TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed a bill that would have limited the power of the state health secretary and local health officers regarding infectious and contagious diseases.

That includes prohibiting the state health secretary from requiring COVID-19 vaccines to attend child care or school.

“The field of public health was pioneered here in Kansas, yet lawmakers continue trying to undermine the advancements that have saved lives in every corner of our state.   

“That’s most recently evidenced by this bill, an effort by politicians in Topeka to win political points in the short-term while threatening the long-term health and safety of all Kansans and of our economy. There’s no question: Preventing Kansas’ local and state health officials from providing even basic testing for contagious human and zoonotic diseases – including measles, meningitis, Ebola, and polio – will hurt our ability to stop unnecessary outbreaks in the future. 

“Therefore, under Article 2, Section 14(a) of the Constitution, I hereby veto House Bill 2285.” 

Gov. Laura Kelly, D-Kansas

The bill would have also removed the requirement for enforcement of isolation and quarantine orders by law enforcement officers, provided employment protection for employees who isolate or quarantine and address orders for school closure during a disaster.

The state Legislature voted to approve the measure, House Bill 2285, during the final day of session last month. However, it failed to pass with a veto-proof majority in either chamber.

Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, released the following statement, regarding the governor’s veto on Friday.

“For the second day in a row, the Kelly/Toland Administration has doubled down on their failed,
politically motivated, pandemic-era policies with the veto of HB 2285. As we learn from past mistakes, this bill would put the appropriate checks and balances with elected officials who answer directly to Kansas voters and return unelected health bureaucrats back into their intended advisory role. Kansas House Republicans believe the voice of Kansas voters is an essential part of government and will revisit this issue in the 2024 Legislative Session.”

Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Kansas House Speaker