Topeka Democrats on Friday offered to fix a Republican-stated problem with the Kansas National Education Association, but a key Republican dismissed the proposal.
The dispute is over a bill that would weaken the KNEA’s effort to participate in politics.
House Bill 2023 would prohibit the ability of teachers and public union members to have automatic payroll deduction that would go to a political action committee.
The bill was approved in the House on Thursday with only Republican support and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Several Republicans stated they opposed the KNEA payroll deduction because tax dollars were used to pay for the administration of the transaction.
“I believe that the government should not be allowed to support or facilitate in any form or manner political activities of any public entity,” said Rep. Shanti Gandhi, R-Topeka.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said to address that issue, he would introduce an amendment to the bill when it is considered by the Senate that would require the KNEA to pay the local school boards for the transactions. His proposal would then do away with the rest of the bill. He said the transaction costs are minimal, about 6 cents per deduction.
“I think it is important that that argument be addressed,” Hensley said. “Whether that is enough to call off the dogs, I don’t know.”
But Rep. Marvin Kleeb, R-Overland Park, who carried the bill in the House, said the bill “really wasn’t about governmental costs.” He said it was about protecting individuals from pressure to make the political donations.
Opponents of the bill said no one was being coerced to pay into a PAC.
Hensley said the bill is part of a “national playbook” among states with Republican governors to silence union members in the political sphere.
“It’s pretty shameful,” he said.