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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Kentucky lawmakers vote to override Gov. Beshear's vetoes

House Speaker David Osbourne (R-Oldham) addresses the media today to discuss the House's actions to override Gov. Andy Beshear's vetoes over several bills sent to his desk. 

Part two of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2021 Session kicked off with lawmakers overriding gubernatorial vetoes.

On lawmakers’ first day back at the Capitol after a recess, the Senate and House of Representatives voted today to override six vetoes recently cast by Gov. Andy Beshear.

As expected, Governor Beshear filed a lawsuit to stop what he characterized as lawmakers "stripping the governor of his ability to implement lifesaving public health measures during a pandemic that has killed more than 3,700 Kentuckians at a time when the country is experiencing the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and vaccine supplies remain limited." 

The veto of Senate Bill 1 was overridden in the Senate 29-8 and in the House 69-20. SB 1 will dictate that executive orders that place restrictions on the function of schools, businesses or nonprofits expire after 30 days – unless extended by the General Assembly. The same would go for executive orders that regulate political, religious and social gatherings or impose mandatory quarantines or isolation requirements.
The veto of Senate Bill 2, was overridden in the Senate 31-6 and the House 69-20. SB 2 will require some administrative regulations to last no longer than 30 days if, for example, they impose restrictions on gatherings or mandatory quarantines.
Sen. Matt Castlen, R-Owensboro, said he was proud to be the primary sponsor of SB 1 when voting to override.
“To our small business owners, our restaurants, our families at home teaching their children right now ... the past 333 days have been tough on this state,” he said about executive actions imposing COVID-19 restrictions. “We gladly look forward to having a seat at the table representing all corners of Kentucky in the decisions going forward.”
Minority Floor Leader Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, said he voted against SB 1 because it would handcuff executive branch officials during crises when the General Assembly is not in session.
“This is a part-time legislature,” he said. “This is a full-time executive. We should be shaping policies that help people now and into the future. I don’t think this bill does that.”
In voting to override SB 1, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the framers of the Kentucky Constitution envisioned legislators having input in policies concerning emergencies such as a pandemic. He said legislative input was critical in restoring the balance of power in the state – even if it required a special session.
The House voted 72-22 to override the governors’ veto on House Bill 1 while the Senate voted 29-8. HB 1 will create a framework for businesses, local governments, schools and nonprofits to operate during COVID-19 restrictions.
Rep. Richard White, R-Morehead, said on the House floor today he believes HB 1 gives the General Assembly a say in how the state responds to COVID-19.
“I think we should have a little voice in somethings that’s being said down here and I think it’s a responsibility of ours,” he said.
Several legislators spoke against the bill, including Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, who said the bill is unconstitutional.

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Lawmakers also voted to override vetoes on House Bills 2, 3 and 5.
·         HB 2 will give the attorney general greater authority to enforce laws concerning abortion clinics in Kentucky. The House voted 73-20 and the Senate 32-5 to override the governor’s veto.
·         HB 3 will allow civil actions regarding the constitutionality of a Kentucky statute, executive order, administrative regulation or order of any cabinet be filed outside of Franklin County, which has played a longstanding role in deciding those types of cases. Non-residents of Kentucky will continue to file in Franklin County Circuit Court. The House voted 71-23 and the Senate voted 30-7 to override the governor’s veto.
·         HB 5 will require legislative approval of any changes the governor makes to the organizational structure of the executive branch. The House voted 71-23 and the Senate voted 30-7 to override the governor’s veto.
With the veto overrides, these bills become law.

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