TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly announced Friday she will reconvene the Kansas Legislature for a special session this month.
The news comes after Kansas Republicans delivered a petition to the governor, asking for a session to fight the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandate.
Senate President Ty Masterson said his office received signatures from all 29 Republican senators for their petition. Kelly said 86 members of the Kansas House, which includes every Republican in that chamber, signed the petition as well, meaning both legislative bodies reached the two-thirds majority needed.
Kelly said the special session will begin Nov. 22.
“I take my constitutional obligations as governor seriously, and am announcing a special session accordingly,” Kelly said.
OSHA and Biden have set a deadline of Jan. 4, 2022, for companies that employ over 100 people to require those workers to get vaccinated or get tested weekly.
Kelly joins a long list of state leaders speaking out against the federal vaccine mandate, even releasing a statement last week to condemn it.
“While I appreciate the intention to keep people safe, a goal I share, I don’t believe this directive is the correct, or the most effective, solution for Kansas,” Kelly said. “States have been leading the fight against COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic. It is too late to impose a federal standard now that we have already developed systems and strategies that are tailored for our specific needs.”
Two proposed bills are expected to be brought up during special session.
One bill would allow Kansans to plead exemption from the federal vaccine mandate on grounds of religious exemption or if it “endangers their life.” The other, guarantees unemployment benefits to people that lose their jobs over the federal vaccine order.
“The right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed – that’s a part of our Kansas Constitution,” Masterson said earlier this week.
“It’s also why we have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion, and that includes religious tests where one’s beliefs are scrutinized, either by the government or an employer. We’re not going to let the Biden Administration force businesses to play God or doctor and determine whether a religious or medical exemption is valid or not. We’re going to trust individual Kansans.”