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January 10, 2014

Guide for Kansas legislative interns ignores some suggestions

The new guide for legislative interns at the Capitol does not contain proposed restrictions ranging from the amount of perfume and the number of earrings interns can wear.

The new guide for legislative interns at the Kansas Capitol does not contain proposed revisions that would have restricted the amount of perfume and number of earrings interns can wear.

Numerous rules suggested last week for inclusion in the 2014 intern handbook by Rep. Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican, were edited out, including a rule asserting "inappropriate" photographs and language had to be deleted from personal social media sites, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

A prohibition on interns dating legislative staff members was also removed. The interns for the 2014 session begin work at the Statehouse on Monday.

Staff members of Democratic legislators raised questions about the fashion regulations for interns that went beyond limits applied to legislators. Civil rights attorneys also took issue with boundaries on social media expression among interns.

"This should have been settled a long time ago, and the process ought to have been more inclusive," said Will Lawrence, who runs the intern program for Senate Democrats.

The document does advise the college-age interns to dress professionally and prohibits them from wearing flip-flops and tennis shoes. The handbook also says tattoos should be covered, if possible.

Before leading a tour of the Capitol on Thursday, Mast made no reference to the controversy about the proposed revisions.

"We don't want it to be an onerous environment," Mast said. "We wanted it to be a professional environment."

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