TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday brushed aside complaints from fellow Democrats about signing a Republican measure aimed at financially protecting workers who refuse to get COVID-19 vaccines by declaring, “leadership means seeking compromise.”
Kelly acted with unusual speed, signing the bill the afternoon after its passage by the GOP-controlled Legislature just before midnight Monday during a one-day special session. Kansas is making it easy for workers to claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements and promising unemployment benefits to people who are fired after refusing the shots.
Most Democratic lawmakers opposed the measure, and Kelly angered some of them with her pledge to sign it in response to federal mandates from President Joe Biden. She signed the bill in private after ignoring questions from reporters during a Tuesday morning holiday event at the governor’s official residence.