GOP Wants Top Kansas Lawmakers, Not The Governor, To Control Coronavirus Aid

May 20, 2020

TOPEKA — Republican lawmakers in Kansas moved Wednesday to give the GOP-controlled Legislature's leaders the final say over how federal coronavirus relief funds are spent.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to include legislative oversight of the distribution of $1.25 billion in federal funds in a broader measure that's likely also to curb Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's power to direct the state's coronavirus response.

Kelly has appointed a 20-member task force to oversee the distribution of the money and help her manage the reopening of the state's economy, and five legislators are members, including three Republicans.

But many GOP lawmakers argue that the Legislature has the duty to oversee how the aid is spent, just as it approves an annual state budget.

Many Republican lawmakers are frustrated with Kelly's plan for a phased reopening of the state's economy. She's planning to lift most restrictions by late June, but some GOP legislators think that's too slow. They also don't like that she's setting different rules for different kinds of businesses.

The full Legislature is scheduled to convene Thursday for a one-day final session this year. It has been on a spring break since March 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic.