Kansas COVID-19 restriction relief bill for businesses awaits decision from governor


TOPEKA, Kan. — Hundreds of millions of dollars could be heading to Kansas businesses.

Kansas lawmakers say they are trying to help those that have suffered during the pandemic. Both sides of the Kansas Legislature passed a bill last week that is aimed at doing that. Any Kansas business with 50 or fewer full-time employees that was impacted by coronavirus restrictions since March 2020 could apply for the money.

The governor’s stay-at-home order at the beginning of the crisis lasted five weeks, which resulted in many businesses shutting their doors. Communities then put restrictions on hours and capacity limits in place impacting companies’ profits.

It’s estimated $500 million could be up for grabs. That comes from federal relief bills.

The recently passed Kansas proposal would make it so a three-person council, one member selected by the governor and two by legislative leaders, would set the guidelines of how the money will be dispersed. Supporters said the plan not only helps businesses that have seen revenues go down, but that it’s fair.

“Those private businesses were part of the solution that the government thought that they should do,” said Alan Cobb, CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s relatively simple that, ‘hey we want to stop the pandemic, certain businesses, right, just certain, you have to shut your doors,’ so they should be compensated for it.”

Opponents worry some businesses could have an unfair advantage if the three-person council favors them compared to others.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Laura Kelly’s office said the governor has not received the bill yet. Kelly can decide to sign, veto, or let it become law without her signature.

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