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Governor Signs Emergency Powers Bill

Governor Laura Kelly has signed legislation rewriting Kansas laws for managing the coronavirus pandemic and future emergencies even though she believes it could hinder disaster response efforts.

The measure Kelly signed takes effect within a week, and extends that state of emergency until May 28, instead of expiring March 31- a point she cited in a statement announcing her action.

Kelly added that parts of the measure “could complicate our emergency response efforts,” without being more specific in her statement.

The changes apply both to the coronavirus pandemic and to future emergencies.

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.


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