Lawmakers give COVID-19 focused bills final passage and override governor’s vetoes before ending special session

On Thursday, Kentucky lawmakers passed four bills and wrapped up their special session to deal with issued related to COVID-19.

The legislature finished their action right before midnight after giving bills final passage and overriding the governor’s veto of Senate bills 1 and 2, which prohibit statewide mask mandates and addressed several issues related to education and health care.

Senate Bill 1 nullifies the statewide mandated masking regulations from the Kentucky Department of Education, though local districts may still determine their own masking policies. The bill also  gives schools more teaching alternatives.

The use of 20 days of remote instruction to be provided to a class, grade level or school through December 31, 2021 are provided in the bill to deal with the struggles faced by districts around non-traditional instruction (NTI) days. The bill also contains language to help more districts implement “test and stay” programs to keep children in the classroom and avoid quarantine.

Senate Bill 1 passed 28-8 through the Senate and 70-25 in the House before each chamber voted to override the governor’s veto with similar outcomes.

Senate Bill 2 deals with doing away with mask mandate language, nursing homes allowing a family member/caregiver to visit residents, calling for more testing and vaccination, and creating more monoclonal antibody treatment centers.

Senate Bill 2 passed through the Senate with a 26-10 vote and through the House 69-24 before each chamber voted to override the governor’s veto.

Two other pieces of legislation were signed into law by the Governor.

Senate Bill 3 appropriates $69 million in federal funds to go to helping hospitals, long-term health facilities, and schools.

The money goes to helping secure COVID-19 tests, implementation of “test and stay” in schools, establishing treatment centers in each of the state’s area development districts and gives some flexibility to these entities to spend on other COVID-19 related issues that arise.

The bill passed unanimously through the Senate and with an 84-8 vote in the House.

Senate Bill 5 would fund programs and projects aimed at attracting investments of more than $2 billion to Kentucky. It passed 30-3 in the Senate and also passed in the House.

Earlier in the week, lawmakers also passed House Joint Resolution, which extended several COVID-related laws and regulations, including important liability protections for businesses established by Senate Bill 5 in the 2021 Regular Session.

The legislature adjourned sine die late Wednesday night until January 4, 2022 when the regular session is set to begin unless the governor calls another special session.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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