TOPEKA (KSNT) – Legislative leaders have voted Friday to extend the state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic through June 15, 2021. The state’s block on evictions, however, has come to an end.
The legislative coordinating council, which is made up of eight leaders from both the House and Senate, voted 6 to 2 Friday morning. The council also added that the governor’s executive order banning certain foreclosures and evictions must end Friday.
The governor had asked for a 30-day extension for the disaster declaration through June 27. However, some members voiced opposition because they believe the state doesn’t have a good exit strategy to get out of the state of emergency.
“My objection is truly to the fact that there’s been no planning, and all we do is keep things going and going and going,” said House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins.
Other members said it’s too soon to cancel the declaration as people are still getting sick from coronavirus.
“My concern is we don’t want to wind this down too quickly,” said House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer.
The state of emergency lets the state’s emergency management center coordinate efforts on coronavirus. It also allows the governor’s executive orders to stay in place. Some people are worried that if the state ends the disaster declaration, federal dollars from FEMA could stop coming into the state, but that’s unclear.
Lawmakers will now have to decide in June whether to extend the declaration again if the governor asked for a new extension.
The disaster declaration has been in place since March 12, 2020.