FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2023
CONTACT: Esmie Tseng, Communications Director, [email protected]
Extremist Kansas lawmakers had mixed results this week in their attempts to override Governor Laura Kelly’s vetoes on several bills attacking transgender Kansans, voting rights, and abortion access—all with broad and troubling implications for civil liberties.
“We remain troubled by the disdain so many extremist lawmakers show for voters and the freedom of all Kansans,” said Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas. “This veto session has already proven no different from the rest of the legislative session – a rollercoaster that has been frequently discriminatory, at times deadly, but consistently threatening to civil liberties. Most importantly, we are relieved and hope-filled by the fact that attacks on voting rights and life-saving gender-affirming care failed. Kansans can feel good today that democracy, inclusion, and our shared values prevailed on these bills."
In a close call for voting access in the state, lawmakers’ veto override attempt failed for SB 209, which would have removed the three-day period for eligible voters’ ballots to be counted and would have disenfranchised thousands of voters who depend on mail ballots to have their voices heard.
To the relief of trans children, their families, and advocates, a veto override attempt failed for SB 26, an anti-trans bill effectively banning gender-affirming healthcare by attacking providers. The bill was defeated in spite of arguments from legislators like Senator Mark Steffen. Steffen has a troubling track record of promoting conspiracy theories and extremist views, and used his floor speech to call out the "evil" of gender-affirming care, despite its support from numerous healthcare organizations.
Legislators did override the governor’s veto on SB 228, a bill on county jail funding procedures that included an amendment speciously defying the separation of men and women according to simplistic language around reproductive functions.
The Senate ended the day having overturned Gov. Kelly’s veto on SB 180, one of the most restrictive anti-trans bathroom and facilities bills in the country that could have implications for federal funding if allowed to become law. The ACLU of Kansas is now calling on members of the Kansas House to sustain the governor’s veto.
Finally, extremist legislators continued their crusade to intrude on the deeply personal medical decisions of Kansas families and disregarded Kansas voters’ clearly demonstrated support of reproductive freedom last August. The House and Senate overrode the governor’s vetoes on two bills: HB 2313, which will remove terminal infants from their parents in their last moments and force medically unnecessary procedures, and HB 2364, which is based on now broadly debunked research and will require doctors to falsely inform patients that medication abortions are “reversible."
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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.