Coalition of employers unite to fight religious freedom proposal

TOPEKA — A coalition of large and small businesses have come together to oppose HB 2453, the religious freedom on same-sex marriage bill.  The Kansas Employers for Liberty Coalition has great concerns about what this bill does between the employer and employee relationship in Kansas, which is an employed “at will” state.

Tim Witsman, President of the Wichita Independent Business Association, a group comprised of mainly small businesses, said, “Kansas has a long historical tradition of protecting the employee at will relationship.  That means employers can have a pure relationship of retaining their employee without the intervention of government mandates.  HB 2453 flies in the face of that by intervening with that relationship.  WIBA is proud to join this Coalition, along with large and small employers throughout the state to fight the employer mandates from HB 2453.”

KCP&L Vice President of Marketing & Public Affairs Chuck Caisley stated, “As a company that is proud to serve hundreds of thousands of Kansans with many diverse backgrounds and perspectives, KCP&L urges the Kansas State Senate to defeat HB 2453.  This bill is discriminatory and also unworkable.  We thank Senator Wagle for her leadership on this issue.”

HB 2453 is particularly burdensome for small businesses as the protections it offers to a potential employee who refuses service under this legislation would cause major havoc on a small business that employs very few employees.  Additionally, HB 2453 takes away the right for discovery in a judicial proceeding, leaving an employer no way to defend themselves if a lawsuit is brought against them.

“While we believe this bill may have been brought with good intentions of protecting religious freedom, the unintended consequences far outweigh the good,” said Witsman.  “We want Kansas to be open for business.  HB 2453 limits recruiting ability for workers and the state’s ability to bring new visitors and businesses to Kansas.”

The Kansas Employers for Liberty Coalition applauds Senate President Susan Wagle for committing that her chamber will take a close look at this bill and work to resolve the concerns of Kansas businesses.  The Coalition encourages all Kansans to write to their local legislator and ask them to oppose HB 2453 to ensure employers are not held under any mandates and to make certain Kansas is open for business.

HB 2453 is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Jeff King.