Kansas GOP Targets DEI

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Kansas State Capitol

Republican lawmakers in the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would fine public colleges and universities for incorporating DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) pledges or statements in the admission or hiring process.

If passed, the bill would impose a $10,000 fine for each “infraction,” cut down from an originally proposed $100,000. Schools in violation of the bill would have a 90-day grace period to correct or else they would be taken to court by the state’s attorney general. Critics say that the bill is too vague and does not properly define what DEI practices would be off-limits.

“It’s hard for me to pass a bill to punish a university for doing something that we don’t define,” Wichita Rep. Tom Sawyer, a Democrat, told the Kansas Reflector. “I don’t know how you could comply with that.”

Although it is the latest in a string of anti-DEI policies being proposed or passed in conservative-controlled states, the bill is not as restrictive as some of its counterparts. It has an exclusion that would still allow faculty to teach, research, and write about DEI-related topics.

The legislation comes soon after the Kansas Senate proposed a budget that would withhold nearly $36 million from public colleges and universities if they do not ban statements or mandatory training regarding DEI.