Laura Kelly doesn’t shy from disciplinarian role

The Governor's budget plan is responsibly generous, balancing wants against realities, a difficult, but admirable, goal. 



May 14, 2024 - 2:23 PM

Gov. Laura Kelly, center, at the groundbreaking of the $302 million Wichita Biomedical Campus at Wichita State University earlier this month. The facility will become a central location for the WSU College of Health Professions and Speech Language Hearing Clinic, WSU Tech’s health care program, and the Wichita campuses of KU School of Medicine and KU School of Pharmacy. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

Last week, Gov. Laura Kelly made three groups of people plenty mad, likely with some crossover.

First, Kelly vetoed a measure Friday that would have recognized “fetal personhood.”

The measure ruled that from the moment of fertilization, a woman’s fetus should be granted legal rights and protections such as child support during the mother’s pregnancy. 

Proponents pushed the measure as a way for a pregnant woman to claim financial support for any pregnancy-related expenses, but only as long as she elects to give birth, not if she opts for an abortion.

The measure passed 82-38 in the House and 25-12 in the Senate, largely along party lines with Republicans overwhelmingly supporting the measure. 

Kelly viewed the legislation as government overreach.

“Kansans already made it very clear that they don’t want lawmakers involved in personal matters. It’s time we listen to them,” Kelly said, referring to the 2022 primary election where voters overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have all but banned abortion. 

Also on Friday, Kelly vetoed a bill that would have further restricted ownership of Kansas land by China and other nations declared “of concern,” including Cuba, Iraq, North Korea and Venezuela.

The bill would have prohibited more than 10 percent ownership by foreign nationals of any non-residential property within 100 miles of any military installation — or most of Kansas. 

Kelly viewed it as a punitive overkill.

Chinese ownership in Kansas amounts to one acre. In fact, total ownership by foreign individuals amounts to 2.4 percent of the state’s 49 million acres of private farmland. 

The legislation was sparked by the news that a China-based company that manufactures parts used in electric car batteries is setting up shop in Johnson County. 

Cnano Technology USA Inc., has plans to partner with Panasonic’s new $40 billion electric battery plant in De Soto, creating an additional 120 jobs.

While Kelly agreed that Kansas needs to beef up its defense against “foreign adversaries,” she also argued against blanket discrimination that “could disrupt legitimate investment and business relationships.”

China is the state’s fourth-largest trading partner, amounting to $850 million in Kansas exports.

The biggest shoe to drop that same afternoon was Kelly’s announcement that she will veto the legislature’s budget proposal and demand it reconvene. 

The proposed tax cuts — $641 million the first year and about $470 million per year the next five years — are too generous, Kelly said.

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