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Republicans hope to pass ‘necessary’ bills, limit governor on last day

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Lawmakers are hustling to make sure everything is in order for the last day of the legislative session on Thursday.

Three top Republican senators unveiled 12 bills they want to pass during the challenging times we’re seeing.

“We came up with a plan of bills that are absolutely necessary to pass before we walk out the door,” Senate President Susan Wagle said.

The bills they are promoting address topics like liability concerns, utility rates, a loan program and delaying tax payments.

“Kansans want us to solve these problems, they want predictability, they want social distancing, they want to keep their health safe, they want to stop the spread of the virus, and just as important to them is economic security,” Wagle said. “They want their jobs back, they want to go back to business with social distancing and a safe way, that is the type of bills that we address tomorrow.”

Wagle was joined by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, and Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine.

“These are not run-of-the-mill bills, these are really important, and I think both chambers want to complete this work,” Denning said.

Lawmakers also want to address the governor’s emergency powers.

“I think the main thing is that we want to push power down to the local counties,” Longbine said. “One size doesn’t fit all.”

The emergency powers bill could change what is and isn’t allowed in the state during a pandemic. It would change the governor’s restrictions and make them guidelines instead. This would let local governments decide if they want to put more or less restrictions in place than what the state recommends.

“A swimming pool in Wyandotte County, there may be legitimate reason why that shouldn’t be open, but a swimming pool in Gove County, that hasn’t had an active case in over a month, may not be appropriate, so we feel it’s better to allow the locals to decide what is appropriate with them,” Longbine said.

Lawmakers said they also want to clarify if the state is currently under a legal state of emergency, and if the governor has the right to extend the order again when it expires on May 26.

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