Gov. Kelly addresses bill passed by legislators to shift coronavirus-related power to lawmakers
TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly delivers a briefing on COVID-19 today as she faces passing or vetoing a bill that would, among other things, shift control of the state’s pandemic response from her to legislative leaders.
Today, May 22, 2020, started Phase 2 of “Ad Astra: A plan to Reopen Kansas,” a plan that has changed since it’s first release. The Associated Press reports that Republican lawmakers continue to believe that Kelly is reopening the state’s economy to slowly and that she’s been too aggressive with restrictions.
The GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature today approved a bill that includes shifting control of the state’s pandemic response from Democratic Gov. Kelly to legislative leaders. The bill was approved this morning by votes of 27-11 in the Senate and 76-34 in the House. It then went to Kelly to either sign and pass, or veto.
Gov. Kelly has accused GOP lawmakers of trying to “cram” proposal through the Legislature and Democrats were skeptical of the provisions protecting businesses, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Kelly held a press briefing this afternoon to discuss the latest updates regarding COVID-19.
She started off by saying that she has not had time to review or reflect on the bill passed by the legislature overnight – and that she has no intentions of announcing plans this afternoon.
Kelly also expressed disappointment in the process by Republicans and detailed in her own words how the creation of these bills happened.
“This is not the time for additional layers of red tape,” stated Kelly. She also questioned legalities in the way the bill was passed. She said they had a deadline and they didn’t meet it, however, they passed it after the deadline.
In the coming days, Kelly says she plans to thoroughly review all legislation that comes to her desk and make a determination on each proposal on its merits, not the political motivations that guided it to her desk.
The KDHE then spoke saying as of today, the state of Kansas has 8,958 positive cases, an increase of 419 since Wednesday.
The state has 185 deaths, an increase of 7 deaths since Wednesday.
Health officials tell residents to exercise caution and remain vigilant going into the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The state has released “Safe Memorial Day Guidance.”
Phase 3 in Kansas is scheduled, as of today, to begin on June 8, 2020.
Watch the full press briefing above.
Other highlights of the bill (read the full 25 page bill):
- It would shield businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits
- The bill would extend the state of emergency through May 31, then require Kelly to get legislative leaders’ permission to extend it
- It would require Kelly to get permission from legislative leaders to keep businesses closed for more than 15 days or to exercise other broad powers granted to governors during emergencies after May 31. Counties that could document a case for lesser restrictions could impose them
- Legislative leaders also would have the final say over how the state spends $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds
- Bill lessens penalties for defying orders from a misdemeanor to a civil penalty