The surprise is not that the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature voted to weaken the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that Gov. Laura Kelly did not veto it.

With the stroke of a pen, Kelly could have stood up for business leaders wanting to protect their workforces against the pandemic.

Instead, she caved to fear-mongers who continue to spread lies about the safety of the vaccine. The state’s death toll to COVID-19 today is 6,6470, including six children.

This is a real pandemic.

Unfortunately, Kansas politicians don’t seem to care.

THE NEW legislation makes it nigh on impossible for a Kansas business owner to dismiss an employee who poses a health threat to their workplace by refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Because the virus is highly contagious, vaccines are essential to stopping its spread, which is why President Joe Biden has requested large-scale industries mandate their employees be vaccinated or face consequences.

Kansas is turning that request on its head by allowing employees to excuse themselves from getting the vaccine for any number of moral or religious objections, including belonging to a Satanic cult, which really cheapens its sincerity.

Taking it three steps further, Kansas legislators will punish employers by:

1. Awarding those dismissed with unemployment benefits;

2. Fining employers who, according to the new law, don’t accept employees’ excuses. Employers with more than 100 workers could be hit with fines up to $50,000 per violation; those with fewer employees could face fines up to $10,000 apiece; and

3. Requiring employers to reinstate the dismissed workers and paying them the wages lost if they want to avoid the above fines.

The result? There’s not an employer around who will open that can of worms. Better to have an unsafe workplace.

REP. KENT THOMPSON sat out the last vote taken Monday night.

“There was no way I was going to support giving unemployment benefits to those who refuse to get the vaccine,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

“Either get the vaccine, or don’t work. It’s your choice,” he said. “But don’t expect me to support you if you choose the latter.”

A strong believer in the vaccine, Thompson said he was first vaccinated in March.

“I talked to my doctor, and I figured I wouldn’t die from the vaccine, but I couldn’t know that about the virus. And I’m still here to talk about it.”

Thompson regards his abstention from the final vote on the measure as a “no” vote.

Thompson also figures that because the U.S. Constitution says that federal law takes precedence over state law, that Monday’s sausage will quickly be cooked.

“I’ve always said I would have no part in legislation that is destined to be contested in court the minute it becomes law,” he said.

The new state law also puts large-scale employers and those that receive federal contracts between a rock and a hard place. In terms of the vaccine mandate, they can’t obey both state and federal law without violating one or the other and face punitive consequences.

ON TUESDAY, Gov. Kelly said she approved the measure because it was a compromise between those on opposing sides of vaccine mandates, which she has said, “tend not to work.”

To the contrary.

It’s because our children must be vaccinated to attend public schools that we no longer fear polio, diphtheria, smallpox and other deadly viruses.

Our guess is that at the time, those decisions for vaccine mandates may have come across as heavy-handed as well.

But it was the right thing to do. Our leaders should be just as determined.

Forget trying to compromise with anti-science fanatics. They are so off-base with their thinking that they are a threat to society.

What employees want most is a safe place to work. This new law weakens their chances.

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