Governor will seek to extend state’s disaster declaration

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Laura Kelly will ask Kansas legislative leaders to extend the state’s disaster declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview Tuesday with 13 NEWS, Kelly said she “absolutely” will make the request. The current declaration ends Sept. 15. Letting it expire, Kelly said, puts much at risk.

“Our disaster funding; our assistance from the federal government; and the states ability to assist our counties (would all be at risk),” she said.

A compromise bill reached to end the Kansas Legislature’s special session in May requires approval from six members of the State Finance Council to extend the disaster declaration beyond Sept. 15. Rep. Fred Patton, R-Topeka, who chaired the committee which crafted the compromise and now leads an interim panel reviewing the Kansas Emergency Management Act, says he does not foresee the council having a problem with extending the emergency declaration.

“They’re probably just going to want a little more control as we go forward,” Patton said. “I’m guessing they’ll extend it for a relatively short period of time, that way they can come back and ask questions over time, continue to extend it, until we don’t need a disaster declaration.”

Kelly said the length the disaster might continue remains an unknown. She said she knows it’s hard, but encouraged people to continue taking steps to slow the spread, including social distancing and wearing a mask.

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