Kentucky lawmakers override all of governor’s vetoes as they start second half of 2021 session

Upon their return to Frankfort on Tuesday, the Kentucky House and Senate voted to override all six of the governor’s vetoes on their top bills originally passed at the beginning of January.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed many bills passed by the General Assembly in January.

The legislature chose to override all of the vetoes issued by the governor on the following bills:

House Bill 1, sponsored by Rep. Bart Rowland, titled “AN ACT relating to Reopening the Economy in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in Response to the Governor’s State of Emergency,” has five sections addressing several issues.

The bill has five sections that would: allow businesses to continue operating and stay open as long as they have a comprehensive operating plan to ensure safety, waive penalties and interest on unemployment insurance tax bills to give businesses flexibility to pay increased rates, reverses the executive order dealing with the parental visitation of biological parents of Kentucky foster children, and allowing visitations at long-term care facilities.

The House voted 72-22 to override the veto and the Senate vote was 29-8.

House Bill 2, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Fischer, would transfer some powers dealing with abortion laws to the Kentucky Attorney General from the governor. The veto was overridden with a 73-20 vote in the House and 32-5 vote in the Senate.

House Bill 3, sponsored by Rep. Ed Massey, would change the way civil actions against the Commonwealth are heard, by creating three new districts based on population and geography statewide and allow cases to originate in the area of original jurisdiction. Current law requires that all civil actions involving the Commonwealth of Kentucky be assigned to the Franklin Circuit Court. The governor’s veto was overridden with a 71-23 vote in the House and a 30-7 vote in the Senate.

House Bill 5, dealing with reorganization of boards and commissions by the executive branch, seeks to serve as a separation of powers between the branches of government by striking and repealing language in statute dealing with temporary reorganization powers and giving the legislature more oversight with these actions. The House voted 71-23 to override the veto and the Senate vote was 30-7.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Matt Castlen, would limit the effective dates of executive orders issued by the governor to 30 days unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly and prohibit the governor from issuing a new executive order relating to the same emergency without legislative approval. This would be accomplished by amending section 39A of the state constitution. The governor’s veto was overridden with a 69-20 vote in the House and a 29-8 vote in the Senate.

Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Steve West, would require some administrative regulations to last no longer than 30 days if, for example, they imposed restrictions on gatherings or mandatory quarantines. The governor’s veto was overridden with a 69-20 vote in the House and a 31-6 vote in the Senate.

Legal action is likely on many of these issues. The governor could sue over the bills and they would have to go through the legal process to decide their constitutionality. Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates.

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