May 21, 2020 3:08 PM

AG opinion leaves a lot unclear; legislature will shape policy Thursday

Posted May 21, 2020 3:08 PM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The late release of the Attorney General's opinion on the legality of Governor Laura Kelly's emergency declaration extension into the month of May has left both the local health officer and the district attorney looking for their footing and watching what happens at the Statehouse Thursday.

"It sends up a lot of flares, a lot of red flags about the authority of the Governor's Executive Orders since April 30," said Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder.

"We think the relevant statutory language is plain and does not provide for successive declarations of a state of disaster emergency arising from the same continuing disaster," the opinion reads.

Therefore, since the Legislature did not by its own authority extend the emergency declaration prior to its expiration, there are questions about the legality of any prosecution of any actions taken in May contrary to any subsequent Executive Orders.

"We'll be monitoring the action out of Topeka, as well," said Reno County Health Department Director Nick Baldetti.

It remains to be seen what the Legislature will do Thursday.