Legislature

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoes hot bills and stages showdown with GOP legislature

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) on Friday vetoed several Republican-sought bills, including one that would ban transgender girls in women’s sports teams, according to reports.

The bill would require public schools and state colleges to categorize sports teams based on the athlete’s sex at birth.

Kelly, a first-term governor up for re-election in November, accused Republican lawmakers of trying to score political points while arguing that banning transgender athletes would impact the state’s ability to attract and retain business.

KANSAS SENATE PASSES BILL TO BAN TRANSGENDER GIRLS ON WOMEN’S SPORTS TEAMS

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly speaks during an event at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
(AP Photo/John Hanna)

“We all want a fair and safe place for our children to play and compete. However, this bill did not come from our schools’ experts, our athletes, or the Kansas State High School Activities Association. It came of politicians trying to score political points, Kelly, a Democrat, said via the Kansas City Star.

Republican lawmakers and Senate Speaker Ty Masterson (R-Andover) argued that allowing trans women to compete in sports with biological women would create unfair competitive advantages.

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“This is about protecting the women who have worked and trained her whole life and shouldn’t see their hard work undone by being forced to compete on uneven playing fields,” Masterson said.

At least fifteen states have enacted transgender athlete laws, including Kentucky this week. Kelly vetoed a similar measure last year.

Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly delivers the commencement address at Emporia <a class=State University‘s Constitution Day event for high school students, Emporia, Kansas, September 17, 2019 .”/>

Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly delivers the commencement address at Emporia State University’s Constitution Day event for high school students, Emporia, Kansas, September 17, 2019 .
(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

On Friday, Kelly also vetoed another bill that would have required schools across the state to allow parents to challenge classroom materials and curriculum. She suggested the legislation was about politics and would end up in court. Kelly vetoed a third bill that would have imposed work rates for able-bodied adults without dependents, and a fourth bill that would extend protections to healthcare workers.

“Money that should be spent in the classroom would end up being spent in the courtroom,” she said of the school supply bill.

Masterson argued that the governor, in an election year, was “largely controlled by the far left.”

“For the past several months, the governor has been a chameleon, demonstrating election-year conversions in an effort to trick Kansans into thinking she shares their values,” Masterson said, via the Kansas Reflector. “Rather than listen to parents and female athletes, her decision to veto the Parents’ Bill of Rights and the Women’s Sports Equity Act demonstrates that she is still largely controlled by the leftmost.”

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, chairs a meeting of fellow GOP senators at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, chairs a meeting of fellow GOP senators at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
(AP Photo/John Hanna)

“By choosing secrecy over transparency, the governor is signaling that she believes parents are the enemy and that schools have the right to hide what they are teaching our children,” Masterson added.

Critics argue that the measure would lead to rules hindering teaching. They also believe that parents already have the ability to participate in their children’s learning.

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“We were very concerned … and asked him to consider vetoing it,” Kansas State Board of Education chairman Jim Porter said last week.

Governor Kelly’s vetoes on Friday set up a showdown when the legislature, which is majority-controlled by Republicans in both houses, returns to session on April 25.