Amendment question on legislative veto power explained

A constitutional law professor at Washburn University breaks down amendment question 1.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:31 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A question that could change the balance of power in Kansas is on voters’ ballots.

Constitutional amendment question 1 asks voters if they would like the Constitution changed to allow the legislative branch to overrule new regulations issued by the executive branch.

“A ‘yes’ vote on constitutional amendment 1 will essentially change the balance of power in Kansas and change the way that the separation of powers works,” said Professor of Constitutional Law at Washburn University, Jeffrey Jackson.

He explained the state’s current policy for enacting new regulations.

”The legislature passes, of course, statutes that give power to administrative agencies to enact regulations,” Jackson continued saying, “If the legislature does not like what the agencies have enacted pursuant to that legislation, then they have to pass legislation to overrule it.”

He said the next step in the legislative process is the regulation would go to the governor for approval.

Jackson said, ”The governor could then veto it and it would then require a two-thirds majority in the legislature to override that veto.”

He said this is where voting ‘yes’ on question 1 could change the balance of power.

”This just makes it easier for the Kansas legislature to get rid of any administrative regulations that they do not like or that they think are not what they expected when they gave the administrative agencies power,” Jackson added.

Elizabeth Patton with Americans for Prosperity joined Eye on Northeast Kansas this week to talk about the issue.

”There is something that exists right now called the joint committee on rules and regulations, but they have no teeth. They have no ability to really do their job,” she continued saying, “The chair of the committee said that she can say ‘no I don’t like that’ and the agency can say ‘I don’t care’ and move forward with the regulations regardless of what the legislature thinks.”

Patton said a ‘yes’ vote will add an additional level of accountability. However, Keep Kansas Free, a group against the amendment, called it a power grab by the legislature.

”What they are looking for is an easy way to go in and change things that might be controversial. Think about the regulations that we had during COVID-19. If they want to attack vaccinations, it will be a whole lot easier if this constitutional amendment passes and who knows what comes next,” said Joan Wagnon.

Professor Jackson said it is also important for Kansans to consider the historical context before casting a vote.

”It is not an incredibly unusual thing to have a legislative veto at the state level, but it is rare,” he added. “I think it all boils down to whether you as a voter want to change the balance of power that we have had in Kansas since 1985 because this does change the balance of power pretty significantly.”

The state has not allowed a legislative veto since the Kansas Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in the 1980′s.

Registered voters can find the language of constitutional amendment questions 1 and 2 by visiting the Secretary of State’s website and reviewing a sample ballot.