Kansas governor vetoes ban for transgender athletes, plus 2 education bills

Capitol Bureau

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed a controversial bill that would ban transgender athletes from playing women’s sports in the state.

She says her veto is a sign that Kansas is welcoming to every person and open for business.

“This legislation sends a devastating message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families, including those who are transgender – who are already at a higher risk of bullying, discrimination, and suicide,” she said in a news release.

“As Kansans, we should be focused on how to include all students in extracurricular activities rather than how to exclude those who may be different than us,” Kelly said. “Kansas is aninclusive state and our laws should reflect our values. This law does not do that.”

The Democratic leader in the Kansas Senate is asking legislators not to try to override Kelly’s veto.

“I urge my colleagues in leadership to accept the Governor’s vetoes and allow us to spend our remaining time in session addressing the needs of hardworking Kansans, passing a balanced budget, and meeting our constitutional requirement to fund our public schools,” Senator Dinah Sykes said in a statement.

Republican Senate President Ty Masterson and Republican Senator Renee Erickson said they are disappointed but not surprised by the governor’s veto. They released this joint statement:

“The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is as simple as it sounds – it ensures fairness. It’s not about anything else other than that, and no state should allow itself to be intimidated by big corporations or the NCAA into pretending otherwise. We will continue to fight for fairness in women’s sports until this bill becomes law.”

To override Kelly’s veto on the transgender sports bill, they would need 27 votes in the Senate and 84 votes in the House. The Senate’s original vote on the bill was 26-11. The House vote was 76-43.

Former Kansas Republican Governor Jeff Colyer, who is trying to win back the seat, is asking lawmakers to override the veto when they return on May 3.

“Laura Kelly’s shameful veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act cannot stand,” he said in a news release. “Our girls deserve the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.”

Kelly vetoes 2 education bills

Kelly also vetoed two other bills Thursday. One of them would have required firearm safety training in public schools.

The other bill would have required students to take a basic civics test before graduation and take and pass a personal financial literacy course before graduation, starting with the school year 2024-2025.

Regarding her vetoes of the two education bills, Kelly said school curriculum is up to the Kansas Board of Education.

“This is legislative overreach,” she said. “I encourage the Legislature to work with the State Board of Education to modify curriculum.”

The Kansas National Education Association says it supports all 3 of Kelly’s vetoes. Click here to read the KNEA response.

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