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Kansas can enforce COVID-inspired limits on officials’ power

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — People who oppose mask requirements or restrictions on public gatherings imposed by Kansas counties can challenge them in court and obtain a ruling within 10 days.

The Kansas Supreme Court issued a stay Tuesday allowing enforcement of the law while it considers the Republican attorney general’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling striking down the law.

The court said the state, for now, can enforce COVID-19-inspired Senate Bill 40, a law enacted in March by the Republican-controlled Legislature to restrict the power of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and county officials in emergencies.

A judge in Johnson County declared last month that the law violated the state constitution, but GOP state Attorney General Derek Schmidt appealed.

The high court’s ruling could discourage counties from imposing mask mandates to deal with the two-month surge in COVID-19 cases tied to the delta variant.

AG Derek Schmidt statement on Kansas Supreme Court ruling:

“Today’s order from the Kansas Supreme Court granting our motion to stay the district court decision during the appeal is welcome news. The district court’s ruling had created unnecessary confusion about Kansas emergency management laws at a time when the rise in COVID cases makes certainty and stability in the law even more critical.”

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