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Gov. Beshear files lawsuit against lawmakers regarding COVID-19 response

Posted at 7:48 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 23:27:34-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit to stop lawmakers from restricting his emergency powers that were put in place in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed shortly after the Kentucky General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to override Gov. Beshear's vetoes of six priority bills of the Republican supermajority. Many of those bills scaled back the power of the governor.

“Today, the General Assembly attempted to surrender to COVID-19 and accept the casualties. As your Governor, I cannot let this happen,” Gov. Beshear said in a press release. “I have filed this action to continue to fight for the protection of all Kentuckians.”

Just over two months ago, the Kentucky Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the Governor’s lifesaving measures were both legal and necessary. The ruling found that Gov. Beshear acted within the power granted the governor under the Kentucky Constitution and by state law to issue such orders. As a result, his mandates remained in place.

The lawsuit filed in Franklin Circuit Court on Tuesday seeks to continue to keep those measures in place.

The six bills vetoed by Gov. Beshear that were overridden by the General Assembly are listed below:

House Bill 1 - Allows businesses, schools and churches to stay open if they meet COVID-19 guidelines set by the CDC or Kentucky's executive branch

House Bill 2 - Gives Attorney General Daniel Cameron the power to independently regulate abortion clinics.

House Bill 3 - Restricts Franklin Circuit Court judges' ability to hear litigation against state agencies.

House Bill 5 - Prohibits a governor from temporarily reorganizing state boards to replace their members.

Senate Bill 1 - Limits the governor's ability to issue executive orders during a state of emergency to 30 days unless extended by the General Assembly. It also requires the attorney general's permission to suspend a statute under an emergency.

Senate Bill 2 - Gives legislative committees more oversight and control over emergency administrative regulations the governor imposes.

Also during Tuesday's session, both the House and the Senate introduced new bills that will be up for discussion. One in the Senate, SB 120, addresses the Supreme Court's decision on peri-mutuel wagering that has effectively shut down historic horse racing.

Senator John Schickel's office announced last week that the bill will be heard on Thursday, Feb. 4 in the Senate Licensing & Occupations Committee at 11 a.m. Senate President Robert Stivers is a co-sponsor of the bill.