Topeka Senators are ready to send Gov. Kathleen Sebelius legislation allowing law-abiding Kansans to carry concealed weapons, a bill nearly identical to one she vetoed two years ago.
On Tuesday, the House voted 90-33 to return the bill to the Senate, which passed it last month 29-11. If the numbers hold, each chamber would have the two-thirds majority to override a veto.
Sponsoring Sen. Phil Journey said he will ask colleagues today to accept the House changes and send the measure to the governor. He said if the bill reaches her desk Friday, she will have until March 27 to decide what to do.
"I'm good with everything the House did," said Journey, R-Haysville. "There's no need to slow down the process by sending it to a conference committee."
Journey said the governor taking action by March 27 will give supporters a chance to attempt a veto override before legislators take a break until the end of April, when they return to wrap up the session.
"I don't want to give her the whole month of April to cherry pick them off," Journey said.
Last year, when the governor signed a bill allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, she said that's as far as she wants to go. She vetoed a concealed gun bill in 2004, saying she questioned whether the measure would make Kansans safer.
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- Bishops ask House members to ban concealed guns in churches (03-03-06)
- Senate passes concealed-carry bill (02-10-06)
- On the Street: Do you think the state should pass a law allowing people to carry concealed guns? (02-09-06)
"I'm likely to veto it again. Very little has changed since I saw this the last time," she said Tuesday.
Rep. L. Candy Ruff of Leavenworth said she would urge her fellow Democrat to let the bill become law without her signature.
But Sebelius said, "That is an option, but not one I'm looking very strongly at."
The question is whether election-year lawmakers can muster the 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate, where six Democrats were among those voting for the bill.
"The key is how much partisan loyalty the Democrats have to the Democratic governor," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence.
House Speaker Doug Mays says it's "always difficult" to override a veto in his chamber, where Republicans hold an 83-42 edge. If all Democrats side with the governor, Republicans will fall short.
Under the proposal, Kansas residents 21 or older who are U.S. citizens can obtain a four-year permit by filling out an application with the local sheriff and paying a fee of up to $150.
The attorney general's office would issue the permits after conducting background checks to eliminate those with a felony record, a history of mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, or physical infirmity preventing the safe handling of a weapon. Completion of an eight-hour training course approved by the attorney general's office also is required.
Kansas would be among 36 "shall issue" states, meaning the state must issue the permit if the requirements are met. Eight states have "may issue" laws that give officials latitude. Alaska and Vermont have no prohibitions for carrying a concealed weapon.
Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois are the only states where concealed guns are banned.
The House changed the bill so that someone would lose a permit after being convicted of domestic violence or after having a restraining order for domestic violence issued against them.
House members also added day-care centers, places of worship and libraries to the list of places where hidden guns are banned. The list already included places such as law enforcement offices and state and local government buildings. Any property owner can prohibit concealed weapons by posting a sign.