For the second year in a row, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a women’s sports fairness bill, and once again, Republican lawmakers failed to muster the votes to override her veto.
House Republicans fell short on Thursday with a vote of 81 to 41, just three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the Democratic governor’s April 15 veto of Senate Bill 160. Three Republicans broke with the party to support the veto.
Two days earlier, the Senate successfully overrode the veto in a vote of 28 to 10. Both chambers must register two-thirds majorities to override government vetoes.
The bill, which applies to both K-12 and college sports, would prohibit “male students” from participating in women’s athletic teams, as defined by “biological sex.”
The House also failed in its effort to override the governor’s veto of a parental rights law measure that gives parents greater access to curriculum and school materials. The vote was 72 to 50, well below the 84 votes needed to overturn the veto.
Kelly faces a tough re-election fight this year against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the likely GOP candidate, who reprimanded her after she vetoed the women’s sports bill.
“Men shouldn’t compete in women’s sports. Governor Kelly today (for the second time) vetoed a bill to implement this common sense principle. I would have signed the bill,” Schmidt tweeted.
Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, thanked the governor and lawmakers for rejecting the measure.
“This harmful legislation has no place in Kansas or any other state,” said Ms. Oakley. “Kansans deserve better than lawmakers who bully transgender youth – youth who pose no threat and just want to play sports with their friends.”
Among those speaking out against the bill on Thursday was Democratic State Representative Stephanie Byers, who went from male to female in 2014, according to Equality Kansas.
“Fight your consciences, decide how you want to vote with this. Decide how you want to commit to the fact that trans women aren’t really women, trans girls aren’t real girls, or you’re going to say trans girls are girls, trans women are women,” Byers said, according to Reflector. from Kansas. “This is not a lifestyle. This is my existence.”
Last week, Republican State Representative Cheryl Helmer made headlines for saying in an email that she was opposed to sharing a bathroom with a “great transgender woman.”
Fifteen states have passed laws in recent years that ban male-born athletes from playing female sports. In two of those states, Kentucky and Utah, the bills became law after legislatures overrode government vetoes.
Another red state, Indiana, is expected to hold an override vote in the May 24 veto session. Republican Governor Eric Holcomb on March 21 vetoed a bill that would have barred male-born athletes from playing female school sports.
Federal judges have blocked execution of the bills pending the outcome of legal challenges in Idaho and West Virginia.