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Minutes for SB273 - Committee on Judiciary

Short Title

Enacting the governmental response to certain emergencies by amending the Kansas emergency management act, providing procedures for declaration and extension of state of disaster emergencies, limiting powers granted to the governor during a state of disaster emergency, defining public health disasters and establishing special provisions therefor, creating the joint committee on emergency management and prescribing powers, duties and functions of the secretary of health and environment, city and county government and the board of education of each school district to control the spread of disease and establishing judicial review thereof.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 25, 2021

Proponent, Oral

Eric Stafford spoke in support of SB273 stating that the Kansas Chamber of Commerce supports the bill, but he would let Ryan Kreigshauser give a more in depth presentation of their position. Ryan Kreigshauser spoke in support of SB273 stating that he has had litigation experience with the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA) over the past year and that he had specific recommendations for improvement in his written testimony. (Attachment 1)

Heather Morgan spoke in support of SB273 stating that there is ambiguity about where community colleges and trade schools fall and that this needs to be addressed. Each locally elected board of community college trustees should be treated similar to boards of education as currently written in the bill. This would give them a statutory framework for their responsibilities in a future emergency situation. (Attachment 2)

Senator Mark Steffen, 34th District, spoke in support of SB273 stating that there are details in Section 3, Page 9 that need to be clarified. The term "ordered" should be changed to "recommends" and the term "well-accepted scientific evidence" needs a better definition. He included documents supporting his arguments. (Attachment 3) (Attachment 4) (Attachment 5).

There was discussion.

Proponent, Written

Neutral, Oral

Ed Klumpp gave neutral testimony on SB273 stating that one point concerns law enforcement directly. They appreciate how the Kansas Emergency Management Act worked before the COVID-19 pandemic, but by trying to fix it to cover COVID-19 has caused some of the other parts to get broken. He proposed an amendment to restore a Class A misdemeanor for all emergencies other than health emergencies. He stated that law enforcement needs these rules to prevent looting, and to keep people away from hazards. He said that there needs to be a two-stage remedy to the bill: misdemeanor penalties for non-health emergencies; civil penalties for health related ones. Making this change is very important to law enforcement. He also recommended that 911 dispatchers be included in the list of  emergency responders on  page 20, line 10. (Attachment 8)

Neutral, Written

Opponent, Oral

Will Lawrence spoke in opposition of SB273 stating that the context of when this is being considered is important. We are still in a pandemic. The Kansas Emergency Management Act is the way we respond to all emergencies. A declaration from the governor starts everything. Taking away the ability to make a declaration removes the way to get things started and to mobilize resources. Pre-approving the Governor's orders creates a time lag that can be critical. He advocated that the changes made to Kansas Emergency Management Act be very targeted and that the broader review should be done later. (Attachment 11)

Lee Norman spoke in opposition of SB273 stating that this is rushed, and that he would like to see a more deliberate review of the problem. He stated that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would not be able to respond to a health issues quickly before people "disappear into the woodwork" if they have to wait for a review process. He listed specific concerns in his written testimony. (Attachment 12).

There was discussion.

The hearing was closed.