Kansas voters appear to have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have given the GOP-controlled Legislature more power for the second time this year.
Amendment 1 would have implemented a so-called “legislative veto,” enabling the Legislature to overrule any executive agency rule or regulation by a simple majority without approval from the governor. The measure would have been a powerful check on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly in her second term.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race, but as of Monday morning “no” led “yes” 51% to 49% with a lead of 9,712 votes for the amendment’s rejection.
Mail ballots that arrive by the end of the day will still be counted and provisional ballots will be considered when counties finalized the results, but provisional ballots tend to lean Democratic.
The measure, which was originally proposed by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the Republican nominee for governor, was designed to give the Legislature a greater check over the executive branch.
In August, voters forcefully rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Legislature to severely restrict or ban abortion.
The proposed legislative veto received only a fraction of the attention but advocates on the “no” side of the abortion amendment were quick to also come out against it. They framed the amendment as a legislative power grab and repurposed “vote no” signs made for the August vote to urge a no vote in November.
The amendment would have allowed the Legislature to revoke or suspend rules and regulations by governors of either party, but in practice it would effectively enhanced Republican authority. The Kansas Legislature has been dominated by Republicans for decades. Democrats have not held a majority in either chamber since the 1992 election.
Lawmakers who supported the amendment argued it wasn’t about politics or the governor. They said it aimed at preventing bureaucrats from straying from legislative intent when crafting rules and regulations.
Business groups including the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, a Koch funded lobbying group, campaigned for the amendment touting a need to reduce the regulatory burden on Kansas’ businesses.
Despite the amendment’s failure and Kelly’s reelection, Kansas Republicans appear poised to maintain their veto-proof supermajority in the Kansas House. Five legislative contests remain separated by fewer than 200 votes.
The Star’s Jonathan Shorman contributed to this report.
- Kansas voters narrowly reject amendment to enhance legislative power in win for Kelly
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