Kansas refuses to increase Legislature’s power over agencies

Nov 15, 2022, 1:45 PM | Updated: 2:04 pm
Elizabeth Patton, state director of the small-government group Americans for Prosperity, discusses ...

Elizabeth Patton, state director of the small-government group Americans for Prosperity, discusses a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution to make it easier for legislators to overturn agencies' rules at the group's offices on Oct. 25, 2022, in Topeka, Kan. The measure is on the Nov. 8 ballot, and Patton and other backers believe it will cut red tape and make government more accountable. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have narrowly rejected a proposal to curb the power of the governor and other officials to regulate businesses and set environmental and public health rules, rebuking the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature again after affirming abortion rights this summer.

The Associated Press called the election Tuesday against a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have made it easier for lawmakers to overturn regulations written by state agencies and boards under the control of the governor and others in the executive branch. The call came a week after Election Day and after Monday’s deadline for mail-in ballots to reach county elections offices.

Opponents of the measure said its defeat showed that many voters remained wary of the Legislature after a statewide vote Aug. 2 decisively rejecting a proposed amendment on abortion pushed by Republican lawmakers. That measure would have said the Kansas Constitution doesn’t grant the right to abortion, which would have allowed the Legislature to greatly restrict or ban it.

“That caused people to question what else the Legislature was up to by way of attempting to increase the Legislature’s power,” said Democratic state Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita.

At issue in the latest vote were rules as varied as how elk hunting permits are distributed and which shots are required for children attending schools.

The Legislature has a joint committee that reviews regulations, but if lawmakers object to one, their most effective tactic is to object loudly and push the agency to back off. They also can pass a bill overturning the rule, but the governor can veto it.

The proposed constitutional amendment would have allowed lawmakers to suspend or revoke regulations with a simple majority vote in both chambers, with no option for the governor to veto such moves. Business groups and advocates of smaller government viewed the measure as reining in unelected bureaucrats.

“Kansans will instead continue to bear the burden of the high costs of regulation and an inefficient regulatory system,” said Elizabeth Patton, state director for Americans for Prosperity, a free-market, small-government group backed by Charles Koch, the billionaire Koch Industries CEO and chairman.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly opposed the measure, saying it would “create chaos” across the state, and her spokesperson Cassie Nichols said Tuesday that it would have “kept Kansans from receiving help efficiently.”

But Patton said Kelly’s opposition showed that she has no interest in holding government agencies accountable.

In most states, legislators review agencies’ regulations, but their power to block or repeal them varies widely. Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, New Jersey and Nevada have state constitutional provisions that allow their legislatures to invalidate regulations.

Kansas law used to give the state’s Legislature the power to revoke or rewrite agencies’ rules, but in 1984, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the practice violated the state constitution’s separation of powers.

“The whole ballot issue was misunderstood,” said state Rep. Barbara Wasinger, a Republican from western Kansas who has led the rules committee. “We should have done a better job of explaining it.”

___

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Cong...
Associated Press

Biden makes progress on ‘unity agenda’ outlined in 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year ago, President Joe Biden used his first State of the Union address to push top Democratic priorities that were sure to face a battle in the narrowly divided Congress but he also laid out a four-pronged “unity agenda” that would be an easier sell. Biden’s unity goals would be hard […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

New California oil well ban put on hold for voters to decide

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s new law banning new oil and gas wells near homes, schools and other community sites has been put on hold until after voters decide next year whether to throw it out, officials announced Friday. Opponents of Senate Bill 1137 gathered more than 623,000 valid voter signatures to put a referendum […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an ina...
Associated Press

Florida lawmakers to meet next week on Disney, immigration

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet next week to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and debate proposals on immigration and election crimes, as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to leverage national political fissures ahead of an expected White House run. Republican leaders of the Legislature, in coordination with […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for chil...
Associated Press

California won’t require COVID vaccine to attend schools

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Children in California won’t have to get the coronavirus vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials confirmed Friday, ending one of the last major restrictions of the pandemic in the nation’s most populous state. Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the policy in 2021, saying it would eventually apply to all […]
23 hours ago
Part of the 988helpline.org website is photographed Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. A cyberattack caused a ne...
Associated Press

Feds say cyberattack caused suicide helpline’s outage

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack caused a nearly daylong outage of the nation’s new 988 mental health helpline late last year, federal officials told The Associated Press Friday. Lawmakers are now calling for the federal agency that oversees the program to prevent future attacks. “On December 1, the voice calling functionality of the 988 Lifeline […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Workers at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn., walk by a Nissan Altima sedan on May 15, 2012....
Associated Press

US board clears path for mini-union vote at big Nissan plant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Fewer than 100 employees out of the thousands who work at Nissan’s auto assembly plant in Tennessee can hold a vote on whether to form a small union, the federal labor board has decided. The ruling Thursday by the National Labor Relations Board overturns a June 2021 decision by one of […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Kansas refuses to increase Legislature’s power over agencies