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Governor Likely to Sign New Emergency Management Bill

Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says that a measure approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature to rewrite Kansas’ emergency management laws while limiting her authority during the coronavirus pandemic is reasonable.

Kelly said she’s inclined to sign the bill.

The measure would preserve the control that legislators gave county officials last year over mandating masks and restricting businesses and public gatherings, and it would allow legislative leaders to block the governor’s executive orders starting in April.

It also would strip appointed local health officers of their power to impose restrictions, leaving decisions to elected county commissions.

But the bill also would extend the current state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic until May 28, instead of allowing it to expire March 31.

Kelly told reporters, “I asked all the Democrats to support it.”

She noted the current emergency management law was enacted in the 1970’s.

She added that the old law didn’t anticipate a year-long emergency.

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