A Quick Update for You
Dear Friends,

Due a death in our family, I have not been posting the last couple of days and will not be back in town until Sunday.

However, I wanted to check in and give you a quick update as to where things stand, as I know many of you are asking questions. The news surrounding this entire topic can be very hard to follow, and things seem to change on a daily basis! In this newsletter, I will briefly explain each of the recent developments.

Thank you again for all your support and comments. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me back and ask!

Now, here's your update..
State Finance Council Meeting
In my last newsletter, which you can read by clicking here , I mentioned how the Governor issued a new state of disaster emergency. Under Kansas law, a state of disaster emergency is what gives her the power to issue the executive orders. These can last for 15 days unless ratified by the legislature or extended, for up to 30 days, by a majority of the legislative members of the State Finance Council. The State Finance Council consists of three legislative leaders from each chamber, plus the head of the appropriations committees from each chamber.

On Wednesday, the State Finance Council met and voted to extend the State of Disaster Emergency for just 12 days, up until May 26th. A substitute motion to extend it a full 30 days was rejected on a 6-2 vote.

The full legislature will meet on Thursday, May 21st and it is quite possible that there will be a number of bills considered on various topics, including the governor's emergency powers. Due to a number of factors, it is very important to consider any legislation carefully, and so I will reserve judgment on any potential legislation until it is presented and explained.
Governor Delays Opening of State;
Creates New Phase 1.5
Two weeks ago, when the governor issued her plan to reopen Kansas, and it included four phases. We are currently in Phase 1, and were scheduled to enter Phase 2 on Monday. We would "Phase Out" beginning on June 15th.

Unfortunately, the governor has decided to delay the reopening of Kansas even further, and implemented a new "Phase 1.5" that will begin Monday, instead of Phase 2. The details of that Phase can be found by clicking here , but I pulled the key highlights from her release:

Key Phase 1.5 highlights:

  • Mass gatherings of more than 10 individuals continue to be prohibited;
  • Nail salons, barber shops, hair salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors and other personal service businesses where close contact cannot be avoided may open, but only for pre-scheduled appointments or online check-in;
  • Fitness centers and health clubs may open, but in-person group classes may not occur and locker rooms must be closed except as necessary to use restroom facilities.
  • In-person commencement or graduation ceremonies may occur with no more than 10 individuals in a room, gymnasium, or facility at one time as long as 6-foot social distancing is maintained. Outdoor drive-through graduation ceremonies during which no more than 10 individuals are in the same area outside of their vehicles at a time (i.e. school administration, graduate, family members, etc.) are allowed. 

Under Phase 1.5, the following, unless they are repurposed for use in an essential function under the Kansas Essential Function Framework, shall remain closed to the public:

  • Bars and night clubs, excluding already operating curbside and carryout services;
  • Non-tribal Casinos;
  • Theaters, museums, and other indoor leisure spaces (trampoline parks, arcades, etc.);
  • Community centers;
  • Outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000 or more;
  • Fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades;
  • Swimming pools (other than backyard pools);
  • Organized sports facilities, sports tournaments, sports games, and sports practices; and
  • Summer camps.

The result of this new "Phase 1.5" is that the remaining phases are delayed, as well. This means that the last phase - "Phase Out" - would begin no sooner than June 29th.

You can read the latest version of her plan by clicking here .
My Viewpoint
While I am happy for the fact that hair salons, barbershops, and gyms can now open, I do not agree with the governor's decision to delay the entire phasing process two more weeks, nor does it make sense to create even more confusion by creating a new "Phase 1.5."

Delaying the opening of things like community pools, museums, theaters, or even locker rooms in gyms is not warranted. There are ways to operate all of those entities in a safe manner, and those entities should be trusted to do so. For instance, restaurants and other businesses which have opened have already adapted without incident.

It is important to note that even though some parts of our economy are partially re-opening, continued delays of a full reopening place a severe limit on economic activity. The consequences of those decisions tend to disproportionately impact lower and middle income Americans, as evidenced by the recent announcement by Fed Chair Jerome Powell that 40% of households making $40,000 or less lost a job in the month of March.

When we return to Topeka next week, I look forward to working with my colleagues to discuss ways to fix this situation from a short-term perspective, as well as over the long-term. As always, I will update you as more information comes to light!

Thank you!


Mike Thompson
COVID-19 Resources
Below are several links to information about the COVID-19 virus.