Topeka A bill that would let state civil servants run for election to state offices without first quitting their jobs has been approved by the Kansas Legislature.
The legislation, however, would still require classified employees to quit their jobs before they could be sworn into office.
"Given that it changes 55 years of state history, it's a major victory," said Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, the bill's sponsor. "But it still does not provide total equity and fairness to classified employees."
Sloan said the Senate changed his bill to require classified employees to quit their jobs before being sworn in.
Because the Senate wouldn't budge on that point, Sloan said he urged the House to accept that version, which it did on a 93-32 vote Wednesday.
Sloan said he expected Gov. Bill Graves to sign the bill.
The Lawrence representative said classified employees deserve the same rights as unclassified state employees and school teachers, who can run for and hold office without quitting their jobs.
"I do not believe it is fair or equitable to encourage participation in the political process and at the same time punish potential candidates who are employed by the people of Kansas," Sloan said.
Sloan has been fighting to change the law for two years.
State employees in the classified service were denied the opportunity to run for any elective offices without first resigning their jobs, beginning in 1941.
In 1969, the law was changed to permit them to seek nonpartisan local offices, but they couldn't accept any compensation for their services.
In 1975, the law was changed to allow them to be paid for local service but still prohibited them from seeking partisan or state offices. In 1984, classified state employees were permitted to seek and serve as precinct committeemen and committeewomen without first quitting their state jobs.