Kansas push to defy COVID rules complicates governor’s race

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This photo from Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, shows Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly after an event in Topeka, Kan. The Democratic governor is suggesting that President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates will be difficult for the state to deal with and is questioning whether they will work even though mandates have boosted inoculation rates in other places. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is facing policy choices on COVID-19 vaccine mandates that could complicate her reelection next year.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is set to convene a special session Monday to consider a proposal making it easier for workers to claim religious exemptions from federal vaccine mandates and another providing unemployment benefits to those who lose their jobs for refusing to get inoculated.

The proposals appeal to Republicans’ conservative base.

If the Democratic governor vetoes them, that GOP base would remain energized.

But if Kelly woos moderate GOP and independent voters by signing such measures, she risks criticism from more liberal voters.

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