KS lawmakers react to 24-hour legislative session

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Kansas lawmakers worked through the night to pass a bill limiting Gov. Laura Kelly's emergency powers. The governor said she does not yet know if she'll sign it.

The Kansas House and Senate gaveled in around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, prepared for a long day that stretched through the night.

Democratic Senator Vic Miller said, “This was about as clear of an example that I could ever give as to how you should not go about passing legislation. We were up all night, literally all night.”

Republican leaders spent 24 hours pressing their case for keeping executive powers in check.

Republican Representative Stephen Owens said, "For better than two months I have heard from hundreds, if not thousands of people that are literally unable to feed their families."

Senate President Susan Wagle added, “Main street Kansas was closed. Not only was it closed, it was suffering financially. People were going bankrupt and they didn't understand what her meaning of essential was."

24 hours later, their bill passed. It limits the governor's emergency powers in a number of ways:

The legislative coordinating council will now oversee the coronavirus relief fund.

It officially extends the current Disaster Declaration through May 31st. The State Finance Council would approve any extensions, and the governor can declare no more COVID-related emergencies this year.

The governor can still issue orders closing business for 15 days, but the State Finance Council would approve anything further.

Also, the measure protects businesses from COVID-related lawsuits, prevents a governor from seizing ammunition or limiting gun sale, gives county commissioners authority to issue orders less restrictive than the governor's and any order by county health officers must also be approved by commissioners.

Not every lawmaker believes the measures are necessary.

Miller said, “I think Governor Kelly has responded in a fantastic way and I happen to believe that most people in Kansas know that she’s endured an almost impossible task and come through with flying colors.”

He also said he would urge Kelly to veto the bill. She has ten days to veto, sign or let it become law without her signature.

You can read the full summary of the bill here.