Kelly vetoes bill aimed at expanding childcare; says it relaxes safety standards


Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday vetoed a bill that was aimed at expanding access to child care but that she said would relax safety standards for children.

“My North Star as governor is to make Kansas the best place to raise a family. Key to that is ensuring parents have access to safe, affordable, quality childcare,” Kelly said.

“This bill would reverse the progress we’ve made toward that goal, loosening safety requirements for childcare centers and preventing the state from being responsive to individual communities’ needs,” the governor said in a statement.

“While I agree it’s time to review our childcare policies, we must do it together – and in a way that improves, not harms, our state’s ability to help families and keep kids safe.”

The bill passed 77-46 in the House and 21-17 in the Senate, both short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override.

A group of five Republican House and Senate members – Reps. Tory Blew of Great Bend, Kenny Titus of Manhattan, Laura Williams of Lenexa and Sens. Chase Blasi of Wichita and
Kristen O’Shea of Topeka – voiced their displeasure with the governor’s veto.

“It’s disappointing to see Gov. Kelly veto legislation that addresses the child care crisis she claims to be her top priority,” the group of lawmakers said in their joint statement.

“This will continue to restrict access to child care for families who want and need to remain in the work force,” they said.

“The child care crisis is impacting both rural and urban areas. Collectively we represent every congressional district and see first-hand how this impacts our communities.

“It’s apparent Kansans are seeing more broken promises by Laura Kelly.”

John Wilson, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, praised the governor’s decision.

He said it would have “undermined” current regulations for child care safety.

“Great care must always be taken when it involves our smallest kids, and sadly, this bill would have jeopardized the safety of not only kids in care, but also providers,” Wilson said in a statement.

Everyone agrees that more must be done to solve the child care crisis but the solution isn’t to rush through legislation that hasn’t been informed by the child care community and those who understand the industry best.

“We urge the Legislature to sustain the governor’s veto and join us and child care advocates in crafting long-term solutions to ensuring every Kansas kid has the opportunity to receive high-quality care.