If the past week of action to battle the novel coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that circumstances change quickly. Actions that once seemed unthinkable — closing school buildings for the rest of the term, for instance — become yesterday’s news.

Kansas has been lucky during this outbreak to have Gov. Laura Kelly at the helm, because she has sensibly but flexibly led, taking aggressive action when the science warranted it.

And that’s why it was disappointing to watch the Kansas Senate recoil at her leadership and attempt to restrict her emergency powers. As of Thursday, the Senate and House compromised on a bill that would allow for legislative oversight of those powers and require monthly extensions of her emergency declarations. While the compromise is better than the original Senate measure (which would have prevented her from limiting movement, a possibly critical action in battling the virus), it’s still an unnecessary distraction.

Look, we get it. Kelly is a Democrat and many Republicans in the Legislature are reluctant to give her any credit or power whatsoever. But they’re heading home now, having passed a bare-bones budget. She remains governor and continues to navigate our state through turbulent waters.

Kelly needs the full powers of her office.

What was most disturbing, perhaps, was watching select Republicans downplay the threat of the virus on and off the floor. We get it. Understanding the peril posed by COVID-19 is an uncomfortable exercise.

But we’re all in uncharted waters, here. This is no hoax. A serious pathogen is spreading around the world, and until we are able to fend it off with a vaccine, medical treatment or hard-won herd immunity, we need to take all the precautions we can.

Think of it this way. We don’t believe our homes are going to burn down in a fire. But we’ve seen it happen to other houses, so we’re cautious. We buy smoke detectors. We pay for fire departments. We understand that protecting ourselves means taking individual and collective action, and empowering the state to protect the general welfare.

In the case of this virus, the Senate was actively trying to keep the governor from putting in a smoke alarm. They were trying to tell her we don’t need fire trucks.

No town of any size would dream of going without a fire department. Likewise, the Kansas governor has emergency powers for a reason. She should be able to protect the people of this state without needless red tape.

Topeka Capital-Journal

(7) comments

ibtirish

I am sure business an factories, manufacturing ect , take one look at Kelly an say " now there is a business friendly state" Why we'll all be rolling in jobs here in Kansas because of Kelly. But could she get a decent haircut? or is that a requirement for a Democrat Ks. Governor? you know she cares because she didn't even take the time to dress up an comb her hair

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houndi

Sounds like a stupid snowflake to me.Maybe you ought to look in the mirror.Trump 2020

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houndi

Gary Lukert because President Trump is not your president when you get your stimulus check you can always send it back to the government.

Aim_High

Moving schools online so kids aren't missing 100% of class was smart. Governor Kelly understands we are still in the early stage of infections and she realizes this pandemic will go beyond the end of the school year. The curve still hasn't started flattening out yet, infections are skyrocketing, Kansas should be happy to have a leader instead of a follower... waiting for other states to jump first is how you end up with a sick population.

Especially with the two infected people employed by Simmons and Hostess, theres no telling how far this could have spread if kids were still in school... I think governor Kelly has been doing a wonderful job and has actually been taking this seriously from the beginning. Thanks to her Kansas is one of the least impacted states.

SnowGypsy

Kelly took steps that other states did not with the schools. Other states, nearly all but two at the most, took the stance that they would cancel 2 to 3 weeks and evaluate the issue again to see if they needed to continue to be closed. I don't think she thought about the harm this would do to the students, who will be out in the community and meeting with friends anyway, just not in an educational setting. She had a "knee jerk" reaction asking for no opinions. Hopefully she is a one term governor as Kansas has a bad enough reputation without having governor who believes herself to be a supreme dictator. She needs to weigh in on decisions as, frankly, I think she may have age related issues that may hamper rational decision making. She must be voted out, and I feel she will be the next go round.

billrw3

"age related issues that may hamper rational decision making" You're talking about Trump again right? And if parents are letting their kids out anyway, then that's the parent's own failing.

Sailornsue

Amen to the thoughts expressed. Too bad the federal administration doesn't show the same common sense.

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