KS Legislature Wrap: Tensions flare over anti-vaccine bill, House Committee advances anti-abortion bills

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Tensions flared during a Kansas Senate hearing Tuesday over a bill loosening vaccine requirements in the state.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee discussed Senate Bill 315 Tuesday morning, a bill that would require schools, employers and other facilities to grant vaccine exemptions without inquiring into the sincerity of the request. It would also remove the meningitis vaccine requirement by public universities for students living on campus.

A proponent’s words stirred a reaction toward one senator on the panel that caused security to be called into the room.

“I speak to the Republicans in this room, especially one over here, please follow your party.”

“I don’t feel comfortable right now,” Sen. Kristen O’Shea interjected before moving on to the next speaker. “I would like there to be security in here.”

“We just don’t have time,” Committee Chair Sen. Beverly Gossage responded, though she did go on to direct security to enter the room. “There’s some outside the door, would you like them inside the room?”

“Yes, please,” O’Shea answered.

The hearing included testimony from several people, both in favor and opposition to the bill, that lasted through the very end of the session. You can view the entire proceeding below.

The House Committee on Health and Human Services advanced two bills pertaining to abortion services.

House Bill 2313 defines “born alive” fetuses as any fetus with a heartbeat, muscle movement or pulsation of the umbilical cord; and requires health care providers present at an attempted abortion to give it care regardless of the circumstance it was delivered.

House Bill 2439 requires medical providers to inform people undergoing drug-induced abortions they can still change their minds. The tactic is widely opposed by groups like Planned Parenthood and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who call abortion reversal ‘unscientific’ and potentially dangerous.

The legislation limiting the number of ballot drop boxes in each county has been replaced with another bill.

The House Elections Committee gutted Senate Bill 208 and replaced its contents with that of legislation regarding the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. The substitute legislation diverts some of the complaint process to other parties and establishes a statute of limitations for ethical complaints.

The committee unanimously approved the amended bill.