Lawmakers debate powers for governor during state of emergency

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Some lawmakers say they’re giving up too much to the governor during the coronavirus crisis.

On Friday, the House unanimously voted to approve a plan that extends Governor Kelly’s state of emergency from 15 days until next year. Now senators are trying to make changes to the plan.

“Instead of just turning the blanket statute over to her, this was selected based on the situation we’re in,” Sen. Caryn Tyson said.

Senators voting to change the plan believe it gives too much power to the governor.

“When this is over, the greatest harm to society will have been the public’s unquestioning acceptance of the unchecked authority of governments to enforce private behavior and disrupt economies,” Shawnee Senator Mike Thompson said, quoting a Kentucky representative. “I think that’s happening here, right now.”

The amendment to the House plan limits the governor from making certain changes pertaining to resources, private property and movement of people.

Some said the amendment goes too far.

“Why we would not have an authority who’s local, who knows Kansas, who knows the needs of Kansans,” said Kansas City Senator David Haley, who supports keeping power with the governor.

Lawmakers voting against the change believe the governor and her team should be making the decisions without lawmakers stepping in.

“I think they’ve handled it very well. I trust them. They’re making decisions on data,” Lenexa Senator Dinah Sykes said about Kelly and her staff.

Now lawmakers are discussing a compromise to get a resolution passed.

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