- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators have moved to put new rules in place this week for special congressional elections to give military personnel overseas an additional month to vote.

The Senate approved the elections bill Tuesday evening on a 40-0 vote after the House approved it last week, 122-1. The measure arose from Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo’s nomination by President-elect Donald Trump as Central Intelligence Agency director.

Meanwhile, a House committee kicked off what could be a contentious debate over allowing concealed guns on college campuses. The policy is set to take effect in July under a 2013 law, and some lawmakers want to stop it.

Here is a look at significant legislative developments Thursday.

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ELECTIONS BILL

The elections bill would rewrite a state law that says a special election must occur from 45 to 60 days after the governor declares a vacancy. The bill would make the window from 75 to 90 days, giving people overseas more time to receive and return ballots.

The bill goes to Gov. Sam Brownback, who is expected to sign it. If Brownback acts Wednesday, the measure will become law Thursday.

If Pompeo is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as CIA director, his 4th District in south-central Kansas would have the state’s first special congressional election since 1950.

Federal law now requires states to send ballots to military personnel overseas at least 45 days before an election. Local Democratic and Republican activists will pick their parties’ nominees within 25 days of a vacancy being declared.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach sought to have the changes in place before any vacancy occurs so, “The law will be crystal clear.”

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CONCEALED CARRY DEBATE

A bill introduced Tuesday in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee would permanently exempt several types of health care facilities and colleges from the 2013 concealed carry law.

The law allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons into a greater number of public buildings but gave colleges, universities, and health care facilities a four-year exemption. The exemption expires July 1.

One of the new bill’s backers, Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton, of Overland Park, said lawmakers have heard from constituents who want campus carry stopped.

But Rep. John Whitmer, a conservative Wichita Republican, said the bill is “dead on arrival” and possibly won’t even get a committee hearing.

Brownback signed the 2013 measure into law. His spokeswoman has said he continues to support gun rights but will give “due consideration to any bill that reaches his desk.”

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TRANSGENDER STUDENTS

Whitmer expects to introduce a bill soon to require transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms associated with their genders at birth. His measure also would apply accommodations for students on overnight trips.

He said the measure would not apply to private schools or higher education, and it won’t allow people to sue for damages if a school violates the policy.

Whitmer and other supporters believe such a policy would protect students and their privacy.

But Tom Witt, executive director of the LGBT-rights group Equality Kansas, said transgender students shouldn’t be singled out.

“All this does is turn them into targets in their high schools and middle schools,” Witt said.

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HIGHER EDUCATION

The state Board of Regents plans to ask legislators to restore $30 million in higher education funding cut last year.

Regents CEO and President Blake Flanders told the Senate Education Committee that the board would like to at least see state funding stabilize.

In 2012, tuition became a larger source of university revenue than state tax dollars.

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APPOINTEES CONFIRMED

The Senate confirmed Brownback’s appointments of Richard Carlson as transportation secretary, Tim Keck as secretary for aging and disability services and Joseph Norwood as correction secretary.

All began serving in their jobs last year. The votes were 32-6 for Carlson and 40-0 for Keck and Norwood.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .

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