GR US

Kansas Republicans Pushed a Sweeping Coronavirus Measure

Αssociated press

Kansas state Sen. Dennis Pyle, left, R-Hiawatha, confers with Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, R-Galena, while senators debate a sweeping coronavirus measure, early Friday, May 22, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Republicans have pushed a sweeping coronavirus measure through the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature, aiming to shield businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

The bill approved by lawmakers Friday would take control over the state’s pandemic response from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and give much of it to the Legislature’s mostly Republican leaders.

Some Democrats predicted Kelly would veto the bill, but her office stopped short of promising that. Democrats objected to curbing Kelly’s power and predicted substandard nursing homes and manufacturers of defective personal protective equipment would be shielded from being held accountable in the state’s courts.

The Republican plan would require Kelly to get permission from legislative leaders to keep businesses closed for more than 15 days or to exercise other broad powers granted to governors during emergencies after May 31. Legislative leaders also would have the final say in how $1.25 billion in federal relief funds are spent.