Kansas legislators call special session to address vaccine mandates

KS special session petition.jfif
Posted at 11:27 AM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-21 20:43:22-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas legislators are calling a special legislative session to address President Joe Biden's latest COVID-19 vaccine guidance.

It was announced Thursday that all Republicans in the legislature signed a petition to begin a Nov. 22 special session.

That petition was delivered to Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday.

Republicans hold enough of a majority in the legislature that they can trigger the special session. A 2/3 majority of the Senate and House are required, or the governor must call one. It is the first time a special session has been called by House and Senate petition in Kansas history.

A release from GOP leaders stated, "This unprecedented action is necessitated by equally unprecedented actions from the Biden administration that enacted these mandates unilaterally, without respecting the constitutional law making power reserved for Congress. Never before has the federal government forced Kansans to choose between their personal beliefs and their livelihoods.”

Republicans hope to resist federal vaccine mandates being imposed on both private and public businesses.

“I think it’s too open, and I do think as an employee I have some responsibility to state why that’s important for me,” state Sen. Pat Pettey said.

Many questioned whether the mandate would impose on personal liberties.

“We have to protect people’s personal liberties, and we have to protect their jobs," said state Sen. Mike Thompson. "Those are the two keys right now, and time is of the essence.”

One proposal would allow Kansas to receive unemployment if they are fired for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Our members have largely said, 'We don't want mandates on either side. We do not support the Biden administration mandates and we don't want state government to intervene either,'" said Eric Stafford, Kansas Chamber.

Gov. Kelly, though a Democrat, has expressed her opposition to the federal mandates.

“Governor Kelly continues exploring actions her administration can take to find a Kansas-centric solution, not a nationally mandated, one-size-fits-all approach," a spokesperson for Kelly said Friday.

A hearing was also being conducted in a government overreach committee on Friday on the topic of the vaccine mandate.

Kelly later announced Friday afternoon that a special session will take place Nov. 22 in response to the petition.