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Gov. Kelly says she will sign compromise COVID-19-response bill

(KWCH)
Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 12:09 PM CDT
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Update 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4, 2020

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly released a statement Thursday evening applauding the passage of a bipartisan COVID-19 response bill and saying that she will sign the legislation into law.

“Today’s bipartisan passage of the COVID-19 response bill is a victory for Kansans. Our communities have faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic and I am proud of the compassion and resiliency they have shown during this difficult time. "While there are parts of this legislation that I oppose, HB 2016 provides the tools and resources for Kansas families, communities, and businesses to begin the path to economic recovery."

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Update 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4, 2020

By a vote of 26-12, the Kansas Senate passes the COVID-19 response bill imposing some limits on Gov. Laura Kelly's powers to respond to the pandemic. Ahead of the special session,Kelly backed the package approved by state lawmakers and is expected to sign the bill, HB 2016.

The bill gives lawmakers some oversight over the governor's ability to distribute federal aid and to close businesses for longer than 15 days at a time. It also includes limits on contact racing and gives the Kansas Board of Education the power to close schools.

“This bill has clearer restrictions on the governor’s use of emergency powers to close businesses, churches, schools and otherwise to limit gatherings in a one-size-fits-all, statewide manner," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says in a statement following the Senate's vote.

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle also released a statement after Thursday's vote, saying in part, "local governments now determine what is best for their communities."

"The Legislature will oversee the $1.25 billion in Federal CARES Act aid. Checks and balances are finally back in place like our constitution demands after much resistance from this governor," Wagle says. "It is long past time for her administration to focus on stopping virus clusters and getting people their unemployment checks – rather than the massive overreach of control she has forced businesses and Kansans to endure.”

Following the vote, the Senate adjourned the special session.

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Update 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Kansas House passes a COVID-19-response bill that imposes some limits on Gov. Laura Kelly's powers to respond to the pandemic.

The bill now heads to the Senate. Kelly worked with Republican leaders on a compromise, giving lawmakers some oversight over the governor's ability to distribute federal aid and to close businesses for longer than 15 days at a time.

The bill also includes limits on contact racing and gives the Kansas Board of Education the power to close schools.

Kelly issued a statement Wednesday night, crediting the House for their "bipartisan and transparent efforts on the passage of the COVID-19 response bill."

"Today, in spite of their disagreements, they put the interests of Kansans ahead of politics," Kelly says. "I urge the Senate to swiftly follow their lead, so that we can get Kansas families, businesses and communities the resources they need."

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4:08 p.m.

Top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature are working to sell a compromise with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly for giving lawmakers some oversight of the state’s coronavirus response.

Some Democrats on Wednesday wanted new protections for workers infected on the job, and advocates of expanding the state’s Medicaid program hadn’t given up on passing it.

Some Republicans thought their leaders went too far in compromising with Kelly.

The Legislature convened for a special session called by Kelly after she vetoed a sweeping coronavirus bill GOP lawmakers approved in May moments before adjourning their annual session.

Her staff and top Republicans negotiated a new plan.

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Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and the Republican-controlled Legislature are working on a compromise to give lawmakers oversight of the state’s coronavirus response.

Democrats on Wednesday sought protections for workers infected on the job. Some legislators are also expecting a debate on expanding the state’s Medicaid program. That's been a priority for Kelly since she took office.

The Legislature convened Wednesday for a special session called by Kelly after she vetoed a sweeping coronavirus bill GOP lawmakers approved in May moments before adjourning their annual session.

A new Republican plan unveiled Tuesday contains similar provisions, but GOP leaders hope the details are different enough that Kelly will sign it.

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