‘Let me be the bad guy’: Gov. Kelly says after GOP slams mask mandate

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Kansas governor Laura Kelly is not staying silent after Republican leaders shot down her statewide mask mandate.

The governor responded to questions about the Legislative Coordinating Council’s (LCC) decision at an event on Monday.

“Let me be the bad guy. Let me be the one who mandates it,” Gov. Kelly said.

There’s a divide between lawmakers when it comes to coronavirus safety measures. Republican lawmakers are giving the governor little chance to implement any restrictions, as they push for a ‘return to normal.’

“Numerous local governments have recently opted to ease or repeal their local mask mandates, and more will surely follow, demonstrating an increased desire to get back to normal — and a refreshing trust in the people of Kansas to make their own decisions.”

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson

Kelly signed into law a Republican bill requiring public schools to offer full-time, in-person classes to all students for the rest of the current semester.

The governor said one of her main concerns is making sure people stay safe during the pandemic.

“The pandemic is not gone. The virus is not gone. It’s showing up in different ways, shape, and forms. We know that masks work,” Kelly said.

Republican leaders voted to reject the governor’s statewide mask mandate in a 5-2 vote on Thursday, just hours after the governor issued the executive order.

Some Senate leadership has said that they’re focused on allowing people to make decisions on how to stay safe.

“It’s just time to get off that mask mandate and it just sends a signal that we’re with them,” Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson told Kansas’ Capitol Bureau on Wednesday, the day before the LCC’s decision.

Now, it’s up to local governments on whether to require masks.

Senate Bill 40, which was signed into law last month, allows the LCC to reject any of the governor’s executive orders up until the end of May.

The law also allows individuals and businesses to object to local COVID-19 restrictions and receive a judge’s review in 72 hours. Officials have the responsibility of proving the restrictions improve public health in the least restrictive way. 

For more information on Senate Bill 40, click here.

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