Kansas Lawmakers pass coronavirus plan, Gov. pledges to sign

Kansas Map With Covid 19 Simulation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a bipartisan plan to give Kansas lawmakers some oversight of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s response to the coronavirus pandemic rammed it through the Republican-controlled Legislature on Thursday.

The Senate approved, 26-12, a bill that contains a plan negotiated by Kelly’s staff and top Republican legislators. Supporters allowed no debate, cutting off any chance for opponents to try to amend the bill after the House passed it Wednesday night, 107-12.

Kelly has already pledged to sign the measure.

Republican critics do not think the bill would go far enough to prevent coronavirus-related lawsuits, particularly against nursing homes. Some Democrats complained it went too far in shielding businesses from lawsuits.

The bill emerged from a two-day special session that Kelly called after vetoing a previous GOP plan to curb her power. She wanted lawmakers to extend a state of emergency for the pandemic that is due to expire Wednesday. The bill lawmakers passed extends the state of emergency until Sept. 15 and into January 2021 if legislative leaders consent.

Legislative leaders also would decide how the state spends $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.

The measure provides some protection from lawsuits for businesses, medical providers and, to a more limited degree, nursing homes.