Legislative leaders to decide whether to extend state of emergency Friday

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic is set to end Friday, but there’s a push to keep it in place.

The governor is asking lawmakers to extend the state of emergency for another month.

Members of the Legislative Coordinating Council will meet Friday to determine whether it should last through much of June.

The council is made up of six Republican and two Democratic leaders split evenly between the House and Senate. They’ll take the next two days to discuss if the disaster declaration put in place on March 12, 2020, is still necessary.

Supporters of the governor’s proposal said it’s too early to let up.

“We have mobile vaccination clinics out across the state today. We have contract nurses, we have national guardsmen, we have local health providers, local docs, local nurses out there doing vaccinations pretty much every day of the week. That is the biggest demand right now, and yes, testing is very important, so we’re doing some testing assistance as well,” Kansas Adjutant General David Weishaar said.

If the declaration isn’t extended, executive orders would end, such as testing requirements in nursing homes and eviction protections.

Some lawmakers are questioning which executive orders are still needed.

People that want to see the extension are also worried that federal money from FEMA could be affected if the declaration ended, though that’s unclear.

The state’s emergency operations center that coordinates efforts on the pandemic would shut down.

“Statutory abilities give us some abilities to respond while we’re under an emergency declaration, so that’s really what it’s all about is being able to provide the support everybody needs out there across the state,” Weishaar said “Right now it’s for vaccines, it’s for PPE, and testing samples is the primary focus we have today.”

If extended, legislative leaders could have to return in late June to determine whether a new extension is necessary.

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