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Kansas Senate asked to condemn inmates' early COVID-19 shots

Kansas capitol
Posted at 9:00 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 10:00:01-05

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Republican leading the Kansas Senate health committee is urging fellow lawmakers to condemn Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's decision to make state prison inmates eligible for COVID-19 vaccines now ahead of other people.

The committee agreed Tuesday to sponsor a resolution from Sen. Richard Hilderbrand of Galena calling on Kelly to reverse "without delay" her policy on inmates.

Kelly disclosed plans in December to have prison inmates inoculated during the second phase of the vaccine distribution, along with people 65 and older, workers critical to the economy and people in group living situations. GOP lawmakers have been critical since.

The state launched that second phase of vaccine distribution last month, covering up to 1 million of the state's 2.9 million residents.

Hilderbrand said he's pursuing a non-binding resolution because passing a bill that would be binding on Kelly would take more time and she could veto it.

His resolution says Kelly's policy could result in inmates who've been convicted of violent crimes and sex offenses "would be offered life-saving vaccines before their victims."

Kelly defends the policy on prison inmates, saying it also protects prison employees, visitors and people who come into contact with offenders when they're outside the walls.