Kansas Republicans Tie Remap Law to Pro-Ivermectin Measure

By JOHN HANNA, AP Political Author

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prime Kansas Republicans appeared to get the brand new congressional district traces they wished this week by horse-trading within the Legislature. Then, hours after the map turned regulation, the GOP chief who supposedly struck the deal appeared to return on it.

A Republican physician-lawmaker mentioned he and the state Senate’s high chief had a “mutual settlement” to safe his and one other essential sure vote for a map that politically hurts the one Kansas Democrat in Congress. Earlier than they delivered these votes, a invoice pushed by the doctor-legislator to advertise fringe anti-vaccine concepts and doubtlessly harmful COVID-19 remedies cleared committee.

However Senate President Ty Masterson rapidly returned Sen. Mark Steffen’s vaccine-COVID measure to committee and stripped Steffen and two conservative colleagues of committee assignments. Lawmakers’ work week ended Friday with a highlight on tensions amongst GOP conservatives.

The infighting appears more likely to proceed, complicating Republicans’ efforts to make use of their Kansas legislative supermajorities to most impact as Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly faces a troublesome reelection race this yr.

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“You higher watch these those that bounce again from all the things that was meant to destroy them,” Sen. Alicia Straub, one of many disciplined lawmakers, mentioned in a press release issued after two reporters tracked her down at a Thursday night lodge buffet and reception sponsored by county treasurers. “These are God’s folks and to not be performed with.”

Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, mentioned he did not lower a take care of Steffen. However he acknowledged “loads of conversations” with Steffen and Straub on “plenty of topic issues.”

As for disciplining senators, Masterson mentioned to advertise unity amongst Republicans, “these adjustments have been obligatory,” with out elaborating.

Steffen declined remark Friday.

Republicans overrode Kelly’s veto of their redistricting plan, carving vote-rich territory for Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids in Kansas Metropolis, Kansas, out of her district. The map is predicted to face a court docket problem with Democrats and Republicans already battling for almost all within the U.S. Home.

Masterson wanted two tries for an override within the Senate. Steffen, Straub and fellow conservative Sen. Dennis Pyle broke with Republican leaders and voted towards overriding Kelly’s veto Monday. The following day, Steffen and Straub voted sure whereas Pyle abstained.

In between the 2 Senate redistricting votes, the chamber’s well being committee accredited the COVID-19 invoice. It will shield medical doctors who prescribe the anti-worm drug ivermectin and different drugs for off-label makes use of to deal with COVID-19 and stop these medical doctors from going through sanctions over COVID-19 remedies.

Steffen, a bolo tie -favoring anesthesiologist and pain-management specialist who lives some 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Wichita, is beneath investigation by the state medical board — for public feedback about COVID-19, he has mentioned. He has acknowledged writing ivermectin prescriptions that pharmacies have refused to fill.

His measure additionally weakens the state’s vaccination necessities for youngsters enrolling in faculties or day cares by making it straightforward for fogeys to say non secular exemptions to keep away from now-standard pictures for greater than a dozen illnesses, together with measles, chickenpox and polio. Steffen is a vocal vaccine skeptic.

In a Kansas Metropolis discuss radio interview Wednesday, Steffen mentioned occasions gave him an opportunity press his considerations and to “make progress on all fronts.”

He added: “I used to be capable of meet with the best of us to precise all these considerations and we got here to a mutual settlement.”

With the brand new redistricting regulation in impact Thursday, Masterson used the Senate president’s energy to route and reroute payments to push Steffen’s ivermectin invoice again to the well being committee. It took solely a second.

Shorty afterward, Masterson introduced that he’d demoted Steffen and Straub out of committee vice chairmanships and eliminated them from one other committee every. Pyle misplaced two committee assignments.

Straub, who lives 50 miles additional northwest of Wichita than Steffen, has been a constant ally of his within the Senate.

Pyle, a farmer from far northeast Kansas, as soon as introduced a container of stink bait to a debate, utilizing it as a prop in protesting a tax invoice. He has clashed repeatedly with Masterson and pushed his personal redistricting plans this yr.

He in contrast Masterson to the troll-like character Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” fantasy books and films. He mentioned the Senate president “loves the ring a lot that he can’t hand over his energy.”

“If that’s what Kansas desires, establishment-led authorities, you already know, that’s what they’re getting and it is a demonstration of that, proper right here,” Pyle mentioned of being disciplined.

It isn’t clear that Masterson means for Steffen’s invoice to be a casualty. The Senate well being committee expects to take it up once more subsequent week.

“It wants some tweaks that want some additional overview,” mentioned Masterson spokesperson Mike Pirner.

Comply with John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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