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Lawmakers react to KS Senate sustaining veto on transgender athlete bill

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 12:52 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Senate has voted not to override Governor Laura Kelly’s veto on Senate Bill 55, which would have banned transgender women from participating in women’s sports at public schools and state colleges.

A ban on transgender girls in Kansas school sports is off the table and the Senate could not get the votes today to override the Governor’s veto of the measure.

Kansas conservatives Monday re-iterated their stance on Senate Bill 55, which would have banned transgender women from participating in women’s sports at public schools and state colleges.

Senator Renee Erickson, a Wichita Republican said during the session, “two opportunities for some students and zero for others and that’s what this bill protects.”

“Nor is it right to bully girls who worked hard and played by the rules, and who are going to lose their opportunities unfairly to participate and excel via scholarships if we do not pass this bill,” Sen. Erickson continued. “This bill does exactly what the governor and the opposition say they want.”

The preliminary vote tallied at 26 to 13 which was one short of what was needed to override Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of the measure.

The override needed 15 votes to pass but only received 14, along with 26 “no” votes.

The preliminary vote led to a call of the Senate for Democrat David Haley, from Kansas City to case his vote.

“It troubles me that young children might be discriminated against what their gender is,” Sen. Haley expressed during the session on Monday.

Sen. Haley’s ‘no’ vote left the total short of the required two-thirds majority.

“We knew it was going to be a tight vote going in. Obviously, it’s disappointing, but not 100 percent surprising,” Sen. Erickson said after the voting session.

“I think very well reasoned people feel genuine about transgender and I certainly listen to constituents on both sides especially when it makes sense. I want to do what’s best for all children,” Sen. Haley expressed after the vote was finalized.

“It’s disappointing to me that we have to have this discussion and debate. I understand that many feel, that these issues need to be addressed. We really shouldn’t have to go through this we have bigger matters to address in the Kansas legislature,” Sen. Haley added.

Advocates say the result is a win for transgender youth, while opponents say the fight is not over.

“If this bill would have passed we would have seen a lot of hopelessness and potentially more suicides of our trans-youth across the state,” Director of Community Outreach for Equality Kansas, Liz Hamor said. “With this, we are very relieved it did not pass because it sends a message to our trans-youth that they can belong in Kansas.”

“We’re going to keep working on this issue. We’re going to keep talking to leadership in both chambers, and we’re going to let voters know how their legislators voted today and what the governor has done,” Director of Advocacy for Family Policy Lines of Kansas, Brittany Jones emphasized.

The Bill, also known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, had originally passed through both the House and the Senate but was vetoed by Governor Kelly on April 22.

Gov. Kelly called it divisive and said it made the state unwelcoming for business.

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