Kansas Chamber encourages Governor to support COVID-19 Bill

KNSS News
May 25, 2020 - 6:19 pm
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The Kansas Chamber and its members on Saturday encouraged Governor Laura Kelly to support Senate Substitute for House Bill 2054, a comprehensive bill addressing the impact of the COIVD-19 pandemic on the state.

"While far from perfect from her view and ours, enacting HB 2054 is vital to multiple interests across the state and will give all Kansans confidence our state is on the path of both health and economic recovery," said Chamber President and CEO Alan Cobb. "This legislation does not put Kansans at risk. Rather, it strengthens our state’s ability to respond to the current health crisis and the economic emergency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It creates a partnership among our elected leaders, even when the Kansas Legislature is not in session. It provides certainty for Kansans and for the state’s business community during these uncertain times."

Governor Kelly received the bill Friday and has ten days to consider whether she will sign the legislation into law, let it become law without her signature or veto it.

Cobb pointed out that without HB 2054 becoming law, Governor Kelly’s current emergency declaration will expire on Tuesday, May 26th as well as many of the executive orders she has put in place to help Kansans fight the virus. And as the recent opinion from Kansas Attorney General Derrick Schmidt indicates, her ability to issue another emergency declaration is considerably in question.

With HB 2054, Cobb said many important responses to the COVID-19 pandemic will become law. The bill:

  • Establishes a process so the governor has the authority to issue additional emergency declarations.
  • Increases local oversight by requiring local health department rules to be ratified by the elected county commissions. 
  • Allows county commissions to issue less restrictive orders for their communities.
  • Appropriates state and federal COVID-19 related funding through the legislature as required by the state constitution.
  • Provides limited business and medical liability protections.
  • Ratifies several executive orders issued by the governor:
  • Telemedicine
  • Hospital and medical care facility usage
  • Temporary emergency licensure for some health occupations
  • Court video conferencing
  • Sale of liquor to go
  • Important unemployment insurances changes

"In times of crisis, Kansans respond swiftly to ensure their families are safe and to help their neighbors and strangers. That same spirit has played out time and time again across the state during the COVID-19 crisis. HB 2054 will make certain our state and local leaders have the tools necessary to continue our state's battle against COVID-19 and to safely reopen our economy," Cobb said.

Cobb said the Chamber and its members also appreciated the efforts of the Kansas Legislature to wrap up session.

"The last day of the 2020 legislative session was unlike any other in recent history," Cobb said. "Cut short of finishing their work when COVID-19 forced them to abruptly end the regular session, lawmakers had a great deal to accomplish in a limited amount of time. They addressed crucial issues for Kansans and the state’s business community as the state and its economy begin to reopen."

In addition, the Chamber urged Governor Kelly to the sign the bills passed by the legislature that include much needed property tax reform and waiving penalties and interest for late property tax payments, as well as the linked-loan deposit program which will provide $60 million of loans to small businesses in Kansas.

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