Wrapping up this year’s legislative session was relatively quick and narrowly focused, with only legislation related to the coronavirus pandemic being considered. Rather than have a veto session, the Legislature worked for nearly 24 hours on Sine Die (5/21), which typically is a simple adjournment.
During the week leading up to Sine Die, KLA testified in favor of two pieces of legislation. The first bill included the Kansas Economic Recovery Loan Deposit Program that would provide low-interest loans of up to $250,000 to agriculture and other businesses struggling from the pandemic. The second was a bill that included limiting the liability of critical infrastructure businesses from legal action related to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, both bills were vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly.
The governor then called a special session, which was held last week, where the Legislature passed another coronavirus response bill. It included a version of the limitation of liability legislation that originally was supported by KLA. However, Gov. Kelly, in negotiations with legislative leadership, watered down the liability protections using a veto threat to solidify her position. KLA believes critical infrastructure businesses, including agriculture, still will have some protection under the bill because those entities were included in Executive Orders, which is a key component in qualifying for the liability limitation. The bill also extends the governor’s current state of emergency order through September 15. Following that date, approval from the State Finance Council would be required before additional orders could be implemented that would limit business activity and social gatherings. Gov. Kelly is expected to sign the new coronavirus response bill.