Legislative Session Preview
Lawmakers return to Topeka for the start of the 2021 Kansas Legislative Session on Monday, January 11. If there was ever a feeling of uncertainty in the air, this is the year. Up until this week, it was unclear if, how and even where lawmakers would conduct their business in the middle of a pandemic.
All 13 committee rooms in the Statehouse that are used by the Legislature have been installed with both audio and visual streaming. A virtual communication platform will be used and made available for committee members, conferees, and the public to participate in hearings remotely if they choose. Seating in both the House and Senate chambers has been rearranged for lawmakers to social distance when they need to be in the same room to vote on legislation. Masks and COVID-19 testing will also be made available on request.
While the building will be closed to anyone not conducting official business with the Legislature, lobbyists are still unsure on proper protocol in interacting with legislators.
Legislative leaders are taking hefty precautions in an effort to prevent a coronavirus outbreak at the Statehouse. Some Democrat lawmakers have voiced concern over returning to Topeka this early, asking to postpone the legislative session to spring or summer when infection numbers have decreased across the state.
Every year, the session schedule is fluid and changes are often made. This year, however, folks are getting prepared for anything. Leaders have a priority list of legislation that they will address as early as next week, should an outbreak occur and an early adjournment is required. The state budget, changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act, and economic recovery items top that list.
In any situation, we look forward to continuing to represent our clients fully and effectively. As always, we will keep you informed as the session unfolds. Happy new year!