designed to disenfranchise Kansans, making it difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud.”
Other successful veto overrides
Republicans, who now enjoy a two-thirds majority allowing them to override vetoes, also advanced a bill allowing individuals between 18 and 20 years old to apply for a concealed handgun permit, lowering the minimum age requirement from 21.
A third bill passed by the GOP majority augments the state’s tax code to allow citizens to itemize deductions on state returns whether or not they are itemized on federal tax forms.
Another proposal pushed forward by lawmakers aims to allow Kansas motorists to order a special license plate bearing a Gadsen flag theme and the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me.” Each sale will result in a $25 donation to the Kansas State Rifle Association.
Of course, not all of the proposed veto overrides were successful. Reports show that Republicans did not have enough votes to advance a bill banning transgender female athletes from playing on girls-only sports teams.
The issue has gained widespread attention in recent months and state Sen. Renee Erickson, a former college athlete who argued the ban is necessary to provide an even playing field for girls and women, was a main sponsor of the failed Kansas legislation. Senate President Ty Masterson continued to advocate for the prohibition, noting that even former Olympian and transgender GOP California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner has expressed support for similar legislation.