This week’s edition focuses on HB 2453, which sought to allow public or private employees to refuse service based on religious views about marriage. Proponents billed it as safeguarding religious freedoms and opponents said it sanctioned discrimination by government employees.
That’s the attorney general’s estimate of what the state could spend to defend HB 2453 against court challenges in fiscal year 2015.
Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, outmaneuvered everyone at the Capitol, hitting the brakes hard on HB 2453 after it passed the House on Wednesday. She voiced concerns that the bill potentially discriminates against the LGBT community and also harms the business community and made it clear that the Senate would not consider it in its current form. The move won her praise from both Equality Kansas and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
House Republicans, on the other hand, scrambled to do damage control. And House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, faced criticism from the LGBT community for calling the bill a “distraction” and not speaking out against it on the House floor. Friday, his office issued a statement that said, "I voted NO on House Bill 2453 because it was an offensive attempt to legalize discrimination.” It also said the state should focus on bigger issues like jobs and schools.
Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will have to decide whether to change the bill or let it die.