COVID-19: State action, Governor’s Orders continue to roll out

Updated as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 24

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a State of Disaster Emergency Proclamation on March 12, 2020. This proclamation applies to all 105 counties in Kansas.

“I hereby proclaim, direct and order the Adjutant General of the State of Kansas to activate the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan. The Adjutant General shall coordinate local and inter-jurisdictional disaster plans applicable to the political subdivisions of areas affected by this Proclamation.

Any or all of the powers conferred upon the Governor by the Kansas Emergency Management Act may be delegated to the Adjutant General as deemed appropriate during this period of proclaimed State of Disaster Emergency. This may be delegated by written orders, or oral orders subsequently reduced to writing with reference to this Proclamation.

I hereby suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the order or rules and regulations of any state agency which implements such statute, if strict compliance with the provisions of such statutes, order or rule and regulation would prevent, hinder, or delay in any way necessary action in coping with the disaster as set forth in KSA 48-925(c)(1).”

Since the State of Disaster Emergency Proclamation, Governor Kelly has issued a number of Executive Orders and has signed multiple Senate Bills. The orders and senate bills are as follows:

March 16, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-03

Extending states of local disaster emergency relating to COVID-19.

This order directs and orders that, without requiring weekly votes by each local governing body, any declared state of local disaster emergency issued pursuant to K.S.A. 48-932 relating to COVID-19 is hereby extended for either the duration of the March 12, 2020, State of Disaster Emergency for the State of Kansas or until this order is rescinded.

March 17, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-04

Temporarily prohibiting mass gathering to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The order directed and ordered that, effective at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, all public or private mass gatherings are prohibited in the State of Kansas. The ordered defined the term mass gathering, and also provided a list of activities or facilities that were exempt. The order also provided social distancing and health recommendation guidance for any public gatherings of less than 50 people.

March 17, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-05

Temporarily prohibited utility and internet disconnects

In order to mitigate the economic effects of the spread of COVID-19, this order directs that all Kansas utility providers not under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Corporation Commission temporarily suspend the practice of disconnecting service to Kansas citizens for non-payment. This directive covers all electrical, gas, water and telecommunications utilities as well as internet service providers who provide services to Kansas citizens.

March 17, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-06

Temporarily prohibiting evictions and foreclosures

This order directs all financial institutions operating in Kansas to temporarily suspend the initiation of any mortgage foreclosure efforts or judicial proceedings and any commercial or residential eviction efforts or judicial proceedings until May 1, 2020. This executive order was later rescinded. See Executive Order No. 20-10.

March 17, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-07

Temporarily closing K-12 schools to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This order directs and orders the following:

1. All K-12 school buildings or facilities, whether public or private-used for student instruction, are to close and cease in-person instruction until May 29, 2020, except as allowed below.

2. Any school building or facility operating with a total of fewer than 10 students, instructors or staff may continue normal operations so long as they comply with all directives regarding social distancing, hygiene and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19.

3. The Commissioner of Education and the State Department of Education will formulate guidance for school districts to create and implement continuous learning plans as well as implement in-person instruction protocols and methods for small groups of students on subjects not reasonably susceptible to continuous learning. Adhering to this guidance and in consultation with local health departments, K-12 schools may conduct appropriate, limited in-person instruction in small groups of students so long as they comply with all directives regarding social distancing, hygiene and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19.

4. All schools should work with their local governments and county health departments to determine appropriate meal provision, childcare or other community uses of school facilities or resources while complying with all directives regarding social distancing, hygiene and other methods of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

5. The Commissioner of Education is empowered to grant waivers to the terms of this order but only as needed to comply with federal law or to ensure eligibility for federal funds.

6. This order supersedes any contrary or less restrictive order by any local health department regarding the operation of schools and should be read in conjunction with EO 20-04 (“Temporarily prohibiting mass gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19”). Any contrary or less restrictive language in EO 20-04 is superseded by this order.

