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Kan. Senate Passes Union Contribution Bill

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill barring public employee unions from deducting money from their members' paychecks for political purposes.

Currently, union members can have voluntary contributions automatically deducted from their paychecks to be used for political advocacy.

Some supporters of the bill say it prevents union members' dues from going to candidates or causes they don't support, and it takes government out of the business of processing the contributions.

Greg Smith is a Republican from Overland Park. He says union members could still set up automatic payments through their bank for political purposes.

“This doesn’t take anybody’s voice away, it doesn’t’ take anybody’s freedom away," says Smith. "It just means you actually have to care a little bit and make a conscious effort to contribute.”

Critics of the bill say union members already have to voluntarily join the union and agree to the deductions. Some opponents say the proposal is aimed at politically weakening unions and union members.

“I think this is an effort to try to make it, if not impossible, extremely difficult for our public employees in Kansas to participate in the political process,” says Sen. Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat.

The version that passed the Senate was amended to eliminate concerns that it infringed on some free speech rights.

The Kansas House will now consider the bill, which is slightly different from one that chamber already passed.