Following a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling over the weekend limiting his executive authority, Governor Andy Beshear said Monday that he expects that Kentucky will need a special session now to address rises in COVID-19 cases.
When asked point blank if he would be calling the legislature back in to session, the governor responded, “It all depends on if we can get to a place where it’s productive; I certainly think the state of emergency needs to continue for a number of non-controversial reasons, and my hope is at the very least, we can do a special session. That would be authorized and, whatever limitations the Legislature wants to put on it, that’s their call. Without a special session, the state of emergency will expire and will have some ramifications that we’ll want to avoid.”
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Saturday that three new laws passed during the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly limiting the governor’s powers are valid, saying in the 34-page order that the Franklin Circuit Court abused its discretion in blocking the new laws from taking effect.
Under the new laws, the governor is required to work with collectively with the legislature on emergencies that last more than 30 days. Governor Beshear hopes to find common ground with the General Assembly on what he called non-controversial issues, which would warrant calling a special session to extend the emergency order.
“Even Kentuckians who don’t like any of it would agree that these are things that we need – enough doctors, enough nurses, the ability for elderly Kentuckians at risk to get prescriptions refilled, worker’s compensation benefits for EMT’s who come down with COVID or are quarantined,” Beshear said. “So, I would expect that we will probably need one (a special session) in the future again, if we can come to an agreement. I don’t want to do it just to do it. I want to do it in a way that gives them the best opportunity for success.”
In a press call prior to Governor Beshear’s press conference, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers said that he had preliminary discussions with the governor’s office on a special session, but that he did not expect one as early as this week.
“COVID is very real,” Stivers said. “We have a problem; people need to take shots. We need to do everything we can to incentivize people taking the shots in rural areas, probably more so than any other place.”
Stivers also said he doubted the GOP caucus would vote for any blanket mask mandate as part of a special legislative session.
The news comes on a day when Beshear reported record numbers for Kentuckians admitted to hospitals, in ICU’s, and on ventilators from COVID-19 cases. The current positivity rate for the state is 12.87 percent.