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Gov. Beshear vetoes pandemic-related bills

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jan 20, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Andy Beshear did what many people expected him to do. He vetoed five bills that lawmakers passed earlier this month - including a few that deal directly with the pandemic.

"I've issued a series of vetoes," said Beshear during his Monday briefing.

He explained three reasons for his vetoes.

"Kentuckians strongly, overwhelmingly support the steps we've taken. Second -we've been successful. Those steps work," said Beshear. "Third - there are real concerns with what's actually in the bills and what they would cause."

Beshear pointed to data that compares Kentucky's death numbers compared to its neighboring states. The numbers are lower in Kentucky, which Beshear credits to the state's steps to fight COVID-19.

"Do any of us want to see this trend reverse? Do any of us want to see our lines starting to go up steeper than that? We've done a better job than all of our neighboring states at keeping our people alive," said Beshear. "Let's not backtrack on that, especially now that we are vaccinating people."

Beshear is vetoing House Bill 1, House Bill 2, House Bill 5, Senate Bill 1, and Senate Bill 2. However, he said he's willing to work with lawmakers to find common ground.

"We're going to see if there is common ground that doesn't violate the constitution, that gives the flexibility we need for what appears to be a mutating virus," said Beshear.

House Speaker David Osborne said the vetoes are disappointing but not unexpected.

“House Majority Leadership will reserve comment until we determine whether the Governor is sincere in his desire to work with us," said Osborne through a statement. "After all, ten months of unilateral decision-making and unchecked spending has provided evidence otherwise. We approach any collaboration with a commitment to ensuring that the voices of Kentuckians across the state are heard. These men and women expect their state to provide the information and resources they need to safely navigate this virus without inconsistent shutdowns and arbitrary orders. They were heard loud and clear as their Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of each of the bills vetoed by the Governor, and we stand ready to override these vetoes if necessary. Let it not be forgotten that one of the bills vetoed today is HB 2, legislation that grants the state’s top law enforcement officer the authority to enforce the state’s laws and regulations where it concerns abortion providers. This is the second veto of this language by a governor who consistently claims he is trying to save lives.”