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Ky. General Assembly returns for second half of 2021 session; Gov. Beshear files lawsuit over bills limiting executive powers

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 10:33 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky lawmakers returned to the Capitol Tuesday for the second half of the 2021 session of the General Assembly. The first order of business? Voting to override Governor Beshear’s vetoes of several bills, including two that would limit executive powers.

“We are embarking on a very very dangerous precedent here,” Rep. Joni Jenkins (D) said.

House Democrats sided with the governor’s veto of House Bill 1, which provides guidelines for businesses and schools to stay open despite a state of emergency, as long as certain guidelines are followed, like those from the CDC.

While the Senate was taking up HB1, we heard from lawmakers on both sides as they cast their votes. Democrats say the CDC guidelines vary based on the situation, and Republicans say it should be a business’ choice to decide how restrictive they are.

“I think that is an important distinction. People often think that we are all going to follow CDC guidelines. It’s a choice. You can be least restrictive or more restrictive. If you’re a business school or government entity,” Rep. Ralph Alvarado (R) said.

The Senate also voted to override a veto to a bill that limits the effective date of emergency orders to 30 days unless lawmakers approve an extension.

The governor announced Tuesday night he’s taking legal action and filing a 236-page lawsuit. He said this in a statement:

“The General Assembly attempted to surrender to COVID-19 and accept the casualties. As your governor, I cannot let this happen. I have filed this action to continue to fight for the protection of all Kentuckians.

“The lesson is clear: When a governor takes action, his or her state experiences fewer deaths,” the governor said. “When a governor does not, the results are tragic.”

Now lawmakers and the governor will take their stances to court and let a judge decide.

The governor says he tried to meet with House and Senate leaders before the veto but claims they said there was not enough to meet, but would schedule a meeting after the vetoes.

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