February 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Kansas legislative leaders let emergency declaration expire

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Legislative leaders canceled a scheduled meeting of the Legislative Coordinating Council, which means the state’s COVID emergency declaration expires today.  The council was set to determine whether to extend the state’s emergency declaration.

In a joint statement, Senate President Ty Masterson, Senate Vice President Rick Wilborn, and Senate Majority Leader Larry Alley said the statewide disaster emergency will expire as planned.

“The legislature and the LCC have granted the governor every extension request over the last year,” it reads. “But the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 no longer necessitate a statewide disaster emergency. The governor has not provided adequate justification for the LCC to grant her request for yet another extension, and all remaining efforts related to COVID-19 can and should take place under our normal procedures.”

Gov. Kelly first issued emergency orders in March 2020. Legislators changed the state’s emergency management law during the pandemic. The update requires the governor to seek legislative approval to extend emergency orders. The current declaration expires today, June 15. However, in a letter to legislative leaders, she requested a minimum of 76 more days.

Governor’s authority to issue executive orders also expires

Declaring a statewide emergency provides Kelly the authority to issue executive orders related to the pandemic. She wrote that the 76-day extension assists the state in vaccinating more children, distributing and administering vaccines through mobile clinics, and providing additional welfare benefits to families.  Kelly claims an emergency order is needed to draw down federal money, but Kansas will receive $1.6 billion over the next twelve months from the latest COVID ‘stimulus’ plan and there are not strings attached requiring an emergency declaration

Her letter said she would allow all but two of the current executive orders to expire. One required COVID testing in certain state-licensed nursing homes. Another granted temporary authority for traveling nurses to administer COVID vaccinations.

When LCC members extended the current declaration through June 15, they asked that the Governor use the time to develop an exit strategy.

“After reviewing the governor’s letter, it appears the governor opted for an extension strategy,” the joint statement from Masterson, Wilborn, and Alley reads.

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