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Dear Friend:
The deadline to file for office in Kansas was Monday, June 1, at noon. There were no additional candidates which filed in my primary or general election contests, so the field is set. With less than two months to the August 4 primary, I need your help! Reasonable, rational policy doesn’t happen without intent, thought, and hard work. Please reply to this email or click here if you can host a yard sign, make phone calls, introduce me to your neighbors, or donate!
Sine Die & Special Session

Little more than a week ago, I drove into the sunrise from Topeka to Overland Park after a record-breaking 23 hour, 55 minute Sine Die session. I strongly opposed working passed midnight – nothing good happens after midnight – especially in the legislature. 
 
We did, however, debate and vote on many bills. The hasty nature of this often causes unintended consequences because there aren’t hearings with testimony from subject matter experts. As a result, the governor vetoed a number of bills, including the bill providing authority for COVID disaster declarations. She called for a Special Session to begin June 3. 
  • Because the regular session was adjourned “Sine Die”, all legislation from the 2019-2020 session is dead and not available for consideration, including veto overrides. 
In other words, we started from scratch, pulling together policy provisions into a new bill. In record time, the House passed a compromise plan June 3 and the Senate passed it Thursday, June 4, and the Special Session was adjourned in record time.

Senate District 11 Resources:

Bill Brief

Voltaire said “The best is the enemy of the good” – a description which fits this bill. Especially considering the timeframe. This is a longer description than normal because each plank impacts most Kansans. 
 
HB 2016: The biggest difference between the Sine Die session and this Special Session was legislative leaders working with the governor to craft a fragile compromise. 
  1. Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF): This fund (primarily federal money) can be spent with the support of the governor and a majority of the State Finance Council (SFC). 
  2. Authority: Governor Kelly’s emergency declaration is extended through September 15 but is prohibited from further disaster declarations through the end of 2020, unless approved by the SFC.
    • Before Sept 15: 
      • The governor cannot close any business or restrict gatherings or travel.
    • After Sept 15:
      • Further disaster declarations must be approved by the SFC,
      • The governor must consult with SFC at least 24 hours before closing any business, and can only close businesses for 15 days, unless six SFC members approve.
  3. Elections: Blocks the governor from changing the timing of elections or how they are conducted.
  4. Local Control: Allows County Commissions to issue orders less restrictive than the state if they include findings from local health officer that the full statewide provisions are not necessary to protect county residents. 
  5. Schools: To close schools, the governor acquire approval from the Kansas Board of Education.
  6. Civil Immunity: 
    • Health Care Providers: Except in cases of negligent or reckless behavior, the bill gives immunity for healthcare services altered, delayed, or withheld related to COVID-19.
    • Products: Those who design, manufacture, sell/distribute, or donate COVID-related products are immune from damages, again, with the exception of negligent action.
    • Adult Care Facilities: While not strictly immune, these facilities would have to prove that harm was caused even though they followed the rules, either by being required to readmit a COVID-positive resident or treating a COVID patient in compliance with the law. The bill also creates infection control inspections for every facility within 90 days.
  7. Contact Tracing: The Secretary of Health or a county health officer can conduct contact tracing to protect public health. Tracers must volunteer and sign an oath to follow the Privacy Act.
    • Contact Data: Could only be used for public health purposes, data would remain confidential, and destroyed when tracing ends.
      • Location Data: The bill prohibits tracing through cell phone location data.
    • First Responders: Local health authorities must work with 911 dispatch and first responder agencies to alert the presence of a COVID case in order to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  8. Health Care: This section expires 120 days following the end of the disaster declaration.
    • Telemedicine: The bill allows doctors to prescribe medication without an in-person visit.
    • Non-Kansas physicians: Doctors licensed in other states are allowed to “see” Kansans via telemedicine, providing they are not under disciplinary action.
    • Hospitals: Will be allowed to admit more patients than they are currently licensed to, and allow them to use off-site, non-hospital facilities to perform care, with reasonable safety requirements.
    • Physicians: Licensed Kansas physicians can practice at a medical facility without becoming a member of its staff.
  9. To-Go Beer: You’ll be happy to know the sale of beer/liquor/wine to go is allowed through 2020.
It passed the Senate 26-12 and the House 107-12, I voted YES.
Phase 3: TODAY!

The Johnson County Commission announced they will not issue more restrictive guidelines than the state through the end of the Kansas phased-in reopening. This means as of June 8, gatherings can increase from 15 to 45 people, with masks and social distancing. All businesses can open with full staffing, swimming pools can open, and nonessential travel can resume, adhering to quarantine recommendations about specific geographic locations. 
COVID-19 Constituent Assistance
As we all seek to support constituents who have been impacted by COVID-19, I want to share the following helpful online resources for people seeking assistance for COVID-19 related challenges, including loss of income, healthcare, or housing.
Be kind to each other,

Sincerely,

John Skubal
Kansas State Senator
District 11
Representing Overland Park & Leawood
Copyright © 2020, All rights reserved.


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