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COVID-related bills likely to dominate Ky. General Assembly’s upcoming session

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 11:50 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The 2021 session of the Kentucky General Assembly starts at noon on Tuesday, January 5.

Lawmakers finished the 2020 session not long after the pandemic started and the 2021 session will start with numerous bills dealing with it.

The odd year, short session starts will only give lawmakers 30 days to pass bills, and by looking at the hundreds of pre-filed bills, pandemic related legislation will be a priority on both sides of the aisle.

One of those bills is Bill Resolution 953.

It is a joint resolution asking that masks be worn by everyone on the annex and on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Capitol. Its sponsor is House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins, D-Shively.

It comes in the wake of an orientation meeting several weeks ago where many freshman lawmakers were not wearing masks. Jenkins says she doesn’t think the bill has much of a chance but wants to make a statement.

“It was a statement. I hope the majority will take it into consideration,” Rep. Jenkins said. “The memo we received from both the President, Pres. Stivers and Speaker Osborne is that we were encouraged to wear masks.”

Last March, the House allowed its members to vote on bills from their offices. Jenkins says it’s likely they may do that again this session.

On the Republican side, Representative Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, filed her “Ensuring Business Fairness During Covid 19 Response Act” partly because of businesses that did not comply with the latest indoor dining shutdown order.

“Many of those have been forced to decide to continue operating in spite of shutdowns or going out of business permanently,” Rep. Maddox said.

If passed her bill will prevent health departments or the health cabinet from revoking health service permits. It comes in the wake of Governor Beshear’s executive orders, orders Republicans say they want to be curtailed.

“There is a reason there is a separation of powers,” Rep. Jenkins said. “There is a reason we give these executive powers. We need to think long term.”

The General Assembly will feature a supermajority of Republicans in both chambers. Already, leadership has said they plan to push bills to limit the governor’s powers.

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