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Kansas lawmakers revoke Governor’s new mask order

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 1:54 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas legislative leaders acted quickly Thursday to rescind Gov. Laura Kelly’s newly issued statewide mask order.

It was among 13 executive orders the Governor issued Thursday that the Legislative Coordinating Council considered in an early afternoon meeting.

Under changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act signed into law last week, the Legislative Coordinating Council may revoke executive orders when the Legislature will not be in session for three or more days. The changes also revoked all COVID-related executive orders as of March 31, but allowed the Governor to reissue them.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle emphasized that even though the statewide Executive Order is no longer in effect, local orders will remain in place.

Legislative leadership unmasked their feelings about face-covering mandates at their virtual meeting Thursday.

“We are all tired of the face mask mandate tired of COVID, in general, we are close to the finish line,” said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes.

“Studies show that this does reduce the spread and it’s still in our communities there’s a variant out there I think this is sending the wrong message we want to keep our businesses open.”

“People in each locality understand their situation better than anyone in the state,” remarked House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins.

Republican leaders cited improving COVID-19 case numbers as a reason to remove the requirement.

“I would point out the numbers that we are dealing with cases that are less than a tenth of what the first statewide mandate was entered,” House Pro Tem Blaine Finch said.

While Democrats argued to wait until more Kansans get vaccinated.

“Until the immunization gets higher I think it’s real important people continue to follow CDC protocol wear masks when they’re in groups of people socially distance,” said House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer.

The revocation passed 5-2.

Other orders Kelly reissued Thursday dealt with issues including extending drivers’ license expiration deadlines, sale of alcoholic beverages, and prohibiting evictions and foreclosures.

In an interview Wednesday with 13 NEWS, Gov. Kelly said she anticipated the action.

“Republican leadership in the legislature has sent a very loud message that it won’t stick but that doesn’t relieve me of my responsibilities as governor which is to mandate a mask for a little while longer until we can ensure we have herd immunity across the state,” Kelly said.

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