Using an open records request to acquire government documents, Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) released a report showing the Kansas government shut down businesses that were willing and able to comply with health and safety guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
AFPF-KS reviewed essential business approvals and denials provided by the Kansas Department of Emergency Management (KDEM) in response to a Kansas Open Records Act request. The requests to KDEM from small businesses in various industries include photography, dog grooming, furniture stores, tabletop games, vinyl records, online sales, and personal training. These businesses showed a willingness to protect customers and employees by adhering to reasonable safeguards. But because none of their industries were chosen as “essential,” their requests were denied, cutting off these business owners’ means of providing for themselves, their employees, and their communities.
Americans for Prosperity Foundation is part of the Stand Together community. Organizations within the Stand Together community called on policy makers across the country to make decisions outside the false choice of “close all businesses” or “business as usual.”
Americans for Prosperity Foundation -Kansas State Director Elizabeth Patton had this to say about the findings:
“It is vital that the guidelines and rules used to allow business to operate is done fairly and efficiently. Kansas must fix the Essential Functions Framework by either allowing individualized determinations or replacing it entirely with a new framework that prioritizes the ability to operate safely rather than arbitrary designations of “essential” and “non-essential.”
The Sentinel: A guy named “Bill” decides which Kansas businesses are essential, by Patrick Richardson
“Determinations are supposed to be made according to the Kansas Essential Functions Framework (KEFF), which is linked to the Governor’s office on the state website. Americans for Prosperity Foundation in Kansas obtained the spreadsheet from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management on June 22, 2020, and recently released a report showing a cross-section of utterly arbitrary decisions by ‘Bill.’”
Figuring out which businesses are essential and nonessential during a pandemic can be a hairy ordeal. That’s why some conservative groups say states and counties should instead be determining which businesses are safe and which are not — so that a bar with a tricked-out ventilation system, rigorous social distancing and no karaoke can still be allowed to open.
AFPF Kansas State Director Elizabeth Patton in the Topeka Capital-Journal
“My organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation- Kansas, launched an investigation into how the state determined which businesses were essential and could remain open. And we have joined the Trust Kansas Coalition to continue to bring transparency and information about this issue to Kansans.”
Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins in the Leavenworth Times:
“It quickly became apparent that the process put in place by the Kelly administration was haphazard at best. A recent report by Americans for Prosperity Foundation Kansas shows it was even worse than we ever realized.
The report uncovered numerous requests from businesses that could have stayed open with a single employee on the premises and other employees working from home. These applications were denied.”