Republicans on a joint committee studying reform of Kansas’ emergency management law expressed angst about the prominent role of urban legislators on the State Finance Council serving a key oversight role – and source of opposition to Governor Laura Kelly’s maneuvering – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Reflector reports that House and Senate members representing rural districts pointed out six of eight legislators on the council were from urban centers.
Bunker Hill Representative Troy Waymaster and Sedgwick Senator Carolyn McGinn, who chair the House and Senate budget committees, live outside large cities.
“Voices of western Kansas are a little different than voices for Johnson County,” said Representative John Barker, an Abilene Republican.
Representative Bradley Ralph, a Republican from Dodge City, said work of the State Finance Council during the public health emergency amplified concern rural interests weren’t equitably represented.
Early in the pandemic, the incidence of COVID-19 in larger population centers, especially Johnson County, vastly exceeded levels in rural regions of the state.
The issue surfaced during discussion at the Capitol by a special committee examining the Kansas Emergency Management Act initiated in 1953.