Court stops top priority bill of General Assembly from immediately going into effect after Gov. Andy Beshear filed lawsuit

brown gavel and medical protective masks on marble background

This week, lawmakers voted to override all of Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes on their top bills and he sued the same day. On Wednesday, Franklin Circuit Court issued a restraining order that keeps one of those bills from going into effect immediately.

The lawsuit revolves around three of the six bills that saw veto override votes on Tuesday: House Bill 1, Senate Bill 1, and Senate Bill 2. All of these bills deal with the governor’s executive order powers in some capacity by: allowing businesses to stay open as long as they are complying with CDC guidelines rather than the restrictions set forth by the governor (House Bill 1), placing limits on a governor’s executive order powers during an emergency (Senate Bill 1), and increasing legislative oversight over Emergency Administrative Regulations issued by the governor (Senate Bill 2).

Franklin Circuit Court issued an opinion Wednesday afternoon stopping the immediate implementation and enforcement of a section of House Bill 1.

“The Court finds that the Governor has presented a substantial legal issue on the merits of those questions regarding House Bill 1, that the public interest demands a delay in implementation of that portion of the legislation, that immediate implementation of that portion of House Bill 1 would pose a clear and present danger to public health and would undermine any effective public health strategy to contain COVID19, and that the balance of the equities and public interest weigh heavily in favor of issuance of a temporary restraining order on this limited point,” the court document states.

The restraining order will remain in effect for 30 days unless extended by the court and the issue will finally be decided following a full briefing and hearing set for this month.

Gov. Beshear issued the following statement Wednesday night:

“I have taken difficult but necessary steps to stop the spread of COVID and save lives in Kentucky. Today, the Franklin Circuit Court’s order stated that House Bill 1 would ‘create chaos and undermine any effective enforcement of public health standards to prevent the spread of this deadly disease during this pandemic.’ I don’t use emergency powers because I want to. I use them because it is my duty to preserve the lives of Kentuckians.”

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd did not grant Beshear’s request for injunction on the other two bills targeted in his lawsuit, Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2.

Full hearings will be conducted on all three issues to decide their constitutionality. Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more information.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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