TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill restricting political fundraising by public employee unions. The House vote Thursday was 68-56 and sends the measure to the Senate. The bill would bar groups that represent teachers and government workers from automatically deducting money from members' paychecks to finance political activities. Supporters contend the measure would prevent employees from being forced to finance political causes they don't support. Critics say the measure is designed by business groups and their Republican allies to hinder fundraising by public employee groups to decrease their political influence. Similar legislation cleared the House in 2011 but died in the Senate. Its chances of success are considered higher this year, with conservative Republicans who back the measure now in control of both chambers.
an earlier version of this story ran on KPR's Morning Edition, 01-31-2013:
The Kansas House has given first round approval to a controversial bill dealing with public union political contributions. The bill will block public employee unions from making automatic paycheck deductions for political purposes. Union members could still make the contributions, but they couldn’t be automatically withheld from paychecks. Representative Marvin Kleeb (“cleb”), a Republican from Overland Park, says it will help prevent workers from being pressured into making the contributions.
But critics of the bill point out that joining the union is optional, as are the political contributions. Representative Brandon Whipple, a Wichita Democrat, says no public employees appeared before a committee to say they were pressured to make the contributions.
Critics of the bill claim the real purpose is reducing the political influence of unions. A final House vote on the bill could come as soon as tomorrow (THUR).