It was a busy week with the usual work in the legislature and because of issues arising as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
One example, I had been working with a healthcare provider to get insurance payments for telemedicine and reached out to the Insurance Commissioner’s office. They helped in solving the problem and the Governor’s latest Executive Order (EO) also addressed the issue. Together we can and do make a difference.
To mitigate spread of the virus, the Governor has issued seven Executive Orders so far:
• EO 20-03 declares a state of disaster, providing availability of additional resources.
• EO 20-04 prohibits mass gatherings of 50 people or more and lists exclusions.
• EO 20-05 directs and orders Kansas utility and internet providers to not disconnect services for non-payment and lists the types of services included.
• EO 20-06 directs and orders all financial institutions to suspend initiating any mortgage foreclosures, evictions or judicial proceedings.
• EO 20-07 closes all K-12 public and private schools until 5/29/2020, while continuing meal programs, childcare, online learning opportunities, and other exceptions.
• EO 20-08 expands availability of telehealth medical services.
• EO 20-09 removes or lessens certain motor carrier rules and regulations if participating in relief or restoration efforts as a result of the virus.
It is not unprecedented for the legislature to pass a resolution extending the Governor’s authority during a state of emergency while the legislature is not in session. What appears to be unprecedented about House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 5025 was the authority and length of time that was proposed. During senate debate, three amendments were offered and passed. The first was to decrease the length of time turning over legislative authority to the Governor, changing the date from Jan. 25, 2021 to May 1, 2020. The second amendment was to protect the sale of ammunition (firearm sales are protected by statute). I offered the third amendment to protect us from government overreach. It had several provisions including, but not limited to protecting private property and protecting local government funds from being swept. The HCR passed the Senate 37 Yes to 2 No votes with the amendments. I voted yes. After conference committee negotiations, the final product changed the third amendment somewhat but it does help protect our freedoms with oversight by the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC), a committee made up of legislative leadership and the Governor, reviewing governing actions when the legislature is not in session. The CCR HCR 5025 passed unanimously.
As President Reagan one said, "Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic ‘yes.’" Yes we can in a constitutional way that protects our freedom — that’s why you have me here.
Take ownership of your situation and actions. When growing up, I said a person made me mad. My Mom responded, "they didn’t make you mad, you chose to be mad." Let’s choose to be optimistic and respectful of others. Stay safe.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.