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A labor attorney and the Kansas Senate president sparred Tuesday over whether public employees have a right to have money deducted from their paychecks for union-backed political activities.

Rebecca Proctor and Senate President Susan Wagle clashed during a Senate Commerce Committee meeting over a bill that would bar automatic, voluntary deductions from teachers and government workers' paychecks to support union-backed political activities, such as campaign contributions. The measure passed the House on Thursday.

Wagle said many Kansas residents don't agree with public unions' or teachers' positions on issues and the state should not be involved in channeling money to support those views. Supporters of the bill say union members often feel bullied or coerced to make the automatic contributions for fear of alienation or retribution in the workplace.

Proctor said public workers have a right to use their pay as they wish. She also said she believed the bill could go so far as to prevent unions from advocating for particular values or issues that are not partisan but are ideological, such as testifying before the Legislature on worker safety or education.

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