FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Last week, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepard ordered a temporary injunction blocking three new laws that limit the governor's emergency powers. This decision allowed the governor's COVID-19 orders to remain in effect until the lawsuit over them is resolved.
"A governor, under the constitution, has and must have emergency powers to battle a pandemic like this," said Gov. Andy Beshear after the order was issued. "There's only one Commander-in-Chief and ultimately this has to be an executive-driven response. That doesn't mean we're not willing to talk to legislative leaders - we are."
The judge's decision blocked House Bill 1, Senate Bill 1, and Senate Bill 2 from going into effect.
House Bill 1 would allow businesses, schools, and other groups to fully open if they follow the COVID-19 guidelines set by either the CDC or Kentucky, whichever is less restrictive at the time.
Senate Bill 1 would put a 30-day limit on the governor's emergency executive orders. If he wanted to extend the order, he would need the General Assembly to step in.
Senate Bill 2 would give legislative committees more control over emergency regulations put in place by the governor.
With the laws stopped, for now, Judge Shepard is allowing the governor's order to "remain in full force and effect."
"The Governor has made a strong case that the legislation, in its current form, is likely to undermine, or even cripple, the effectiveness of public health measures necessary to protect the lives and health of Kentuckians from the COVID-19 pandemic," Shepherd wrote in the order.
House Speaker David Osborne said he was not surprised by the order.
"Obviously, it's disappointing but not surprising," said Osborne while speaking to reporters on Friday. "I don't think any of us expected the bill - those bills - to sail through Franklin Circuit Court."
However, Osborne suggested the injunction may only apply to Franklin County and not anywhere else in Kentucky.
"I do think that it's worth noting that there's much, much conversation between the legal minds right now as to whether that injunction only enjoins those bills in Franklin County," said Osborne. "There is an absolute argument to be made that those bills are in effect throughout the remainder of the commonwealth with the exception of Franklin County."
The governor's office's quickly shut the idea down on Monday.
"It is a statewide injunction," a representative for the Governor's Office said.