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What you need to know about the 2023 legislative sessions in Missouri and Kansas

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The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.

In both Kansas and Missouri, lawmakers are focusing heavily on the state budget, education issues, and targeting the rights of transgender residents.

State lawmakers in Missouri and Kansas have been busy this week.

On both sides of the state line, trans rights has been at the forefront of legislative agendas. In Missouri, the Senate passed a pair of bills that would ban gender-affirming care for minors and prohibit transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

Jason Rosenbaum, politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio, said Missouri — along with other states where the GOP controls the legislature and the governorship — is part of a trend within the Republican Party to focus on anti-LGBTQ legislation.

In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill banning transgender athletes, but the legislature voted to override her decision.

The Kansas Legislature also passed a bill that would prohibit trans people from using bathrooms or going to prisons or shelters that align with their gender identities, and prevent them from changing their names or genders on driver's licenses. Kelly is also expected to veto that piece of legislation.

Sherman Smith, editor-in-chief of the Kansas Reflector, says this kind of legislation could be a "convenient distraction."

"Everybody's trying to figure out where they're supposed to pee and meanwhile, they're trying to figure out who's gonna get the biggest tax cut," Smith said.

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