Rep. Sutton on the Statewide Shutdown

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Today, Kansas became the 25th state to enter a statewide “stay at home” order. Most Kansans are already living under a local stay at home order. Twenty-two Kansas counties have entered such orders and there are now cases in 31 counties across the state. This statewide order is for three weeks and replaces that patchwork of local orders around the state with one standard order during that time. The order is also amendable, allowing some flexibility to adapt as new information about the impact of coronavirus in Kansas emerges.

What we know at this point is that people across the state will still be able to get outside and go to the grocery store, the doctor or pharmacy, and to work if their job is considered essential. Restaurants can continue to do drive-thru, carry-out and delivery services, and our supply chains for essentials will remain open and fully functional. More details will be forthcoming, and I will continue to monitor those as they are released.

I voted for HCR 5025, the House Concurrent Resolution that keeps some legislative oversight over decisions like these. The members of the committee that keeps check on these decisions is taking a thoughtful and deliberate review to make sure this new order is not overly restrictive and yet does what our medical experts and disaster professionals believe is needed to protect the health of our families, friends and neighbors.

This decision by the governor can be reviewed and it will be. It may be the right decision, and if it is, I will support it. However, if it goes too far in places or is too limiting, then I will work with other legislators and the executive branch to fix those areas.

Here are some bullet points from today’s Executive Order:

  • Directs Kansans to stay at home unless performing an essential activity.
  • Essential activities are: obtaining food, medicine or household necessities; going to work at an essential business; caring for children, vulnerable people or pets; or engaging in an outdoor activity provided social distancing is observed.
  • Family gatherings are excluded.
  • The order supersedes the other 22 county orders in place for the duration of this order.
  • Duration is three weeks from Monday, March 30, 2020, at midnight.
  • Does not list essential businesses but uses essential functions. Those functions are based on the Department of Homeland Security essential functions. Here they are called Kansas Essential Functions Framework (KEFF).
  • The functions are in four broad areas: 100 Connect; 200 Distribute; 300 Manage and 400 Supply.
  • Some common 100 Connect functions are: operate information networks, cable tv, phone systems and wireless systems, cybersecurity, global positioning systems, satellite communications and traditional broadcast television.
  • Some common 200 Distribute functions are: distribution of electricity, supply chains for critical goods (defined by DHS), transport of cargo and people by air; manufacture, distribution, sale or maintenance of aircraft parts; transport of cargo and people by rail; manufacture, distribution, sale or maintenance of train parts; transport of cargo and people by road; operation of gas stations and convenience stores; delivery of mail, packages, food groceries, beverages or other cargo; manufacture, distribution, sale or maintenance of cars and car parts; transportation of agricultural products, equipment, seed, etc.; transportation by vessel and related maintenance of vessels; transportation by pipeline; and mass transit of people.  
  • Some common 300 Manage functions are: conducting elections; media; public works; training of essential personnel; law enforcement; maintain access to medical records; water treatment; government operations; perform government contracts; operate schools when not in conflict with other executive orders; operate local and state government; emergency management operations; manufacture and sell firearms; go to church; legal services; construction; cleaning; distribution of construction materials; provide access to capital markets and financial advising; accounting services; banks and credit unions; medical care, pharmacy; mortuaries; community mental health centers; laundry and dry cleaning;
  • Some common 400 Supply functions are: oil and gas extraction; refineries; electrical generation; production and provision of agricultural supplies; farming; production of human and animal food products; meal preparation; grocery stores; supply chemicals; supply metals; supply housing; IT services, water production; research and development.
  • No prior permission needed to exercise critical functions.
  • People encouraged to exercise critical functions from home or remotely whenever possible.

My first priority is to keep Kansans safe and healthy. My second priority is to keep our economy strong and allow our businesses and employers to make it through this pandemic. For some, that will be staying open and for others that will be opening up as soon as possible. I will continue to work for that balance that keeps us safe and allows us to come roaring back as soon as the present danger has passed.

I have already supported extending unemployment benefits to help those suffering from layoffs. And Kansas has made $5 million available for those businesses in the hospitality industry, and new Small Business Administration disaster loans are making credit available to businesses who need it to get through. I support these measures and encourage you to check out KansasTogether.com for more information about the assistance available to workers and businesses.

I firmly believe that our state, our families, and our communities are stronger than any virus. We are more resilient than any temporary shutdown. We are experienced at getting through troubles, picking each other up and getting back to work. With that strength, resilience and experience, I know we will get through this together.