Disaster declaration extended after lively discussion between Governor and House Majority Leader


LAWRENCE, Kan. – A polite but lively discussion took place during today’s State Finance Council. The council unanimously approved the governor’s request to extend the state’s disaster declaration due to COVID. They also reviewed her executive order on uniform testing protocols for senior living facilities.

House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins wanted the legislature to approve any future extensions of the disaster declaration — since they’re back in session next month. However, Kelly said she would like legislators, particularly new ones, to have at least a week to settle in. Hawkins insisted that the legislature could and should have the opportunity to debate and decide on any future declarations, rather than the council extending it.

“Rep. Hawkins I would again ask you to withdraw this motion and trust that we are not doing anything to try to limit the authority of the legislature,” Kelly told him.

House Speaker Ron Rykman (R) attempted to bridge the gap between the two. Hawkins eventually withdrew his motion when it became clear the governor would veto his effort. Ultimately, Senator Anthony Hensley made a motion to approve, and it was seconded by House Minority Leader Representative Tom Sawyer—both Democrats.

This extension is for 25 instead of their usual 30 days, allowing the Council to meet once again before the legislature comes into session.

Earlier in the meeting, the Adjutant General Maj. Gen. David Weishaar informed the council of the guard’s response, asking them to extend the state’s emergency response. He told them he wished he wasn’t asking for an extension, but that it is necessary. He praised the guardsmen’s efforts, calling it a team effort across the state. He noted that they recently had 119 requests for assistance from Kansas counties to the state’s emergency operations center since the council last met. Those requests include assistance with lab supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). Currently, he said 96 guardsmen are on duty assisting across the state. While distribution of the vaccine falls under the purview of Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), he said that the Guard is quietly preparing to assist if called upon.

Both Maj. Gen. Wishaar and Governor Kelly brought up the struggle the state is currently facing in acquiring additional medical exam gloves. Wishaar noted the shortage and that there are not many glove manufacturers available to help fill the overwhelming orders. Later in the meeting, the governor made the comment that they are basically going to “the black market” in an attempt to ensure the state has the medical gloves needed.