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Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, makes a point during a meeting of a legislative committee looking for ways for the state to resist federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Masterson is pushing proposals to protect workers’ ability to claim religious exemptions and to provide unemployment benefits to those who are fired for refusing to get inoculated. John Hanna

11.11.21- Westport News- TOPEKA, Kan. (AP)

Republican lawmakers succeeded Thursday in forcing a Thanksgiving-week special session of the Kansas Legislature to consider financially protecting workers who refuse to comply with federal vaccine mandates.

GOP legislative leaders announced that all Republicans in both the House and the Senate have signed a petition demanding a special session starting Nov. 22. Governors call special sessions, but the Kansas Constitution requires them to do it if two-thirds of both chambers demand it — the GOP holds more than enough seats.

Republicans have been looking for ways for Kansas to resist vaccine mandates announced in September by President Joe Biden that cover more than 100 million workers. Senate President Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, has proposed measures to make it easier for workers to claim religious exemptions to the mandates from their employers and to provide unemployment benefits to workers who are fired for not getting inoculated.

It’s the first time in Kansas history that lawmakers have forced a governor to call a special session. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly last week expressed opposition to Biden’s vaccine mandates but was non-committal Wednesday about bringing lawmakers back to Topeka.