Kansas lawmakers moving quickly on COVID-19 legislation
photo by: Associated Press
Story updated at 12:48 p.m. Monday
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have been moving quickly on legislation that would extend the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration before it expires on Jan. 26.
“I’ve not seen, and I don’t think we’ve seen before, a bill that moved with such expediency,” said Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City. “I dare say it is abnormal and it lends a certain question as to how fairly it can be deliberated and considered. This is a very crucial issue in terms of the public health.”
The temporary bills moving in the state Senate and House deal with COVID-19-related provisions that impact the coronavirus response, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Both have had public hearings and passed out of committee in the first week of the session.
The bills extend legislation passed last year outlining temporary changes in law in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Those include allowing establishments to offer to-go alcohol, expanding the use of telemedicine and adding flexibility in health care licensing.
They aim to ensure continuity until lawmakers decide later in the session what exactly should be implemented in response to COVID-19 and how to oversee the governor during a long-term emergency like the pandemic.
“My understanding is that this is just to buy us time … to give us more time to have a deep dive into each detail,” said Sen. Beverly Gossage, R-Eudora. “But right now, we have this looming deadline we have to address.”
The state added 3,688 cases from Friday to Monday, making its tally 259,822 since the start of the pandemic. It reported 23 more deaths since Friday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 3,525.