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Kansas House and Senate each pass bills restricting vaccine mandates in special session


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    TOPEKA, Kansas (KCTV) — Both chambers of the KS legislature passed versions of a bill pushing back on federal vaccine requirements.

The house bill requires employers to honor religious exemptions. It also outlines procedures for employees to file complaints with the Department of Labor over possible violations.

It reads:

“AN ACT concerning employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements; requiring exemptions; providing for waiver requests; authorizing a complaint and investigation process with the secretary of labor for violations related to exemptions, enforcement actions by the attorney general and civil penalties to be imposed by a court for such violations.”

Stephen Owens (R-Hesston), one of the bill’s sponsors in the house, said in his introduction that the bill is designed to protect employees.

“It puts a mechanism in place by which employees can file complaints with the department of labor that will be investigated timely,” he said.

Democrats argued that the bill places undue restrictions on businesses, and that it discourages unvaccinated people from getting the shot.

They also pointed out that any bill attempting to override the federal government’s would likely face legal challenges.

“It’s just a big over reach. And it will end up in the courts anyways,” said Rui Xu (D-Westwood).

The house’s version of the bill passed 78-40 early Monday afternoon.

The senate debate stretched into the evening. Several amendments were added to the proposal before it passed 25-13.

A unified committee between the two chambers will review the two versions before debate begins over final passage.

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