Lawmakers return for special session

John Richmeier

As they prepared for today’s start of a special session, lawmakers who represent Leavenworth County did not quite know what to expect.

“I really don’t know,” said state Rep. David French, R-Lansing.

French said there have been rumors about what might take place during the special session, which was called for by Gov. Laura Kelly.

Kelly announced last week that she was vetoing a bill that would have placed restrictions on her powers related to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And Kelly announced she was calling for a special session of the Legislature so lawmakers could pass a new bill related to the state’s pandemic response.

The special session is scheduled to begin today.

While the governor called for the special session so lawmakers could work on a new COVID-19 bill, lawmakers could try to introduce other bills.

State Rep. Jeff Pittman, D-Leavenworth, said the issue of Medicaid expansion could come up during the special session.

State Rep. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie, said he would like to make another attempt to pass a bill designed to provide property tax relief to people whose outbuildings were destroyed during last year’s tornado in southern Leavenworth County.

“I’m going to try to get it through,” he said.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said lawmakers likely are hesitant to work on bills they believe will be vetoed by the governor.

“I don’t think anybody is going to have the mood for that,” he said.

Holland’s district includes much of Leavenworth County.

Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed several of the bills that were approved by the Republican-led Legislature during what was intended to be a wrap-up session that lasted for 24 hours.

Other than a new bill related to COVID-19, French said there really is nothing for the Legislature to work on.

“I think we’ve done everything we can with the governor we’ve got,” he said.

The Kansas Constitution gives the governor the power to call for a special session of the Legislature, according to a website for the Legislature.

Today will mark the 24th time the Legislature has met for a special session in the state’s history.

The last time a special session was called was in 2016.

French said he has heard the special session may last for two days.

Karleskint said he hopes the session will last no longer than three days.

Pittman said he thinks the special session will last longer than one day but less than a week.

Karleskint noted that many of the state’s lawmakers are running for reelection this year. And they may want to wrap up the special session quickly so they can work on their campaigns.

“We’re still early, but there is that issue too,” he said.

Karleskint is one of the lawmakers seeking reelection.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR