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Guest Column: Lydia Zerr  

Have you been paying attention to local politics lately? As a student at PSU, there is a good chance that you are registered to vote in Kansas, and a definite chance that you should be knowledgeable of what is going on in your state of residence. Because of that, here is a list of current events that everyone should know about in Kansas: 

According to the National Public Radio (NPR) in Kansas City, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill barring transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports events in Kansas. The bill was vetoed twice by Governor Laura Kelly before both the state House and Senate reached the supermajority required to override the veto. The bill will go into effect over the summer, affecting only three transgender girls of the 106,000 total students in Kansas. The bill only applies to transgender girls, not transgender boys.  

The Kansas Reflector reports that Governor Laura Kelly has passed a total of five bills in the first week of April, most notably including a bill raising the legal age of tobacco use. Taking effect on July 1., 2023, persons under the age of 21 will not be able to purchase, possess, or use tobacco products in the state of Kansas. The previous age limit was 18. 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has warned of increasingly low water levels in various lakes as Kansas continues through a drought, with some lakes across the state reporting water levels nearly seventeen feet below average. The Department of Wildlife and Parks warns of hazards hiding beneath the water that are now accessible to anyone looking to swim in local lakes this summer.  

Two separate federal courts have issued conflicting rulings on the approval of the already FDA-approved drug mifepristone, most commonly used to “end first-trimester pregnancies” according to The Lawrence Times. While a court in Texas ruled to revoke the FDA’s approval, a Washington court ordered that the drug remain available according to the FDA’s authority. While this may call into question the availability of the drug in the future, for now, Kansans still have the right to abortion and are able to request and use mifepristone for abortion purposes. Still, Kansas Republican legislators are seeking to pass legislation to end abortion in Kansas. 

Lastly, one of the most recent developments regarding abortion in Kansas is a bill passed by the Kansas legislature that has yet to be approved by the Governor. According to NPR in Kansas City, the bill would define ectopic pregnancy termination and miscarriage care as not abortion care. The bill would also require doctors to give patients information regarding the “abortion pill” (mifepristone) that is disputed by medical experts to be false and would require the state health department to include information on how to “reverse” the effects of the pill.  

Regardless of whether or not you vote or live in Kansas, you should be informed. Be on the lookout for more changes in legislation both here and in your home state. If you are interested, you can register to vote in Kansas, even if you are only here for the school year. Visit ksvotes.org for more information on voter registration in Kansas.  

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