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Kansas lawmakers extend disaster declaration, drop eviction, foreclosure protections

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 11:29 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH/AP) - The Kansas Legislative Coordinating Council voted on Friday to extend a disaster declaration until June 15. However, they also immediately ended the emergency order on foreclosures and evictions.

The measure was approved 6-2. All of the Republicans on the council voted in favor of ending the moratorium. Two Democrats voted against it.

Top Republican legislators are serving notice that they’re preparing to end the state of emergency in Kansas for the coronavirus pandemic and are accusing Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly of having no “exit strategy.” The state of emergency was set to expire Friday.

State law required Kelly to get lawmakers’ approval to retain the disaster declaration. She sought the longest extension the law allows at one time, 30 days, until June 27. Democrats say it’s still too early to end the state of emergency.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Kelly has taken a clear-eyed, practical approach and empowered the people who know how to handle emergencies best. Maj. General Weishaar has been clear about the importance of this disaster declaration. It is central to how we get Kansas back to normal. We can not put our recovery at risk,” read a statement issued to the media on Friday.

“The Governor strongly disagrees with the LCC’s decision to revoke her evictions and foreclosure moratorium. As we finally start to recover from this global pandemic, now is not the time to kick people out of their homes. Governor Kelly will continue to focus on doing what’s right – and not what’s politically convenient.”

But some landlords say the moratorium has hurt them.

Cyndi Paul rents out one property. It’s paid off, so she doesn’t have a mortgage, but she still pays taxes on it. She said her tenants haven’t paid rent since 2019, before the pandemic.

“It’s cost me a fortune,” she said of the moratorium. “...On (the tenants’) end, this doesn’t really have anything to do with the pandemic. I think they just took advantage of it.”

When Paul was about to evict them, the moratorium went into effect, keeping her from doing so, until now.

“I’ve spent about $12,000 on attorney fees. I’m not getting money from them,” she said. “I wanted to retire. This was kind of my retirement investment.”

She said she plans to take the tenants to court now that the protections have ended.

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