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3.6.22 – Kansas Reflector – Clay Wirestone

With the Kansas Legislature returning to Topeka last week, the time has come for full-on partisan pie fights. That’s right, senators and representatives have rolled up their sleeves for dubious bills galore, along with the parliamentary sleight of hand needed to squeak them through both chambers.

Looking at schedules and listening to chatter in Statehouse hallways, here are some of the most likely opportunities for slapstick this week.

Anti-trans bill

Senate Bill 484 carries the innocuous sounding short title of “enacting the fairness in women’s sports act to require that student athletic teams only include members who are of the same biological sex unless designated as coed.”

That actually means the bill takes aim at transgender students in Kansas schools. While supporters claim the measure ensures fairness, it actually singles out students who are different for unfair treatment. Similar efforts last session failed, but such bills are being pushed across the country. It was only a matter of time until a new proposal landed in Kansas.

Medical marijuana

Action on a medical marijuana bill has lagged this session. A bill left over from last year passed the House, but the Senate didn’t take action. We’ve heard that a hearing should be coming up in the Senate this week. Given the proposal’s widespread popularity — two-thirds of Kansas adults support legalization — this would seem to be a slam dunk.

That being said, this is Kansas and the urge toward prohibition runs deep. Democrats have tried to seize the initiative, but we haven’t heard much of their amendment proposal. This week’s hearing should offer important clues.

Anti-vax initiatives

Despite a defeat last month, Kansas politicians seeking to undermine public health haven’t given up.

There is a Monday hearing on Senate Bill 541, which would impose a host of measures meant to hobble any future attempts to contain a pandemic like COVID-19. Tuesday will see a hearing on Senate Bill 489, whose short title says it all: Removing certain regulatory authority concerning infectious or contagious diseases from the secretary of health and environment. Because of course that’s what we need to be doing now.

Other bills swirl

This is the barest beginning. We’re also watching the Senate substitute for House Bill 2056, an innocuous sounding piece of legislation that has been gutted for use as a vehicle for restrictive election legislation. In an entirely different direction, Senate Bill 478 would require “light-mitigating technology systems” for wind power systems.

Last but not least, we’re two weeks overdue from the date when leaders promised to introduce redrawn state legislative maps. Those could drop at any time.

This being the Kansas Legislature, any or all of these measures could disappear from the calendar, pop up at a different time, or somehow be shoved into a bill dealing with Sand Hill plums.

We’ll keep watch here at Kansas Reflector, so you can keep watch at home.