TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican legislators signed off Wednesday on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s request to extend a state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic as the state set another record for COVID-19-related hospitalizations.
Eight leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature, six of them Republicans, quickly and unanimously approved Kelly’s plan to extend the state of emergency until Nov. 15. Under a law enacted in June, top lawmakers must consider an extension once a month, and without their approval, the state of emergency would have expired Oct. 15, possibly hindering the ability of the state to move supplies and personnel around.
Wednesday’s meeting was in sharp contrast to a contentious one last month, when top Republican leaders extracted a public promise from Kelly not to try to close businesses statewide again as she did in the spring. GOP leaders and the governor have been at odds for months over her handling of the pandemic and have forced her to accept local control over mandating mask-wearing, reopening schools and restricting businesses and public gatherings.