GOP kills Kansas governor’s plans on services, energy office

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2020

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas have killed Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s plans to merge two social services agencies and create an independent energy policy office.

The GOP-controlled House has passed two resolutions rejecting executive orders Kelly issued in January. Under the state constitution, the votes prevent the orders from taking effect.

Democrats saw the votes as partisan, but Republicans said Kelly didn’t provide enough details about her plans to make them comfortable.

One executive order would have combined the Department for Children and Families with the Department for Aging and Disability Services and the state’s juvenile justice programs to create a new Department of Human Services.

Kelly’s administration said the merger would improve services. Republicans argued a bigger bureaucracy would be harder to manage. The new agency would have had an annual budget of $2.9 billion and nearly 5,000 employees.

Wednesday’s vote was 82-35 against the reorganization.

Kelly’s other order would have moved the state’s energy policy office out from under the Kansas Corporation Committee, which regulates utilities. The office would stand alone with a director appointed by the governor.

Supporters said the move would help Kansas develop a long-term energy plan. Republicans said the office could become political.

Wednesday’s vote was 74-44 against the plan.