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GOP looks to limit governor's power on Kansas election laws

Kansas lawmakers
Posted at 11:58 AM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 12:58:58-05

TOPEKA, Kan. — Republican lawmakers in Kansas are advancing a measure to prevent the governor from entering into legal agreements that change state election practices without getting prior approval from the GOP-controlled Legislature or its top leaders.

A Senate committee approved a bill Monday in response to an agreement Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly reached in October with voting-rights groups to head off a lawsuit. The agreement allows Kansas residents to register to vote at state agencies that provide social services benefits.

The measure goes next to the full Senate.

Federal law requires states to allow people to register when they interact with social services agencies. Kelly acknowledged that the state fell out of compliance and began working with voting rights groups in 2019.

Some Republicans argue that the Legislature should be involved such agreements because it has the power to write and revise election laws. A law enacted last year prevented the secretary of state from making such agreements without legislative leaders' approval first.

The bill approved Monday by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee would require the full Legislature to sign off first on an agreement involving either the governor or secretary of state if lawmakers are in session. If they are out of session, either official would need permission from the Legislature's top eight leaders.