Kansas Supreme Court allows officials to limit governor’s emergency powers
The Kansas state Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal regarding revisions to the state’s emergency management law that were ruled unconstitutional last month, leaving limits to Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D-Kans.) power in place.
The court ordered that a previous ruling from district court judge David Hauber be stayed while the appeal is being considered, The Kansas City Star reports.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who is running to replace Kelly as governor, hailed the court’s ruling.
“The district court’s ruling had created unnecessary confusion about Kansas emergency management laws at a time when the rise in COVID cases makes certainty and stability in the law even more critical,” Schmidt said according to the Star.
This ruling from the state’s supreme court also restores a procedure that allows individuals and business to file a complaint in civil court if they feel “aggrieved” by a public health order.
Earlier this year, Kansas state lawmakers approved emergency management rules that subjected Kelly’s emergency powers to review under the state’s legislature and prohibited orders on masking, business closures and capacity restrictions.
The Star notes that in the month since Hauber struck down the limits on Kelly’s emergency powers, she and local health officials have been hesitant to exercise them. However, local governments have issued new mask mandates in the past month as COVID-19 cases rose due to the more infectious delta variant.
According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, Kansas currently has a testing positivity rate of roughly 23 percent. Around 48 percent of the state’s total population is fully vaccinated.
In July, the state’s seven-day average for cases was hovering around 700 a day. As of Monday, the seven-day average has risen to over 1,400.