FRANKFORT, Ky. (WEHT) — On Saturday, two bills co-sponsored by Western Kentucky lawmakers made it to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk.
Senate Bill 1 limits 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 the approval of the General Assembly. The General Assembly can also make changes to the executive order.
Republican Senator Matt Castlen of Owensboro, who co-sponsored the bill, says Beshear has been able to extend his executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic because of a fracture in State Statute KRS 39A.
“This is a bill not even targeted at COVID-19 or at our current governor. What we’ve realized, since 1998 when this last was changed, we realized that there was areas in this particular statute that could be abused,” Castlen said. “[To] give the people’s branch a seat at the table, we changed it and this hopefully will be statute for years to come.”
Castlen says the legislation has been worked on since August and he’s heard comments from his constituents who feel Beshear has reached too far.
“We were seeing maybe the CDC making a guideline for this and him going above and beyond, or him stepping into individual liberties and rights that are a constitutional right, that he was stepping into that aspect of life, you know, holding a church at 50% capacity, those kinds of things. One person having the the total ability in control over that is never how our forefathers ever imagined government to work.” Castlen said. “As a senator, we were helpless. There was nothing we could do about it, because he had that ability in the current law that he was practicing under.”
Sen. CB Embrey, Jr (R-Morgantown), also co-sponsored Senate Bill 1.
Over in the House, Kentucky lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that would give the attorney general new power to regulate abortion clinics.
Similar legislation to House Bill 2 was passed in 2020, but was vetoed by Beshear.
Republican Representative and bill co-sponsor Suzanne Miles (R-Owensboro) says more than anything, the bill expands the authority of the attorney general.
“It’s important as far as life in general, the pro life movement that we have throughout our state … we just need to make sure that that our chief law enforcement has everything they need to enforce the laws that are out there,” Miles said.
Last year, lawmakers didn’t have a chance to consider an override. Miles hopes Beshear will sign the bill this year, but is prepared if he vetoes it.
“We do have enough people, I think, that will move forward on making sure we override this veto, if it comes to that, to make sure we do everything we can to protect the little ones in the Commonwealth,” Miles said. “There are several of us that don’t think abortion should be an elective procedure. It is definitely a choice to have that procedure.”
Representatives Josh Calloway (R-Irvington) and Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty (R-Belton) co-sponsored House Bill 2.
(This story was originally published on January 9, 2021)