Kansas governor nixes abortion, anti-diversity budget items

Apr 21, 2023, 2:43 PM

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly gives her inaugural address at the start of her second term, Monday, Jan. 9...

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly gives her inaugural address at the start of her second term, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, outside the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The Democratic governor has vetoed anti-abortion and anti-diversity provisions included in the next state budget by Republican lawmakers, intensifying a conflict over culture war issues. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed anti-diversity and anti-abortion provisions in Kansas’ next state budget Friday, intensifying a conflict with the Republican-controlled Legislature over culture war issues that could see her scotch a dozen or more conservative initiatives.

The governor has the power to excise individual budget items and used it to eliminate $2 million in state tax dollars for anti-abortion centers providing free counseling and pregnancy and parenting services. She’s previously vetoed two bills that would enact anti-abortion policies despite a decisive statewide vote in August 2022 affirming abortion rights.

Kelly vetoed a budget provision that would have prevented state universities from using diversity equity and inclusion principles in their hiring. She nixed another provision barring the state board that licenses mental health professionals from requiring them or giving them incentives to undergo training involving diversity or anti-racism theories.

The governor also has vetoed five bills rolling back transgender rights, including a sweeping bathroom bill and a measure that would have ended gender-affirming care for minors. GOP lawmakers are expected to try to override most if not all of Kelly’s vetoes on hot-button issues when they reconvene next week to wrap up their business for the year.

“Governor Kelly had two choices — to honor her campaign pledge to govern from the middle or to move Kansas sharply towards the left,” Senate President Ty Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, said after several vetoes earlier this week. “The governor has clearly chosen the latter.”

Republican lawmakers in statehouses across the U.S. have pursued several hundred measures this year rolling back LGBTQ+ rights and attacking liberal ideas or policies in education and business. While voters in GOP-leaning Kansas affirmed abortion rights and narrowly reelected Kelly last year, they also left conservatives firmly in charge of the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Kelly has until Monday to act on a bill that would allow parents environmental, social and governance issues in investing public funds or awarding government contracts.

On the budget legislation, Kelly followed the traditional Kansas practice of signing the measure itself — containing most of a proposed $24 billion annual budget — while vetoing multiple individual items.

The aid to the anti-abortion centers would have helped them aid both pregnant people and new parents, providing supplies, parenting and life-skills classes and job training or placement. It also would have started a state-supported advertising program to make them more visible.

Lawmakers put the money in the budget for State Treasurer Steven Johnson, a Republican who opposes abortion, rather than in a department under the control of Kelly, an abortion rights supporter. In her veto message, Kelly suggested that neither the state’s founders nor any of its treasurers would have seen such a program as part of the office’s duties.

“This is not an evidence-based approach or even an effective method for preventing unplanned pregnancies,” Kelly said.

Republican lawmakers also are hoping to pass a proposal to provide up to $10 million a year in state income tax credits to the centers’ donors.

Kelly this week vetoed a bill that would have subjected doctors to criminal charges or lawsuits if a newborn is delivered alive during certain abortion procedures and they are accused of not providing the care that a physician reasonably would with other live deliveries.

On the anti-diversity provisions, Kelly said the one for the board licensing mental health professionals could have restricted training “in life-saving practices,” without being more specific.

She said the provision for state universities would have hindered hiring, made it harder for them to attract federal and private grants and hurt efforts to “support students from all backgrounds.”

House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, said Kelly had rejected measures to “support women in need” and prevent “the prevention of radical ideology” using tax dollars.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

National News

Associated Press

US judge yanks approval for Idaho mine after finding that federal agency violated environmental laws

A federal judge has yanked approval for a phosphate mining project in southeastern Idaho, saying federal land managers in the Trump administration didn’t in part properly consider the mine’s impact on sage grouse, a bird species that has seen an 80% decline in population since 1965. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s Friday decision came […]

16 hours ago

Sen. Fred Mills asks a question to members of The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Servi...

Associated Press

Louisiana Senate passes bill banning gender-affirming car for transgender youths

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A controversial bill — that at one point had been presumed dead — banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths in Louisiana was passed by the Senate on Monday and is likely to reach the governor’s desk in the coming days. The bill, which passed in the Senate mainly along […]

16 hours ago

Ted Henifin, the interim third-party manager appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to help fi...

Associated Press

Mississippi’s capital only collects 56% of fees from its struggling water system

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s capital is collecting only a little more than half of the money it bills for water use, far below the rate at which most American cities obtain such fees, Jackson’s federally appointed water manager said Monday. Ted Henifin, appointed in November by a federal court to help improve Jackson’s troubled […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Chinese ex-official’s wife says alleged repatriation pressure turned her life in US ‘upside-down’

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Chinese official and his wife had left their homeland and kept their U.S. address private. Yet eight years later, two strangers were banging on their New Jersey front door and twisting the handle, the wife testified in a U.S. court Monday. When the men left and Liu Fang opened […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Ex-guard at NYC federal building indicted in sex assault of asylum seeker

NEW YORK (AP) — An asylum seeker was sexually assaulted by an armed guard at a federal building in New York City where the FBI has its offices, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. Jimmy Solano-Arias, 42, of the Bronx, was charged in Manhattan federal court with deprivation of rights under color of law involving […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

CNN chief apologizes to employees for distracting from work

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Licht, the embattled chief executive of CNN, apologized to network employees on Monday for distracting from their work and promised to “fight like hell” to earn their trust amid criticism of his year at the helm. Licht’s tenure hit a low point last week with publication of a lengthy, damaging […]

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Kansas governor nixes abortion, anti-diversity budget items