Rep. Brett Fairchild (R-St. John) reminded a Barton County audience Thursday that Kansas will vote on an amendment to the state Constitution in August of 2022.
“The Value Them Both pro-life amendment passed,” Fairchild said in his introductory remarks at the Legislative Update, held at the Great Bend Events Center. The amendment is in response to a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court in 2019 that the state Constitution contains a “right to abortion.”
The proposal states: “The Amendment would affirm there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion or to require government funding of abortion and would reserve to the people of Kansas, through their elected state legislators, the right to pass laws to regulate abortion.”
The Legislature considered this amendment in 2020 but it failed to pass by four votes “because there were several Republicans who voted against it,” he said.
“All those Republicans who voted against that law were defeated. This year, I think every Republican realized they had to vote for that or else they were going to get kicked out, because the voters just weren’t going to put up with that anymore,” he said. “I hope that we can get that amendment passed. It’s really a fairly minor thing because if we pass it on, we’ll just go back to the previous law where we can place restrictions and regulations on abortion in Kansas – and I think we should go further than that.”
Fairchild noted that the Legislature also passed the Kansas Emergency Management Act to “place restrictions on the governor’s power as far as closing down businesses and mask mandates and all these different mandates she was trying to do. It wasn’t a perfect bill – it didn’t go as far as I wanted – but I think it was at least a good step in the right direction and ended the statewide mask mandate immediately.”
The Legislature also overrode Kelly’s veto on SB 50, the tax reform bill that allows people to itemize on their Kansas income tax return even if they didn’t itemize on the federal form. Since the bill also raised the standard deduction, it provides needed relief to working lower- and middle class taxpayers, too, he said.
“We also passed the Fairness to Women’s Sports Act and then Governor Kelly vetoed that, and that was one we weren’t quite able to override,” he said. “I think, if we’re going to be able to pass that in the future, we’re going to have to get a Republican governor,” he said.
“I think it’s important to pass that because it’s just a common-sense thing. It’s not fair for women to have to compete with biological males in sports. It also involves them not having to use the same locker room facilities as women and I think that’s a violation of people’s privacy. Most people have enough common sense to know – especially if you have a 15- or 16-year-old daughter. Do you really want them to have to change clothes and shower with biological males? Most people would say that’s a ridiculous idea, and I think it’s certainly very important that we get that passed.”
Fairchild said the Legislature also overrode a couple of vetoes of bills that deal with election integrity.
The bill he mentioned specifically will stop “ballot harvesting,” Fairchild said. “That’s basically where someone or a third party collects hundreds, maybe even thousands, of ballots and then drops them off at the ballot box.” Under the new law, he said, “You can only collect a maximum of 10 ballots.”
This story was updated on May 27, 2021, to clarify that the vote on the amendment to the Kansas Constitution will be in August of 2022.