State civil service employees are hoping the Kansas Senate, like the House, will be favorable to a bill that would let them seek elective office without quitting their jobs.
A bill that would allow the state's civil service workers to run for elective office could become law later this year, said Mike Auchard, president of Kansas University's Classified Senate.
But first the bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the House Wednesday, 88 to 36, must be approved by Senate, where support is uncertain, Auchard said today.
"I'm waiting to see what will happen in the Senate," he said. "I don't anticipate any problem with the governor signing it."
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and co-sponsored by Reps. Troy Findley and Barbara Ballard, both D-Lawrence, and Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin.
Supporters say current state law is unfair in that it now allows unclassified state employees, such as university faculty, to run for office without quitting, but requires classified employees to quit first.
KU's classified employees have been supporting the change in state law for 3 1/2 years. But until this year, most legislators have not been interested in changing the law.
"The reason I feel this issue is still alive is because of the Classified Senate," Auchard said.
Auchard said most classified employees probably can't afford to take off work to serve in the Legislature anyway, but feel they should have a right to do so.
Auchard said Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, has been supportive of classified employees issues and that he has met with her about the bill. Praeger could not be reached this morning for comment.
Sloan said he was optimistic about the Senate passing the bill.
"The House members sent a very strong message that it's time for classified state employees to have all of the political rights that the country was founded on," Sloan said.
"I think when they have the opportunity to look at the facts, that 29,000 Kansas citizens are denied full equality simply because they are employed by the state of Kansas, that the Senate will agree that fairness demands that they have the same rights as the rest of us," he said.
Sloan said he will contact the chairman of the Senate Elections Committee on Monday and will ask for an early hearing on the bill.
Sloan said the law was in the books because of corruptions that took place in the early part of the century and the desire of the public to have a professional civil service untainted by politics.
However, the law is not needed because times have changed and the political system has become much more open, he said. Candidates are scrutinized much more closely by the news media and government regulations on campaign finances are much more stringent, he said.