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Here's what you need to know about the 2023 Kansas legislative session

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Governor Laura Kelly vetoed 15 bills in 2023, more than any Kansas governor since Democratic Governor Joan Finney, who vetoed 16 bills during the 1994 legislative session.

The Kansas legislature has adjourned after an eventful session in Topeka, which included numerous anti-trans bills, and a large number of vetoes and Republican overrides.

The 2023 Kansas legislative session saw the highest number of gubernatorial vetoes in nearly 30 years, as Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly fought against a slew of bills largely focused on transgender rights, abortion and education.

"It's mostly been on some extremely socially conservative legislation that was introduced by the Republicans on so-called "culture war" issues — a lot of those got vetoed by Kelly," says political science professor Alexandra Middlewood of Wichita State University.

"The big difference this year from what we saw in the past is that the Republican supermajority was able to get that two-thirds vote to overturn some of those vetoes, which they haven't always been able to do in the past."

Eight of the governor's 15 vetoes were ultimately overridden by the legislature.

Bills that would have banned gender-affirming care for children, imposed a statewide 5.15% flat income tax rate and removed a three-day grace period for mail-in ballots during political elections were not overridden.

Meanwhile, bills became law requiring trans people to use the bathrooms that conflict with their gender identity and preventing trans women and girls from competing in women's and girl's sports.

Another veto was overridden on a bill that requires doctors to tell patients the false information that medication abortions can be reversed using an unproven drug regimen.

KCUR's Up To Date was joined by two political scientists to break down the 2023 legislative session in Kansas.

  • Alexandra Middlewood, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Wichita State University
  • Bob Beatty, political science chair at Washburn University
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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
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