The Kansas House today gave tentative approval to a bill that would allow 29,000 state employees to run for public office and keep their jobs.
Current law requires that classified employees, who are primarily nonpolicy making workers, quit their jobs if they run for office. But unclassified employees, such as Kansas University faculty and administrators, can run for office and keep their jobs.
For instance, Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, is an unclassified employee at KU, where she's an associate dean of student life and director of the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center.
"I believe no one should have to give up employment to run for office," Ballard said. "They really need individuals who are willing to serve, and we shouldn't make it difficult for people who are willing to serve."
The change in law was proposed by the Kansas Association of Public Employees.
"It's an equity issue," said Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, sponsor of HB2088. "If unclassified state employees can run for office without giving up their jobs first, then classified employees should be able to do the same thing, particularly when we're trying to get more people involved in the political process. It's just fair.
The bill faces a final vote Wednesday. If approved then, it would head to the Senate for consideration.