COVID business aid bill struck down by Gov. Laura Kelly

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A bill that could have sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Kansas businesses has been struck down. It’s one of two that Gov. Laura Kelly announced her decisions on Friday afternoon.

Kelly decided to veto a bill that would give monetary aid to Kansas businesses hurt by coronavirus restrictions. It’s estimated 500 million dollars could have been up for grabs if the bill was signed into law. The money comes from federal relief bills, and would have impacted how money communities received was spent.

“SB 273 is well-intentioned, but it violates federal rules for the use of American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) funds that prevent the state from placing conditions or requirements on local governments’ use of ARPA funds. SB 273 also fails to comply with federal rules that prohibit using ARPA funds to resolve potential legal claims against state or local governments.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

Any Kansas business with 50 or fewer full-time employees that was impacted by coronavirus restrictions since March 2020 could have applied for the money. Supporters said it would have helped prevent lawsuits against the state. The bill was passed by the legislature earlier this month. It did not receive full Republican support in either the House or Senate, meaning it would be difficult to override the governor’s veto.

“I am committed to working with the SPARK Taskforce to develop relief programs that comply with federal requirements to ensure that our economy emerges from this pandemic stronger and more agile than ever,” Kelly said.

The governor also made a decision on the omnibus budget. Kelly signed off on all but one item in the large plan. She line-item vetoed $500,000 to the University of Kansas Medical Center to conduct clinical trials for a COVID-19 treatment using MSCTC-0010 cells developed at the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center.

“We should listen to those with knowledge of how clinical trials work when they tell us that the proposal outlined in this proviso is unrealistic and unneeded, and we should focus on saving lives by expediting vaccinations for as many Kansans as possible throughout the state,” Kelly said about the veto.

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