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GOP lawmakers in Kansas OK ban on state, local mask mandates

Kansas legislators, their staff and lobbyists gather around the rail of the Statehouse's third...
Kansas legislators, their staff and lobbyists gather around the rail of the Statehouse's third floor rotunda to finish work on a bill barring state and local officials from imposing mask mandates, Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Topeka, Kan. GOP lawmakers have passed the bill but not with large enough majorities to override a veto from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. (AP Photo/John Hanna)((AP Photo/John Hanna))
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 1:57 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republican lawmakers have approved a measure that would prohibit Kansas or its cities, counties or school districts from imposing mask mandates to control the spread of any infectious disease.

But the measure’s supporters fell far short early Friday of the two-thirds majorities necessary in both chambers to override a veto from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. She has not said what she will do.

The vote in the Senate was 23-17, leaving supporters four short of a two-thirds majority. The tally in the House was 64-53, leaving the bill’s backers 20 votes shy of a two-thirds majority.

The bill represents a response from conservative Republicans to mask mandates imposed by Kelly and cities, counties and school districts throughout the coronavirus pandemic. GOP lawmakers have over time whittled away the power of the governor and state officials to impose such mandates or restrict businesses or public gatherings during disease outbreaks.

Lawmakers supporting the measure argued that the coronavirus pandemic showed the need to protect people’s personal liberties. Critics said the restrictions would make it harder to check the spread of dangerous new diseases or even familiar ones like measles.

No Democrats voted for the measure, and Republicans split over it enough to make a veto override unlikely.

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