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GOP leader pushing to protect Kansas workers refusing shots

Kansas capitol
Posted at 12:00 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 13:03:26-05

TOPEKA, Kan. — A top Republican lawmaker pushed Tuesday to protect Kansas workers' ability to claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to provide unemployment benefits if they won't get inoculated.

Senate President Ty Masterson outlined his proposals during a meeting of a joint legislative committee looking for ways for Kansas to resist COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by President Joe Biden. The committee was expected to take up Masterson's proposals.

Masterson told reporters during a break in the committee's meeting that he's more seriously considering having lawmakers call themselves into special session to consider such proposals. The full GOP-controlled Legislature isn't scheduled to reconvene until January.

Masterson, an Andover Republican, serves on the committee, and his ideas are likely to have significant support from other GOP lawmakers.

He said he wants to make sure that employers can't second-guess the beliefs of workers seeking religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.

Other Republicans have raised the issue of unemployment benefits for people who get fired for refusing to get vaccinated. State law is not clear, and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has said decisions will be made case by case.

Kelly first expressed her opposition to the Democratic president's mandates last week but hasn't yet advocated specific state policies.