The Kansas Senate failed to override the governor’s veto of a bill that would’ve banned transgender athletes from women’s sports.
Passed by the legislature in April, supporters of the legislation fell one vote short of bypassing Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto.
“It sure got people upset on a visceral level,” State Rep. John Eplee, R-Atchison, said. “There’s a lot of science and biology involved and yet there’s certainly human rights and respect issues.”
Eplee voted for the bill, but he didn’t get a chance to vote on a potential override because it died in the Senate.
After the override failed, Kelly issued a statement. A veto override requires two-thirds of each chamber to vote yes.
“Senate Bill 55 was a mean-spirited, divisive and unnecessary piece of legislation that would have threatened our successful efforts to recruit new businesses and jobs to Kansas. I will continue to use every tool I have to stop extremism and keep Kansas welcoming, inclusive and open for business,” she said.
A similar proposal is making its way through the Missouri legislature. The NCAA has threatened to pull all of its championships from states that pass that type of legislation.
The bill winding its way through the Missouri capital would propose a constitutional amendment, to be voted on by the general public, mandating transgender athletes participate in the division they were assigned at birth: male or female.
St. Joseph is scheduled to host NCAA Elite Eight women’s basketball tournaments in 2023 and 2024. The city plans to spend up to $10 million to renovate Civic Arena for the tournaments, but the events could be yanked if the transgender amendment became law.
Other vetoes overridden
While the transgender bill fell to Kelly’s pen, other bills were summarily passed by the Kansas legislature on Monday.
One bill would prohibit the executive or judicial branches from changing election laws, though Eplee acknowledges the bill has a “steep road” to “meet judicial muster.”
“I think it was important to send a message, but I think ultimately it may be overturned,” Eplee said.
Another bill vetoed by Kelly but now the law will allow 18- to-20 year-olds to carry a concealed weapon, though they must take some training.
The bill also allows certain people with prior felony convictions to once again possess firearms. Eplee voted for the bill.
A medical marijuana bill passed a Kansas House committee Tuesday, but its passage is unlikely as the session barrels towards a close.
Eplee voted with a bipartisan majority, 12-8, to refer a comprehensive medical marijuana plan to the floor.
“I think the medical marijuana issue will probably be the end of this session,” Eplee said.
The goal is to gain “momentum” for the bill, Eplee said, even though the Senate will likely not take up the bill this session, which could gavel out as early as Thursday.