TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday that she doesn’t plan to have the state health department use its power to manage disease outbreaks by shutting down businesses or imposing other restrictions in local coronavirus hot spots.
The Democratic governor’s statement went further than a public promise she made last month to top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature not to issue orders to close businesses statewide, as she did in the spring. She said that although the state will work with local officials in areas with big outbreaks to help them check the spread of the virus, it won’t dictate the steps they’ll take.
Kelly and Republican lawmakers were at odds for weeks over her handling of the pandemic, with GOP leaders preferring to let local officials set the rules for businesses, public gatherings and the reopening of K-12 schools. The Legislature forced her to accept local control of most of those decisions, and Kelly said Tuesday during a Statehouse news conference that she wants to keep businesses open.