Gov. Kelly, top lawmakers agree to work to get more Kansans to wear masks

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Governor Laura Kelly met with the top lawmakers in the Kansas Legislature to discuss how to get more people to wear masks.

Most counties have opted out of the governor’s executive order requiring masks. Kelly said recent spikes in those counties is concerning her.

“We are experiencing huge number of outbreaks more so in our rural communities now than before, we have got to do something,” Kelly said. “We can mitigate the spread of this virus, buy some time for a vaccine to be developed and distributed, and in the meantime, keep our schools and businesses open.”

The governor previously has hinted that she may want to bring back the legislature for a special session to rework a new mask mandate if cases continue to rise.

On Tuesday afternoon, she virtually met with six Republican and two Democratic leaders in the legislature. Republicans have argued that it should be left up to local officials to decide whether masks should be mandated.

Republican House leadership, consisting of Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman, House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch, put out this statement.

“Legislative leadership met with the Governor today to talk about strategies for increasing the use of masks by Kansans across the state. All agreed to seek strategies to improve public education and voluntary collaboration to increase the use of masks rather than a special session and legislation. We call on all Kansans to practice personal responsibility and compassion for their fellow Kansans by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and proper hygiene. This is the right thing to do. In the words of the former U.S. Senate Chaplain, Peter Marshall, ‘May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.'”

Republican House Leadership

The governor put out this statement after the meeting.

“This afternoon Legislative leadership joined me for a productive conversation to reach a bipartisan solution to slow the spread of COVID-19. Legislative leadership agreed to work with me through a strategy of engagement with municipalities, counties, and stakeholders to increase the use of masks and mask requirements across the State of Kansas. It is my hope that this bipartisan outreach strategy will avert the need for emergency legislation through a special session.”  

Governor Laura Kelly

Senate President Susan Wagle issued this statement.

“We had a productive conversation with the Governor who agreed, at this time, to work with local commissioners directly and ask for their help in managing areas of concern, rather than imposing another state mandate.”

Senate President Susan Wagle

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