TOPEKA — The Kansas House mustered the votes Monday to pass a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would strip the executive branch of authority to write fine-print details of administrative rules by shifting that duty to the Legislature.
House Republicans failed a week ago to secure the two-thirds majority required to approve a constitutional amendment, but wrangled an 84-39 margin on the second try. House Concurrent Resolution 5014 moves to the Kansas Senate, which also must achieve the two-thirds majority support for it to be placed on statewide ballots.
Governors don’t have veto power over proposed amendments to the constitution. A simple majority of Kansans voting on the resolution in a November statewide election would decide whether the constitution was altered.
The amendment would depart from longstanding practice in Kansas of granting the executive branch a primary role of developing rules and regulations for operation of state agencies.
Last week, the House didn’t clear the two-thirds hurdle when the vote was 80-33, which was four votes shy of the minimum.
Under a new Section 1 of the state’s constitution, the Legislature would claim “oversight of state executive branch agencies and officials by providing the Legislature authority to establish procedures to revoke or suspend rules and regulations.”
Motivation for the change was concern among some Republicans with the Kansas Department of Labor’s change to regulations on handling of workers’ compensation cases. Rep. Eric Smith, R-Burlington, said the Legislature should have have a grip on state administrative regulations and rules.
Rep. Boog Highberger, D-Lawrence, referred to the amendment as “election year grandstanding” given the anticipated showdown between Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee.
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