Capitol Digest: 6 things you need to know from Wednesday


Good morning:

The Legislature returned home for the Easter weekend Wednesday but not before a raging debate in the Senate over voting rights that lasted from late afternoon into the early evening hours. The news is not expected to end with a new battle expected to emerge Thursday between the Democratic governor and the GOP-controlled Legislature over mask mandates. Here’s a wrap of what you might have missed but still need to know from Wednesday at the Capitol….

  • A voting rights debate dominated the Senate Wednesday over a bill that would restrict the ability of volunteers or campaign workers to collect completed ballots and deliver them to election offices. Democrats say it makes felons out of good neighbors. Republicans says it prevents wrongdoing.
  • The Kansas Senate on Wednesday night passed a bill requiring Kansas students to pass an American civics test to graduate from high school. Supporters say it makes students better citizens. Critics say it steals power that’s already delegated to the Kansas State Board of Education.
  • The Kansas Senate late Wednesday passed a resolution opposing any new mask mandate that Gov. Laura Kelly is expected to reissue today. The Senate resolution follows one passed by the House on Tuesday.
  • Gov. Laura Kelly signed four bills Wednesday, including one that suspends the state’s speedy trial deadline until 2023.
  • The Legislature has approved a bill that’s intended to protect critical infrastructure from destructive protests but was criticized as an attempt to shut down peaceful free speech. The bill is now headed to the governor.
  • The Senate on Wednesday unanimously confirmed Gov. Laura Kelly’s choice as the new Labor secretary. The Senate voted unanimously to confirm Amber Shultz to fill a position that had been held by acting secretaries since Delia Garcia resigned last summer. Shultz most recently worked as the general manager of the Municipal Services and Operations Department for the city of Lawrence. She also worked as the deputy director of public works for the city of Topeka, assistant information technology director for Jackson County, Missouri and department manager for the civil engineering firm AECOM. She started her career as a web portal manager for the Kansas Data Access and Support Center at the Kansas Geological Survey. Here’s more coverage of the Senate’s confirmation of Shultz from the Topeka Capital-Journal.