TOPEKA — The Kansas Legislature plans to begin Tuesday answering Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes of legislation anchored in transgender, education and food stamp politics, while Democrats try to pry bills out of committee ending the state’s sales tax on food and requiring religious leaders to report neglect or abuse of children.
House and Senate members were expected to begin work on overriding Kelly’s vetoes of an educational bill of rights for parents and a ban on transgender athletes competing in women’s and girl’s sports. The Legislature also could consider overriding Kelly on a bill that heightens work requirements to be eligible for food stamps and a bill preventing cities or counties from adopting bans on single-use plastic.
Rep. Jim Gartner, D-Topeka, said it was time the Legislature considered whether to repeal the state’s 6.5% sales tax on groceries. He invoked Subsection A of House Rule 1309 to trigger a vote on his motion to withdraw House Bill 2487 from the House Taxation Committee and place it on the House’s debate calendar.
He complained House GOP leadership bottled up proposals comparable to the recommendation by Kelly, who is seeking re-election, to eliminate the full state sales tax assessed on food. The bill targeted by Gartner was introduced in January and cosponsored by 48 House Republicans and Democrats.
“Look, we need to debate this bill,” Gartner told House colleagues Monday. “I urge you. I implore you. Let’s let our constituents know that we have them in mind when we’re here.”
House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, said 70 of the 125 state representatives would have to vote in support of Garner’s motion to give the bill traction.
House and Senate Republicans have shared interest in an alternative proposal that would phase out the state’s sales tax on groceries over a three-year period.
Over in the Senate, Democrat Tom Holland offered a comparable motion — Senate Rule 11B — to pull from a committee Senate Concurrent Resolution 1624 introduced in March. He proposed placement on statewide ballots an amendment to the Kansas Constitution requiring religious leaders to be mandated reporters of child neglect or abuse.
He said it would be known as the “Stop Protecting Pedophile Priests Amendment,” and would apply to duly ordained ministers of religion. The amendment wouldn’t require a religious official to reveal information based on a penitential communication or a general confession of sinfulness.
If his motion was backed by 24 of the 40 senators, the amendment would become available for consideration by the full Senate on the merits. To make it to statewide ballots, two-thirds of House members and two-thirds of Senate members would have to vote for it.
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