Kelly vetoes COVID bill; loosens rules

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has vetoed legislation that would have curbed her ability to power to declare emergencies amid the coronavirus pandemic. With that, she loosened controls to allow individual counties to list restrictions.

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State News

May 27, 2020 - 10:33 AM

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she’s looking to have a panel of K-12 educators think about contingency plans as the new coronavirus spreads. Photo by Daniel Caudill/Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ Democratic governor on Tuesday vetoed a sweeping Republican coronavirus measure that would have limited her power to direct the state’s pandemic response but then ceded to local officials the authority to keep restrictions on businesses.

Gov. Laura Kelly not only killed a bill approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature last week but also issued a new state-of- emergency declaration to replace one set to expire Tuesday night. Many Republicans question whether she has the legal authority to do that — and retain the governor’s broad emergency powers — so her action is likely to keep an intense partisan dispute burning and risk a potential court challenge.

Kelly also is heightening the potential conflict with GOP leaders by calling the Legislature back into special session on June 3 to extend the new state of emergency past June 10. However, Republicans have a long list of proposals, including shielding businesses and health care providers from possible coronavirus-related lawsuits.

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