Lawmakers use state of emergency extension to discourage Gov. Kelly from closing businesses

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas is extending its state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The current disaster declaration was set to expire on Tuesday, September 15. Members of the State Finance Council voted Friday to extend the state of emergency for one month until October 15.

The governor and eight legislative leaders from both the House and Senate make up the council. They unanimously voted to extend the declaration, but it came after hours of debate.

“We were all on different ends of the spectrum, we were all heading to no, which would have been very bad for the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning. “When you start at hell no and you end up with a unanimous vote, that’s a good day and that’s how the process works.”

Without the extension, the governor’s executive orders to help Kansans affected by coronavirus would have ended.

In the new declaration, Republicans wanted to discourage the governor from deciding what businesses are allowed to be open. It now makes a point to say it is not the governor’s intent to close businesses.

“We cannot shut down again, we can’t recover. I think the governor, she expressed it, we wanted to have it part of the actual motion,” said Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman. “We’ve learned a lot since the beginning of this and how to open safely and keep people safe. We want to make sure that continues, so it was just assurances that our citizens needed.”

The governor has said she wants to avoid shutting down businesses.

Because of a bill passed in June, she has the option to shut down businesses for 15 days, then she would have to get approval from lawmakers for any time longer than that.

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