Too early to call measure to boost Kansas lawmakers’ power

Elizabeth Patton, state director of the small-government group Americans for Prosperity,...
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)(John Hanna | AP)
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 10:44 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — It’s too early to call a winning side in the effort to give the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature a bigger say over how the state regulates businesses, protects people’s health and preserves the environment.

The proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution on Tuesday’s ballot would make 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. At issue are rules as varied as how elk hunting permits are distributed and which shots are required for children attending schools.

The measure would allow lawmakers to suspend or revoke regulations with a simple majority vote in both chambers.

A sign, opposing proposed changes in the Kansas Constitution, stands in the grass in front of...
A sign, opposing proposed changes in the Kansas Constitution, stands in the grass in front of the Kansas National Education Association headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, in Topeka, Kan. One proposed change on the Nov. 8 ballot would make it easier for the Legislature to overturn agency rules. (AP Photo/John Hanna)(John Hanna | AP)

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.

Business groups and advocates of smaller government view the measure as reining in unelected bureaucrats. But abortion rights advocates see the measure as an attempted power grab by far-right legislators.

Tuesday’s vote came three months after voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to give lawmakers authority to more tightly regulate or ban abortion.