26 May NOTICE: Governor Kelly calling Legislature back in to Special Session Next Week
This afternoon, Governor Kelly announced that she is using her constitutional authority to call the Kansas Legislature back in to a Special Session next week, beginning Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
The Governor stated that she intends to veto CCR on Sen Sub for HB 2054, outlined below, which would have restricted the Governor’s authority to issue emergency disaster orders under the Kansas Emergency Management Act. She is directing the legislature to return to Topeka and asking that they pass a bill to extend her current emergency orders under the Act.
The Governor’s current state of disaster emergency orders will expire at midnight tonight. After which, each county commission or county public health officer in Kansas may once again issue their own county-wide orders in response to the pandemic as they deem appropriate.
CCR HB 2054
The last, and most complex, piece of legislation passed by the legislature this session was Conference Committee Report on Senate Substitute for HB 2054. The legislation includes, inter alia, the following:
- Kansas Emergency Management Act – The legislature implemented statutory changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA). These changes – recommended by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt – limit the Governor’s authority by requiring the Governor to receive permission from the State Finance Council before issuing any new COVID-19-related emergency proclamation. In addition, the State Finance Council – made up of legislative leadership – must approve any new emergency proclamation that would order the closure of any business. Other changes to the KEMA require the Board of County Commissioners to approve any order issued by a local health officer.
- Corporate Limited Liability re COVID – Other provisions of the bill create the “COVID-19 Response and Reopening for Business Liability Protection Act” to provide limited-liability protections to businesses and other organizations, and to health care providers, from claims of injury, other than for gross negligence, related actions resulting in COVID-19 exposure. The legislation also provides product liability limitations for companies making certain products to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Unemployment Insurance Amendments – The amends Kansas unemployment compensation law to make it consistent with federal guidelines to ensure that Kansas remains eligible to receive COVID-related federal funds for our unemployment compensation program.
Federal COVID-Relief Funds – Kansas looks to receive approximately $1.25 billion in federal pandemic relief funds (through the federal CARES act). The funds may be used for expenses directly-related to the pandemic. This bill sets out the oversight and appropriation process for these funds through the Legislative Budget Committee.