The Kansas Legislature moved quickly to pass a basic operational budget that would allow essential state government services to be funded. This “bare bones” budget spends $7.83 billion from the State General Fund. $65 million was approved to allow Kansas to assist businesses and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. $5 million of that $65 million was allocated to Hospitality Relief Emergency Fund. Most of those funds have already been allocated at time of this writing. The Kansas Commerce website at kansascommerce.gov/HIREFund and Small Business Disaster Relief Loans at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. State statute allows the Governor to declare a state of emergency for a maximum of 15 days. The Legislature gave authority to Legislative Coordinating Council to approve or revoke Executive Orders. The following EOs have been issued recently:
• An order reducing size of public gatherings from 50 to 10
• An order establishing the Kansas Essential Functions Framework. This is a framework that counties must use if the issue a stay-at-home order to ensure there is uniformity across the state in regards to what is considered essential.
• An order extending deadlines for driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals. The renewals must now be completed within 60 days of the expiration of the EO.
• An order delaying the state income tax deadline to July 15 to match the federal income tax deadline.
• An order preventing waste removal providers from cancelling services to those unable to pay due to a loss of income due to COVID-19 pandemic.
• The Governor rescinded a previous order and replaced it with a new order temporarily preventing evictions and foreclosures of Kansans who cannot make their payments due to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kansas House leadership have launched a new one-stop-shop for information on the COVID-19 crisis. Republican House leadership has developed Kansas Together. This will help Kansans find the truly important they need without having to view numerous websites. The website is: www.kansastogether.com
The KDHE website is: www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus; the CDC website is www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. Legislators are getting daily updates on COVID-19 issues. Our number one goal is to protect the health and safety of Kansans. This is not a political issue. This is a public health issue. Our goal is to make sure funding and cooperation is secure and in place. Kansans have the resolve to get through these unsettled times with a “Kansas, we’re in this together!” Helping our neighbors and being strong in face of adversity. We also need to exercise precautions, be diligent in social distancing and keep our faith in God.
It has been a very busy time for me since I returned home from Topeka. I have taken numerous calls on impacts on small businesses, clarifying EOs and their impact. I contacted Sen Moran’s office get a local constituent and his family out of Jordan. People are concerned about what we do not know about COVID-19. We are on early break and are not scheduled to return to Topeka until May 1. Best contact for me is my cell phone or email.
State Rep. Doug Blex, R-Independence, represents most of rural Cowley County and all of Chautauqua County. He can be reached at (785) 296-5863 or firstname.lastname@example.org.