The Real Government Overreach on COVID-19

Last week, Republican state legislators continued to misdirect what should be a war against COVID to a war on any government attempt to stop the spread of a deadly disease. The Legislative Coordinating Committee (LCC) is forming an 11-member special committee - the Special Committee on Government Overreach and Impact of COVID-19 Mandates - to investigate how Kansas can legally weaken or oppose federal and local mandates on vaccines and masks meant to keep employees, students, and vulnerable Kansans safe.

LCC Chair and Senate President Ty Masterson (R-Andover) is proposing that these appointed members (5 Senate, 6 House - currently being named) meet for up to five days to discuss government overreach. Masterson’s proposal immediately followed the circulation of a petition from the “On the Side of Liberty” group that, if signed and notarized by two-thirds of the legislature, would force Governor Laura Kelly to hold a special session on October 18th. This all parallels efforts from our Congressional representation as U.S. Senator Roger Marshall failed to pass an amendment to the budget last week that would prohibit the use of federal funds to enforce vaccine mandates.

These actions shouldn’t come as a surprise to Kansans who have been following efforts to take all power from certain elected officials and instead elevate the voices of anti-vax, conspiratorial “freedom fighters” who all too often financially profit from the continuation of this pandemic. It shouldn’t even surprise us that this is happening during another deadly surge that is not only hospitalizing more people but has also hit our youth harder than ever before with increasing COVID clusters - and yes, deaths - inside our schools.

It shouldn’t surprise us. But it doesn’t mean that we’re not disappointed.

This is a time when we should be pushing towards the finish line, not turning around and running the other way. As LCC member and Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa) stated during last week’s LCC meeting, the special committee should move beyond political posturing to identify ways that we can work together to get Kansans vaccinated. But we can’t even talk about solutions when the voices of those who are fervently anti-mask, anti-vaccine, and anti-science are dominating our political conversations.

Any committee recommendations limiting local or state action will have to pass as legislation, and that won’t happen until session resumes in January. The state legislature has minuscule power to affect federal mandates, and that just reinforces that this is just another opportunity for certain voices to be elevated for the sake of political grandstanding and to the detriment of our public health.

It’s time again to speak up against the minority extremists who dominate our political process. Call your state Representative and Senator and tell them why you think mask and vaccine mandates are good for Kansas and Kansans. Talk about your families, jobs, communities, and how much you want to put this pandemic behind us. Explain how mandates at schools and businesses make you feel safe and lift up our values of loving our neighbors. Talk about the studies and local examples that show how mask mandates work and why vaccines are the best way for us to move forward. Even if you’ve already had these conversations, have them again. And once the members of the committee are named, call them and do it again. And again. And again.

The government is overreaching when it comes to COVID-19 response. They’re reaching far past the voices of the majority of their constituents to pander to the loudest and angriest voices. So pick up the phone and make sure they hear from you too.

Find your state legislators at and make sure to vote this November for candidates that represent the interests that are important to you. 

Laurel Burchfield
Associate Director, Mainstream Coalition

**Mainstream Coalition, The Voter Network, and MainPAC encourage civic engagement, however, we do not in any way represent ourselves as election officials.** 

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published this page in Blog 2021-10-04 16:37:50 -0500
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