The Kansas House has passed a bill on a 68-56 vote that restricts one type of political fundraising used by public employee unions. The bill would ban public sector unions from making automatic withdrawals from employee paychecks for political purposes.
Under current law, public employees can voluntarily donate to their union’s political advocacy fund out of their paycheck. Supporters of the bill say it keeps workers from being pressured into making the contributions.
“It gives teachers the right to decide where their money is spent, and if they want it to go toward a political action committee or not," said Reid Petty, a Republican from Liberal. "This bill does not keep union members from writing checks and/or setting up automatic bank drafts to support a certain PAC.”
Critics of the bill point out that joining the union is voluntary, as is making the automatic contribution. They say the measure is aimed at limiting the political influence of public employee groups.
“This is nothing more than limiting the rights of our teachers to be active in the political process," said Mark Farr, a high school teacher in the Nickerson-South Hutchison district who is currently on leave to work with the Kansas National Education Association, a teacher’s union.
The bill will now go to the Senate.