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Kansas GOP leaders preparing to end COVID state of emergency

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Posted at 11:35 AM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 12:35:02-04

TOPEKA, Kan. — Top Republican legislators served notice Friday that they're preparing to end Kansas' state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic and accused Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly of having no "exit strategy."

Eight top leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature, six of them currently Republicans, approved a shorter extension of the state of emergency than Kelly wanted, until June 15. The state of emergency was set to expire Friday, and state law required Kelly to get to lawmakers' approval to keep it in place. She sought the longest extension the law allows at one time, 30 days, until June 27.

Officials in Kelly's administration told legislative leaders earlier this week that ending the state of emergency would jeopardize some federal funds, shut down the state's emergency operations center and make it harder or even prevent the sharing of resources among state agencies and cities and counties.

But with the rates of new COVID-19 cases having dropped in recent months, top Republicans said they want emergency operations wound down. They said Kansas residents are tried of pandemic restrictions, though most have ended.

Democrats said it's too soon to end the state of emergency because people are still being hospitalized and dying.