2020 legislative session

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — At the beginning of the year, independent consulting firm London Economics released a study of Kansas electric rates — how they’re developed, why they’re more expensive than neighboring states and some suggestions on how to change that.

Legislators seemed poised to act on some of the recommendations until the coronavirus struck and shortened their session by several weeks. Some consumer and environmental advocates say the abrupt stop cut the time and energy given to critical policy aimed at reducing your utility bills.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A deal forged by the governor and legislative leaders extends the Kansas disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus through September, for now ending what’s become a partisan conflict.

Kansas News Service/File photo

TOPEKA — A bill giving Kansas lawmakers some oversight of the state's coronavirus response cleared the House on Wednesday night and is headed to the Senate.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas no longer will impose a statewide phased-in reopening plan, Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday.

In deciding to veto a bill that would have restricted her powers to respond to the coronavirus, she issued a new emergency declaration.

“This legislation creates more problems than it solves,” Kelly said. She argued it would ultimately delay coronavirus aid from the federal government. “This would only prolong the economic pain of this crisis.”

TOPEKA, Kansas — In a one-day marathon session that wrapped up a legislative year upended by the coronavirus, Kansas lawmakers reined in the governor’s powers to respond to the public health crisis.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly sharply criticized the all-night rush that drafted the bill, but she stopped short of threatening a veto. Instead, she said, she will read the legislation carefully and make a decision at a later date.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas legislators convened Thursday for a single-day session on the coronavirus pandemic with Republican majorities determined to curb Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s power and the state’s GOP attorney general suggesting she’s been on “legally suspect” ground for three weeks.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — When Kansas lawmakers left for an early spring break in mid-March, the state was projected to have a healthy savings account of nearly $1 billion in reserves come June. They passed an $8 billion budget as the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning, not knowing whether they’d even come back to Topeka.

Kansas lawmakers approved a basic budget this week before heading home to await whatever the coronavirus has in store for the state and their communities.

They’re hoping to reconvene in late April to wrap up their work for the year. But they left knowing they might not have an opportunity to resolve their differences on several big issues, including Medicaid expansion and a constitutional amendment on abortion.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The week started with a Kansas House Democrat making an unusual request to not just his fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, but to the Lord: “Please nudge our counterparts in the Senate. Please help them to work with a little more urgency.”

With the threat of the new coronavirus growing by the day — businesses were shutting down, universities moving fully online — legislators knew time was running out to pass the state’s budget for the next fiscal year. The action was pretty much restricted to the Statehouse’s document room and the chambers. No visitors or school groups in the halls of the Capitol, the hearing rooms empty, the whole place a reminder of how quickly things changed.

Kansas lawmakers are making contingency plans in case the spread of the coronavirus forces an early end to the 2020 legislative session. A shortened session would lessen the chances of lawmakers resolving their differences on abortion and Medicaid expansion before heading home.

Susan Wagle, the Republican president of the Kansas Senate, is blocking consideration of a bipartisan expansion bill until the House approves a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution. Attempts by legislative leaders to end the stalemate appear to be making little progress.

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