TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature are working on a compromise coronavirus measure to give lawmakers some oversight of the spending federal relief funds and protect businesses from pandemic-related lawsuits.
Kelly called lawmakers back to Topeka for a special session that convenes Wednesday after she vetoed a sweeping coronavirus bill they approved May 21 before adjourning their annual session. It would have curbed Kelly’s power to direct the state’s pandemic response, given legislative leaders the final say over the spending of $1.25 billion in federal relief funds and protected businesses, medical providers and nursing homes from lawsuits.
The governor has since met with top Republicans, and GOP lawmakers unveiled it during committee meetings Tuesday. It’s similar to the bill Kelly vetoed but differs in enough details for GOP leaders to hope she would sign it.
A state of emergency Kelly declared for the pandemic is set to expire June 10, and she wants lawmakers to extend it so that she can continue to tap broad emergency powers. The new plan would extend the existing state of emergency until Sept. 15 but limit the governor’s power to close businesses, something she did until late May.
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