Lawmakers want more oversight

Republican legislators want to give their colleagues more say in management of emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic, after conflicts with Democratic governor.

By

State News

September 25, 2020 - 3:24 PM

Wichita Democratic state Rep. Elizabeth Bishop puts on a mask as she enters the Statehouse on Thursday, the second day of the special session. Photo by KANSAS NEWS SERVICE/JIM MCLEAN/KCUR.ORG

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas have started pushing to give more of their colleagues a say in how the state manages protracted emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic after months of conflict between them and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

A Republican-led legislative committee studying the state’s emergency management laws agreed Thursday that the GOP-controlled Legislature should consider creating a new panel with permanent oversight of how the governor handles monthslong emergencies. The study committee also said lawmakers should look into making it easier for them to reconvene later in the year after their annual spring session has concluded.

Top Republicans previously concluded that the Legislature needs to revise laws that give the governor sweeping powers during a state of emergency, arguing that they were designed for short-term emergencies such as floods and tornadoes. Kelly and GOP lawmakers compromised in June on a special law that set separate rules for the coronavirus pandemic, but key parts of it expire in late January 2021.

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