Top Aide Criticizes Bill

A top aide to Governor Laura Kelly has warned legislators that a proposal to curb the power of the governor and other Kansas officials could seriously hamper the state’s response to future public health emergencies.

Will Lawrence, Kelly’s chief of staff, objected to key portions of a bill that would rewrite the state’s emergency management laws.

Under the proposed measure, a governor could not issue executive orders without first consulting the state’s attorney general and getting approval from a new legislative committee.

As an example, Lawrence said a radiation leak at the state’s nuclear power plant could be a public health emergency.

He said the governor could be forced to wait two days before ordering an evacuation of people living near it.

Republicans argued that the attorney general and the legislative committee would act immediately in dire emergencies.

The bill would create special rules for public health emergencies, as opposed to shorter-term natural disasters such as tornadoes.