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Kansas Democrats Start Petition to Force a Special Session

The petition from Senator Anthony Hensley. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Kansas Democratic lawmakers are pushing their fellow legislators to call a special session to work on school funding. Generally, only the governor calls a special session, but state law says signatures from two-thirds of lawmakers can force the governor to make that call. 

Late last month, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the current school funding system was unconstitutional and threatened to close schools if the problem wasn't fixed by June 30th.  Democratic state Senator Anthony Hensley says their goal with the petition is to keep schools open.

“That’s why we’re here today. That’s why we’re promoting this petition drive, because we think it is absolutely imperative that the Legislature come back to town and deal with this problem,” says Hensley.
Republican Governor Sam Brownback has not yet said if he’ll call a special session. The governor’s office says the petition, initially signed by just one lawmaker, won’t affect Brownback’s decision.

The governor and other Republican leaders have also said they want to avoid schools closing.


Democratic Kansas lawmakers have started a petition calling for a special session to work on education funding issues. Without action, a legal fight threatens to close Kansas schools at the end of the month. As KPR's Stephen Koranda reports, Democrats are hoping to require Republican Governor Sam Brownback to call legislators back to Topeka.

Kansas law says legislators can force the governor to call a special session if two-thirds of lawmakers sign a petition. The Kansas Supreme Court says lawmakers need reduce funding disparities among school districts. If they don’t, justices say the school funding system will be unconstitutional and schools will be closed.

Democratic state Representative Jim Ward says they need to avoid that.
“We have a problem. We’re on a clock. We’re compelling, encouraging, demanding the governor call a special session so that we can avoid schools closing in less than 24 days,” says Ward.

Republican leaders and the governor have also said they want to avoid closing schools.

Governor Brownback has not yet said if he’ll call a special session. His office initially said the petition would not affect his decision.


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