March 19, 2020: Senate Bill 27

This bill extends unemployment eligibility for workers who started to file unemployment insurance claims on or after Jan. 1, 2020. These workers would be eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits, instead of the current effective maximum of 16 weeks.

March 19, 2020: Senate Bill 142

This bill expands education waiver authority during disaster emergencies. Under current law, students are required by statute to attend at least 1,116 school hours per school year. This bill allows local school boards to receive waivers for this requirement under a state of disaster declaration, with the understanding that they will utilize continuous learning for their students during this time. Additionally, the bill codifies legislative intent that school districts continue to pay all hourly employees during a disaster shutdown.

March 19, 2020: Senate Bill 102

This bill expands authority of the judicial branch in time of disaster, permitting the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to issue an order extending statutory deadlines or time limitations on court proceedings and authorizes video conferencing.

March 22, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-08

Temporarily expanding telemedicine and addressing certain licensing requirements to combat the effects of COVID-19.

The order temporarily expands capacity in the healthcare system by:

1. Allowing doctors to prescribe medication after an appropriate telemedicine consultation.

2. Authorizing out-of-state doctors to provide telemedicine services to Kansans, provided they are licensed in another state.

3. Permitting temporary emergency licenses for healthcare professionals regulated by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

“By allowing more doctors to practice in Kansas – and more patients to be seen remotely – we can alleviate the increasing burden on our healthcare system,” Governor Kelly said. “Expanding the use of telemedicine for non-emergency-related assessments like routine check-ups and prescribing medication frees up additional time, resources and physical space in our hospitals and clinics.”

March 22, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-09

Conditional and temporary relief from certain motor carrier rules and regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This order provides conditional and temporary relief from certain motor carrier rules and regulations to allow for quick and efficient delivery of resources needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order specifically lifts certain weight restrictions and permitting requirements to allow needed supplies to get to Kansas or move through Kansas as quickly as possible. These exceptions apply only to motor carriers actively participating in COVID-19 response efforts.

“Expediting the transport of resources into the state will enable us to meet the increasing demand for medical supplies, groceries – and yes, even toilet paper,” Kelly said.

March 23, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-10

Governor Kelly rescinded Executive Order No. 20-06 and replaced it with Executive Order No. 20-10, which temporarily prohibits certain foreclosures and evictions. The executive order explicitly requires that a financial hardship indirectly or directly caused by COVID-19 be the reason a homeowner or renter can’t make payments. In addition, no landlords can evict a residential tenant when all defaults or violations of the rental agreement are caused by financial hardships due to COVID-19. These measures are especially important because housing disruption inhibits the ability of the state and local communities to effectively respond to COVID-19 and the public health dangers it presents.

March 23, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-11

This order prevents all Kansas waste removal providers, trash and recycling, from canceling or suspending commercial or residential waste or recycling removal services for Kansas residences and businesses, as a result of non-payment due to significant loss of income or increase in expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring that waste and recycling services continue is essential to maintaining public health, especially when personal hygiene and staying at home are the primary methods for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

March 23, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-12

This order extends deadlines for driver’s licenses and vehicle registration renewals and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. All driver’s license renewals and vehicle registrations extended by this executive order must be completed within 60 days of the expiration of Executive Order No. 20-12.

Many Kansans may be unable to renew their driver’s license or vehicle registration during this time, but delivery drivers and other critical employees must be able to continue critical operations and drive without fear of licensing or registration issues.

March 23, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-13

This order extends tax filing deadlines to July 15, 2020, and waiving any interest and penalties for returns and payments made on or before July 15, 2020. In the event that the State of Disaster Emergency, originally proclaimed on March 12, 2020, is lifted or expires prior to July 15, 2020, the Department of Revenue shall continue to exercise appropriate discretion to make effective the waivers of penalties and interest for payments made up to July 15, 2020.

This order is intended to bring Kansas’ tax filing procedures in line with federal IRS measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Sabetha Herald has been serving Sabetha since 1876.

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