Prairie Politics

LGBT workplace protection bill won’t reach House floor this session

A bill that would prevent workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians won’t make it to the House floor this year.

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, introduced HB 2323 in response to Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to rescind a workplace protection for gay state workers. Carmichael’s bill would have extended to both the public and private sector.

It did not receive a hearing before “turnaround,” the deadline for bills to pass their house of origin. It has also not been blessed by the speaker of the House, a process that keeps bills alive after the deadline.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said in an interview last month that he did not think anyone should be fired for being gay. He distanced himself from Brownback’s executive order. But Merrick said he had yet to read Carmichael’s bill and gave no indication about whether it would move forward.

Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he sent a message to the speaker’s office on Carmichael’s behalf requesting that the bill be blessed. Carmichael also said he sent a message of his own.

Merrick’s office said that last Friday was a hard deadline for bills to be blessed. It would not say why Carmichael’s bill hadn’t been blessed.

Carmichael expressed disappointment Tuesday afternoon.

“The speaker has already told the press that he does not believe Kansas state employees should be discriminated against or that people should lose their job based on their sexual orientation and I’m disappointed that the speaker chose not to bless with bill,” Carmichael said.

He said he was confident that the issue still might be able to get an informational hearing this year and said he was hopeful the bill might move forward next year.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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