LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Governor Beshear announced Tuesday he had vetoed five bills passed through the Kentucky General Assembly in the 2021 regular session, with multiple meant to limit executive action during the pandemic.
The bills, House Bills 1, 2, and 5, as well as Senate Bills 1 and 2 were passed by the General Assembly on January 9 and delivered to the governor’s desk for the next action.
House Bill 1 intended to allow businesses and schools to remain open as long as CDC guidance was followed and provide guidelines for visitation of long-term care facilities and visitation rights for non-custodial parents.
In addition, Senate Bill 1 would limit the amount of time a governor’s executive order could be put into place to 30 days unless an extension was approved by the General Assembly, and would prevent the governor from filing a new executive order on an existing emergency without the General Assembly’s approval.
Senate Bill 2 would give the General Assembly power to make amendments on any executive orders which would allow changes to any restrictions placed by the governor.
Beshear spoke about how the bills would put lives at risk amid the COVID pandemic, stating that the proposed legislation would force the governor to call the assembly back into session in the event of any emergency, and would make the Attorney General the power to approve or disapprove the governor’s decisions.
The governor said that the bills are unconstitutional, as the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled “our examination of the Kentucky Constitution causes us to conclude the emergency powers the Governor has exercised are executive in nature, never raising a separation of powers issue in the first instance.”
“This is a way of saying under the Kentucky Constitution, this is the executive branch’s job,” said Beshear. “I certainly hope we wouldn’t think that in the middle of a battle, in the middle of a war, you would have a legislative branch debate and vote on tactics – that’s just not how the Constitution is set up.”
The governor said that he would work with lawmakers to come to a resolution on the legislation. While the governor has vetoed the bills, the republican supermajority has the ability to override any vetoes when the General Assembly returns to session.